The magic of goal setting


When you know what goals you really want to accomplish, the path to your dreams becomes clear. Here's how to harness the power of goal setting for your practice.

Goal-setting helps you discover what you really want to accomplish in life. It forces you to make commitments. And actually writing goals down makes them more specific and concrete. Once you've got your goals on paper, you can scrutinize, analyze, refine, and ponder them more closely. When conditions or your values change, you can update or alter your goalsóeven abandon them, if circumstances warrant.

There is substantial evidence that goals are more achievable when you break them into more manageable parts. For example, for most of his NBA career, Michael Jordan kept his scoring average at 32 points per game. It didn't matter who his teammates were, what defense they were running, what injuries he was nursing, or who was guarding him. Michael Jordan would get his 32 points.

When reporters asked him how he consistently maintained that average for more than decade, Jordan said, "I simplified it a few years ago. Thirty-two points per game is really just eight points a quarter. I figure I can get that in some kind of way during the course of a game."

Action steps: Make a list of the practice goals that are most meaningful to you. You may include weekly, monthly, or yearly production goals; collection percentage; accounts receivable over 60 and 90 days; numbers of new clients; average charge per transaction; or compliance rates for vaccinations, heartworm testing and prevention, therapeutic diets, dental prophylaxis, preanesthetic screenings, and senior screenings. Then break these goals down into manageable, bite-sized mini-goals. Decide which goals you'll focus on first and assign them target completion dates. Then set later target dates for other critical goals on your list to build an achievement timetable for your next year or two. Checking items off this timetable will sustain your enthusiasm.

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