Many dental professionals invest a lot of time, money, and effort pursuing a career only to realize the career they chose isn’t one they want to spend their career pursuing. But after spending thousands of dollars in schooling—sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars—they feel obligated to use their degree even if it makes them miserable. If that sounds familiar, don’t worry. There is hope.
You don’t have to spend your entire working life doing something you hate because of a decision you made in high school or undergrad. You’re more than your degree. And you deserve to have a career you love. There are so many other options and opportunities to pursue.
In the Trapped in an OP Facebook group, Elijah Desmond addressed this issue to help other dental professionals take control of their careers. In it, he shared a personal story and talked about how he developed his MentorSHIP-At-Sea, a cruise dedicated to helping dental professionals build more fulfilling careers. He also shared advice for changing the direction of your career. If you’re not happy with your career, here are three steps to help you change your direction.
1. Establish a vision.
The easiest way to get somewhere is to first understand where you want to go. If you are unsure, don’t worry. Start by identifying what you don’t want to be doing.
Why don’t you like the career you’re in right now? Why don’t you like being confined to applying clinical skills you learned in school?
Take some time to think about what you want to change about your career. As you do, you’ll often figure out what you would prefer to do instead.
2. Take action.
Once you know where you want to go, take action. Invest in yourself. Does your desired new direction require more education? Get that education.
Does your desired new direction require you to meet new people? Attend conferences, networking events, Facebook groups, or more. Connect with the people you need to connect with to achieve your vision.
Don’t be afraid to invest in your career, in yourself, and in your future happiness.
3. Continuously revisit your vision and adjust as necessary.
In MentorSHIP At Sea, Elijah challenges attendees to write a future journal entry as if a year has gone by and they had pursued their vision for a year.
Attendees write about their days and what their lives would be like one year later. Once their journal entries were complete, they give it to Elijah, who holds on to them for one year. Once the year has passed, Elijah gives them back to the attendees to see what has changed during that year.
Attendees are often amazed at how much progress they can make when they spend a year pursuing a new vision for their careers.
If you haven’t attended MentorSHIP At Sea, you can sign up for the next event, but you don’t have to wait for the next sailing to get started. Make your own journal entry, and tuck it away.
Write down your vision. Write down what you need to do to make it happen. Then write down how your life will have changed if you spent a year pursuing that vision.
Once you write down your vision and journal entry, keep it in a safe place. At least once a month, evaluate how much progress you’ve made, what is working, and what is not working. Adjust as needed. As you get closer to achieving your vision, ask yourself whether you need to adjust your vision. You might learn your vision was not what you thought it would be and needs to be adjusted. Or, you might discover your new vision is indeed what you want to pursue.
Adjust as needed and keep taking action toward your vision.
Start changing your career!
Your degree doesn’t define you. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you don’t have to keep doing it for the rest of your working years. Figure out what you want to do instead, and then take action to turn that vision into a reality.