A new year ahead and no doubt some, if not all, of us will have some personal resolutions for self-improvement that we hope will become a habit and so last the year and eventually become the norm.

I don’t think I’m very different to anyone else in making resolutions with the best of intentions, although thinking back most resolutions seem to crop up each time when contemplating the year ahead. First on the list is always to exercise more, second to eat less and third to spend less time at work and so have a better work-life balance.

However, all too often, good intentions and action in January, become less in February and by March it’s all a thing of the past. So realising where I’ve gone wrong in the past, this year I’ve a fourth resolution – to plan better. I’ve made a note of each resolution and at the beginning of each month will plan what to do during the month and at the end of each month I intend to monitor progress. Start the year with the best of intentions, what could possibly go wrong?

The idea of resolutions can and should also apply to your business and the end of the year is a good time to reflect on the progress made over the past 12 months and then to plan how you want it to develop in the future.

While thinking about New Year’s resolutions my mind wandered to thinking that it would be great for the optical industry as a whole to commit to some aims that we stick to through the year, work together to achieve, and even perhaps monitor and report on progress through the year.

This may seem a pipedream and very impractical, as the industry has a number of different sectors such as multiple, independent and suppliers, all with slightly different agendas. Conversely, there will be a lot of common ground and so taking this thinking a bit further, rather than a New Year’s resolution, should the idea and the philosophy of planning for the future be expanded to a year’s plan for the industry and should this be part of a three-to-five-year plan?

The idea that there should be a pan-optical strategy seems sensible to me. However, who you may well ask would lead on this? If a Martian landed on earth and said take me to the leader of the optical industry, where would we direct them to? If anyone was brave enough to direct them to a specific person or organisation I suspect there would be a few heads of the other optical organisations who would object.

I realise each of the optical bodies will have their strategic aims and plans for the year, however, these are individual to each organisation and will not give a consistent theme across the sector with which to have a co-ordinated approach to influence the Government, commissioners and the general public.

To me, it is somewhat of a surprising revelation that there is no overall plan in existence. I’m sure someone will tell me that is wrong and if that is the case, then perhaps they would also let everyone know what the detail of the plans are, so that in each area Local Optical Committees, Eye Health Networks and individual practices can be lending their support.

We have a number of different bodies, with varying and sometimes conflicting opinions on the way forward. Thereby lies our greatest weakness as an industry. Without a strategic focus across the board, I worry we will not achieve the aims we are looking for, in particular a greater awareness of what we do in optical practice and a larger part to play in primary care.

Not for the first time I would say that the time is right for us to enable change. We have a growing elderly population who will be increasingly in need of eye care, a hospital sector who cannot cope with demand and yet many clinical commissioning groups do not fully utilise the services of optical practice. I hope that 2018 will at last be the year where we put aside differences, harness the collective abilities that undoubtedly exist and work to a greater common aim.