Setting goals that really stretch your practice can be a great way to innovate and find new solutions, Les Jones says.

This coming September, I, along with four great friends – Sheila Scott, Chris Barrow, Ashley Latter and Simon Tucker (you might recognise some or all of those names!) will be cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats (LeJog).

We’re doing it to raise much needed funds for three fantastic charities, Bridge2aid, BrushupUK and Cancer Research UK.

We’ve set ourselves a stretching target of raising £50,000.

We’ve done that for a particular reason.

Changing the dynamics

Firstly, a challenge like ‘LeJog’ is a huge undertaking and we all felt we should set the bar high in terms of our fundraising target.

Secondly, setting such a stretching goal does a number of things that a smaller or less specific target wouldn’t.

Had we just said that we wanted to raise ‘some money’ for our charities, it would have been as simple as setting up a giving page, putting the word out and being happy with whatever came in.

Had we set a much lower target, we might have been less motivated and quite possibly have reached our goal without too much trouble.

However, a S-T-R-E-T-C-H goal is different – it changes the dynamics in many ways.

Hitting such a huge goal isn’t just about putting in the hours on the bike – it’s about getting creative!

We’ve had to think about our communication methods, who we want to communicate with, how we create the buzz around the project, how we engage people and how to get those people involved.

This has resulted in a number of ideas being generated and put into action – we’ve created our own branding for the project, we’ve launched a website, engaged with the dental press, created our own stand at the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show and offered places on each day of the ride for people to sign up and join us for a leg.

In essence, the size of the challenge has forced us to not only push our bodies to the limit, but our minds too!

The goal has been the catalyst for creative thinking – it has created the environment for us to think and act differently and better.

Not only that – with such a clear target in place, we can measure our progress every step of the way.

We can see, at a glance, whether we are on or off track.

I can tell you that at the moment of writing this blog post we are at £7,230 (thank you to all the wonderful people who have already dug deep!).

Set your stretch goals

And my reason for telling you all this?

Well, it’s to encourage you to set your own stretch goals in your practice.

If you do, I can guarantee that it will engage your team and improve your performance across the board.

So, sit down with your team and talk about the stretch goals you’d like to commit to over the next 12 months – they might be around the number of patients you want to attract or the number of new treatments you want to carry out – the choice is yours.

However, if the target you agree on isn’t a bit scary, then it’s not stretching enough.

It has to be big enough to force you into finding new approaches and solutions.

So many dental practices operate within their comfort zones.

But a willingness to step out of that zone could have a major impact on your team, your profits and your enjoyment and fulfilment of the job you do…what’s not to like?

That’s it, I’m off for a cycle ride – stretch goals don’t deliver themselves!