We’ve all heard the running joke that New Year’s resolutions are bound to fail by February 1. Sadly, this joke is funny precisely because it’s true. How many times have you started January with the best of intentions only to fall back into the same habits as the previous year? Maybe it has proved true once again, and you are already bemoaning your inability to stick to this year’s goal. Perhaps this is because you are not setting your resolutions in the right way. Whether you are talking about weight loss or professional dentist goals, society has a rigid idea about the best way to set and achieve objectives. Setting your goals in a healthy way means you are far more likely to stick to them for months and even years to come.
In my experience, New Year’s resolutions and dentist goals often fail for the same reasons. Perhaps one of the following scenarios sounds familiar:
1. Your dentist goals focused on the negative.
I actually dislike the word “resolution” because it has such discouraging connotations. It leads you to focus on your weaknesses, rather than on your strengths. However, it is precisely by concentrating on your strong points that you will find lasting success! Negative resolutions (“I will stop doing such and such.”) will zap your energy and confidence. Positive goals (“I will continue to do such and such and incorporate this strength into other aspects of my life.”) are encouraging! Therefore, they are far easier to stick to. When you focus on your strengths, your weaknesses will start to fade away on their own.
2. You didn’t have a specific plan of action.
Vagueness is one of the main reasons that I see goals fall by the wayside. Think of it this way: If your New Year’s resolution was to lose weight, you would need to know what your healthy weight rage is, how many calories you need to consume, and how much you need to exercise in order to lose. If you just go into it blindly without a plan, you are likely to become discouraged and give up. The same can be said of professional goals. If your goal was to improve marketing efforts, you should have known what procedures you most like to perform, your target audience, your marketing budget, and the most effective advertising methods in your area. Of course, marketing is just one example. For any of your goals, you should have specific objectives and detailed plans of action.
3. You listened to someone else, instead of following your intuition.
Dentists are usually confident about their clinical ability and scientific knowledge, but they are a remarkably self-effacing bunch when it comes to business and leadership. Like most dentists, you probably did not receive business training in dental school. Now that you have acquired your own practice, you may assume that you know less than you actually do. This means that you are more likely to change your practice based on someone else’s advice – even if it goes against what you know has worked for you in the past. This is a huge mistake! Dentist goals are not one-size-fits-all. They are tailored to you, your team, and your practice.
Trust yourself and your personal strengths. Then set a new resolution today. Don’t wait until next January to become the best dentist and the best person you can be.