The one thing you should do before starting the new year

If you're like me, you probably feel like this year was a jam-packed, high-speed blur.

If you're like me, you probably feel like this year was a jam-packed, high-speed blur. In fact, every year seems to go by a little faster-propelled by schedules, goals, and endless to-do lists. So, how are you supposed to keep track of it all? How do you create closure for this year and get a fresh, intentional start to next year? Most importantly, how do you make sure next year will be better?

Before being swept into the onslaught of plans for 2017, you need to pause and look back. That's why, at the end of each year, I take a sober assessment of the year as a whole. The goal is to figure out what worked, what didn't, and what I need to adjust to make sure I don't make the same mistakes next year. I call it a "sober assessment" for a few different reasons. First, this process is incredibly sobering. Seriously, if you ever need your humility kicked up a notch, just take inventory of all the mistakes you've made over the course of a year. Second, this assessment requires just one ingredient: honesty. You need to be honest with yourself and take full responsibility for the areas where you fell short. Why? Because these are your opportunities for growth. These will be the areas that will require the most focus in the upcoming year. These are also the areas where you are probably underinvesting.

So, what kinds of questions should you ask yourself during this sober assessment? Well, you can start by looking at your numbers. Numbers force you to hold yourself accountable because numbers never lie. So, take a look at your 2016 numbers for new patients, production, and collections. Did you meet your goal for each area? If not, ask yourself: did you make it a priority? Next, you should examine your resources. For example, do you have the right team in place? Maybe you think you have the right team in place, but you simply haven't invested in training them. Or maybe you've been putting off hiring (or firing) a new team member for too long. Ask yourself what obstacles are standing in your way. Finally, assess your vision for the practice. Do you have a clearly defined and well-outlined vision? Is your team on board with that vision?

Once you've taken some time and completed this assessment (I'd suggest writing down your questions and answers) you can begin to plan for the new year. Make sure you adjust your plans to take into account areas where you fell short last year. Be intentional about pouring your time and energy into these areas-2017 is your year for maximizing missed opportunities. Be sure to set goals that both you and your team can get excited about, and check that these goals are carefully aligned with your long-term vision for the practice.

The bottom line is this: the end of the year is your chance to hit the reset button. Don't keep lugging your mistakes around like a bulky suitcase! Take a sober assessment, recognize your mistakes, and let them go. Move on. Don't look back. Take only the lessons from these mistakes with you, and start the new year in high gear.

If you aren't intentional about assessing your practice and making some serious adjustments, you might just wake up one day and realize 10 more years have gone by and you're still spinning your wheels. Don't let one more year pass without taking action and being deliberate about defining your goals. 2017 is the year to create an an action plan to achieve them!


Jay Geier is an entrepreneur, educational speaker, business coach, and philanthropist. He is president and founder of the Scheduling Institute, the largest company in the world offering dental office training and consulting. He created the world-renowned 5 Star Challenge telephone training program that has revolutionized the way dentists attract new patients. Visit schedulinginstitute.com/DE to learn how he attracted more than 600 new patients in one week.

Author's note: To kick-start your assessment, get a closer look at how your front desk team is managing potential new patient inquiries. Take the 5 Star Challenge at 5starchallenge.com. We will conduct a free mystery call and reveal to you an opportunity to increase your new patient numbers, so that you can start 2017 off on the right foot!

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