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A New Year Checklist With 20/20 Vision!

by Steven J. Anderson

The turn of the calendar naturally ignites a thought process: • How did it go this year? • What’s working? • What’s not working? • What do I need to do differently? • Etc.

With the New Year and a new decade upon us, what follows is a quick checklist of things to consider and do so that you move forward with 20/20 vision. There are more items to consider than just these so use this list to get started.

1. Study up! Mentor and former business partner, the late Walter Hailey, helped me adopt a habit years ago of rereading the classic self-help book, Think and Grown Rich, by Napoleon Hill, at the end of every year in preparation for setting new goals. Although written over eighty years ago, it contains some timeless principles that I consider essential for all of us to grasp and apply regularly. If you have never read it, do it! If you have read it in the past, pick it up and reread it before the end of the year.

2. Write it down. If you have spent any time with me at all over the years, you know exactly what is going to be next on the list. It is the same thing that we talk about at every Total Patient Service Institute – Total Immersion seminar; Goals!

• Do you have them?

• Are they written down?

• Do you review them every day?

• Do you carry them with you or have them posted where you can see them every day?

In a landmark study on goal setting, Dr. Gail Mathews at Dominican University in California found that you have a 50% greater chance of reaching a goal if it is written down. You have a 100% better chance of accomplishing a goal if it is written down with regular, weekly accountability. That means you have someone outside of yourself to whom you report each week on your action and progress toward your goals. The starting point is to write them down! For a short tutorial on additional goal setting essentials to share with the family and your team, download the free e-book The Science of Setting and Achieving Goals – Making Your Goals a Reality. You can download it at www.TotalPatientService.com/free-ebooks

3. How do you measure up? Each year, we recommend that you take a close look at how your fees measure up in your market area? There are a lot of ways to position a dental practice in the market. Your fees are one aspect. Are you lower than others or higher? Do you know? Doing a fee analysis at the end of the year to see where your fees land and then adjusting based on your practice marketing strategy is sound business. If you are seeking a resources for a practice fee analysis, just send your request to Answers@TotalPatientService.com with your contact information including your zip code for which you would like the analysis done and the team at the Total Patient Service Institute will send you the comparative analysis for the fees in your area.

4. Update your insurance coding. Each year, there are updates to the insurance codes. Whether you are completely fee-for-service or a PPO practice, making sure that you are properly coding the procedures done in your practice is essential.

5. Weed the garden. Like a good garden that has to be watered, fertilized, and weeded in order for the good plants to grow and thrive, your own personal and professional garden needs continual care. A quote attributed to Lord Chesterfield says “In truth, we are more than half of what we are by imitation. The great point is to choose good models and study them with care.” Take an inventory of the most important relationships in your personal and professional life.

Remember what mother said, “be careful who your friends are.” That is just as true at any stage of life as it is when you are young. Take an inventory of your team, your professional colleagues with whom you interact the most and your friends with whom you spend time. Of those people, who are the ones who are supportive and helping you move toward your goals and who are not? Make a plan to direct your energies and your relationships with those who are in tune with where you want to go. Weed out the ones who do not by simply deciding with whom you will spend your time. Weed the garden!

6. Change a habit; change your life. A quote attributed to author John Maxwell says: “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

Re-examine your daily routine for even the most minor change that could make a major difference. Something as simple as the time you choose to go to bed, get up, or your exercise routine can have a domino effect in other areas of your life.

7. Power up! Want to get more out of life, consider putting more into it. Rethink your diet. What you are putting in is what you are getting out. The area of nutrition and medicine continues to expand exponentially. What we knew just ten years ago has dramatically changed. Too often we think of the purpose of a good diet is to live longer. Could I suggest that the more important issue is not how long you are going to live, but the quality of life you will have while you are living it? Life expectancy continues to expand. Last year I said good bye to my 95 year old father. When he was born in 1923, life expectancy in the United States for a male was only 56 years old. He lived nearly twice that long. There is no telling how long you will live. How you live and the quality of life you will have along the way is strongly influenced by your diet and exercise habits. Getting an education and staying up to date on the science of nutrition is essential for anyone in healthcare, especially in dentistry because of its physical demands. If you are working every day to get and keep people healthy, the expectation is that you are going to be a product of the product by being healthy yourself. If you haven’t done it already, could I recommend a close relationship with a good Certified Clinical Nutritionist or Functional Medicine specialist?

Two of the most valued relationships I have in my personal life are the ones I have had for over 25 years with two nutritionists. I see my physician once a year for an annual physical. I talk with my nutritionists four to six times a year to stay on track. Staying healthy is a lot easier than trying to get healthy. Having good mentors makes that process that much easier.

8. What’s your number? Another one of my mentors, Dr. Roy Hammond has continually advised me and everyone he knows to know your number. Decide how much is enough. If you don’t decide how much is enough, it will never be enough! You will always be chasing an elusive goal. The secret is not so much making more than it is deciding how much is enough. Make that decision, that 20/20 decision and then start working on it.

9. Doing good. A quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, goes “It is one of the most beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” What are you going to do in the upcoming year to do good?

In our culture, it has become socially acceptable to refer to charitable efforts as “giving back.” I don’t believe in giving back. Think about it. If you are giving something back, it implies that you took it in the first place. Is ‘giving back” a phrase that crept into our vocabulary because there is an element of guilt when one is successful or makes a profit? Instead of giving back, I prefer “doing good” when discussing efforts by business or individuals to help others and make the world a better place. We are honored and grateful to continue to be part of one of dentistry’s biggest efforts to “do good” in the form of the Smiles for Life Campaign. (www.SmilesForLife.org) Smiles for Life has become dentistry’s largest cause-related marketing campaign having raised over $44 million dollars to date for charity. It is a powerful part of the “doing good” strategy in practices all over the country. For more information on the Smiles for Life campaign and to sign up as a participating practice, log onto www.SmilesForLife.org. It can be a powerful part of your “doing good” strategy.

So there it is, the first nine things for the beginning of 2020 to start your new year checklist in preparation for the new decade. Top practices plan to be a top practice. It all starts with planning and preparation. Good luck as you plan for a great year ahead with 20/20 vision.

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Steven J. Anderson


Steven J. Anderson is an author, presenter, entrepreneur, philanthropist and past Excellence in Dentistry “Dental Businessman of the Year.” For a free copy of his e-book The Science of Setting and Achieving Goals visit: www.TotalPatientService.com


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