Dreams, Realities, and Walls

We’ve all heard the expression “be careful what you wish for”.  Over the years, there have been many songs, movies, and stories about dreams coming true.  We, in dentistry, are no different in regards to our dreams.

As young dentists, many of us dreamed of a successful practice allowing us economic freedom, time for family and friends, and a quality of life unobtainable for most of the general population. Fortunately, (or maybe not so fortunately for some, as we’ll later see), many of our dreams did come true.  Hard work, extended hours, family sacrifices, taking on every patient who walked through our doors (though later regretting some of these choices), etc. frequently led to above average earnings.

The problem, however, was that this did not always equate to happiness, security, or contentment.  Instead, for some in our profession, it led to more work, more hours away from family, more sacrifices, always in pursuit of more, more, more. We once worked with a doctor netting over $2,000,000.00 per year.  While most dentists never approach that income, even $2M was not enough for this doctor, as the next year, he wanted more – meaning more long hours, less time with his wife and two children, etc.

For many in our profession, even when our dreams become our realities, it is not enough. The dreams then become bigger, more expensive, more time consuming, meaning more responsibilities and more sacrifices. These dreams, once reality, may not bring the happiness once envisioned nor the stability once sought. Reality now requires greater responsibility, more maintenance, more sacrifice, and for some, the cycle never ends.  For some, dreams that became reality lead to personal problems – increased stress, marital problems, chemical abuse or dependency, isolation, etc.

Dentistry is a difficult profession for many people, both physically as well as mentally challenging. While many dentists appear externally to be happy and successful, my observations over 30 years in the field of practice transitions, allow me to note that there are many exceptions to the outward appearance. In fact, at some point in their careers, many of our colleagues hit the proverbial wall.  They no longer enjoy dentistry, may want out of dentistry and yet accept the reality that they cannot earn $250K a year working only four days a week in any other profession at this stage in their life.  They dread Sunday nights (for Monday morning in the office follows) and live for 5:00 PM Thursday (when three days away from the office starts), and their personal lives begin to change due to stress, time, and responsibilities required to maintain the dreams that some now wish had never become reality.

Recently, I spoke to a specialist (and spouse) considering the sale of his long established and successful practice. Over 30+ years in the profession allowed this person to realize many of the dreams of his dental school years and the early years in practice. Yet, when I asked him about the future, his response was that once the practice is sold, all you will see of me are “elbows and butts” (language here is modified from the original language to our “G” rated story here!).  I could not help but laugh, and yet, what a commentary on the exit of he and his wife from their office. He is certainly not alone in that desire – the wall is straight ahead for him and he may be heading full speed ahead towards it if some accommodations are not made.

Fortunately, the wall can be avoided for many!

What if you could:

  • convert your practice from a non-interest bearing asset into an interest bearing asset
  • take the equity out of your practice and use it towards retirement investments
  • maintain clinical income to fund your lifestyle expenses
  • decrease or eliminate your management responsibilities
  • potentially decrease clinical and management time while maintaining or exceeding current income
  • have security and peace of mind knowing that in event of death or disability that your practice has or will sell for maximum value

For those of you whose dreams became realities and you are content – congratulations! Keep up the great times – you’ve earned it.  For those of you seeking to make your dreams into realities, we can assist.  Legacy Practice Transitions, can help you obtain financial independence, a work optional lifestyle, and a better balance of professional and personal needs.  For those of you aware that you are racing towards the “Wall” (or have already hit it), we have transition programs for you too.  For all dentists, at any stage in your career or at any age, Legacy Practice Transitions has programs to help you dream, help your dreams become realities, and help you avoid the wall!

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