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The start of a new year is a perfect time to review the performance of your practice over the past year, and to make plans for 2004. Setting goals is a key to achieving success and I urge you to put your practice goals on paper.
Experts say that good goal setting follows the SMART criteria:
These are fine attributes, but be wary of the "achievable" and "realistic" points, because they can make you aim too low. In fact, you'll never really know if you have achieved all you can until you fail. Set your goals high and don't be afraid of failure, but be persistent and you'll find a way to achieve success.
I believe in visualizing my goals. If I set a goal of purchasing a new instrument, for example, I would visualize:
Where it will be placed in my office and how will I use it
How will I train my staff to perform it
What my fee will be for the test and how it will be billed
What percentage of my patients will benefit from the test
How will I announce the new procedure to my patient base
How will I discuss the results of the procedure with patients and what will their reaction be
How will I finance the initial purchase and how long it will take to recoup the expense
When I can make the purchase
As I consider these specific features, it helps me to decide if this goal is worth pursuing and it helps me prioritize the concept. If the idea is fantastic, it will move quickly to the top of my list of things to do. Visualization helps me develop enthusiasm for the goal.
A good way to start is to make a list of what you want to achieve for your practice. Start with a general list of goals projecting 5 years ahead. Include areas such as staffing (number of employees and specific job titles), employment benefits, office and procedure manual, office space (consider ownership), operations (consider delegation), instrumentation, practice administration systems, marketing plan, optical lab and suppliers. Also, write down some quantitative data about gross and net incomes you want to achieve and numbers of patients you plan to see per week and per month. Consider if an associate optometrist will be part of your plan for the future. With the 5-year plan in front of you, develop your 1-year plan, and write down critical milestones that will need to happen over the next four years. Place these milestones on your calendar.