Always leave the party whilst you’re still having fun

We should all be ready to leave dentistry when the time is right, not when it’s too late, Alun Rees says.

I forget who gave me these words of advice, but I’m grateful that they did.

No matter how much you enjoy your dentistry and your professional life, sooner or later it will come to an end.

Like most things, except death and taxes, you can choose when you take your leave, hang up the drill, and put down the tools.

Unfortunately, far too many dentists just hang on in what often resembles desperation.

They then reach a crisis of some sort, often physical but increasingly mental, where they have had enough, they hit a wall and want to have left already.

Selling a practice or just organising your exit takes time and serious planning.

The better prepared you are, the more that you plan, the less likely that you will need to bale out quickly and the better will be your outcome from the exit.

It should not be the end, merely the start of a new chapter.

Letting go

In his book, The Second Curve, Charles Handy describes how all things have a sigmoid curve of existence and we should accept when we are at the peak of one and be ready to start on our next curve before heading downhill.

I am often contacted by practice owners who find themselves 30 or more years into their careers, but can’t seem to let go.

Often their practices have reached their peak and are on the slide both clinically and financially.

They have stopped enjoying their dentistry, but often feel frightened to let go.

To return to the title of this piece, always be ready for your time when it comes; remember where you have hung your coat and head for the door when you choose.

There’s more enjoyment to be had.

Life’s too short to enjoy only one party.

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Comments (1)

If you truly enjoy what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.
Occasional frustration is a healthy sign of not being content with things as they are, and a stimulus to seeking improvement.
Concentrate on adding value to peoples’ lives and work out how to be rewarded in a mutually beneficial interaction. Value for money is seldom the cheapest nor either the most expensive option.
Help patients become autonomous and enable them to discriminate what is good for them. Help them to take decisions that are beneficial in the long term.
Do not expect every day to be a joy, but be ready for those days when your contribution to someone has been truly life-changing.
Remember that nobody is perfect, and who wants to be nobody anyway?
I become desperately sad when I read of someone’s retirement day being the best day of their life. The implications for past and future are bleak. It is only by looking up that we can see on what our ladder is leaning, and what is at the top. Does it even reach the top of the wall?

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