Most management consultants tell us that the first step along the journey to success is to write our vision for our business. As an advisor to dentists for many years, I have found myself routinely giving this advice as well. However, I have found that most people find the task daunting and never really get around to doing it. They spend a long time accepting what life gives them rather than focusing on their main objectives. For most of us, we need a starting point and some kind of format to follow. Toward that end, I have compiled a brief, step-by-step process to help you create your vision:
1. You must do this when you are in a contemplative state where you are open to expanding your own beliefs. This exercise may take you someplace you don’t expect. Take a legal pad and go someplace where you do your best thinking … somewhere where you won’t be distracted.
2. Answer these questions to help you get started. What is my purpose in life as it relates to:
My patients and staff
The fun pursuits in my life
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3.Make a list of the things you want in life. I am going to give you permission to be selfish for a moment and avoid the Miss America-type answers like “world peace.” Ask yourself what you would do, have, or be if you knew you could not fail. It is important to write everything down no matter how wild it sounds. You can edit it later! Focus especially on those things that give you and the people around you joy.
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4.Once you have this wish list compiled, take each item on the list and make a list of the benefits each one would provide you and the people around you.
5. Next, determine if any item on your list would cause a negative result for your family, staff, or friends.
6.From your wish list, you can now prioritize and edit and remove the items from the list that you do not wish to pursue. You may find it helpful to put them in order of importance to you.
7.With your values, purpose, and wish list in mind, write a statement of where you see yourself in five or 10 years. Do not worry at this point how to get there; just write! Your narrative should be profoundly filled with clarity and exactness in detail. You should include the benefits for you and the others around you in achieving this vision. It’s OK to model after someone who may have done what you want, but make it personal to you. Discuss your strengths in your narrative and how these strengths will assist you in achieving your vision. Discuss what obstacles you expect to encounter on your journey toward this vision and how you plan to overcome these obstacles. Avoid trying to make this vision perfect. In this instance, perfectionism is our enemy. If you find it easier to speak your thoughts than write them, dictate them into a recorder and transcribe them later.
8. Once you have written your vision, share it with one person whom you trust will be both honest and supportive. Choose this person carefully as we need honest feedback that will help us fine-tune our written vision. You should not only allow this person to read your vision, but spend some time discussing it with them. We often find that talking about things out loud helps us refine our thinking.
9. Make revisions to your written vision and begin the process of developing the goals and action list that will be necessary to support your vision.
10.Make a commitment to your vision by sharing it with your family, staff, and friends. Ask their help in achieving this vision. Make it a point to review your progress every three to four months, and once a year take time to review the vision in detail and make the revisions or refinements that you want or need to add to make it great!