Is your vision taking you in the right direction? Alun Rees says you should clarify what your life aims are.

The purpose of my next three articles is to help readers establish a vision for their professional and business life, to provide a guide for effective goal setting and to help determine a system to measure their progress.

Let’s start with ‘the vision thing’. This is about addressing the big picture and sets out to establish your life aims. Clarity is everything. Most people fail to achieve what they say they want in life because they are not clear about exactly what it is that they actually do want. They have never invested the time to develop clarity of vision in order to find a path forward. Often reacting to events becomes their default and they fail to realise that they can be in control of their lives.

For what purpose?

There are three sets of questions that you must be able to answer truthfully.

Firstly, who do you want to be and what sort of life do you want to live? To answer this fully you need to apply considerable thought and to understand the principles and values to which you know your life must adhere. If you attempt to live a life that is at odds with your core values and beliefs then you will encounter stress and resistance from within, you will spend your days, and nights, wrestling with yourself. When that happens you can guarantee there will be no winner.

Secondly, what do you want to accomplish with your life? How will your core values and beliefs be best rewarded and served by the decisions that you take? Have you fixed boundaries that you will not cross no matter what the pressure? A recent article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that we keep a list of things that we will never do in business, no matter what the temptation.

Finally, why do you want to do what you are choosing? ‘For what purpose?’ is a simple question but one that will take considerable thought and self-analysis to reach a conclusion.

The myth of work-life balance

I spend my time working with business owners (and wannabe business owners), their teams and their partners. There are millions of words written about work-life balance, yet I believe that it is impossible to separate your life and your work. The phrase work-life suggests that they are two distinct things, which is clearly untrue. For most people, especially dedicated professionals and owners of businesses, their work is a huge part of their life, not a separate entity, and to try to pretend otherwise is clearly a mistake. So concentrate on the balance of your life as a whole.

Let’s look at ‘the vision thing’ in business terms and ask the same questions.

What do you want your dental business to be? How do you want your practice to function? Have you established a set of principles and values that you share with everyone else in the business?

Do you have a vision statement that you can share with your team and your patients? It should explain your business’s reason for its existence. Is it clear? Can your team share it and your patients understand it? The vision statement provides strategic directions and describes what the owner or founder wants the company to achieve in the future.

My vision statement is: ‘To be the foremost adviser on achieving dental business success.’ It is vital that you share yours with your team and that they understand and embrace it. As Simon Sinek said: ‘Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.’

Changing course

In her book, Rowing the Atlantic, Roz Savage, the world record-setting ocean rower, describes how she found herself at a crossroads in her life and sat down to write two obituaries of herself. The first was the obituary she wanted to have and the second was the one she was heading for if she carried on as she was. Letting go of her inhibitions for the former, she explored what would happen if she dared to have big dreams and to set massive goals. How would her life be, she asked, if she never allowed self-doubt to sabotage her efforts?

Her exercise revealed that she had been labouring under a misapprehension for many years about what she wanted from her life and how she was spending it. The result was a dramatic shift from her course, and the rut where she found herself, to a fulfilled and adventurous life.

Whilst I am not suggesting that you leave your partner, sell your house and buy a rowing boat, I am asking you to take the time to explore why you are doing what you are doing, where it is taking you and is it the right direction. If it isn’t, what steps can you take to change course and when are you going to take them?