Many DCs are taught that setting practice goals is not only useful but essential to achieving success.
Unfortunately, this concept doesn’t always produce the intended result. While having a vision for the future plays a strong role in reaching your goals, the way you enact that vision can make all the difference for experiencing the inner fulfillment and happiness that you desire.
How many times have you set out to achieve a goal, struggled to reach it, and then, once you accomplished it, felt satisfied and proud of yourself for only a day? After that feeling faded, did you feel like you needed to improve upon that goal? And later, did you feel less satisfied with your accomplishment?
This sense comes about because goals driven by quantitative results are less fulfilling, which results from the goal not having an ending. This cycle happens everywhere in life, not just with your practice statistics and goals.
Your measure of success
Think back to your goal of getting into chiropractic school: You got in, and you were happy. After the original happiness wore off, you realized getting into chiropractic school would be meaningless unless you graduated. So, four years later, you passed your exams and boards, graduated, and got your license. You felt great, but then realized that the accomplishment would mean nothing if you weren’t successful in your practice. And often, you will measure this success by what your peers deem successful, and not by what you really want to get out of your life or your practice.
People often set goals that they aren’t even sure they truly want. They set them because they sounded like the right thing or because someone told them it’s an ideal value to reach. But it’s not possible to know what you will truly want at some point in the future. Not only is it difficult to predict how your future circumstances will affect your aspirations, but most goals are based on circumstances that you’ve never experienced in the first place and are influenced by society.
For instance, say you are seeing 125 visits per week and want to see 250 visits instead because you imagine that equates to being a better chiropractor. If you haven’t experienced this objective goal already, you won’t know if it will bring you joy when you reach it. However, that’s why people set goals in the first place—in the hope they will provide happiness when they are achieved.
There are other options to having a fulfilling and happy career that aren’t measurable quantitatively. Set goals that are about maintaining presence. When your goal is about the presence of something, it doesn’t turn your goal into a never-ending need and cycle of feeling unsatisfied. You will know you’re missing the mark if this feeling is not present, and you will know you’ve achieved it if it is there.
When you’re achieving the presence of your qualitative goals, not only are you more likely to be in a healthier, more productive, and more influential place to achieve your numeric goals but you’ll have the emotional balance to be less attached to them. You’ll realize that the emotional outcomes you were subconsciously attracted to have already been fulfilled.
Indeed, to have a sustained and happy life, you need to enjoy the process of pursuing your goals— especially if you set qualitative goals. Chose to take actions that inspire you and bring you joy (even when they push you out of your comfort zone). Most people set a goal for themselves, plan a way to reach it, but find the execution to be daunting (and exhausting). And in many cases it is because they aren’t enjoying the steps they are taking to becoming the successful chiropractor they want to be. This brings to mind the adage “life is a journey, not a destination.”
If you neglect happiness, fulfillment, and joy during the process of reaching your goals, you’re missing out on truly enjoying your life. Your goals are destinations, and your life takes place in their pursuit. If you’re currently pursuing a goal and the journey isn’t inspiring, adjust where you’re going and enjoy the ride.
Josh Wagner, DC, is the creator of The Perfect Patient Funnel System, an online training for chiropractors and staff to see rapidly increased new-patient care acceptance and referrals in practice by learning to communicate authentically without scripting or feeling like a salesperson. More resources can be found at patientmastery.com.