We live hectic lives in the fast-paced world of dentistry. There are always patients to take care of, team members to support, and practices to run. It’s hard to find time to take a break from it all—especially to pursue something unrelated to our current work or home life. That causes way too many people to forget that life isn’t about making a living—life is about living a life. You are more than your profession. You are a person who deserves to be happy.

While dentistry can be a fulfilling profession to those who love it, true fulfillment requires more. We must stop only serving others and start also serving ourselves. Only then can we achieve greater fulfillment inside and outside of dentistry.

So, what can you do to focus more on yourself and become happier with the life you’re living?

Don’t listen to the naysayers.

If you want to achieve a big dream, you will draw some criticism from people who think they know better. Whether it’s a big career decision or personal goal, people will tell you that it’s a bad idea to take that risk.

You’ll hear people tell you to just keep your head down and do your work. You’ll hear people tell you you’re too old for a personal goal. And you’ll hear people list all the things that could go wrong by taking a risk to achieve more fulfillment inside and outside of dentistry. People will tell you you’re out of your mind.

Don’t listen to those naysayers. Put together a plan, and start building toward the life you want to live. Don’t be afraid to fail. Anyone who has achieved any level of success will tell you that you have to fail to succeed. As long as you commit to learning from your failures, those little failures will not be fatal. In fact, if you never fail, chances are you are not challenging yourself enough.

Follow your heart, dreams, and vision.

We all have dreams outside of dentistry. Don’t let those dreams die inside you.

For example, Elijah revealed in the Trapped in an OP community that he secured his first gig as a DJ. Although he graduated from dental school as a dental hygienist, his dream has always been to be a DJ. As he walked through the airport to his first-ever gig, he recalled how he never expected he’d be doing what he was doing. His advice in the moment: follow your heart, dreams, and vision. If he didn’t follow his heart, dreams, and vision to become a DJ, he’d still be feeling the heavy emptiness of an unfulfilled dream inside.

Do what makes you happy.

As dental professionals, it’s sometimes hard to remember that our job is to make others happy. Our services are not ones people look forward to receiving. So, sometimes we must remind ourselves that our work changes lives when the people whose lives we help change don’t even like coming in for treatment. At work, keep reminding yourself of all the ways what we do changes lives. From preventative care to transformative procedures like dental implants, what we do helps people live better lives in many ways. Remembering the value we provide can help make tough days a little more pleasant.

That said, most people will never feel true fulfillment if they only focus on doing things that help other people. We must also do what makes us happy. If that means leaving dentistry, so be it. If that means taking on a side-hustle or pursuing a hobby like Elijah did with becoming a DJ, go for it! Elijah loves music, getting people on their feet, and making them dance. Making other people happy makes him happy. That makes DJing a perfect side hustle for him. What can you do that makes you happy?

Use your beautiful mind.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “You can do whatever you put your mind to.” People don’t just say it to say it. They mean it. The problem is it’s easier said than done. It’s hard to do because it’s hard to believe we can achieve what we want to achieve when we hit adversity.

The fact is we all have beautiful minds that can push us through even the toughest challenges. Sometimes our minds don’t feel so beautiful, though, and we end up doubting our abilities to achieve a big dream. As Robert Schuller once said, “The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.” Understand that you have a beautiful mind you can use to achieve greater fulfillment, and your own worst enemy is yourself. Think positive, and use that beautiful mind of yours to keep going.

Are you as fulfilled as you want to be?

If you don’t feel fulfilled as you practice dentistry from day to day, it’s time to step back and take action. Dream big. Avoid the naysayers. Put together a plan, and follow your heart, dreams, and vision. Take action. If you do that, it will only be a matter of time before you feel truly fulfilled in both your work and your home life.

If you’re interested in more content like this or want to surround yourself with a community of uplifting, positive, and inspirational dental professionals, join the Trapped in an OP Facebook group today!