Target Practice

In my day job (yes, I do work), I coordinate research projects. Please, believe me when I say it isn’t as glamorous as it sounds: We aren’t genetically modifying monkeys who will someday take over the planet. We don’t split atoms to find the origins of the universe. We aren’t digging out dinosaur DNA from fossilized mosquitoes. We don’t even look for a cure to cancer. We do, however, examine medical records to determine the level of care patients received after they had a minor stroke. We look for ways to improve care for patients who suffer minor neurological events, in the hopes that we can prevent “the big one” (a significant stroke) a few months later.

It isn’t glamorous but remarkably practical and potentially life-saving for millions of Americans.

One of my responsibilities is to keep the work on point and target. Unlike the scientists of Jurassic Park, we have limited resources. We have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, and it’s my job to ensure that we’re moving the project forward, on time and budget.

And so, this past week, we started a little motivational session. Seeing that my team was falling behind, we reviewed the fundamentals. Rather than floundering along completing a few chart reviews here or there, we set a goal:  “X” number of charts reviewed at the end of each week. It will require hard work.  It will require a dedicated focus. But it is possible. With that discussion, we reviewed past performances, barriers to success, and landed on a renewed commitment to completing the project.

It isn’t rocket science (also another glamorous field of study), and this approach to success applies to more than chart reviews.

The same is true for your life and all your dreams, doesn’t it? Want to play the piano? You will need to practice every day.  Do you want to learn to paint? Then you will have to pick up a brush. Have a desire to be a millionaire?  You’d better start working hard, saving and investing every penny. How about being a better person?  Drive a nicer car?  Find more peace in your life?

You will never reach your goal if you don’t have a goal. You will never hit the target if you don’t aim well and practice every day. You will never be who you want to be if you don’t make a plan. It might happen by accident, but it is highly unlikely.

So, how did our team respond to the motivation? Very well! Over the past few months, we’ve been averaging 54 charts a month, a forlorn figure. After the little talk, we hit 24 charts in three days! We refocused on the goal. We determined the distance to the target and took some time for a little target practice. When it was all said and done, we were back on track and hitting the target.  Oh yeah, we’ll meet our goal for sure!

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