7 Professional Resolutions for the New Year

January 6, 2017
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

While you’re thinking about resolutions for your personal life, why not decide on some professional New Year’s resolutions that can help you improve yourself as a dentist and business owner.

As we begin the New Year, it’s common to focus on aspects of our lives we’d like to change. Maybe you’ve made a resolution to get to the gym more often, or you want to take up a new hobby you’ve been thinking about for a while. But what about your career? Are there any aspects of your dental practice that you’d like to focus on improving in 2017? While you’re thinking about resolutions for your personal life, why not decide on some professional New Year’s resolutions that can help you improve yourself as a dentist and business owner.

1. Learn how to delegate.

Up until now, you may have taken a hands-on approach to running your dental practice. Beyond providing treatment, are you also overseeing the accounting for your business? Do you take part in the hiring (and firing) of employees? Do you help to make out a work schedule for everyone in your practice? If you’re interested in taking your practice to the next level, it might be helpful to delegate some of the non-clinical tasks to certain employees. Being pulled in too many directions at once makes it easy to lose your focus, and things inevitably start to slip through the cracks. Let someone else sweat the small stuff so you can target your efforts on providing the best patient care possible.

2. Remove a negative influence from your professional life.

We all have at least one professional commitment that’s a drain on our time and resources. Admit it — there’s something related to your dental practice that gives you a headache just thinking about it. If you can, try to limit your exposure or remove this influence from your professional life entirely. Getting this negativity out of your life lets you start the New Year with a fresh, positive perspective.

3. Set time aside to “clean up” your practice.

It’s easy to let things get out of hand, especially if your practice is hopping with patients. Set some time aside early in the new year to clean off your desk, wrap up loose ends, and develop better business processes that help your practice run more smoothly. If you can try to make your business neat and tidy, you should be able to breathe easier and not feel so stressed and overwhelmed. You could also try to set aside some time at the end of each day to answer emails and tidy up your office. You’d be amazed at how much better you’ll feel with a neat, organized area in which to work.

4. Ask for, and offer, help.

Your commitments outside of work might be causing extra stress, but it’s easy to get a handle on them if you ask for help. Whatever your commitments, ask your colleagues to see if there’s anything you can do to make life easier for everyone. Maybe you could work through lunch a few days a week if you need to leave a little early to check on an elderly parent. Also, commit to helping others when you see they need a hand. Could you cover another dentist’s lunch while they run out for an hour? Would you be able to switch shifts with co-worker if they need to handle something at their child’s school? By helping others, you can make your life more fulfilled and your practice a more positive place in which to work. It’s a win-win for everyone.

5. Improve communication in your practice.

An effective team is a well-informed team. It’s important to clearly communicate the direction in which you’d like your business to grow, and the ways in which you’d like to achieve your professional goals. Try setting some time each week where your employees can all come together to discuss concerns, successes, and goals for the practice. Keeping an open-door policy helps your team feel like they are valued, and that all achievements are a part of the big picture in your practice.

6. Work toward a better work/life balance.

This may be a resolution you’ve made in the past, but you’ve never quite been able to step away from your practice for too long. Keep in mind that there are only so many hours in the day, and there is never going to be the perfect time to take a break. However, it’s important to stop working and recharge — breaks increase productivity and positivity while reducing rates of burnout. Try planning out breaks or vacations in order to achieve better balance between your professional life and your personal life. We all only get a brief period of time in which to live our lives … it’s important not to let your whole life pass you by.

7. Take your career to the next level.

Do you want to learn a new treatment technique that will allow you to offer more services to patients? Perhaps you want to expand your business to include a few new locations? Would you like to guest lecture at your local dental school? Whatever your professional goals are for 2017, think about the steps you need to achieve those goals and then make a plan to do so. Big, life-changing goals take planning, but smaller, more easily accomplishable goals can be easily achieved with small steps.