Are you trying to build a life around your career, or are you building a career around the life you want to create? I believe that, if you want to build a truly fulfilling and purposeful life, you’ve got to clarify that vision first — the vision of what you want your life to be — then build and integrate the career path that’ll get you there.
The problem with building your career first and hoping your dream life will follow is that, inevitably, your career will take up whatever time and energy you give it. You’ll end up focusing on what you know, your career path, and putting everything else that hasn’t been mapped out to the wayside.
“What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.” -Robin S. Sharma
You were not put on this planet simply to put your head down and work. And even though dentistry is your passion and something you enjoy immensely, it can and should also be used as a vessel to provide you financial freedom so you can explore and enjoy other things in life like family, travel, and adventure.
And if you ever want that to happen, you need to get clear on what you want out of life outside of your career.
To get that internal conversation going, starting thinking about:
Who and what matters most to you?
What do you want to experience within the next 3,5, 10 and even 20 years?
What would you like your daily life to be like?
How often do you envision spending time traveling, exploring new hobbies, or being alone?
As an example, perhaps you envision taking your family on an international trip for a month every year. Maybe every couple of months you’d like to enjoy a week off. Maybe you’d like to create your own schedule, or maybe you’d prefer clocking in and out at a specific time each day and not having to worry about anything until you clock in the next morning. When you assess your values and what matters most, security and certainty may be at the top of your list. On the other hand, maybe freedom and personal growth are at the forefront of your mind...even if it means taking on more responsibilities or risks.
Everyone is different and there is no wrong answer.
Luckily, in the dental profession, there are options for everyone, no matter where they land on their perspective of life and what they want. They just need to define what that is for them so they can plan their career accordingly.
Many people across all industries make the mistake of solidifying their career before understanding what they truly want and value. This, naturally, leads to dissatisfaction and resentment down the road because they end up in a career path that doesn’t fulfill what they truly wanted out of life.
The 4 Mindset Shifts for Successful Career Integration
Through my work with clients, I’ve learned that there are a few qualities that help individuals
establish what career path they want to pursue.
You need to be aware of what you want, aware that there are options, and aware that nothing is permanent. Your life path can change, your career can change, and your dreams and goals can change. And that’s okay.
Having a growth mindset means knowing that every day is a new opportunity to get better as a person, both personally and professionally. It means seeing mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning, and recognizing that failures and challenges are actually incredible opportunities for refining your purpose and processes.
This means having confidence in your experience, in your abilities, and in your decision making. Not all days will be good, and not all of your decisions will be the best. That’s life. Your confidence needs to come from an innate knowing that it is all part of your story and that because you are always learning and growing, even the less-than-ideal circumstances have their chapter that helps shape the whole story. Confidence is a result of your deep-seated self-trust.
If you look at the definition of humility, many sources link it to a sense of unworthiness and “feeling small”. In fact, the word “humility” and “humble” are both from the Latin root word humilis, meaning "low." However, when I use the term “humility”, I don’t mean it in the sense of feeling low or unworthy. My use of the word is two-fold. To me, humility means having a deep understanding that you have not “arrived” and will never “arrive”. Your story is always unfolding, always happening, and always requiring your ability to adapt as long as you exist. Secondly, humility means that you recognize that your career isn’t just about you. You’ll never be alone. Whether it’s your patients, your team, or your family, the way you show up and the role you have on this earth impacts everyone around you. That’s a big responsibility, and humility allows you to see and respect it as such.
By successfully shifting your mindset in these four ways, you’ll lay the foundation for successful career integration, no matter what career path you choose. So, practice awareness, have a growth mindset, cultivate unshakeable confidence, and have a sense of humility and watch as your career seamlessly integrates with the life you truly desire.