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The Number One Rule of Goal Setting



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If You Want to Achieve Your Practice Goals, You Must…

by Ken Runkle – America’s Profitability Expert™

Did you achieve your practice goals last year? If not, it’s possible that you forgot the number one rule for goal setting.
First, it is critical that you review last year’s goals and set new goals for the coming year. Without goals, your practice meanders without a clear destination.
As you set goals for the new year, achievement becomes much more likely if you follow the number one rule of goal setting:
The Number One Rule of Goal Setting:
Goals must be Written in Specific and Measurable terms.
Let’s break it down:
1. Goals must be Written.
Until a goal is put on paper, it remains a wish or a dream. Writing out your practice goals allows every team member the opportunity to clearly understand the goals, buy-in to the goals, and work together toward achievement.
Successful practices tend to post their written goals in staff areas on banners and signs while using other creative methods to keep the goals front and center for every team member. Going one step further, goal-setting experts often promote the idea of rewriting your yearly goals every day. Imagine your entire team rewriting the stated yearly goals every morning before the first patient arrives.
When goals are written, they can be owned. When goals are owned, they bring focus. When goals bring focus, achievement follows close behind.
As a guide, we encourage practices to limit their written goals to three main bullet points. Limiting the bullet points focuses your goal-setting on the most important goals while also making it easier for every team member to be able to recite the practice goals at any time.
2. Goals must be Specific.
Think through your goals, drilling down from the general goal to the specific goal. It is not enough to want a “growing practice” this coming year. What does that mean? What does that look like? Maybe it means you want to  “increase new patient numbers” as a general goal. How can you drill down to make that goal more specific? Your specific goal may be to “Increase new patient numbers by ten new patients a month.” Specific goals are measurable.
3. Goals must be Measurable.
Setting a goal that cannot be measured is an exercise in frustration. How will you know if you’ve achieved the goal unless you can measure achievement?
“Increasing new patients by ten new patients a month” is both specific and measurable. You will know if you achieved that goal in March or April. At the end of December 2012, you will know if you added a total of 120 new patients.  
Measurable goals allow you to evaluate and re-focus as you move through the year. For example, during a month where new patient numbers are low, you may decide to make a special marketing push the last week of the month to reach the monthly goal.
Practice Goals Are Your Goals
Finally, as the practice leader, all practice goals are your goals. You set the tone for expectations and achievement. Set goals big enough to challenge yourself and your team. Do not be swayed by others to lower the bar or let last years struggles determine this years standards. Own your goals, live your goals, and pursue your goals with passion and determination. They are your goals and your leadership drives the practice toward accomplishment.
Go for it!
– Ken Runkle, America’s Profitability Expert™, is the founder and president of Paragon Management, Inc. and been helping dental practices reach peak profitability for twenty-five years.


Paragon is the leading dental practice management and dental consulting firm for today's dentist. Over 25 years of service have established us as the industry experts when it comes to growing your practice and achieving the success that you deserve. Paragon is America's Profitability Experts.


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