Practice management advice from John Marvin

Success starts with good decisions made and remade over and over again.

This article originally appeared in the January 2016 edition of INVISION.


Let me guess: You’ve made some new year’s resolutions for your practice. Am I right? Or are you the jaded one who vows never to make resolutions because you know you won’t keep them?

Resolutions are interesting things. We either make them and break them or we don’t make them at all. Still, many of us do make resolutions every January — and yet one year often winds up looking pretty much like the last.

Why is that? I think there are two reasons.

First, we don’t make good decisions.

Do you realize that you are only one good decision away from making things different? One true and committed decision is all it takes to change anything: your practice, your marriage, your health, your finances, anything!

The problem is that most people don’t make good decisions. We make plans to make decisions. Or we may actually muster the courage to decide, “Yes! This is what I’m going to do.” Too often, though, the decision is swiftly followed by another choice — to listen to that little voice in our head say things like, “Really? You think this time it is going to be any different?” or “Sure, that’s what you say you are going to do, but you said that last time, last year, last week, last month, etc.”

Good decision makers know that you really don’t need to make many decisions to make a huge difference. The irony is that everything that is currently happening in your practice or, for that matter in your life, began with a decision. Every day, your entire day is nothing but a series of small decisions, some good, some poor, borne out of habit or routine. The difficult decision to make is to change a routine or habit that keeps you stuck year after year. The good news is that change can happen. Others are doing it and so can you.


Whatever situation you want to improve in your business did not occur overnight. It’s the result of a series of small but poor decisions made daily and extended over time.


Second, we do not manage our decisions daily.

Once a decision is made, you need to manage it daily. Managing a decision requires discipline. Discipline and decisions are two sides of the same coin. What your tomorrow will look like is dependent on the actions you take today.

Getting fit is among the most popular new year’s resolutions, but if you track the number of people who join and visit the gym starting the first week in January until the end of February, you’ll see the result of people not making the daily decision to get fit, lose weight and be more health conscious. On the flip side, we see the power of regularly setting aside a small amount of savings and letting compound interest work its magic — or of making the commitment to call 10 patients each week (that’s just two each weekday) to ask them their honest opinion of your practice, as I suggested in a recent column.

Whatever situation you want to improve in your business or your life did not occur overnight. It’s the result of a series of small but poor decisions made daily and extended over time. But happily, the same can be true of good decisions. It is not the goal you set or frankly, even the decision you make that makes a difference in those pesky resolutions. It is what you do daily to manage that decision. It is about what you do today.

And here’s some good news: Today is all you have to work with anyway. I’m reminded of something said by two of my favorite people in the world, Mother Teresa and Winnie the Pooh.

When Pooh asked Piglet, “What day is it?” Piglet squeaked, “Why, it’s today!” “My favorite day,” said Pooh.

And as Mother Teresa put it, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

So happy new year! Begin making 2016 your favorite year by making today your favorite day.


With more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry, John D. Marvin writes about marketing, management and education at the practiceprinciples.net blog. He is president of Texas State Optical, a member-owned cooperative of 120 independent, professional optometry practices. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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