How To Set Goals To Supercharge Your Practice Success
Do you feel like you’re treading water? Working hard but not getting anywhere? Are you worried you’ll be stuck with a mediocre practice and an average life? Do you want to move forward — to expand your practice growth and propel your profits — but don’t know how?
Then you’re reading the right article at the right time. There’s one step many therapists miss that grinds their progress to a halt. So, let me ask you…
Have you ever set a solid goal?
No, not a nice notion; not a vague intention about what your future will hold. But an actual, solid, unwavering, written down, and planned out goal?
A goal acts as the fuel that powers achievement; the (not so) secret sauce to propel your dreams.
Because, as Bill Copeland said, “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”
The research bears this out. As an article published in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology, noted, “Setting high and specific goals is linked to increased task performance, persistence, and motivation, compared to vague or easy goals.”
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Yet, it can be easy to overlook goal setting in practice. So, before we share one of our favorite goal-setting frameworks let’s look at how therapist, Luna Medina-Wolf, harnessed the power of goal-setting to transform her practice and her life.
In October 2015, Luna opened her private practice. Within four years she owned a thriving group practice with six therapists, including herself. She shares her journey in our podcast episode, Setting Audacious Goals as a Path to Private Practice Success. How did she do it?
Goal setting, action, and hard work.
Her first foray into private practice was as a part-time therapist working from another therapist’s office. The first goal was to see if private practice was for her. She then upped the game: if all went well she would move into her own office. She did. The next goal was to consult from a bigger office within one year. She accomplished this on time. An unexpected community crisis brought forward her plans to expand into a private group practice. Her goals progressed and expanded.
As Luna said, “I set up a goal and then I met it. And then I set up another goal, and it happened.”
When we dive into the details of her story, we can see she set up two types of goals: audacious goals and stair-stepping goals.
The first type of goal — the audacious goal — was her driving force, her reason why. To “never to turn anyone who needed help away.”
The second type of goal — the stair-stepping goal — is as the name implies. A goal is set, then achieved. The next larger goal is set, then achieved. And onwards and upwards! Each step forms the foundation for the next, bigger step.
A simple example of using stair-stepping goals to begin in private practice might look like this:
- Set a goal to fill your consults two evenings per week while working full-time at another job
- As your practice grows, aim to consult with clients in a full-time load four days per week
- Once achieved, raise your fees or start a group practice
Arm in arm with setting goals, you need the drive to achieve them. An idea remains just an idea without action. To achieve her goals, Luna pushed herself to learn and implement marketing and business strategies, including those that made her feel uncomfortable. Luna:
- Volunteered and developed a deep commitment to her community (working on her audacious goal and, in the process, becoming well-known locally)
- Spoke with groups regularly
- Sent postcards to doctors’ offices
- Networked on Facebook, at events, and one-on-one
- Created a strong referral network
- Trained others
- Promoted her unique offerings, including her fluency in Spanish
- Learned necessary skills (including the organization and processes required for insurance, handling, and billing for herself and her team)
- Implemented systems: including detailed onboarding for new team members, and for her other responsibilities. Luna expands on this in our podcast together.
Importantly, she dedicated (and still dedicates) time to her family and her self-care. If you burn out, you can’t help anyone. This downtime can be cemented with a goal as well. For example: I set the goal of two work-free days per week.
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Can see the power of goals? They deliberately and decisively turn ideas and dreams into tangible outcomes.
So, how can you set impactful goals that stick? Those that massively move you forward in practice?
Set SMARTER goals
One of our favorite goal-setting frameworks is known as the SMARTER goals framework. This easy-to-remember acronym stands for:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant
T = Time-bound
E = Evaluated
R = Revised
Be very specific when setting a goal. What do you want to achieve exactly?
For example, I will increase my client numbers by 20% over the next quarter. I will network with four doctors by X date. I will have a professional, secure website live within the next four weeks.
You must be able to measure your progress to know if you are, in fact, moving forward. How exactly will you measure success?
For example: If you set a goal to increase your website traffic by 20% in twelve weeks, set up Google analytics so you can track the statistics. If you set a goal to consult with four new clients by X date, you can (and should) count the number of new clients you consulted within this timeframe.
Given your time, finances, and other constraints is your goal attainable?
The goal-setting process should be well-considered and planned. Yes, ambitious, but also realistic so you can achieve your goal. Missing the mark hurts. Failure leads to a drop in mood, motivation, and self-esteem. Ensure attainability to encourage progress.
For example: instead of aiming for a fully booked full-time practice within three months of opening your doors (for most therapists this is not attainable), use the stair-stepping approach. Over time you can achieve the same goal — and much faster than if you didn’t set goals — but with many accumulative, confidence-building wins.
To be blunt, if a goal isn’t relevant it’s a waste of time.
Ask yourself: Does the goal contribute to your business or personal growth? Is it relevant to your progress? Does it move you up a stair-stepping level?
Set a realistic date and commit to that date.
When Luna was in the earlier part of her journey, she set a one-year timeframe to move to a bigger office. Take inspiration from this. Set time-bound goals.
For example, I will achieve X goal by Y date.
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It’s been said that a plane is off-course for most of its trip. Yet through constant readjustments, it arrives at its destination safely and on time.
Evaluation and revision…
By incorporating the measurable step above, you can assess and evaluate your progress.
For example: if you set a goal to increase website traffic by 10% in the next 60 days, assess this progress at set points along the way. By evaluating what you’ve made measurable, you can determine your exact progress.
Revision allows you to change your approach to ensure you reach your goal.
For example: Imagine you set a goal to write 12 blogs in the next three months. Instead of writing one per week, you’re producing one blog every two weeks. By evaluating as above, you will become aware that you’re off-course. You can then revise your schedule and put in place a strategy that ensures you reach your three-month goal.
At BrighterVision, we like the SMARTER goals framework because it is simple, actionable, and effective. If you prefer, use another framework. Whatever your choice, make sure you set goals in a way that transforms your desires into reality.
5 ways to support your SMARTER goals
There are many ways to support the achievement of private practice goals. In our conversation with Luna, we discussed the technology that supports her success. Options that can aid your success too. These include:
- Digital calendars and reminders
- A talk-to-text tool so you can “speak” your daily notes and have them transformed into digital records
- Scheduling tools
- Our blogging platform, which includes a library of pre-written, professional blog posts that can be scheduled to your WordPress blog
- Social media, including Facebook and Instagram. Our growth tool, Social Genie, provides thousands of posts that can be effortlessly shared to your social media accounts
There is much truth in the saying work SMARTER not harder. When solid goals are combined with dedication and supportive technology, the therapy world truly can become your oyster.
And with SMARTER goals in mind, we’d like to sign off with two of Luna’s favorite quotes. Quotes that inform and inspire her audacious goal:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” — Margaret Mead.
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