Insights From Our Editors

How Do I Set Goals So They Actually Get Accomplished?

By Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO

April 26, 2023

At the University of Houston College of Optometry, I teach fourth-year students about goal setting. That said, I will confess, I have always had a “love-hate” relationship with goal setting.

I remember listening to one lecturer who said if he could not “see” his goals for the next 10 years, he knew something was wrong. Right, wrong, whatever, listening to him made me sit down and try to set some long-term goals. Man, I just couldn’t come up with much that I knew I wanted to accomplish 10 years down the road.

As time has passed, I have realized that most of my energy needs to be focused on our business’s next 3-6 months, and not looking at even five years from now! The world is changing SO fast, it just doesn’t make sense for me to put much energy into planning for 5-10 years later.

One of the items that always demands attention and energy is staffing. I like to sit down and predict the staffing we will need departmentally about three months out. If I think we need another staff member, or we will lose someone because of school, moving, or another reason, I will not hesitate to make the decision to move forward with hiring now and not wait. For example, we are always super-busy in July and the first of August. In April, I analyze staffing and assess if I think we can handle the super-busy July/August rush. If the answer is no, we don’t wait, we start looking for additional employee(s) in April.

Another area where I expend significant energy is in evaluating and predicting what we need in our office space. I like to think about what we need now, what we need three months from now and what we might need in six months. Bigger projects, like adding more space or repurposing an existing room, may take six months or longer to plan and execute. Other office space changes, such as the need for another iCare or autorefractor, or new desk chairs, are on a much smaller scale and can be implemented more quickly.

Interestingly, initially during the COVID crisis, my focus became even shorter-term. At one point, my focus was down to the next 1-3 days! There was no way to expend the time and energy on even a month down the road as everything was changing so rapidly and was so unpredictable and unprecedented.

In conclusion, if you are like me and struggle to predict and establish the 5-10 year goals, take heart and don’t beat yourself up too much, a lot can happen in 5-10 years. Those goals will forever change. Focusing more on the short term, especially during unpredictable times, and being able to implement quickly as you see what’s coming, is, more important AND one of the big reasons our practice continues to thrive and stay as successful as it has been!

Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO, is president of Lakeline Vision Source in Cedar Park, Texas, and the Professional Editor of Review of Optometric Business (ROB). To contact her:

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