How to be SMART

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While many of us have kicked into gear with our personal and professional goals for the new year, some of us may be struggling to find our way. We may have a vague sense of a practice metric we want to achieve, a milestone in sight, or have a personal achievement we want to make, but are unsure how to start and continue. One of my favorite ways to do this is to be SMART — not just in an intelligence sense, but in the ways I set, track, and celebrate my successes.

What are SMART goals? Instead of just saying you want to do something, it is a way to hold yourself accountable. This a great acronym to remember.

Specific: Define not just the “what,” but the “how.” The more clearly you define the goal, the more likely you are able to attain it (and have a better plan in place). Instead of saying, “I want to grow my practice,” you can say, “In Q1, I’d like to grow my practice by 20%. To do this, I want to increase our per-patient revenue by increasing our capture rate to 45%, increasing our anti-reflective capture rate to 90%, and raising our average frame price by $20.” These are clearly defined goals that can help your team stay focused.

Measurable:  If you know me, you know I’m a fan of tracking metrics. If you aren’t currently tracking, it can feel overwhelming to start. My best advice? Start by tracking one specific goal per quarter. Anything more than that can make it difficult for your team to keep on task.

Attainable: Reaching for the stars can be motivational, but it can also set your team up for defeat if the goals you set aren’t realistic. Consider your current practice demographic, location, insurance penetration, staff, and location size. It may be exciting to set a goal of “doubling patient volume,” but if you are maxed out with one exam lane and have no space to expand, that can make this goal very difficult to attain.  

Relevant: Making a goal that supports YOUR practice, patients, and team is of the utmost importance. There are so many growth opportunities and so much exciting technology in optometry, and it can be tempting to try and add them all. But, taking a deep look at your practice vision, mission, and values and determining if these goals support that is extremely important.

Time-bound: Without clear deadlines, it’s easy to keep putting off our goals. Creating a strict timeline creates a sense of urgency and keeps our feet to the fire. This also helps your team stay on track and feel responsible. I like using quarterly goals to give enough time to train, track, and improve.

My Bonus C — Celebrate: So often we finish one goal and move swiftly onto the next, but I encourage you to stop and celebrate your success with your team!

While it can often feel overwhelming to set goals and reach them, using the SMART framework can help break down these big goals into smaller, more manageable steps. What SMART goals will you set for 2024?

Yours in success, 
Jennifer L. Stewart, OD

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