“What’s your five-year plan?” Can I have an easier question?

Pick up any business or self-management book and you will likely be asked the following question: “Where do you want to be in five years?”

For some, the answer is at the forefront of their mind. For others, they scratch around their creative minds for something – anything – that will make them feel excited, hoping this will motivate them for five long years.

I am in the latter group. I have always found it challenging to imagine what I want so far ahead when I know from experience that circumstances are constantly changing. My self-awareness, awareness of others and the purpose I choose to direct my behaviour are constantly changing as well. Who knows where I will be in five years and who knows WHO I will be?

As Charles Kovess often says in his speeches and workshops, “Change is inevitable; growth is optional!”

You and I have a clear option to choose to grow or remain stagnant.

The power of the five-year goal is simply that it is a target to move towards. You are focused and your decisions and actions follow that focus. It propels you forward. And that’s progress.

A sense of progress is crucial to becoming better, to growing. Whether it be a better version of self or building a better dental practice, a sense of progress does effectively motivate you to stay on the track of continual improvement.

But your progress need not be in leaps and bounds. It can be small steps and be just as powerful.

For example, if you struggle to identify your dream turnover for your practice at the five-year mark, why not instead set the target of increasing turnover every month by 5%? Then, think of a few strategies that will help you achieve this, such as:

1. become more efficient in the surgery so more treatments can be completed in a day,

2. add an evening session once a month,

3. if there are gaps in your book, contact patients with incomplete treatments, and

4. reduce broken appointments with more effective scheduling, confirming and cancellation management. 

If you started with $50,000 per month then by the end of the first year of 5% increases, your yearly turnover has jumped from $600,000 to $1,026,192. Now that’s progress!

After five years of such compounding, the numbers would make you very excited!

Step-by-step progress has a compounding effect on your results and your sense of achievement. When you feel you are on the path of progress, your trajectory shifts and you excitedly start to realise that you can achieve just about anything you put your mind to. And you never know; maybe this is when you become able to answer the question “What’s your five-year plan?”