The Power of Counting Steps

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO February 13, 2015

There is an old adage: “If you want something to get better, you measure it.” I believe this is absolutely true. In fact, I suspect that incremental measurement may be the most important step toward improvement.

I started wearing a pedometer and counting steps last year. One thing is certain: I now take far more steps each day. I even have "internet counting friends" to keep track of and compete with. I walk, I count, and I closely monitor my progress. If I happen to lag behind, I sometimes even go round and round the family room to catch up.

So what is so unique about a pedometer? It simply provides continuous incremental feedback as I progress toward my goal.

I believe this principle applies perfectly to goal setting in our practices. I think we tend to set goals which are too large and too distant to get maximum effect. We overlook the motivational power of counting steps.

Here's an idea: What if we took our large goals and "broke ‘em down"? As an example, in the latest VSP Practice Report, we see an opportunity to increase our frame capture rate. To achieve our annual goal, we’ve set a monthly goal to increase eyewear sales by 12 pairs. Consider an ascending incremental reward program, whereby, the first few sales would net a smaller contribution and later ones were worth more on the way to 12 and beyond. Then post for all of your staff to see and watch your large goal come into view.

As I see it, small incremental goals are more motivating than large, unwieldy goals. If my goal is 20,000 steps, I get there one step at a time. So, my advice is to count those steps with your staff and watch those larger goals become more attainable.

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