Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions

Yes, it's that time of year again! Ringing in the new year is usually a call to arms for overhauling yourself to become a better you. Most of us focus on the all-too-familiar personal goals: lose weight, exercise more, spend less money. But how many of you take the time to set professional goals for the new year? I was inspired to think about professional resolutions last year when Debra Gordon, who heads the Journal's Blog Log, listed her resolutions in her own blog. (Thanks, Debra!)

Here are my top 10 professional resolutions for 2011.

  1. Evaluate where I've been and where I want to go. To do this, I think I'll follow the advice of Laura Ninger, who wrote "Mind Your Business with a Year-End Review" (page 180). (Here and throughout, links will take you to the contents page of the issue; after you log in as a member, click through to the page number in parentheses.) Laura suggests that freelances should evaluate their client mix, profitability, workload, and marketing efforts at the end of the year and look at trends over the year and from year to year. I will do that this year…this week!
  2. Increase the number of days I love my job. I like my job…most days. Some days I really love my job. I want to discover how to maintain the passion and enthusiasm I have for my work so I can end up with more days that I love my job. In thinking about this, I came up with approaches such as varying the projects I take on, continuing to learn, and evaluating clients. These are the very topics that veteran freelance Cathryn Evans discussed in answer to the question "How do you keep the spark in a lengthy career as a freelance writer?"(page 77) in a recent Freelance Forum.
  3. Work more efficiently. This resolution will require a variety of tasks, from avoiding Bubbleshooter to finding ways to be better organized and to work collaboratively. In her 4-part series on online tools, Joanne McAndrews described some free online organizational tools (Web Watch, page 142), such as Remember the Milk, and collaborative tools (page 145) such as Google Docs and Zoho. I will definitely check these out. Finally finishing the book Getting Things Done, by David Allen, might help. (Is it ironic that I can't finish a book called Getting Things Done? Or does my challenge just reflect my overwhelming need for the book?) Learning how to get more out of Outlook would also help (see #4). And maybe I need to think about a virtual assistant.
  4. Become one with Adobe…and EndNote…and Word…and Outlook. I consider myself fairly tech savvy, but I can become frustrated by these applications so easily! I took a 6-week online course in Adobe Acrobat last year and learned some great things, but my mind is not the same steel trap it used to be, and I need to refresh. Thankfully, Adobe has some great tutorials. And EndNote—find me a tutorial stat! Microsoft offers detailed how-tos for Outlook, and The Editorium provides tips for Word. Of course, these resources will help only if I use them! It's hard to find the time, but I know that in the end, the time spent learning will save time working (not to mention sanity), which, of course, will help me work more efficiently (see # 3).
  5. Engage more in social media. And I don't mean spend more time checking in on friends on FaceBook. I mean use LinkedIn, Twitter, and FaceBook pages to promote myself and my business (see # 7), as well as the AMWA Journal. First I need to learn exactly how these social media tools will help me, and the new Journal section on Social Media will be a great resource, thanks to Cyndy Kryder, who writes features about the benefits of social media and Mali Schantz-Feld, who writes about the AMWA Group on LinkedIn. This resolution also applies to this blog—I vow to post more often in 2011; I hope you think that's good news.
  6. Check out at least one online resource each week. With so many blogs and Web sites launched every day, it's tough to keep up. But the Journal's Blog Log (thanks to Debra Gordon) and Web Wanderings (thanks to Barb Woldin) highlight the ones that will be of most interest and/or usefulness to medical communicators. I'm going to collect all those pages, explore the blogs and sites, and bookmark the ones that will be the best for me. Maybe I'll even check out iResolve, the site that claims to help you make and keep your resolutions.
  7. Market myself. For more than 5 years now, I've had the luxury (?) of more than enough work consistently throughout the year. I continue to be busy enough, but I think I should branch out to some new clients, to avoid the "all my eggs in one basket" problem. A review of Lanie Adamson's "Ten Marketing Strategies" (page 72) will help me identify the best ways to promote my freelance business.
  8. Submit my work to at least one writing competition. With more medical communicators competing for fewer jobs, distinguishing myself with an award or honor could give me an edge. The best places to start are the AMWA Eric Martin Awards and AMWA Book Awards. I may even think about how I could earn an AMWA Best Published Research Award. (There are many other competitions out there for writing and editing, and they will be the topic of a future blog entry.)
  9. Make time for creativity. In my head are television scripts, a coffee table book, a novel, and short fun videos. I want…need…the time to make at least one of them a reality in 2011. It will require discipline to carve out time for such pursuits, which means I'll have to work more efficiently (see #3), but this creativity will come in handy in my "day job" and, more important, it will feed my heart and soul. A satisfied heart and soul will make me happier and more inclined to be productive overall.
  10. Find better balance. This has been my mantra for years now, but I have to at least keep trying. Closing the office door at night and on week-ends is the only way I'll have time for those creative pursuits (see #9) and to take advantage of all the good that has come my way—for which I am eternally grateful.

I learned an important lesson in compiling this list: Browsing the AMWA Journal archives online for professional advice will help jump-start my quest to fulfill these resolutions. It could do the same for you!

Share your professional resolutions—and your tips for keeping them—with your colleagues by commenting below. And be sure to take the survey.


  1. Great list! You are far more ambitious than I...but I already did #1 on your list and posted it on my blog. Very therapeutic!

  2. Thanks, Lori! You've made some very useful suggestions.