A guide to setting your goals for 2024

It's time to set your personal and professional goals for 2024 – here, Chris Barrow shares the goal-setting method to create 'life-improving' results.

It’s time to set your personal and professional goals for 2024 – here, Chris Barrow shares the goal-setting method to create ‘life-improving’ results.

I’m already deep into consideration with clients about their goals for 2024.

For those offering NHS dentistry, the conversation is skewed by the end of their contract year, whereas most of everything else comfortably sits in the calendar year cycle.


One of the basic principles of Stoic philosophy as to care about the things that you can influence and accept the inevitability of things you cannot control (while building in the flexibility to react and respond to external influences quickly).

So, when goal-setting, there is little point in thinking about what to do if the current economic cycle struggles on further, about the results of the next general election, about the funding of anything from central government, whether it is trains or teeth.

We must deploy the resources we have available – time, money and people – to their best effect in staying on course for our intended direction.

Assumption alert! Do you have a direction?

For decades now, I have worked with clients on establishing both personal and professional goals:

Personal goals

  1. Self-care
  2. Family
  3. Social
  4. Financial
  5. Physical
  6. Intellectual
  7. Spiritual.

Professional goals

  1. Financial
  2. Marketing
  3. The patient experience
  4. Operational/compliance
  5. Clinical (shadowing and mentoring)
  6. Leadership and management
  7. Team.

‘Life-improving results’

Many’s the time that I will stand in front of a flip chart or whiteboard and create a vertical axis that contains the 14 goal-setting areas outlined above, then split the sheet vertically into three columns:

The next 90-days The next calendar year Three years from now

It’s very rewarding to then hand the marker pen to the client and ask them to stand and complete the sections, recognising that the 90-day column is for marginal gains, the calendar year column is for goals (of which more in a moment) and that the three-year column is (in my experience) the maximum realistic period to plan for, given the above-mentioned effect of external events.

It is equally important that the client doesn’t feel overwhelmed at the end of this exercise, with 42 new tasks/challenges!

Particularly in the 90-day column, it’s perfectly okay to write ‘SQ’ for status quo – I’m happy with what I’m doing and will just keep on doing the same. I just don’t want to see ‘SQ’ in the next year or three years, or else why am I there?

Using this methodology (as my business coach uses with me), I’ve been able to help clients to achieve life-improving and game-changing results in every aspect of their lives.

Qualitative versus quantitative goals

Let me end with a comment on the goals.

This is an important reminder of the difference between qualitative and quantitative goals:

Qualitative Quantitative
I really should start running again I’m going to run a 10km in Q2 and a half-marathon in Q4
I haven’t read a book in ages – I need to start reading I’m going to read a book a month – 12 next year
I could do with losing some weight – I need to eat more healthily I’m going to start intermittent fasting on a 16-8 cycle and lose 7 lbs
We would benefit from a more profitable business Profits will be £250,000 pre-tax next year
I should look at digital workflow as everybody is talking about it We will have an intra-oral scanner working properly in every surgery by December next year
I know I should be making better use of the GDC scope of practice for dental therapists I’m going to recruit one trained, skilled and competent dental therapist by 30 June

You get the drift – I’m all about quantitative goals – and I live my own life that way, year in, year out.

Please don’t wait until Christmas or January to start setting your goals for 2024 – the time is now!

Catch up on previous Dental Business Coach columns:

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