Is the dentist successful who has conducted a highly skilful practice all these years, who has reaped from it almost no material benefits for himself or his family, that a clerk in a store could not provide, and who faces old age and physical infirmaties with no savings and no assured income?
From Brother Bill’s Letters, page 120
Call me old school. Really old school. I hear the Millennials discuss how they’re living life for experiences and not just to make money – I’ve seen it in action at the local dental school, too. They say they don’t want to be 55 or 60 before they “enjoy” life.
It conveys the message that most aren’t doing what they love or they’re looking for an excuse to be lazy. I recall an article in Dental Economics written by a Millennial excusing and downplaying his $350,000 dental school debt because he didn’t want to miss out and he deserved to enjoy life while in school – to play and even vacation. He wrote he had plenty of time to make money and pay off his loans. That his generation deserved or was called to do something different than previous generations.
The thought process is foreign to me. This idea of not working hard. Of not deriving sufficient or an over abundance of joy from hard work, achieving goals and when appropriate, celebrating; of the pursuit and achievement of financial freedom.
I would predict because of the entitlement thinking this generation seems to embrace, there will be a financial crises 40 to 45 years from now with their inability to retire, and, in typical fashion, they will look to the government for a bailout or support because they couldn’t save or didn’t want to delay personal gratification or bust their as*** getting there.
But back to the very beginning of this article – the quote I opened with. It’s from a 100 year old book. It was written to be, from my research, among the first practice management training for Dentists (note, the spelling errors are intentional).
Where would you set your own measure of success? Are you there yet? Will you be when you want to be? How do you know? How are you measuring it? How often do you take stock of your financial condition? At some point, it’s too late to try and recover by practice dentistry and grinding it out at the chair. Physically, it becomes far more difficult, hovering over a patient 6 to 8 hours a day. Mentally, you’re dealing with burnout and defeat.
Now’s the time to pour the coals to it. To position yourself so you can, if need be and if you choose, retire in practice, as the CEO of your business, not necessarily cutting a crown or praying an implant doesn’t fail. Instead, guiding the business and the clinicians providing the front-line care, providing leadership, and training a team to support the income and lifestyle you wish.
If you’ve lived through more than one economic downturn, I don’t need to remind you how tough things can get before they ever have a hope of getting better. And, you must resolve to invest in your practice when that downturn shows. And, it will. Will you be ready?