The Daily Grind offers readers a glimpse into the life of general dentists practicing today. Each post offers a perspective on managing a dental practice or balancing a life outside of the practice. The Daily Grind is written by several general dentist and student members of AGD. All content published on The Daily Grind is property of the Academy of General Dentistry and cannot be reposted or reprinted without permission.

Transform Your Life by Setting Goals

  • by Duke Aldridge, DDS, MBA, MAGD, DICOI, MICOI, FMISCH
  • Jun 6, 2017, 09:48 AM
A goal often has been defined as the terminal point of a journey or a measurable and observable end result. When we think about setting goals, the first thing that usually comes to mind is making a new year’s resolution. If you are like me, then you probably have multiple goals for 2017 and beyond — goals that incorporate your business, family, health and finances and a yearning to serve others; goals that are derived through a type of self-awareness that incorporates your vision both near and far; and ideas, thoughts and dreams that provide clarity and meaning for the legacy you will someday leave behind. What are your goals in 2017, and where would you like to be in five years? 

More than 30 years ago, and prior to becoming a dentist, I was taught the importance of establishing goals and learning to focus on a vision. It was during this time and while working in the hospitality business that I discovered that goals originate out of a vision that begins with the end in mind.

Building hotels is a challenging and stressful business that requires tremendous coordination of architects, engineers, interior designers, general contractors, sub-contractors and the operating team all working to realize a vision for the grand opening. In many instances, the sales department has pre-booked the facilities 18 months in advance of the opening date, and there is little margin for error. Examples of this include pre-booking of major conventions, banquets, weddings or corporate meetings that may have upward of 3,000–5,000 attendees traveling from around the world. 

It was during this time that I was mentored by great hoteliers and human beings who trained and empowered me to reach for the stars while learning to dream big. I learned that dreams (long-term goals) and vision are what inspire our heart and soul. I also learned that building beautiful hotels and setting schedules (goals) begins with a vision — a vision that leads to a blueprint and a blueprint that leads to a dream come true. As the founder of Hilton Hotels Corp., Conrad Hilton, once said: “To accomplish big things, you must first dream big dreams.”

Years later, and while completing my Master of Business Administration, I took the opportunity to research the key components of some of the most successful people in the world (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr., Conrad Hilton, the Wright brothers, etc.). My conclusion was that they all had the ability to dream, visualize and create realistic goals. These visionaries all knew “why” they did what they did, and it was apparent that their dreams, goals and passion were at the core of their very existence. 

There are numerous research projects that have been conducted to measure the outcomes of goal-setting. Two of the most common include an MBA Harvard Business School study and subsequent Virginia Tech study that support the assertion that setting goals are a key component to one’s success, both professionally and personally. The Harvard study revealed that the student who had goals, wrote them down and measured them on a regular basis earned 10 times as much as their classmate did. The Virginia Tech study revealed similar results. 

In summary, being happy is a byproduct of realizing our dreams and achieving our goals. When we commit to written goals, we prioritize living our best lives. We also learn to accomplish meaningful tasks, improve our self-confidence, and foster spiritual and meaningful growth that ultimately provides us with a sense of accomplishment. If our goals are not documented, refined and monitored, then we are leaving everything up to chance. It is also worth noting they cost little or nothing to initialize. As they say, be careful of what you dream for, as you just might get it. 
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