The Secret to Reaching Your Biggest Goals
Sam showed up at work with the best intentions. And a conscious decision to be super-effective. Today’s to-do list was short and sweet. It was going to be a great day, dedicated to tackling one big, audacious, secret project: designing a dream clinic.
However, as soon as Sam sat down, massive doo-doo hit the fan. Nicole, the head nurse for 10 years, came to the office, threatening to quit – with no notice – because of some ridiculous misunderstanding. Lisa, one of the receptionists, had to pick up her vomiting son at school. Mrs. R. U. Kidding was irate because someone called her dog Charlie a he!!! The dryer doesn’t dry towels anymore (again). And Joanne, the drug rep, just showed up, unannounced, to discuss the next best pain medication. Or the toilet is clogged. Or you ran out of IV fluids.
Sam’s super-effective day just turned into an endless series of annoying interruptions and fires to put out. Bye bye efficiency. Sayonara to-do list. Ciao big, bold promise.
Come on, we know better. Every day brings a litany of drama, interruptions and bumps in the road. Big or small, they are part of veterinary life.
The moment we accept this immutable fact of life, is the day we can move on to bigger and better accomplishments.
But if those challenges are unpredictable and inevitable, does it mean we can never be efficient?
Of course not. The trick is to plan around other people’s agendas. Block off time that cannot be interrupted, no matter what, by anyone or anything. One exception might be if the clinic burns down – hopefully a highly unlikely and usually not repeatable event.
So what can you do? What’s the secret? Make the executive decision, starting tomorrow, that you will block off 1 hour of “me” time and spend it on THE most important task you need to tackle to move closer to your big goal. Depending on how big your goal is, you can do this weekly or – ideally – daily.
That hour could be anytime: morning, after lunch or evening. Experience shows that the best time is in the morning, before you ever get to the clinic (out of sight, out of mind!). Early morning is ideal according to many time management and efficiency experts. Do it before most people wake up, and get a tremendous head start.
The location is just as important. It could be your office, as long as the door is locked and nobody knows you’re in there. Impossible? OK, how about hiding in the conference room, or at the public library, or in your home office, or in your favorite recliner, or at the local coffee shop, or at the park, or in your car?
The next trick is to ruthlessly avoid ANY distraction. No phone, no email, no internet – unless you must use one of them to accomplish your task. Yes, life is tough!
If you have within you the willpower to work on a single task for 1 hour with no interruption, you will be lightyears ahead of 99% of your peers or colleagues. You will move on to the rest of your day feeling like Super(wo)man.
Repeat this 200, 300 or 365 times every year, and the sky’s the limit.
Unconvinced that an idea so simple could work, Sam gave this little productivity secret an honest shot. What was there to lose?
Well, within a year, Sam had negotiated an unbeatable loan, designed an amazing clinic, and assembled a great team to build it. Happiness in practice life spilled over into personal life. This ideal combination led to balance and fulfilment.
So will you take the challenge? Will you block 1 hour of uninterrupted hyper-effective time every day? Can you not look at your email or answer a call for an hour? Are you ready to shorten your endless list of dreams and goals?
Please try. What do you have to lose? What do you have to gain?
Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS
Meredith Jones, DVM
Co-Founders of Veterinary Financial Summit