Remembering that Milestones Aren’t Finish Lines

By Jessica Speas posted 07-12-2022 22:51

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Like many veterinary management professionals, I am a goal-oriented person. Having a goal in front of me organizes my efforts, and achieving a goal, especially a big one, feels amazing!

But at times in my past, that great post-achievement high has been followed by a bit of a let-down. My major motivator was gone, and the time I devoted to reaching the goal was suddenly free time I did not want to waste. Has this ever happened to you?

I started thinking about this a lot as my 20th anniversary at my practice approached. I wanted to celebrate this milestone, reflect on the past two decades, and then feel motivated to accomplish more! But unfortunately, I’ve learned that many people feel a sense of disappointment after reaching a milestone. Author Daniel Pink talks about this in a section of his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

Connecting to the Future

Mr. Pink wrote that we could make our milestones more poignant and satisfying by seeing and appreciating how the current milestone connects to both the future and the past. He suggests connecting current milestone events to the future by writing a letter to your future self and then not reading that letter for five years. The letter helps build a connection between you of now and future you. That connection is powerful – feeling connected to our future selves makes it a lot easier to do things that take effort, like saving money or eating better.

I may try this! Writing a letter about my work anniversary would make me think more about my future and what further professional growth and development accomplishments I’d like to achieve before I open that letter. In other words, it will help me set my next big goal.

Reflecting on the Past & Savoring the Present

While I enjoy setting the next goal, I’m also reminding myself how important it is to savor each milestone. The connection between current achievements and the past is the real cause for celebration. It’s about all my decisions, the work I’ve done, and the obstacles I’ve overcome to get there.

If we consider the connections between the past, the present, and the future, milestones like graduations, certifications, and anniversaries aren’t endings. Instead, like their namesakes along old roadways and the modern signage we have now, milestones show us where we are on our journey, remind us how far we’ve come, and invite us to think about what’s next.

Celebrating with CVPM

An important milestone to many VHMA members, the Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM) program turns 30 this year. We plan to celebrate this milestone at VHMA’s annual conference in Orlando this fall. Congratulations to those who created and maintained this rigorous certification and the nearly 1,000 management professionals who have earned it. And for anyone who is thinking about seeking CVPM certification, your future self will thank you.

Jessica Speas, CVPM, SPHR, PHR-ca, SHRM-SCP, CCFP
VHMA President