Why Dentists Need a Life Plan

golfer swinging a club

Even the most successful dentists need to rediscover their passion for their life’s work. A paradox exists between being busy and feeling unfulfilled while being established in a career but needing an exit strategy. When owning your own practice, it can be easy to get lost in the managerial aspects and forget the clinical reasons you got into dentistry in the first place. Here’s how to create a comprehensive life plan that strikes a balance between personal and professional goals.

How it began

Whether dental school was 20 years ago or just in your rearview mirror, it’s important to look back before you can move forward. Maybe you started your own practice from scratch, joined an existing one or purchased one outright. Either way, you likely added to your debt pile in an effort to hone your clinical skills. Along the road to profitability, you may have made some personal sacrifices to grow your business.

How it’s going

Mid-career dentists, while established in their practices, may now face the challenges associated with their own growing families while thinking long-term about the future of their careers. Planning for retirement or an eventual transition of ownership should begin as early as five years out, which often coincides with paying for their children’s continuing education. The question remains if and when you’ll reach a point of burnout.

The in-between

There’s much more to running a dental practice than meeting patient demand. You’ll always need to work on staff relationships, the nuances of running a business and improving clinical skills. You should approach every business and life decision with the end in mind to eliminate the stress and anxiety of the day-to-day.

The know-how

Asking the right questions will put the power back in your hands to paint a picture of how and where you work. How much do you need to retire comfortably and at what age? Which area of dentistry do you feel most passionate about? Do you want to learn a new technology? What do you need to have, and what would be nice to have? What kind of working environment do you want to create for you, your staff, and your patients? What does a work-life balance look like to you? The answers to these questions and more will give your day-to-day focus for the path ahead.

The time blocks

The best way to make time is to plan it in advance. Yes, there’s the vision for when you want to retire, but also look ahead to decide how much time off you want to take each year, as well as how many hours you want to work every week. It’s also important to devote time each week/month/quarter to evaluate your long- and short-term goals for what’s to come. Above all, be transparent with your staff and patients, if necessary, about when you are and aren’t available.

Whats next?

It’s easy to get comfortable with the dental practice you’ve established, but if you want to grow both in and out of your business, you’ll want to do so strategically. Contact the experts at Professional Transition Strategies to get started on the right path.