Episode 121 – Plotting Your Course for the Year to Come

Carrie Webber, Owner, The Jameson Group

Hello, and welcome to the Jameson Files. I’m Carrie Webber and I’m your host. And I’m so glad to have you joining me once again, for another episode of the Jameson Files podcast. Now you may come across this live on the Jameson Facebook page. If so, welcome. We send out our podcast initially via live stream on the Jameson Facebook page, every other Wednesday at 11:30 AM central. I want to invite you if you haven’t already done so to connect with us through the areas that you listen to podcasts, whether that’s iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify, and become a part of our Jameson Files podcast community. We’d love to have you following along and learning and growing with us. So as this podcast goes live this episode, we are in January 2021. 

Now as business leaders and business owners, you may find yourself on the regular spending time in the first of the year, or nearing the end of a year, strategically planning for the year ahead, setting goals and wanting to build upon either successes you’ve had or lessons that you’ve learned in the previous year.

How to Set Goals for the Year Ahead

Now we are coming out of a most extraordinary year and it may be easy to continue on the path of recovery, or you may find it very challenging. How do I set goals in the year to come, and how am I to be successful in the pursuit and achievement of those goals? I often think about goal setting. It’s a very common topic in podcasts, blog articles, and books. And if you Google “goal setting,” you can find a plethora of insights and information on how to do it successfully. But for this podcast, I studied reflecting on what has historically gotten in my way personally, or what I hear from other practice leaders, other dentists, other business owners that I work with, or I try to help what gets in their way and how can we overcome those and really shift our perspective to be more successful this year as we plan for the future.

So some things that I’ve struggled with over the years, or that I have had conversations with doctors or practice leaders over the years about are some areas that really impede goal setting, goal accomplishment, and making progress on your overall vision for your business and, and your efforts and making strategy to move forward.

Obstacles in Goal Setting

1. Inconsistency

Of those thoughts, I came up with four areas that are really those obstacles that seem to stop us making progress in goal setting and goal accomplishment and strategic planning. The first one is inconsistency. We all have experienced this either personally, when we try to set new year’s resolutions or goals for ourselves, with our health, with our family, with our professional lives. But also inconsistency as a business in setting clear and attainable goals with our teams and achieving those goals on the regular, we may start strong, but somewhere along the way either in the busy-ness of our day-to-day lives or we maybe didn’t meet a goal and in frustration and how difficult it proved to be, we become inconsistent in making this a healthy habit for our business lives for our professional lives.

James Clear wrote a brilliant book called Atomic Habits. And when I read this book, I felt it really hit the nail on the head and what causes us in a variety of ways to be inconsistent in our achievement and pursuit of goals and healthy, strategic planning. And it’s really about the mindset we bring to the table, the commitment we make to whatever it is we’re striving to achieve. Clear talks about how to achieve the great goals you may have for your life. It takes the building of small disciplines along the way. So the moment we embrace goal setting as a discipline and commit to its key purpose—that’s the moment we can take all the things running in our head to build and improve upon this year and make them happen in the year to come.

If we want that moment, we have to take action, and goal setting and strategic planning is truly the best action planning. And so taking that and embracing that and making that inconsistent process into a consistent habit is the big change that we may want to focus on and improve in the year to come. That may be your one takeaway,.

2. Lack of Clarity

Lack of clarity is another big one. I’ve worked with a lot of doctors and leaders that have tried setting goals from time to time and doing it consistently. But more often than not when I ask, “Okay, so you met the first goal. What’s next?” they don’t know what goals to write for themselves. They haven’t taken the time first to get clear on what their ideal vision is. If we’re putting the cart before the horse and setting goals just for the sake of setting them, there will not be much motivation to drive those efforts forward.

We have to get clear on what our ideal vision for the year ahead is. If you were to find yourself in January 2022, what do you hope to see in terms of your day-to-day professional life? What’s different? What’s new? What’s changed? What’s stayed the same? What have you invested in? What have you brought to the table? And when you envision it and paint the picture of what ideal is, then you can roll it back to January 2021 and determine what is the first step I need to take to get me going toward that ideal vision for my practice in the year to come.

3. Uncertainty

That lack of clarity also marries with what I think the third one is. And that is uncertainty. Not really knowing. We may know what we want our practice to be looking like and how we want our team to be performing and the sort of dentistry we want to do, or whatever the case may be, but we still are uncertain on what steps we need to take, because we’re getting overwhelmed in the big picture.

We have to look at it from the tiniest, most simplistic slivers. So once you get clear on what that big picture is, we have to get clear on what the next step can be. So we don’t get so overwhelmed. We become paralyzed and nothing gets done in any meeting you have in any planning session you do, whether it’s on your own or with team members. Don’t leave one session without having a plan in place of what’s next. What is the next step? And we’ll talk in a moment about those goal-setting steps that will help you gain more certainty on what you can do to take the first step and then the next step. And then the next step toward your goals.

4. The Unexpected

The fourth area is the unexpected. We have great intentions in January of doing a lot of great things of conquering the world, so to speak. And then the unexpected throws left hooks and right hooks towards us. I think 2020 reflected the most extreme versions of coming across the unexpected. And we can never fully prepare for what we don’t know is coming our way, but if we have more clarity and more processes and systems in place, and we have embraced the consistency of planning appropriately and effectively setting goals and action plans with our teams and for ourselves, we can overcome whatever is unexpected and adjust course so that we continue in the right direction. We may slow down. We may have to take the long way. But the vision is still the same. And that is what we have to become more comfortable and confident in—that through consistency and clarity, we will have more certainty on what’s the next best step. And we will get through the unexpected in a more prepared and focused way.

Now, as I talk about changing course, it makes me think a lot. I’m a little fascinated right now with sea navigation. I am not a sea person. I do not sail. I do not own a boat. But I’ve been doing work with some clients that are lovers of the sea and of sailing. And so we use those metaphors in a lot of our work together to help paint a picture in a way that’s most meaningful to them. And it sparked a curiosity for me. When you’re sailing or when you’re the captain of a ship and you’re planning your journey, what steps do you need to make? And it made me think about planning your course. So, in today’s episode, it’s all about plotting your course for the year to come, like sea navigation.

Plot Your Course Before You Set Sail

The journey always starts with the, the captains of the ship plotting the course toward their destination. Now, of course, in today’s world, technology has advanced that you have GPS and all these great tools to help you at sea. But it takes a lot of traditional steps too. In case you have technological issues while you’re at sea, you still want to have a plotted course. And so when you look this up, how to plot a course in sea navigation, a lot of information comes at you. And some things that really stood out for me blend well with business in terms of strategic planning, setting goals. It’s very similar to plotting your course.

1. Ultimate Destination

Number one is drawing your direct preferred course from the start through to your ultimate destination. That’s what we’re talking about—setting a vision and plotting a course of direction. If everything went perfectly, what is your direct route to your ideal vision for your practice in 2021? We want to make sure we have clarity. We have answered questions that are important for us to determine our ideal vision, and we have paired that with our team. So do you have a clear vision of what right looks like for your practice—from the type of dentistry you provide, your reputation in the community, how people are finding you, what your team is like and how they’re performing, how much time off you have, what kind of technology you’ve invested in—all of that clarity? Once you also share that with your team, it gets you in alignment and focused on your daring destination. And that’s what we want to do, create a clear, direct path all the way through your destination from start to finish so that you have a way forward and everyone has a map to follow.

2. Timing and Tides

The next one is to take into consideration time and tide. The tide and timing in sailing is crucial knowledge. You want to be aware of high tides and low tides and make sure that you’re timing your course in a way that gives you the most successful path forward. We don’t want to run into issues simply by not planning appropriately. Well, the same can be true for you when you look back at 2020, but also when you look back at 2019. What are the trends in your years, year over year? Are there times of the year where you naturally have dips? Are there times in the year where you’re naturally overwhelmed? And it seems to be the pace of the practice. The clearer we are about when we may have more of a struggle, we more proactively we can plan, so that we can offset those issues before they even become an issue.

Our awareness of the pace of our practices can make a difference. So I encourage you and your team to look at when things are smooth sailing and when you struggle in the schedule.Then determine how to prevent those issues in the future. So take into consideration your timing and your tides, your high tides and your low tides, as you plan for the future.

3. Navigational Waypoints

The next beautiful metaphor I love about navigation is waypoints. Waypoints are the points along the journey that allow you to know whether you’re on track. It gives you a place to determine if you need to change course. You can set way points in a lot of ways, either by true navigation or literal landmarks.

So for you, the points on your journey are waypoints in goal setting, where you’re evaluating your progress. Then you can determine if you are indeed making progress. Have we accomplished this goal or have there been storms that have come our way that are causing a struggle and we need to adjust course? Waypoints are so important. So when you are doing the goal-setting process and you’re evaluating your progress, this is where adjusting course may be necessary. It’s at least that measuring point that allows us to know what type of progress we are indeed making.

4. Adjust Course

So set your way points, be ready and able to change course, your adaptability and flexibility and ability to lead through adaptation is going to be important as a business owner year over year. We learned that painfully in 2020. Those that had more agility could change course more quickly and with greater clarity. They had the tools to do so—from the way they communicated with their team to the well-planned processes they already had in place.

Those were the ones that seemed to navigate through the storms of 2020 most successfully. So for you, the lesson learned in the year past is that for the future; we need to be ready and agile as leaders to take that calculated detour. Your vision can continue to be the same, but you may have to take the long way around. We may have to deal with what comes our way, but what’s important is that we’re not plotting a course that sends us directly into problems because we didn’t have a way to adjust. So let’s make sure we’re ready and able and flexible to take change, adapt with change, and continue on the course of what’s right for us.

How to Plan the Big Picture and Set the Goalposts

So all of that, in terms of sea navigation and what it means to you as a business leader as you’re plotting your course for 2021, takes you to goal setting. And now you may have heard a million things and you may have read a million articles, books, and talks about goal setting. But I want you to think of it from the perspective of a journalist in journalism. We ask the questions that answer the five W’s and the H—what, why, where, who, when and how. So think about goal setting and ask your questions as you strategically plan for the future. Ask those things around the lens of the five W’s and the H.

1. What’s the ultimate goal?

So what, what is the big goal? What’s your vision for the practice and what are the big goals that you need to accomplish and achieve in order to get you closer to that vision? What’s the destination?

2. Why is it important?

Why is this goal important? This is very important for you to make sure you’re setting goals that are motivational for you, and to keep you being consistent at the work you need to do to achieve those goals. It’s also important when you’re communicating these goals and visions to your team. Why are we setting this goal? How does this help us in pursuit of our purpose of our vision? Whatever the case may be, the why behind the what?

3. Where are you now and where are you going?

Where are you now and where do you want to go? Strategic Planning 101 is: Where are you now? Where are you going? And how are you going to get there? So getting real clear on your starting point and your destination is important when you’re plotting your course

3. How are we going to achieve this?

How will you do it? What are the strategies you need to assign or to write through and to plan, to get you on track and moving in that direction? This is what I was talking about. We become overwhelmed or uncertain about what to do. First, we need to take it all the way to the microscopic level of what you can do in the next 24 hours to take one step closer to your destination, to your goal. That’s simple. And then you can build out what can we do this week, this month? What do we need to have done in three months and six months and so on? But when we get overwhelmed, more than likely, we’re thinking about the big picture, and we really need to just figure out what’s the first step. So what are the strategies we’re going to work on, the goals, and the actions we’re going to set to get momentum in that direction?

4. Who is in charge?

Who’s the crew member that’s responsible for this strategy? Who’s responsible for that step in your goal setting or strategic planning process? Assigning people or a person to be responsible for that step creates accountability. And that also gives you the opportunity to involve more people on your team, in the process of your ideal vision pursuit. This is such a great tool for team members, for the entire team to be a part of, so that we’re all on the same page about where we’re going. And we each have a sense of ownership in the steps we need to take to get there. So assigning responsibilities in the goal setting and action planning process is important.

5. When are the deadlines?

When are we going to complete this step? This is going to offset one of the biggest obstacles for you, and that’s procrastination. I am a natural-born procrastinator. So I know this personally, that this is going to be an enormous obstacle for many people. And what we have to have is deadlines for ourselves so that there’s a greater sense of urgency to get that step done. Procrastination is a big enemy of that consistency piece. So by setting more deadlines for yourself and having accountability to those deadlines, it’s going to help you stay more consistent and make greater progress. Set deadlines. If it’s a month from now, if it’s a week from now, even on the smallest steps, like, I’m going to call so-and-so and get a demo on this piece of technology. Well, when are you going to do that? I guess I’ll do that by Friday.

So you’re setting deadlines for yourself to offset procrastination and ensure continued forward momentum. And when we evaluate our progress for any necessary course correction, this is where you’re setting your waypoints. So in Goal Setting 101 it’s, what’s the goal, what are the steps you need to take? What’s the first, second, third, fourth step? Who’s responsible for each step? What are the deadlines? And then, evaluation should be built in. Set the way points for evaluation of your progress. All of this blended together creates consistency, clarity, motivation, a sense of movement and helps you to stay on course for where you want to take your practice.

Overcome the Obstacles to Your Goals

In 2021, storms may continue to rage. There may be obstacles that come into your path, but now we have great processes like this to help us plan, to adjust, to be agile, and to continue forward.

We don’t have to lose sight of our destination because we have the tools to help us get through whatever comes our way. So my encouragement to you is this: Don’t go into this year completely blind. Get some clarity around what you want to achieve, what you want to change, what you need to attain, what you need to discuss, what training you need. What do you need to keep? What do you need to let go of? And what do you need to look into? All of those things will get you on a healthier, clearer path forward.

You are the captain of your ship. So I hope that you’ll take a few notes from today and understand where goal setting and strategic planning live in terms of your pursuit of a happy, healthy career. Your year will be as successful as you want it to be.

We can bring tools to the table to not only help ourselves stay on course, but to help our team stay on course. So best of luck to all of you as you kick off 2021 and plot your course for the year ahead. I hope that you’ll use these tools. If you’d like the Jameson Vision Worksheet—a worksheet we created to ask the important questions for you—please reach out to us at [email protected]. We’d be happy to send you that worksheet to help you start your year strong.

So thank you for joining me today, wishing you all the best. Please stay connected with the Jameson Files podcast community, and I’ll see you next time. Take care.

Stay tuned for upcoming episodes. 2021 is going to be an exceptional year, and we’re here to support you. Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Jameson podcast. Visit us online at jmsn.com. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify. Do you have questions or topics you’d like for us to answer or cover on the next podcast? Email us at [email protected].

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