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    How to make 2017 your most successful year ever

    Get SMART with a new year of goals

    The New Year is here, and there’s a decent chance you and your team are thinking, “Let’s make a New Year’s resolution.” Statistics say that a little more than half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only eight percent of those succeed in meeting their goals.

    If you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Without goals, you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your practice’s direction, it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding.

    Trending article: Why benchmarks can make or break 2017 for your dental practice

    Set goals that motivate you

    When you set goals for the practice, it is important that they motivate you. This means making sure that they are important to the practice, patients and team, and that there is value in achieving them. Motivation is key to achieving goals.

    Set goals that relate to the high priorities in your practice. Without this type of focus, you can end up with too many goals, leaving you too little time to devote to each one. Goal achievement requires commitment, a "we must do this" attitude. Write down why it's valuable and important to the practice.

    For goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

    Read more: A goal by any other name is a BAM

    Set Specific goals

    Your goal must be clear and well defined. You need goals to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.

    Set Measurable goals

    Include precise amounts, dates, actions, etc. in your goals—this enables you to measure the degree of success. Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have actually achieved something.

    Set Attainable goals

    Make sure that it's possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will demoralize the team and erode confidence. By setting realistic, yet challenging, goals, you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to "raise the bar," and they bring the greatest satisfaction.

    Set Relevant goals

    Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your practice to take. By keeping goals aligned with this, you'll develop the focus you need to get ahead and achieve the success you want.

    Set Time-bound goals

    Your goals must have a deadline. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much faster.

    Related: The biggest mistakes dentists make: Not setting goals

    Making SMART goals will help you and your team be more motivated to achieve the your 2017 resolutions. When making your SMART goals, here are a few tips to consider: 

    Write down your goals

    The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. As you write, use the word "will" instead of "would like to" or "might." For example, write "We will reduce our dental supply expense by three percent this year," not "We would like to reduce our dental supply expense by three percent this year." The first goal statement has power, and you can "see" yourselves reducing expenses; the second lacks passion and gives you an excuse if you get sidetracked.

    Make an action plan

    This step is often missed in the process of goal setting. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you'll realize that you are making progress toward your ultimate goal.

    Watch: How to achieve goal-setting tactics

    Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity, not just a means to an end. Review your goals daily, weekly and monthly to achieve success. Get your team involved with this process as well!

    Goal setting is much more than simply saying you want something to happen. Unless you clearly define exactly what you want, and understand why you want it the first place, your odds of success are considerably reduced. Goals give us direction and focus—they break down impossible undertakings into achievable tasks, and they help us keep our vision clear and movement steady.

    Cindy Ishimoto
    Cindy Ishimoto has more than 30 years of experience in the dental industry, initially as an assistant and business auxiliary, then ...

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