One thing I love about my children who are now nine and 10 years old, is that they ask for what they want. We were recently out at a restaurant and both of them wanted two entrees. Most parents would turn this situation into a "teaching point" and tell them that one is enough. But not my wife and I — we were so proud of them for asking for what they wanted.
Maybe I should add a caveat here — saying what you want is just as good as asking for what you want. You can and should apply this to your business practice as much as possible. Let's face it, our economy as a whole is struggling and so it is very easy to get caught in the mind frame that less is more.
And while keeping your business lean is always a good principle, I don't think that you should always use that as your guiding light. It is far better, in my mind, to ask, say, shout, and/or declare what you want.
Here are a few examples of how that process can relate to you and your medical practice:
Big picture (year-to-year): What do you want for your practice in the long run? Do you want to see 20 patients a day or 80 patients a day? Do you want to have three locations or just work part time? Do you want to make $100,000 a year or $400,000 per year? Do you wish you could take more vacation time? Where do you want to go on your vacations anyway? Have you even asked your family what is important to them? Unless you literally ask for what you want, unless you stand up on the roof and scream it out loud, why would you ever think that you could achieve your goals? Asking for what you want is not selfish, it is your responsibility!
Medium picture (month-to-month): How do you want the look and feel of your practice to be? Do you want to offer same-day appointments and urgent care or do you want to schedule patients by appointment only? Do you want to offer virtual appointments or do you rely on seeing patients in the office for all of their requests. The month-to-month flow of your practice is dictated by the tone you set. When you do not ask with a clear vision, it is cumbersome and difficult for that vision to become a reality.
Small picture (day-to-day): How many hours do you want to work to maintain a good balance between work and personal time? What time do you want your day to end? When do you want to exercise? What do you want to eat for breakfast? These are small items, but significant nonetheless. Asking for the small stuff is just as important as asking for the big things in your life — many times we confuse this issue.
It is so easy these days to retreat, take your time, or act methodically. But it is precisely during these more difficult times that we need to draw deeper lines in the sand, creating more clear boundaries. The only way to do this is by asking. By declaring. By telling the world what you want. Yes, staying lean as a business is important, but reaching for what you want and not running from what you don't want is even more important.
On a practical level, you can do this by writing in a journal or using one of the myriad apps for your iPhone or Android smartphone. Or you can create a visual board cutting out photos and images of the things you want in your life.
I think what separates the really successful people from average people is that the former is unafraid to be bold and declare what they want in life — from the small things to the very big things. The more you ask for what you want, the more you will receive. And be able to give back. So go ahead and start right now. What do you want? Let us hear it!
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