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

To accomplish your clinic goals, however, you need to know how to set them. You can’t simply say, “I want” and expect it to happen in my clinic. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve in your clinic and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it. In between, there are some very well-defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish in your clinic.

1. Set Goals That Motivate You
When you set goals for clinic, it is important that they motivate you: this means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is key to achieving goals.

2. Set SMART Goals
You have probably heard of SMART Goals already. But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. There are many variations of what SMART stands for, but the essence is this – goals should be:
• Specific.
• Measurable.
• Attainable.
• Relevant.
• Time Bound.

3. Set Goals in Writing
The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it. As you write, use the word “will” instead of “would like to” or “might.” For example, “I will reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year in my clinic,” not “I would like to reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year in my clinic.” The first goal statement has power and you can “see” yourself reducing expenses, the second lacks passion and gives you an excuse if you get side-tracked.

4. 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 required 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 towards your final goal. This is especially important if your goal is big and demanding, or long-term.

5. Stick With It!
Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity in your clinic, not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track and make regular time-slots available to review your goals on your own and with your clinic team. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.