Looking Forward Through the Rearview Mirror

looking forward
Photo Credit: Thomas M. Barwick, Getty Images

As we start a new year, it is the perfect time to set goals — personally and professionally. These may be goals about exercise, nutrition, education, or measuring and tracking specific metrics in our practices. The new year is full of excitement and energy — what are we going to accomplish and how are we going to get there? We buy planners, set up online tracking systems, and if you are like me, you revamp your vision board.

With all of this forward-facing energy, what if I told you the best way to measure success was to actually look backwards? How many of us feel down when we don’t meet our objectives and goals, but don’t see how far we have actually come?

I recently read the book, The Gap and The Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy. I was already a big fan after reading Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork, so I was excited to dig into this one as well. What really stuck with me was the focus on how best to measure success. As someone who is starting a brand new, warm start practice in 2024, I was looking for best practices in setting and reaching attainable goals.

What did I learn? So many of us measure our success forward and are comparing ourselves against an ideal of where we want to be. We feel happiness and success are always around the next corner, and if we fall short, we feel like a failure. We may set a goal to gross $1 million dollars in a year, and then we feel like we did something wrong when we get to $950,000. However, we don’t look at the fact that the year before, we were grossing $750,000. The authors call this being in the GAP.

When we instead measure our progress by GAINS, or looking at what we have achieved since starting, you appreciate how far you have come and that positive energy can fuel more GAINS. In the example above, a doctor can appreciate that significant growth and celebrate what the practice has done well, instead of feeling like they fell just short of a goal.

As successful businesspeople, we are constantly striving towards growth. We set goals around metrics in our practices, reward our team for reaching these, but what happens when we fall short? Do we celebrate the GAINS we have made, or regroup and set more forward-facing goals?

As we head into 2024, I encourage you to think backwards. Look at where you have come from, what you have accomplished, all of the things you have done, and transform these experiences into GAINS. As Dan Sullivan says, “Your future growth and progress are now based in your understanding about the difference between the two ways in which you can measure yourself: against an ideal, which puts you in what I call ‘the GAP,’ and against your starting point, which puts you in ‘the GAIN,’ appreciating all that you’ve accomplished.”

Best wishes for a successful year ahead,

Jennifer L. Stewart, OD

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