By Jennifer Jabaley, OD
Dec. 7, 2016
As the New Year looms, many people begin to think about setting resolutions. Everyone seems to love the idea of a fresh start, and the dawn of a New Year often brings the urge to reach for your dreams within your optometric practices, or otherwise. The inherent problem with New Year’s resolutions, though, is that dreams or wishes aren’t achievable. But goals are.
Goals are not just what we want to happen, but how and when we are going to make it happen. This is precisely why resolutions often fail and why year in and out people often make the same resolution with no appreciable results. If you want this year to be different, I suggest rather than a resolution list, craft a goal or goals, and by following a well-formulated strategy, aim for the most productive year ever.
Set 1-3 Major Goals
Most people have a list of a dozen or more things they want to accomplish in their professional lives, as well as their personal ones. However, overloading your to-do list is a sure-fire way to muddy your purpose and lose focus. By keeping your list of goals short and specific, you can ensure that you have the time and energy to master each one. Making sure you have clear reasons for selecting each goal will also contribute to your big-picture ambition.
Not all goals are created equal. The SMART goal technique set forth back in 1981 is the most popular method used for goal setting in the business world today (BizResults Academy online). Here’s what SMART stands for:
Specific goals answer these three questions: What do we want to accomplish? What is the benefit? Who is going to be involved?
Write a sentence that encompasses your goal in very specific terms. For example, “By the end of 2017, I want to see a 10 percent increase in revenue from doctor’s fees” is much more effective than, “This year I want to see bigger profits.”
Attainable goals allow measurement of progress and success. A poor example of a goal is, “I want to see shorter patient wait times.” There is no tangible measure of success with this statement. Instead, a measurable goal would be, “I aim to have the average wait time for my patients to be no more than 20 minutes.” Then you can set monthly or quarterly measurements to track progress and address your strategy according to your success rate.
Setting unattainable goals is futile. A big mistake is creating a goal that depends on others, most often staff or patients. We must create a goal that we are in control of, or can take responsibility, to make happen. So, rather than having a goal of, “My optical staff will increase AR sales by 25 percent,” a more achievable goal would be, “I will conduct a thorough training for my optical staff on how to better educate patients on AR options, then track sales numbers monthly.”
Your list of goals must not conflict with each other, but rather, reinforce a general theme. For example, if one goal is to make more money, but the second goal is to work less, there better be a third specific goal that bridges these two opposing ideas and makes the list work together for an overall strategy of success.
T: Time Bound
A meaningful goal is time bound. It has a start date and end date. Establishing a time line gives a sense of urgency and accountability. Without a due date, a project will not rise to the top of the priority list. Well-crafted goals with a deadline can drive commitment and achievement. They can strengthen your office team spirit and drive productivity.
Once your goals for 2017 are crafted, how do you stay focused and driven throughout the year?
I highly recommend checking out Gretchen Rubin’s book about habits, “Better than Before.” In it, she claims that there are four tendencies when it comes to goals and accountability: People who uphold other people’s expectations for themselves, people who uphold their own expectations, people who operate with a mixture of both and people who are affected by neither.
For example, if you fall into the first category, where other people’s expectations weigh heavy on you, make sure to voice your goals to someone whose opinion you respect. If you do best by honoring your own commitments, use a planner or calendar to mark off expectations and accomplishments. Understanding which tendency resonates with your own habit style is beneficial in ensuring the most conducive climate for success.
Once you have your goals and plan made, don’t stuff it away in your desk. The best laid plans mean nothing if they’re not revisited. Finally, don’t forget about setting a personal goal. Whether it’s eating healthier, exercising, getting more sleep, making more time for friends or creativity or sports, finding time for personal growth and fulfillment will bleed into your professional life, filling up your well, so you can better serve your patients.
What are your top practice and personal goals for 2017? What specific, time-bound plans are you setting to make sure you succeed?