Tip 8: Watch Your Resources
It's so important to realize that every time you get upset, it drains your emotional energy. Losing your cool makes you tired. Getting angry a lot messes with your health.
- Joyce Meyer
Dentistry is a demanding profession. It can take its toll physically, mentally and emotionally. Many dentists suffer from ailments in all categoriesthat range from the chronic illnesses of heart disease, diabetes and cancer to the psychological conditions of anxiety and depression as well as social disorders that lead to divorce and addiction. This book is about creating a long happy successful career. My one very basic piece of advice is "Doctor, take care of yourself, first."
After ten years of practice I developed Type 2 diabetes. It would be easy to say that I had a genetic disposition, but I believe that I didn't handle stress at work very well. I worried a lot. I believe the worrying was a cause of overeating, and poor sleep which lead to anxiety and depression and because of cortisol release, lead to high blood sugar. Diabetes was the turning point for my life. Sometimes life whispers, and then it screams. For me, diabetes was the scream I needed to hear. My life changed twenty-five years ago when I decided to clean up my act.
The very first thing I did was to clean up my diet and start exercising. I began by running just a few blocks at first. Then, I continued to add distance until I created a new addiction. As far as diet, I cut out all sugar. I also began to meditate. All of these early attempts lead to more energy. Everything started with more physical energy. Today I don't run as much, but I am in the gym three per week, lifting weights and walking briskly on the treadmill. I also do hot Yoga three days per week. I lost over twenty-five pounds and have no problems completing any physical demands dentistry throws me.
Mentally, in order to learn more about what I was doing wrong, in order to get more control of my time and life, I read…and I read…and I read. I took tons of continuing education. After ten years of practice, I finally learned that I had to run a business as well. Today, I still consider myself someone who needs to learn more. I continue to take courses and read books about business, psychology, sales and marketing, social media, and of course, dentistry. Running a dental practice today requires much more knowledge than it did years ago.
Emotional resources cannot be overlooked. Burnout is rampant in dentistry. For me, being part of a professional network where I can speak to like-minded friends, who are going through the same issues, really helps. There were times when I would just look up in the sky for answers, but when I became connected to friends in my study clubs or by using a coach, I found out that I wasn't alone. Other dentists go through the same problems. I often wondered about those dentists who lost their marriages or became addicted to drugs and alcohol because they had no one to speak with. In retrospect, I felt
lucky that my biggest issue was diabetes.
Your resources are all you have. It all starts with you…your physical, mental and emotional strength. Stephen Covey made his seventh habit Sharpen the Saw. This habit is all about renewal of strength.
In your practice the resources that are analogous to the physical, mental and emotional components are your money, your tools and equipment and your staff. I call these the human and physical resources of your practice. I will discuss them in more detail in Part II of this book. One point I want to make here is just like I started my own renewal with replenishing my body through diet and exercise, for your practice, taking care of money and budgeting is the first step.
Of all the tips in this book, I believe that taking care of ourselves first is the first step to a happy and healthy life in dentistry.
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