Overcoming mid-career blahs and blues

Dr. Albert (Ace) Goerig says that creating a new vision and updating your practice goals can restore your enthusiasm and help raise your practice to the next level.

Dr. Albert (Ace) Goerig advises how to regain energy and passion for your work

For many doctors, enthusiasm and passion for endodontics and their practice can drift downward over time. One day, you wake up and everything seems a bit ho-hum. This effect often shows up mid-career and can be partly attributed to familiarity. Not much happens in a day that you haven’t encountered previously dozens, hundreds, or (in the case of an RCT), thousands of times.

Often nothing is particularly wrong. In fact, you may recognize that you currently have more than you’ve ever had in the past, and that by most typical measures, you are living a blessed life. And yet, something is creeping up on you, and more frequently you feel something is lacking. Here are some common signs of diminished energy and passion at work:

  • Feeling tired and unenthused at the start of the day.
  • Feeling like you’re just going through the motions.
  • Feeling a lack of accomplishment at the end of the day.
  • Feeling like you are working too hard for too little results.
  • Feeling worn out by managing your practice and team.
  • Feeling like you are spending too much time in the practice.
  • Feeling restless, bored, and unchallenged professionally.
  • Feeling the day is dragging along too slowly.
  • Feeling like you want to escape the profession.

These are all symptoms of an unbalance in your passion. Passion is what keeps us motivated, improving, and growing, which is exciting stuff. But when passion stumbles, the first effect is often that our focus falters. Without the drive to push forward, practices (and how we feel inside them) can drift downward. Left long enough, it can become a personal crisis leading to burnout.

Resetting your energy balance

Every job comes with pluses and minuses. Every job has things you must do (whether you like it or not) and things that you love to do (which probably motivated you toward that job in the first place). If you are not making progress on the things you love to do, then the things you must do will end up taking more and more space in your head. Then, you are in the situation when you feel like you are working for everyone else’s needs but not your own.

The first step to restoring your energy balance is to ask yourself and understand what you love most. What excites you? Where do you feel the most motivation and least friction to push yourself to new levels? For some doctors, it is purely the clinical experience. They love to live inside the tooth. For other doctors, it’s helping their patients and referring doctors. They are very people-oriented and need to build relationships within the community. Still other doctors may regard endodontics as a great economic profession in which to experience a life that they love and enjoy with their families.

Whatever the answer is for you, which could be a mixture of various things, the best way to bring passion back into your life is to pursue the things you love. Invest in yourself to go after those things enthusiastically. For example, if you are clinically focused, then who are your potential mentors? How do you get close to them? How do you put yourself on track to become the ultimate clinician? And then, how do you make your own practice and environment into one that supports you and lets you practice clinical care at that level?

Simplifying burdens

At the same time as you are pursuing the things you love, simplify your life around the things you also must do. Reduce your management stress. Implement stronger systems and teamwork so there is less handholding and micromanagement needed from you. Educate and empower your team so you can delegate to them with trust and confidence.

Creating a new vision with updated goals for practice success, team dynamics, economics, and daily enjoyment is the key turning point to the next stage of professional fulfillment.

This isn’t about giving up control. It’s about maintaining pinpoint control while giving up the labor you’ve taken on. That labor is such a weight and burden that it can overwhelm even the most passionate doctor. It’s like holding up a pillow at arm’s length. It’s easy to do for a short time, but as the time extends longer and longer, it becomes heavier and heavier. If you’re holding on to labors in your practice and life that are becoming heavy (even if they are objectively simple to do), it will eventually draw all your energy away from the things that you love and enjoy.

Recharging your vision

The biggest challenge is admitting you need to make changes and improve, because that feels like admitting to having a problem and failure. However, the mid-career blahs and blues typically affect people who are beyond the possibility of failure. By contrast, people who are still striving to reach fundamental goals rarely suffer from a lack of passion. They’re hungry and motivated to keep making progress.

Instead, rather than accepting that the lackluster feeling you have is inevitable for the remainder of your career, look at it instead as a sign that you have absolutely conquered everything at your current level. It’s now time to up your game and start looking at new possibilities and goals. And in that way, you always keep looking forward and prioritizing your growth and enjoyment.

Often, the greatest realization that the doctors I work with as a practice coach has been that their vision was predominantly based around getting established in endodontics — a first stage vision. Now that they’re established, it’s no longer driving them. On top of that, their life outside the practice has often changed. Their family, their finances, their personal priorities, etc. have evolved. Creating a new vision with updated goals for practice success, team dynamics, economics, and daily enjoyment is the key turning point to the next stage of professional fulfillment.

Dr. Goerig has written for Endodontic Practice US about creating a new vision and updating your practice for better results, even during the COVID-19 crisis. Read “What coronavirus taught me about clinical efficiency,” to improve productivity here: https://endopracticeus.com/what-coronavirus-taught-me-about-clinical-efficiency/

Albert Goerig, DDS, MS, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics and a sought-after speaker who has lectured extensively on the field of endodontics and practice success throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad. He is the author of more than 100 published articles and contributing author to numerous endodontic textbooks. Dr. Goerig has a private endodontic practice in Olympia, Washington, in the top 1% nationwide for practice profitability. He has almost 40 years of experience as an endodontic educator and practice coach to over 1,000 endodontists.

www.endomastery.com | 1-800-482-7563 | info@endomastery.com

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