When I was recently talking with a new patient I asked if he was satisfied with the appearance of his teeth. Smugly he stated; “At 55 years old, I don’t think I really worry about how my teeth look.” Then I asked; “Do you think at 80 or 85 years old, you will care if you have your teeth?” “Of course” he said blatantly. As I leaned closer I softly spoke; “do you realize that is 30 years away. And how your teeth look is more than likely directly related to how they are functioning which may influence how long they will last.” This was an instance where the patient used time as a negative against himself, but I used time as an educational point to prove that his present age was not the issue.
Time management is not a great success of many of us today. Society has led us away from controlling this ever important factor in our lives. Just think back on your childhood and compare it to what many of us do to our kid’s schedules today. This begins a vicious cycle that will be difficult to break, but inevitable, something will do just that.
I know of an orthodontist who sees 90 plus patients a day. His schedule is packed, stress is high, his staff is on edge, and a lot of the joy of his practice seems to wean. He talks of being able to “finish up” financially at an early age. However, I know that when his youngest child graduates high school thirteen years from now he will be 60 years old. I sure don’t see him leaving for Florida in his mid 50’s while his youngest is still in high school. I am not too sure what the race is, but my constant advice to him is; “why don’t you slow down, and enjoy the ride!” Even my kids bring me back to the reality of the fact that there isn’t any rush or race in life. Take your time to enjoy every minute. Even in relationship to my dentistry, although I have completed the Pankey Scholar program, I felt that this was a new starting point and not an end or destination of my personal career journey. I always like to say, that dentistry became a lot easier when I realized there wasn’t a “dental nirvana” that I was in a race to reach. Even outside of dentistry, I have several friends who felt a need to “take a year off” around the age of 40 due to early burnout. Only to have difficulty getting back into the job market when they felt ready to resume their hectic work schedules.
As a mentor to other dentists, I find this factor of time a key point of many of our discussions. Not only for the obvious dental reasons, but also for such things as finances (you cannot have it all today), growth of the practice, skill development, relationship building, and who they are in the dental and local communities. I would always like to place things on a time scale and prefer that they do things the right way, and not the quick way. Maybe that is my point complaining about everyone trying to sell us the quick road to success. Usually all those lessons waste time and cost a lot of money. The control of finances and the influence of time is a lesson that everyone cannot learn too early.
If all of you could please take the time and try to relate this important aspect of life to yourself, you will see that how the lack of time control can affect so many parts of your lives. I urge all of you to go out and get your own odd clocks without a beginning nor end, grasp the precious time in your hands, control it, use it with wisdom, never let it get away from you and never be in a rush to cram as much into it as possible. Realize that if everything else is taken away from you then time is all that you would have. And remember, to be the best you can be often takes a lot of time. Most important of all, save some time for yourself, you deserve it.
Good luck and hey, if any of you need time to talk, just call and I’ll make some.