Ideas, Insight and Inspiration


Get ahead. Start your 2020 vision now


Author: Alun K Rees

Alun K Rees BDS is The Dental Business Coach. An experienced dental practice owner who changed career, he now works as a coach, consultant, trouble-shooter, analyst, speaker, writer and broadcaster. He brings the wisdom gained from his and others’ successes to help his clients achieve the rewards their work and dedication deserve.  www.thedentalbusinesscoach.com


My grandmother described New Year’s Resolutions as “piecrust promises – easily made, easily broken”. As 2019 dawns, probably with similar resolutions for many of us, now is the time to start looking further ahead. 

So. What is your 2020 vision? 

Imagine it’s 1 January 2020. What will have had to happen during the previous 12 months for you to have made good progress in achieving your three and five-year goals?

How is your life looking? What changes and improvements have happened in your career and personal life to make the future better for you and all those around you?

I started this way because there is more to resolve and resolutions than wishing and hoping. Change takes planning, detail, energy and commitment. Unfortunately many dentists tend to take life as it comes, accepting the cards they are dealt. The reason could be because of the historical nature that dentistry worked. 

It used to be a reactive career, patients attended when they had problems; the dentist fixed them either with repair or by removing the offending tooth. Eventually when enough teeth had been taken away, false ones were provided. 

That model evolved as hygiene improved and we trained patients to attend routinely for “check-ups”, the dentally aware mostly kept their teeth for life, but we were still reacting to disease.

For many, the game has changed, and dentistry has become far more proactive, patient driven and elective in lots of ways. It can still sink into the six-month cycle, or rut, if you allow it, and the only difference between
the rut and a grave is the depth.

“Many people lead lives of quiet desperation, and die with their song still in them.” That line, attributed inaccurately to Victorian Henry Thoreau, remains true today. Neither is his countryman William James wrong with his advice, “To change one’s life, start immediately, do it flamboyantly, no excuses.”

If either of these aphorisms rings bells for you, it’s time to make plans to start a better 2020 by introducing changes, small and large, over the next year.

How to go about it? By taking Steven Covey’s advice to “Start with the end in mind”, because if you have no idea where you are heading then it’s certain that you aren’t going to get there. Get going with the positives; take time on your own to describe your life at the start of 2020. 

What is your 2020 vision? Using the following eight headers, either write an essay or using bullet points to detail the good things that will be happening – career, finance, family, health and fitness, fun/recreation, friends, personal development and spiritual. Write in the present tense – these things are happening. The areas are taken from a coaching tool, “The wheel of life”, which is freely available on line.

I have evolved a professional wheel of life for dentists to help them with the exercise with a business focus. If you would like a copy, email me.

Once the “future self” document is written, it’s time for commitment so share it with those close to you. 

Next, start to look at what needs to be done to make progress with your goals over the next three months, the next month, the next week and finally ask yourself what you need to do today to make progress. 

Every day, revisit your goals and take at least one action which will move you forward.

So far, so good, and all positive. I am not daft enough to think that everything will be 100 per cent positive; change is never easy, especially if you are introducing changes into a business where others are affected.

The next exercise to help you is to examine your day-to-day life and ask yourself what and where you are tolerating; Thomas J. Leonard described tolerations as “the things that bug us, sap our energy and can be eliminated”. 

Leonard said that many of us carry our tolerations around like
a noble burden, but it’s an expensive source of self-esteem. Tolerations drain you and inhibit your success, most of us have dozens or even hundreds of them; they can be compromises in life, often things
that we don’t realise are weighing us down until they are removed.

Next exercise is to ask yourself the following five questions. What am I going to stop? What am I going to do less of? What am I going to keep doing? What shall I do more of? What am I going to start doing?

Why doesn’t everybody do this if it’s so easy? Simple answer, because it isn’t easy. Change demands persistence, inertia is easy, momentum is essential for change and that demands starting a stationary object.

Whatever you do, take steps, small, medium or large. Reflect on what
you have achieved and measure your progress from the start. Then
with hard work and application your 2020 vision will become your reality. 

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Published: 8 January, 2019 at 15:00