New Year’s Resolutions for your Dental Practice

So now that we are moving full steam into 2014, what about those New Year’s resolutions?

If you’re like most of us, finding targets for personal and professional improvement is easy. The tough part is following through on that laundry list of good intentions!

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In working with doctors and other clients, I’ve discovered common obstacles that keep people from their goals. I’m pleased to share them with you as you work toward a more satisfying practice (and life!).

#1: Focusing on the Wrong Things

It’s awfully easy to make that fix-it list. But many of those desired improvements would likely not have a meaningful impact on you or your business. The small stuff will (or won’t) take care of itself. Instead, focus on the bigger picture by developing a strategic vision – the guiding principles of your practice. Develop goals and tactics aligned with your big purpose.

#2: Seeking Immediate Gratification

You can’t change behaviors like you change socks, but we mistakenly act as if that’s how things work. We jump into a new diet or exercise plan and expect to immediately drop those 10 pounds that have plagued us for years. And we’re quick to throw in the towel when the results don’t come quickly. When you’re working toward a big goal you need to stay stubbornly focused, understanding that success comes only through patience, discipline and persistence. If achieving your goals is easy, you aren’t aiming high enough.

#3: Too Many Irons in the Fire

We (well, most of us) wouldn’t eat three entrees in one meal – it’s just too much. Similarly, you shouldn’t tackle 10 major changes at one time. Taking on too many goals often reduces the chance that you’ll achieve any of them.

Choose quality over quantity. Identify three priority projects and move forward with focus, permitting nothing to stop you from improving in those areas. The other seven aren’t going anywhere – you can tackle them next year!

#4: Goals that Aren’t Measurable

‘What gets measured gets done,’ the saying goes.  A goal like “become a better boss” is fine, but without metrics, it’s pretty weak. Without measurable outcomes, how do you know if you’re there yet?

Instead of using vague or subjective language in your goals, focus on objective measures like: “I am going to meet individually with each member of my staff on a quarterly basis to provide performance feedback and learn how we can improve our patient experience.”

#5: Lack of Accountability

When adversity strikes, we often look for excuses before we look for solutions. A wiser choice is to make your goals public and hold yourself accountable to a friend, colleague or mentor.

Share your aspirations and ask a trusted individual to hold your feet to the fire. Choose someone who is strong enough to deflect your excuses when you get lazy.

#6: Lack of Discipline

We commonly hear the advice to ‘work on the business, not in it’. Finding time for thinking and planning is good counsel, but it’s not easy to do. When you are seeing 20 patients a day and managing a staff, the last thing you have time and energy for is to concentrate on future goals.

But that’s exactly what I’m asking you to do, even if it’s for just 15 minutes a day. Be disciplined and keep your eyes on the ultimate prize of making you and your practice better tomorrow than they were the day before.