Here’s a fundamental truth. If you don’t know where you’re headed, you’ll never know how to get there.
It’s easy to have a set of goals. But success only comes when you create a path to accomplish them. Winging it may waste time and keep you from achieving your vision. In fact, without periodically re-evaluating your goals, you may get stuck in a hamster wheel mentality, which only leads to frustration and exhaustion.
Periodically Reevaluate Your Goals
While it’s important to have goals, they will change over time as your life or work circumstances change. We get so used to “grinding” (pun intended) that we forget to look up and ask ourselves if where we are headed is still where we want to go.
Take a moment to reflect. Are you still striving for the same things you were striving for 10 years ago? Fifteen years ago? If yes, are you sure those goals still suit your life?
You won’t be able to see the forest for the trees if you aren’t intentional about checking in with yourself. From time to time, pull back and get a bird’s eye view. Ask yourself, “Do I actually still want this?” If your vision has changed, ditch outdated goals that cause unneeded stress or guilt.
It’s okay to change your mind and pursue something else. Take what you’ve learned and come up with new goals that serve your current vision for your life, and then give yourself permission to pursue them!
Whether you’re sticking with existing goals or establishing new ones, are your current systems and strategies working? If not, this is a great time to pivot or double down on behaviors that will get you back on track.
Create a Framework for Success
Start by evaluating your definition of success. Make sure the goals you are working toward are truly yours and not imposed upon you by your upbringing or by comparison with colleagues. Everyone defines “success” differently. But clarifying your definition will guide your decisions and behaviors.
Success is not just accumulation of material wealth. It can also be something you hope to experience or how you want your life to feel. If owning a yacht makes you feel successful, great! If the freedom to leave work early to pick up your kids from school is your version of success, then embrace that! Your personal definition of success can’t be labeled right or wrong if it is reflective of what would truly satisfy you.
Use a strategic framework that will help you develop plans to connect vision with outcomes. The model I’m currently using, OGSM, consists of objective, goals, strategies, and metrics. I filter my decisions and actions through these factors. Without a top-down approach like OGSM, at best you’ll have a set of loosely connected actions into which you’re investing time, energy, dollars, and other resources that may or may not yield a desired outcome.
Ideally, your objective supports your practice’s vision, mission, and core values. This is usually a long-term goal that can be measured. Goals are the quantifiable milestones necessary to reach the objective. Strategically prioritize work you will focus on in order to achieve these goals.
This can be a combination of projects (like purchasing new technology) and/or practices (ongoing organic marketing). Strategies (the forest) should not be confused with the tasks (the trees) needed to complete the strategy.
Metrics are simply data points that will be collected, analyzed, and reviewed to examine if you are on track to achieve your goals. Over time, these numbers should reveal trends that suggest positive progress. Tracking too many metrics is counterproductive, though. Concentrate only on the critical few key performance indicators.
This OGSM framework provides a way of organizing a plan of action for achieving your goals that simplifies your decision-making as it relates to achieving the objective. When decision-making is refined, it reduces the waste of precious resources such as time, money, and energy and increases the probability of success.
How to Apply the OGSM Framework in Your Dental Office
Start small. Start slow. Revisit frequently. To get the hang of the OGSM approach, you might start by developing a bit-sized, three- to six-month plan. Being mindful about the process will help keep stress at bay.
Consider the following approach.
Define your goals and unify them into an overarching objective. List all the strategies you could use to achieve those goals and meet your objective. Select the critical few strategies that will be the most effective in getting you toward your goals sooner. Finally, choose two or three metrics that you’ll use to track your progress.
The One Thing to Focus On
Like any other tool, the way you use a strategic framework will determine your success. I highly recommend The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The book’s premise is that you should set aside time daily to focus on the one thing that will get you closer to your vision.
Look at the strategies you’ve laid out. Which one will get you closest to your objective? Set aside time to focus on that strategy. Then work on the next strategy, and so on. This is how things actually get done—through focused attention.
Success with any strategic framework comes from repetition. Once you’ve tried the OGSM method for a three-month strategic plan, analyze and evaluate the results. Take what you’ve learned and apply it to your next plan. Before you know it, the finish line will be in sight!
Achieving objectives is similar to running a marathon. There must be planning and preparation, mixed with blood, sweat, and tears to make it to the finish line. Finishing marathons and accomplishing goals both involve a strong mental game. Benjamin Franklin said it best: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Have a plan, stay focused, and cross that finish line, victorious.
Dr. Dovidio graduated in 1997 from Northwestern University Dental School with honors from the Academy of General Dentistry. She completed advanced training at the VA Medical Center in North Hills, California, where she served as chief dental resident. A certified yoga teacher, Dr. Dovidio lives in Southern California with her husband and two sons and runs Yoga for Dentists, an online community of dental professionals who are interested in healthy living. She offers free content on the Yoga for Dentists YouTube Channel and podcast as well as in a private Facebook group and on Instagram. For a free End of Workday Meditation you can download to your device, click here or visit yogafordentists.net. She can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.