Beyond Today: How Future Thinking Transforms Your Veterinary Practice

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By Randy Hall

December 8, 2023

As I work with veterinary practice owners and managers, I often ask them to tell me about the past, where their practice has been, what has happened recently, and what their current challenges are.

They can usually talk for quite a while explaining the past and even longer as they talk about their current situation and the issues they are facing at the moment. I get incredible detail about the people and problems that are keeping them from achieving success.

The Future of Your Veterinary Hospital

The future of your veterinary hospital

Then I ask them about their future. What often comes out of that part of the conversation is undefined and ambiguous. It is a series of vague aspirations.

Leaders who follow this pattern spend most of their time thinking about their past and their present but my question may have triggered the first focused thought about the future in quite some time.

Understand Where Your Are Going

One of the biggest complaints I hear from leaders is that they do not have time to plan for where the hospital is going because they are spending all of their time fighting the fires of today.

My question to those leaders is: “How do you know which fires to fight and how to best fight them if you do not know what success looks like?” Priority for many leaders is determined by what is causing the most pain, not what will capture the greatest opportunities. That’s a recipe for stagnation.

Think about some of the friends you have or people you have known. You might group them together in these three ways:

Three kinds of thinkers on your veterinary team

The People Who Live in the Past

Do you have those friends who spend all of their time thinking about the past - the good old days in high school or a job they used to hold.

These people spend most of their future trying to recapture what they once had. 

The Ones Who Can't Wait for the Weekend

Then there are the friends or acquaintances that always seem mired in getting through the day or the week.

These people cannot wait for Friday. They slog through their days and their focus is on surviving the next 12 hours or the next 5 days. 

Sometimes these people are also members of the "living in the past" group. They slog through the present, while reminiscing about the past.

Those Constantly Thinking About the Future

I bet you can also think of a few individuals who are always thinking about the next opportunity. They talk about what life will be like in a few months or a few years.

They focus on what lies ahead and they are constantly envisioning it, reshaping it, and working toward it.

Which one of those groups would you say represent the most successful people you know? Which one of those groups would you more readily follow or hire to lead a team?

The Value of Future Thinkers in Your Veterinary Practice

Having “future thinkers” among the leaders in a veterinary practice is essential. That does not mean that those people spend their day daydreaming while the building is on fire.

Future Thinking in Veterinary Leadership - VetLead
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But, it does mean they devote a large amount of their time planning the future so they know what success looks like for themselves and the hospital, and can make their way toward it. 

How you solve the problems of today can be very different depending on where you want to go.

Final Thoughts

Find a way to carve out time for future thinking, even if you have to schedule it on the calendar. Create a future journal where you design what lies ahead in crystal clear detail. Hold meetings that are spent mostly on where you are going and not just reviewing the problems of today.

The time is yours, the thoughts are yours, and the choice on how you spend them is yours.

Are you a future thinker? Share your story in the comments section below.

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