Working Toward Work-Life Balance

Molly Pereira Featured News

By Lindsay Compton, D.D.S., CDA President

In a recent survey from the CDA, dentists responded that achieving a work-life balance ranked as priority number 3. I truly feel that there is no better time than right now to take control of how we integrate our lives with our careers and set boundaries. This follows the old adage that there are two good times to plant a tree. The first one is 20 years ago. The other time is right now.

I have a pretty good feeling that many of our identities and worth are strongly tied to our profession. In our office we have cute pictures of our dogs and family members. When we are asked to share a bio, we describe the activities we do in our free time and whom we like to share these experiences. We learn about the priorities of our patients and how their dental health incorporates into their lives. We relate to our patients, share personal stories and coach them to better health.

Being involved in organized dentistry has mandated that I’m a strict steward of my time. I am a solo owner of a dental office in Arvada and, like many other dentists, the administrative duties fall on me. The leadership of the office, direction, and goals also fall on me. I know that if I’m successful in my office, I feel pride and this carries over to my personal life. This means achieving professional and personal fulfillment in and around the practice of dentistry is paramount to me. But what happens if things aren’t as I planned? What happens if the pressure for excellence starts to eat away at me? As dentists we know that the difference between success and failure is measured in tenths of a millimeter.

I do not claim to be any expert about balance. I often feel like I fail but I will never accept defeat. To break the work and work more cycle, I often add energy and mood boosting items to my to-do lists. One thing that helps me feel like I’ve gained control and restored peace is organizing and cleaning. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment of having my environment clean and pretty. I love the act of purging and throwing things away—getting rid of the old and unused to make room for better feels good to me. My other trick to boost my energy is to schedule rewards. I know that if I set a goal and at the end of the goal is something fun, it makes it all feel more worthwhile.

What drives me is thinking back to the personal statement I wrote before I entered dental school. In my personal statement, I wrote about the strong dentist I would be and set forth goals for my life and career. Almost daily I look at the decisions I make and think, if I was entering dental school, would I look up to the dentist I am today? Would you aspire to be the dentist you are today? Whether your answer is yes or no, you have an opportunity. Understand that you have the opportunity to mentor and help your neighbors and your colleagues.

I make a charge that we take ownership and direction of the future of dentistry and bring all our colleagues with us. I challenge each and every one of us to not allow our colleagues to become sullen and withdrawn, but to engage and encourage their energy for productive and positive change. It takes more strength to voice your concerns and speak for what’s right than to have “keyboard courage.” Apathy doesn’t have a seat in this house and is not an attitude that is conducive to change and progress. My challenge to you is to use your work and your word for good. Use your talents for the benefit of the profession as a whole.

What I just described is the association that I enjoy, and this is the association that you’ll see this year.