Set Your Targets for the New Year
And once you've hit them, remember
to keep shooting.
By Jim Thomas
If you've already set your goals for 2005, then congratulations -- you're already well ahead of most practices. If you haven't, then I urge you to set aside some time so that you can formulate your goals.
Many professionals aren't keen on establishing goals and view them as New Year's resolutions: They sound good, but within a few months, most are forgotten. In interviews on the subject, owners of practices and small businesses often cite incomplete planning as common "goal killer." (For more information on effective goal planning and execution, see "View from the Top" on page 20.)
Why jail breaks fail
I heard a movie critic say that most prison breaks, both the big screen and real life variety, are doomed not because of poor planning, but incomplete planning. The inmates approach the first steps of their escape meticulously, allowing for every detail from logistics to equipment procurement. They're rewarded with a trip over the wall. But that's the point at which the planning ends. With few ideas of where to go or what to do, the inmates inevitably get recaptured.
If the penalties for business professionals were as severe, the jails would be full of first-degree misplanners. Without a sense of urgency, many enterprises forego each of the necessary planning steps, rendering many of their goals unattainable.
In response, goal planning and achievement has become a lucrative market. Organizations sell consulting services, books, workbooks, videos and most recently, software, all designed to help customers achieve their goals.
All of the above-mentioned approaches recommend:
- prioritizing goals
- dividing each goal into smaller, easily achievable steps
- developing deadlines and metrics to review and measure progress
- acknowledging and celebrating completed goals.
These steps alone are effective enough, but goal-oriented systems account for the fact that business and life go on. They emphasize a continuous approach. Once you achieve your goals, invent or re-invent new ones.
In the coming months, much of our practice management editorial will emphasize the importance of setting and achieving goals in various areas. We hope the information provides you with a practical starting point. As for the endpoint, I prefer a quote: "There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning."
Optometric Management, Issue: January 2005