How to Set Goals to Grow Your Massage Practice

Bullseye set goal and hit target to grow massage practice

Every massage practice owner should take the time to create goals for their business and themselves. Goals motivate us and keep us moving in the right direction. They help us to become clear about what we really want, and prevent us from wasting time working on irrelevant things.

Without a goal, how would you know if your daily actions are progressing you toward the life you really want?

Take a little time to set some good goals, and then spending a couple minutes per day reviewing them. It will save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run. The worst thing is to spend years focusing on the wrong thing.

Working towards a good goal forces you to learn and grow. After all, it is progress and growth that make us happy fulfilled.

Why set business goals for a massage practice?

Goals keep us focused and drive us forward. There are a lot of people who have worked really hard only to realize that they ended up somewhere they didn’t want to be.

We’ve all heard how important it is to have a business and marketing plan. Well, you have to come up with a destination before you can map out a plan to get there.

Here are some of the benefits of creating goals for your practice:

  • Goals can keep you from feeling overwhelmed by breaking down the big goals into short-term goals and milestones
  • Decision-making is easier if you know what your desired outcome is
  • Prioritizing how you spend your time is easier because you can eliminate the nonessential things
  • Goal setting helps you weigh decisions and reduce feelings of uncertainty. You know what you want and have created a plan to achieve it.
  • Goals keeps us motivated

The process of establishing goals provides a time to reflect on what is important, both professionally and personally.

Maybe your main goal is to create a reliable source of income to provide for your family and be financially secure. Or maybe you want to build a thriving practice to prove to yourself or someone else that you can achieve something big.

Whatever your desired outcome is, the process of creating goals will shed some light on what really drives you.

I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals and I try to ignore the rest.

Venus Williams

Goals will keep you centered, like meditation

During focused attention meditation, you focus on a single object such as your breath. What frequently happens then is another thought pops into your head.

It’s easy to follow that thought down the rabbit trail to a full-blown mental dialogue. By then it is harder to get back to focusing on your breath.

The way to stay focused on your breath when a thought pops into your head is to just acknowledge it as a thought, refuse to entertain it, and immediately get back to focusing on your breath.

Over time, fewer distractions appear, and it becomes easier to avoid becoming distracted by them.

Just like a meditator may chose to focus on breath, a person who desires to succeed at something may chose to focus on his or her goals. Your goals will keep you centered, focused and on the track that you decide you want to be on.

Establish short-term and long-term goals

Write short-term and long-term goals for your practice. Short-term goals are usually something that you can accomplish in a few weeks to 1 year.

Long-term goals can range anywhere from 3 years to10 years, or even 20 years.

It’s good to have a long-term vision for yourself and your practice. But be careful with getting too caught up in focusing on goals for 20 years from now. So many things can change, and over that long of time period, there will likely be new opportunities and priorities to consider that are impossible to predict at this time.

Personally, I like 3-month goals. That is a long enough time frame to get some big things done. But not so long that it gets hard to vividly image accomplishing it.

Make sure your short-term goals lead towards your long-term goals. For example, say your 5-year goal is to grow your practice into a day spa with a few employees so that you can make a good income and take on more of a leadership role. It wouldn’t make sense for your short-term goals to be about finding balance and figuring out how you can spend more time traveling.

Milestones are actions or accomplishments that show you’re making progress towards a goal. Like a trail marker, or mile marker on the highway. Establish some milestones to show you’re on your way to building a thriving practice. An example of a milestone is: Consistently working on at least 15 clients per week for 4 weeks in a row.

What makes a goal effective?

Goals should be big enough to excite, inspire and challenge you. A boring goal won’t get you out of bed in the morning. An easy goal won’t make you feel like you accomplished anything. Working towards a worthy goal should make you feel uncomfortable at times, because you are growing.

It helps if you have a strong emotional reason to achieve each goal. Because when it gets tough, you will need a strong reason to keep driving you forward. So be clear about why each goal is important to you. The how is the easy part. How isn’t as important. In fact, don’t get too attached to your methods, because if something doesn’t work, you should try another method to achieve your goal.

To be clear, things like “To be happy” “To be healthy” “To follow my passion” “To enjoy life” these aren’t goals. These are wishes, or choices. You can choose each of these. And they are not specific, measureable, action-oriented or time-specific. Pretty much everybody wants these things.

People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.

Earl Nightingale

How to write SMART goals

Like treatment goals, business goals need to include certain things to be effective. All healthcare professionals have heard of “SMART” goals. Sure there are other acronyms to help you come up with a well-written goal, but this is a good place to start. You’ll find that the letters SMART stand for different things, depending on the source.

  • Specific: Include specific details and keywords and numbers. State the specific outcome that you want to achieve with this goal.
  • Measurable: How will you determine if you met this goal? Use a metric that will clearly show if you met this goal or not. This could be the number of clients, percent growth, revenue in dollars, etc.
  • Achievable: Write goals that are possible to achieve but are still challenging. The key is to create goals that stretch you but don’t strain you. For most beginning massage therapists, having a booked practice within 6 months is unrealistic. It is possible, but you may be setting yourself up for burnout and overwhelm. Instead, allow yourself time to get through the learning curve.
  • Relevant: Create goals that move you toward your big-picture, long-term goals. If your long-term vision is to own a massage practice and hire employees, a short-term goal to get degree in education doesn’t make a lot sense.
  • Timebound: Wanting something, without a deadline to achieve it and plan of action is merely a dream. Decide on a deadline that lights a fire under your feet but doesn’t overwhelm you. People often overestimate what they can accomplish in a month, and underestimate what they can accomplish in a year.

It’s important to write your goals down

Don’t just keep your goals in your head! Write them down and review your top goals daily.

Also, don’t wait for New Year, or the beginning of next month, or any other arbitrary date. If you have a goal that is really important to you, then begin now. Why would you wait to achieve something important to you?

Examples of written goals:

Poorly Written GoalsBetter Goals
To get more clients.I will get 10 new clients who fit my ideal client persona, within the next 30 days.
To get more referrals.I will get 5 new clients through referrals by July 15.
To make more money.I will increase income from my practice by $300 per month for the next 6 months.
To be more confident in my massage practice.I will commit to 1 hour per day for continued learning, for 1 year to increase my skills and confidence in providing treatments and growing my practice.

See if you can make these even better. Try inserting an inspiring reason why at the end of each goal.

Other examples of useful business goals

Outcome goals are often used to impress potential referring partners. For example, “93% of my massage clients achieved their therapy goals by the 6th visit.”

Growth goals become relevant after you’ve started getting steady business. For example, “I will grow my practice income 25% per year for the next 3 years.”

Be careful with popularity goals or social media goals. Having a lot of likes and followers doesn’t always translate into revenue for your practice. You can’t pay the bills with thumbs up.

A goal can also be about your own attitude. “I will dedicate myself 100% to building my massage practice, to prove to myself what’s possible.”

Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars.

Les Brown

Track and measure your progress

The best way to know if you’re making progress towards your long-term goal is to see which milestones and short-term goals you’ve met.

You should be looking at your top goals daily. Keep them in front of you because they will guide all of your decisions.

And several times per year, look at your long-term goal and ask yourself, “Is this still the best goal for me?” Circumstances change, and sometimes a goal that was previously important can become irrelevant. Or you may have something that has become more important to you.

hiker using GPS to find which way to go

What to do when you don’t achieve your goals

No worries. If the goal is still important to you, simply set a new deadline and get back to work.

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.


Don’t be scared to “burn the boats”. This means don’t give yourself a way out. Commit to achieving your goals.

Everybody gets off course. You may find yourself off course several times per day. Don’t sweat it. Just take a minute to look at your goals and get back on course.

Instead of looking around for external circumstances or other people to blame for you not achieving your goals, look within. Own up to your own successes and failures. It is far easier to change yourself than it is to change other people anyway.

30-minute goal-setting exercise for a growing massage practice

In just 30 minutes you can establish some effective goals. Use a timer; faster is better. You can reword things later. To get started, shut out all distractions. Start by envisioning how you want your massage practice to look in 3-5 years, and then reverse engineer what you need to do to get to that point.

  1. Take 5 minutes to reflect on what you want your massage practice to be like in 3-5 years. Consider: location, clients, income, network, employees(?), other services(?), schedule, website, what other skills you want to have, etc. What would your ideal practice look like? Jot down notes quickly as you reflect.
  2. Write your long-term goal in 1-2 sentences based on what you just came up with. (5 minutes)
  3. To meet this long-term goal, what are the 3 most important things that you need to accomplish by the end of year 1? Write these down as three short-term goals. (5 minutes)
  4. To meet these three 1-year goals, what are the 3 most important things you need to accomplish in the next 3 months? Write these down as your top 3 short-term milestones. (5 minutes)
  5. Finally, come up with your action steps. What are the most important actions that you need to take now, and over the next 3 months to meet your short-term goals? (10 minutes)

The only thing that’s left is to start taking action. So commit to your goals, direct your energy to achieve them, and enjoy the journey.

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