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Change is a Trick You Play on Yourself

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I had heard a story of a PhD student who had made himself a promise that he would write at least one sentence toward his thesis every day. That was it?one sentence was all he required of himself. Even if he came home at three in the morning, exhausted, he still banged out at least one line. And he completed his PhD before every one of his classmates.

Why? Because he made the daily goal so embarrassingly small that he couldn't not do it. And what happened was he would write a sentence, and then maybe two, and sometimes even a page or more. But if he only did one, he was okay with that. The key was he tricked himself into getting started. So I tried this myself. I had an idea for a novel that I wanted to write, but couldn't get around to it, so I did the one-sentence goal. I now have over 200 pages of a first draft, and I've only missed two days in the past 18 months. I now do the same trick with exercise. It works.

The trick has two basic components, and one bonus accelerator.  The two components are:

  1. Make the goal embarrassingly, unavoidably small;
  2. Do it every day.

In a previous blog, I introduced the principle of focusing on what you can change in your life and business, and ignoring the rest. So what could you change, as a member of a dental team? Here are some ideas:

  • Ask one patient a day for a referral
  • Compliment one of your co-workers
  • Suggest in-office whitening to one patient
  • Recommend implants to one patient
  • As the dentist, if you bought new technology like CEREC or a soft tissue laser, use it at least once every day
  • Make one new patient welcome call (you'll want to do more, I guarantee it!)
  • Present $500 more dentistry than you're comfortable doing with one patient a day (you set the number that pushes you but doesn't overwhelm you)
  • Write one thank you note

Here's what happens: you inch toward your goal, and suddenly a year goes by and you've changed your behavior.


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This blog post was re-posted with permission from 1-800-DENTIST.

Fred Joyal is the Co-Founder of 1-800-DENTIST, and author of the book Everything Is Marketing: the Ultimate Strategy for Dental Practice Growth. He has worked in the dental industry for 26 years, and has helped thousands of practices grow with new patients and with marketing guidance. He speaks all over the country on dental marketing, social media, and practice management.

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