Twice a year I divert from my askance look at Judaism and medicine to direct some effort at myself. In recent half-years I've designated a dozen projects worthy of my effort, few reach fruition but the exercise in directing myself toward an end point has its own inherent value. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, including some unimpeded vacation time, I sorted through some of the semi-annual planning, identifying a project in each of twelve categories. They had to meet the SMART criteria: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time restricted, in this case mid-year.
Mental: I purchased a CME program from the New England Journal of Medicine that will give me 50 badly needed credits for my next licensure. There is a 2-3 month window for doing the research, all of which appears in the NEJM.
2. Family: One day a month belongs to Irene.
3. Health: My weight will decline under 155 lb. This is a perennial effort which almost reached target last winter when I was very consistent with diet modification. It requires consistency of effort. The diet component I've done in part before. The exercise component has never been what it should be.
4. Personal: I will have read two books, one fiction and one non-fiction. I've pretty much selected the books, Herzog by Saul Bellow and The Myth of the Cultural Jew by Roberta Kwall. I can read more, but I want the project to be without excuses for failing to complete them.
5. Long Term: My blog will generate 15 comments. Actually I have very little control over what people do and tried to take that into account in my planning. I also express myself irrespective of readership. Yet my Jewish world has not been interactive in recent years. Much of my synagogue experience the last few years has been dull, people sitting in a room with the Rabbi or somebody else speaks, questions that are more likely to be deflected than addressed in the way I might expect as a college graduate. I thought the infusion of blogging would remedy that but I do not really encounter a lot of that. Oodles of sermons that Rabbi's post on Blogger or their congregation's web site. Some very good analysis in The Forward et al, easily accessible and with some interaction in the comments but little of it is sustained. So while I cannot affect what anyone does with what I write in my blog, I can format it in a more inviting way, soliciting advice from electronic, printed and personal sources to bring this project forward.
6. Financial. I will be a serious participant in this year's tax preparation. One of Irene's expected tasks, though I used to do this as a resident. It lapsed and I should relearn how to gather the data and present it to the CPA. This is the only project one of two projects whose completion is guaranteed by a deadline imposed by somebody other than myself.
7. Purchase: I will cook in my cosmetically upgraded kitchen. This one has been on the wish list forever. I have the money to make the purchases but it is one that needs to be a joint project. I think it attainable but will need some joint decisions on where to put our current too much stuff and what order to do the multiple sub-projects that create the end result. Step 1, the lighting. Once in the ceiling in the places it needs to be, contractors can do the rest one step at a time.
8. Friends: Four new friends. Never had a lot of friends and kept the few that I've acquired indefinitely, which most people would think is good. Yet between work and shul, I have become friendly with people but none really extend beyond the pleasantries of the hospital and synagogue. I have no other outlets either. There are forums for connecting with others and a value to trying.
9. Community: I will create a sustainable non-worship activity at AKSE. For all my usually friendly jabs at my synagogue it is in many ways the best forum in the area for bringing people ahead Jewishly. I've done a few rather important things over the years, from insisting that a novice Rabbi be given training to enable him to progress professionally to the annual education forum that people have insisted be maintained even after I dropped out in, frustration. In a place that seems in the relentless pursuit of mediocrity, a leadership preoccupied with enhancing revenue to the neglect of the experiences, creativity of natural explorers such as myself have been devalued. While my mind has generated useful things, it hasn't in a while and the worship has a life of its own that nobody particular wants to sparkle. But any number of things can better connect those whose participation is currently at the margins. That's where the handful of people who can imagine what might be instead of protecting what has already become ingrained have a value even it it means swimming upstream.
10. Frontiers: I will submit for publication four articles, two medical and two Jewish. I just like thinking about my medical experience and my Jewish perspectives. One medical opinion piece found its way to cyberspace, though not print. It was a good piece of analysis and I derived much gratification from the few people who commented upon it. While I have enjoyed my entry into the pageants of medicine and Judaism each has room to become more interactive than they currently are. The marketplace of ideas can never have too many items on the shelves.
11. Travel: I will visit three wineries that I've not visited before. At least one project has to be a slam dunk. I've only had a negative experience at a winery one time. More commonly I get to praise the effort and pride that people have in their work and express a genuine interest in learning about what they do to bring their vintages about.
12. Home: All papers under my control will be removed from flat surfaces. This is a big one, the project most likely to frustrate me. I phrased it so as not to need help from anyone else, as I am not optimistic about getting help from anyone else. Yet relief from relentless clutter, even if temporary, gets me ahead. Had I needed assistance of another person it would not satisfy the criteria of attainable.