Don’t Be a Mosquito In a Nudist Colony

In Culture by Dental Entrepreneur

Why Lifetime Goals are So Important to What I Do Tomorrow, and Why Tomorrow is Important to My Lifetime Goals.

The mosquito in the nudist colony looks around and says, “I know what to do, I just don’t know where to begin. So much opportunity, what should I do first?”

Prioritizing what to do daily is critical to our success in dentistry. Our destiny for the next year will be the accumulation of 365 days, one day at a time.

Begin With the End in Mind

How do we understand the importance of tying the actions of each day to our future? Stephen Covey quoted me in his final book, The 3rd Alternative, regarding living a mission-based, meaningful life. I was just starting to connect with him when he died tragically in a bicycling accident. He understood why choices we make every day are so important to where we end up, saying, “Until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.'” Start with what we want when we’re done–what we call our Lifetime Goals–and then back into what we should be doing today to get there.

We must tie every day to the long haul. If we focus on just today, we claim victories that are only imposters. If we focus too much on the future, we get fogged or discouraged by the lack of measurable progress today. The actions of every day must be connected to where we want to end up.

The key is to always keep today’s action plans and our future Ideal Situation in clear view at the same time, while continuously making the connection between the two.

Here’s a progression that clearly gives us that connection, starting with the end in mind:

  • Lifetime Goals

What are the things I want to do the rest of my life that I can never check off as completed …. the big, continuous stuff? Every one of these goals is something you can do the rest of your life without ever finishing. We also refer to this as Your Big Why.
Your Lifetime Goals are success and significance expressed in values and life beliefs. I’m using my business to get me to my Lifetime Goals. If I don’t know my Lifetime Goals, I’ve got no clue why I’m in business. Get clarity on your Lifetime Goals. It is foundational to understanding how today matters. He who aims at nothing hits it every time. Aim at something.

  • Ideal Lifestyle

Once I understand my Big Why, I need to know how much time and money it will take to realize it. We call the convergence of sufficient time and money, the Ideal Lifestyle for living out your Big Why. Most people are aiming for an Ideal Lifestyle that isn’t connected to any deep motivation for having it. It’s just about the money.

But time and money are just resources–It is what you do with them that makes them valuable. It’s no wonder most people never reach their Ideal Lifestyle. They don’t know why they want it. People who try to make money rarely make a lot of it. People with a bigger reason to make both time and money, a Big Why, are much more likely to make a lot of both.

  • Pick a “When”

Critical to escaping the Mosquito/Nudist Colony problem is knowing when I want to arrive at my Ideal Lifestyle? We call this a Business Maturity Date (BMD). Pick an exact date and time, even if it’s five years out. The BMD is usually tied to when you can begin to regularly get away from your practice and it still makes money when you’re gone.

Pick an exact date and work toward it. You might decide that at your BMD you will achieve 50 percent of your Ideal Lifestyle (time and money). Be very intentional and specific about your objective–you get what you intend, not what you hope for. Once you’ve reached your BMD, every year after that you can set a new objective until you reach your full Ideal Lifestyle, which might take a few more years.

  • Determine Annual, Quarterly and Monthly Actions

What are the two or three big things you need to accomplish this year in order to get to your BMD, or if you’ve already reached that, to your Ideal Lifestyle? Figure that out, then decide what you need to do in the next three months to accomplish those twelve month objectives, and then what you think you can accomplish this month toward that quarterly objective.

We suggest doing this with a simple two-page Strategic Plan. This Plan is reviewed weekly, revised monthly, updated quarterly and pushed back out to cover twelve months. It is a rolling 12-month plan that runs your practice every day. It’s your boss. The first page is purely strategic–why you’re in business, the impact you want to have on the world around you and the means by which you make money. The second page is purely tactical. It outlines what needs to be done in the next 12 months to grow a practice that makes money when you’re not around. Be realistic and create success. We regularly overestimate what we can do in a month and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.

Only include things that will resolve long-term business obstacles, not the relentless list of urgent things that need to be done but don’t actually help us build a better practice. And keep it as simple as possible. If you capture everything, you will likely do nothing. That’s why we encourage you to keep it to two pages.

  • Chose One Big Thing a Week

Each Monday, take a look at what needs to be done this month to help you build a better practice and decide what you can do this week to help you get there. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.

One Big Thing First, Every Week

Covey gave the illustration of filling a vase with big rocks, then small stones, then sand, and finally water. But never start with the water or the sand. They will keep you from putting in the big rocks.

The point? When you start with the small stuff every week, there’s no room for the big stuff. Most of us wake up every Monday morning consumed with the small stuff; the water and the sand of business. This makes us hostages to our practice because nothing ever really changes. Is it any wonder we end up where we are a year later?

We need to ask ourselves, “What am I pretending not to know?” You might realize you are pretending to own a practice when in fact, the practice owns you and all you are getting out of it is income, but not a life. Pick one big rock a week, one strategic thing that will help you get to your Lifetime Goals, and make sure you put that in your schedule first. If you do, there will be plenty of time for the pebbles, sand and water of daily life. But if you pick the small stuff first, you’ll never get to the big stuff.

If we know our Lifetime Goals, we can then back into what we need to be doing tomorrow. Remember, these are goals we can never check off. And by clearly knowing WHEN we want to be in our Ideal Lifestyle for living out those Lifetime Goals, we can then back into what we need to be doing tomorrow to get there. If you don’t know what the end game looks like, how will you ever know what to do today? The Random Hope strategy of business (and life) is not a strategy. Continuously connecting your daily activity and your Lifetime Goals is the key to clarity and to knowing if each day is counting.

The true dental professionals and practice owners can go on vacation and their business continues to make money when they are not there. They have figured out how to make more money in less time, get off the treadmill and get back to the passion that brought them into business in the first place. And they use their mature business to support their Lifetime Goals. Survival, subsistence, stability and even Success are no longer their focus. They now have time to focus on living a life of significance and giving themselves to the things they were made to do best.

Most people spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do figuring out what will make their life significant and describing their Lifetime Goals.

As Henry David Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be most men. Know what you’re doing and get a reason to really build your practice.
Dare to ask, “Why?” It’s the most important question a practice owner will ever ask himself/herself.
Don’t be a mosquito in a nudist colony. Know what to do, where to begin and what to do next. Connect your daily activity to your Lifetime Goals and watch the fireworks begin.

Chuck Blakeman is a successful entrepreneur, best-selling business author and world-renowned business advisor who built ten businesses in seven industries on four continents, and now uses his experience to advise others. His company, Crankset Group, provides outcome-based mentoring and peer advisory for business leaders worldwide. Mr. Blakeman is a results leader with decades of experience leading companies in marketing, import/export, fulfillment, call centers, website processing.