Why You Need a Vision for Your Dental Practice (and How to Develop One)

Too many dentists work harder and harder with little to show for it. Years go by without a real vacation,  family time becomes a rushed kiss on the way out the door, and even if they make decent money, bills pile up and student loans linger.

It doesn't have to be that way.

For years, I thought if I served my community and made my patients happy, I'd build a successful practice and enjoy my life. The only problem was no matter how well I served my community or how happy my patients became, something was missing in my life. I made decent money, but I didn't feel successful or personally fulfilled. This continued until I took a step back from running my practice to set a clearly-defined vision for both my practice and my personal life.

Everything became clear once I did that. Until I set that vision, I was helping a lot of patients, but I wasn't building a practice that allowed my family to live the life we wanted. If I hadn't stepped back to visualize the future for my business and family, I'd still be working hard and feeling unfulfilled. But by envisioning my ideal personal life and practice, I was able to create a make that vision my reality.

For my family, I pinned photos of places I wanted to travel and experiences I wanted for my family to a board and hung it where I'd see it every day. For my practice, I envisioned becoming the leading dental practice in my community known for Delivering WOW to everyone who walked through the door.

From there, all I needed to do was create and implement a plan to achieve that vision. You can do the same thing for your business and family by following these five steps.

1. Clearly define your vision.

Practice leaders must think strategically and clearly. A vague idea of what you want for your life won't help. It isn't enough to simply say you want to build a profitable practice or be successful. You need to be specific about exactly what you want to build and the life you want to live.

What do you want to achieve in your practice? What do you want your life to look like? Where do you want to live? How much do you want to work? What do you want to drive? Where do you want to travel? How much do you want to travel?

Dream big here. This is the life you'll be building towards. Make it great!

2. Write your vision down.

Once you have a vision for your personal life and practice, write it down and put it somewhere you can see. Writing your vision down puts it in a form you can see and feel. It also gives you something to look back at to remind you of what you're building towards.

3. Put your vision in picture form.

Create a vision board. Pin pictures of what your vision looks like on a board you'll see every day. Want to live on the beach? Cut out pictures of beautiful beaches and put them on the board. Want to win a specific award? Cut out a picture of the trophy. Pictures are powerful. A vision board will help motivate you every day.

4. Create a plan.

In this step, you will determine what you need to do to achieve your vision, who will help you do it, and by when. Then work backwards in time to establish monthly, weekly, or daily tasks.

Be specific. By when do you want to achieve your vision? What do you need to do to achieve your vision in that time frame? Do you need new equipment? What about more targeted marketing to attract a different patient mix? Do you need more space?

What people do you need to help you? Do you need an outside consultant? Do you need a coach to keep you accountable and moving in the right direction?

We needed a new office that would be unique and make us stand out if we wanted to become the leading dental practice in Jamaica.  We also needed systems and practices to help us consistently Deliver WOW to our patients. Those became two big targets for my practice, so we put plans in place to find a new office and develop the necessary systems and processes.

5. Act on the plan.

A vision without action is just a dream. After you've set a specific vision and have a plan to achieve that vision, you need to take action.

Get to work and keep moving forward towards your vision. If you misjudged something or something goes wrong, go back to step four and adjust your plan from wherever you are.

With a vision, plan, and action, you'll be well on your way to turning your vision into your reality!