Like most of you, we’ve often been faced with tough decisions. Moving offices, adding new products or services, hiring staff, investing in a new marketing campaign – all these things can be overwhelming because of their cost, complexity, time commitment and level of change they bring to your personal and professional life.

We’ve had great success with our big decisions in the past by asking these six simple questions before making a leap. The questions fit just about any scenario, and are a great way to push through fear and small-picture distractions to what’s really important.

1. Will You Love It?

It’s tough to sustain activities in your practice that you dislike. Early on in practice, for example, Tara chose to focus on only the modalities that she enjoyed (and as result, was good at). We began referring patients to other practitioners for things that were really important, like acupuncture and chiropractic, but weren’t really what Tara wanted to do.

The result? Those practitioners refer back to us the patients and conditions that are a better fit. More patients, more joy. More joy, more patients.

2. Does it Fit With Your Vision?

Big changes in your practice need to fit your vision. Every big decision should be made with your target market, your ideal patient, and your vision for your practice (and how it fits with your life) in mind. For example:

  • Does what you’re considering fit your target patient market?
  • Can your patients afford it? Is it too expensive? Too cheap?
  • Does a new marketing opportunity target your niche?
  • Will a new service complement your existing offering?
  • Will your decision bring you closer to the work-life balance you want?

3. Is it Sustainable?

Big things tend to consume more resources like time and money. If you’re not in it for the long haul, you may never get back your investment, and find yourself feeling resentful and burnt out.

Last year, for example, we logged many extra hours in the three months prior to our sabbatical. In the long run, however, we chose to reduce office hours back to something that was healthy and sustainable.

4. Does it Help Your Patients?

In the end, your practice will be as successful as your patients are. For that next big decision, ask yourself if it truly helps your patients. Does it:

  • Improve their health outcomes?
  • Offer value for the money?
  • Improve the level of service, or office experience?
  • Make their life easier?

Happy healthy patients are the best source of referral and reward that money can’t buy.

5. Is it Profitable?

While not every decision needs to be about money, it sure helps if you keep your practice profitable. Sure a new service might bring you new patients and revenue, but how profitable is it once you factor in the costs? And if it’s a service that you need to provide personally, how does it affect the value of your time? You might offer something new and wildly popular in your practice, only to discover that you’re working far more and taking home far less.

6. Can You Accept A Reasonable Worst-Case Scenario?
Defining and accepting the worst-case outcome of a decision has always made it easy for us to move ahead with decisions that we might be too afraid to consider. We use “reasonable” instead of “absolute” worst-case because you can always think of a worst-case scenario (like death) that’s incredibly unattractive, unhelpful, irrelevant, and unlikely.

Instead ask, “What’s the worst thing that can really happen here? Can I live with that?” If you can accept the reasonable worst-case, you’ll not only find yourself making clearer decisions, but implementing them without constant, nagging doubts along the way.

All told, it’s often the details that really make it hard to make good decisions. These six questions all serve one important function: they keep you focused on the Big Picture – the stuff that really matters in your practice in the long term. They help you make clear, long term, and fear-free decisions that help you and your clients, and keep you in successful practice for as long as you choose to be.

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2 Responses to “Six Steps to Great Decision-Making in Your Practice”

  1. […] coming year. It’s a bit like herding – I need one idea that can guide all those tiny details, decisions and actions in the right direction. Each “cow” […]

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