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Goal Setting 101

Every practice management course begins with the advice to write down your goals. And every time the word “goal” is uttered a groan arises from the audience. But if it weren’t so important, why would every expert in practice management say the same thing? The experts are in agreement on at least one thing!  You have to know where you want to go before you can plan how to get there.

Have you taken the time to reflect on your goals? For some, the end goal will be money. But don’t get into the trap of equating money with happiness. Money and happiness are not the same. You can have both, however, you should never confuse the two. Some of you may desire more time off from your practices but feel trapped in meeting your obligations. Still others want to excel in clinical competence and become famous within the dental profession.

Certainly, these are all worthwhile goals. It is even possible to have more than one goal; more often than not most dentists do. Unfortunately, these goals are often illdefined and a good portion of life can be wasted in a sea of confusion.

Far too often we at Summit invest the time and effort to share the visions and goals you have for your practice only to find that the goals are only a fanciful wish list. Probably every doctor we have spoken with claims to have goals, yet produces few results. Written, balanced goals with a time frame for completion always produce results. In an effort to compare apples to apples, we have created a framework for your goals. It will take a little time and effort. The rewards will be an unerring vision to the future producing results today.

Goal setting is recognized as perhaps the strongest of all forces for personal motivation toward the cultivation of leadership abilities. Goal setting is the act that makes everything else possible. It adds aim to energy, focuses talent, and even structures time.

Before you will be able to motivate your team and even yourself, you must understand goal setting. You must analyze yourself and be able to define your own goals. These goals will form the framework for your practice vision.

In 1953, the graduating class of Yale University was asked three questions dealing with goals.

  1. Have you established goals?
  2. Have you written them down?
  3. Do you have a plan to accomplish them?


Only 3% answered yes to these questions. Twenty years later, in 1973, surviving members of the class of 1953 participated in another study. The 3% who had said yes to goals were more happily married, more successful, had a better family life, and were in better health. And 97% of the net worth of the class of 1953 was in the hands of this 3%.

When Macy’s came under union pressure to promote more managers from within, they set up a New York University course to teach management skills and even offered to pay the tuition of the interested employees. Less than 3% signed up.

You can’t hit a target you can’t see. You must have focus. There are three basic rules.

  1. Goals must be written down.
  2. Realistic plans must be made for their accomplishment.
  3. Deadlines must be set and honored.


Peter Drucker said, “The common denominator of all successful people is a perfect balance between thought and action.”

Failure is inevitable, you just shouldn’t link it to giving up.

Did you know that 5 out of 10 people avoid setting goals because they’re simply afraid they’ll feel bad if they don’t reach them? When people are unsuccessful in goal setting and leadership development, it is usually because they don’t know where to begin.

When you identify your goals, you will begin to sense the power of your own talents, abilities, and capacity to effect changes in yourself. You will emerge from underneath hindering circumstances that have previously limited you and establish a more  concrete leadership direction. You will be more goal directed and achievementmotivated, and as a result, will develop a non-limiting belief in yourself and your ability to lead that will inevitably carry you to whatever heights of achievement you envision.

Any enterprise built bywise planning…becomes strongthrough common sense, andprofits wonderfully bykeeping abreast of the facts.
Proverbs 24:3-4

The starting point of all achievement is desire.
– Napoleon Hill

Whatever the mind can conceive…and you can bring yourself
to believe…you can achieve!

Basic Steps For Achieving Goals

  1. First, you must decide clearly what you want – not what you might occasionally wish for, or half-heartedly want – but determine that which you sincerely and earnestly desire.
  2. Then, write out specifically your exact goals, in the order of their importance, the things and conditions you really, truly want.
  3. Set out, in writing, the desired date of the accomplishment of your goal…this does away with the “someday, I’m gonna” syndrome.
  4. Read the list of what you want  three times each day  – morning, noon and night. See yourself enjoying the accomplishment of your goal…believe and you will achieve!  Think of your goals throughout the day. If you ever slip toward WORRY, immediately stop yourself from this misuse of your imagination, and reverse the worry process by dwelling on your desired outcome.
  5. Consciously develop a detailed, scheduled plan of action to bring it about…then take one little step at a time, progressing toward your goals.
  6. Alert your subconscious mind and let it start working for you…go on about your regular business and let it begin to happen. Strengthen your conviction by giving thanks that it is already done. Have faith and patience  – work and believe  – amazing results will come about!
  7. On Company and Family Goals, you will probably want to discuss and share their development with the members involved…however, on personal goals, do not talk to others about your plan.
  8. Think and  act confidently and successfully and you will begin to  feel, then actually become, confident and successful. Confidence and enthusiasm are contagious; so are the lack of them. Think, act, practice and live the traits and qualities you desire and  they become yours!


Master Management Rules To Follow

  1. Each day write a list of the 6 most important things to be done:  number them in order of importance; then look at number one, put the list away until number one is accomplished. Mark off number one, look at number two, and repeat the process. Consider only one item at a time; forget the others until their time comes. At the end of the day, you will have accomplished much more than if you had dispersed your thoughts and energy over several items at a time. If any items are left at the day’s end, include them in the list of 6 for the next day, again evaluating all 6 and numbering in order of importance. Always end the day by emphasizing what you did do rather than what you did not do.
  2. At the end of each week, plan the next week’s activities, using the 3 list system. On separate pieces of paper list: 1. Those things that must be done, and at specific times. 2. Those things that must be done, but at no specified time. 3. Those things you would like to do (including personal pleasures). Then transfer list #1 to your call sheet or appointment book, putting each item at its specified time. Transfer list #2, deciding and putting items at a specified time now. Transfer list #3, same as #2, filling the time spaces still left. Be lenient in allotting the time, but rigid in disciplining yourself to stick to the schedule. Use this very simple system and you will accomplish far more than you imagined possible and find a great joy, peace and contentment.
  3. For your health, peace of mind, and longer, happier life, definitely schedule a few minutes each day for total relaxation. Schedule it and do it.
  4. Schedule weekend rest and recreation and schedule vacation time far in advance and stick to it.


Situation (Problem) Analysis And Decision Making

First, estimate the situation. Determine how many there are. List them all. Take one and define it.

  1. Write it out in a clear, complete statement; not a question.
  2. What are the causes of the situation? What needs are not being met?
  3. What are the possible solutions? List all possible answers.
  4. Which is the best possible solution?
  5. Decide!  Act!!  Do it now!!!
  6. How will it be carried out? When will it be done? Where will it be done? Who will do it? What will be done? How will it be done? Why will it be done?
  7. Follow up!  Require the responsible parties to report their progress at the next team meeting.


Realize that attitudes are more important than facts. A good positive attitude can eliminate problems completely by turning them into situations that challenge your skills and abilities, making life an exciting game. So play to win and enjoy it.

People are persuaded more by the depth of your conviction than by the height of your logic – more by your own enthusiasm than any proof you can offer. Persuasion, then, is converting people, no, not in our way of thinking, but to our way of feeling and believing. (Cavett Robert)

The Ten Commandments Of Change

“Change is more acceptable when it is understood than when it is not.”

“Change is more acceptable when it does not threaten security than when it does.”

“Change is more acceptable when those affected have helped to create it than when it has been externally imposed.”

“Change is more acceptable when it results from an application of previously established impersonal principles than it is when it is dictated by personal order.”

“Change is more acceptable when it follows a series of successful changes than it is when it follows a series of failures.”

“Change is more acceptable when it is inaugurated after prior change has been assimilated than when it is inaugurated during the confusion of other major change.”

“Change is more acceptable if it has been planned than it is if it is experimental.”

“Change is more acceptable to people new on the job than to people old on the job.”

“Change is more acceptable to people who share in the benefits of change than to those who do not.”

“Change is more acceptable if the organization has been trained to plan for improvement than it is if the organization is accustomed to static procedures.”*

*(Besse, 1957, pp. 62-63) as in Steiner, G.A., Top Management Planning

Nothing will ever be attempted
if all possible objections
must first be overcome