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12.31.08 Issue #356 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
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Where Will You Be One Year From Today?

Write yourself a letter.

It’s the beginning of a new year. 2009. Perhaps you’re thinking, where did all the time go? And maybe you’re asking yourself, did I accomplish everything I wanted to do?

The trouble is that unless you took the time to write down your goals last year it will be hard to answer that question. You don’t have any documentation.

In his book, See You at the Top, motivational author and speaker Zig Zigler writes, “If you want to reach your goal, you must ‘see the reaching’ in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal”. His words are substantiated by research findings about the power of visualization. Here’s a fun way to motivate yourself and set some images in your mind for the year ahead.

The first step is to fast forward in time. Imagine the date is January 1, 2010, one year from today. You are looking back over the past 365 days, feeling proud of all the things you achieved.

Now sit down and write yourself a letter. Allow yourself to have fun and be creative, especially with the feelings of excitement about all you have done. This letter is not the place to start writing specific time bound objectives, strategies and plans. Rather, it is a chance for you to direct your imagination into thinking playfully yet seriously about what it is that you want to achieve.

January 1, 2010

Dear Self,

What an incredible year it’s been! You’ve worked hard and it’s paid off.

As you write this letter, recount the events of 2009 in past tense…as if it’s already happened to you. Describe the adventures you’ve encountered, the places you’ve visited, and all the people you’ve met. Talk about the fun you’ve experienced over the year. Be as specific as possible in describing the successes you have achieved.

In particular, explain the improvements in your practice. Talk about the changes you’ve made in how you behave, and how that’s enabled you to be a better leader with your team. How you manage conflict constructively and communicate more effectively. Boast a bit about how you’ve increased your percentage of treatment conversions and especially about what you did to make that happen.

All that said, be real. You’re probably not going to triple your income over the next year. Nor will you be taking three months off to travel around the world in all likelihood. The purpose of this exercise is to strive for base hits, not home runs.

When you’ve finished your letter, sign it and make a few copies. Keep one by your computer and/or in your personal appointment book so you can read it over the next 12 months.

Put one copy into a self-addressed stamped envelope. Then place it into a larger envelope and give it to a friend. Include a note asking the friend to mail the first envelope back to you on December 30, 2009, the end of this year.

Over the next 365 days, you’ll need to keep yourself on track. To do this, schedule reflection time once each week. This is a short period of time, say 10-15 minutes. But it is sacred time. No filling it up with other tasks. This is quiet time for yourself. Honor it as you would in keeping a patient appointment. You’ll also need to get a notebook or design a log to answer the following questions:

  • What one thing did I do well this week? (You can list more than one.)
  • What will I do differently so that I am more effective next week?
  • What obstacles will I need to overcome to reach next week’s goal?
  • What resources will I use to support me in my efforts?

Make this year your best year. Write a letter to yourself and watch in amazement as you create a roadmap to a better life. And when you receive your letter at this same time next year, you’ll have a yardstick by which you can evaluate your progress. And I bet you’ll have lots to celebrate.

Happy New Year!

Need help setting goals to take your practice to the next level? Contact Dr. Haller at

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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