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Authors : Dr. Howard Farran.

Planning for retirement is important—it's true. However, it's important to live for today too, and not get obsessed with the future.

Balance.

Plan for retirement, but enjoy today. Enjoy your career.

This month's cover stories focus on retirement planning and debt management and they're full of valuable information for people at any stage of their career. The most important stage though, is the one you're in right now.

I love every day as a dentist. That's why I still practice. If I didn't want to practice, I'd stop practicing. See, I don't do things I don't like to do for money. The minute it's not fun, I don't do it.

For all of you out there who want to retire early, is there any chance you want to get out because you hate your job? Are you doing something you don't like to do for money? It seems that about half the dentists I talk with love going to work and the other half hate it and are burned out and fried and want to retire. Some of the people who want to retire become mired in the future and fantasize about it day after day, even though retirement may be decades off. If that's you, you've lost balance. Maybe it's time to make fewer decisions about what to do in retirement, and more decisions about how to make your job better so you're not obsessed with retirement.

What can you fix about your current situation? Lots of things!

Let's say you hate doing endo. Well there are these people called endodontists. Refer out! Now let's say you don't like blood and guts and you don't want to place implants. Then don't place implants. There are many types of procedures in dentistry, which means you have the choice to focus on the types you like.

Concentrate on what you enjoy and get your attitude right. Then get your team right. Get to the point of camaraderie where your assistant fist bumps you when you get that wisdom tooth out because you're both in it together and because this is such a great day and you both just rocked that procedure.

Live in the moment. When you're in retirement, live in those retirement moments. Be present where you are. Do what you like with the people you like.

When I'm driving to work, I'm happy because I can't wait to see Jan and Christine and Robert and Yoni and Zach. I just love working with our entire team. Is there someone on your team you can't stand to see, who is dragging you down and dragging your business down and running off other team members? Maybe he or she is part of why you're dreaming about retirement all the time.

Talk to them. Maybe they have legitimate gripes that are making them exude negative energy. Are the concerns valid? Should you address them? Would addressing those concerns make things better? Then address those concerns. If that employee is better to be around afterward, you have a happier employee, you improved parts of your business, and you're happier because you're not around negativity. But, if that person is just plain negative or, if there are core traits to this person that you can't change, get rid of them! Smart operators don't stand for people who drag the business down or who push others out.

I'm not Dr. Phil; I wasn't born to figure out why someone is miserable no matter what. It's my job to get rid of problems when I see them, and if someone becomes a problem and makes you hate coming to work, that employee may have become a problem to get rid of. Improve your team and retirement might not pop into your head as often.

Remember when you dreamed of going into dentistry? Being in dentistry is what you wanted. You may have wanted it as badly as you now want to retire. What can you change so that you love dentistry again? It's possible to love the profession into old age.

For instance: Kenny.

Kenny was my neighbor growing up and he is the reason I wanted to become a dentist. Kenny recently celebrated his 50th year in dentistry; this guy is still practicing! I used to watch him take X-rays and do root canals and I thought it was awesome. I had to become a dentist, even though it broke my dad's heart when I didn't follow his footsteps and continue in the family business. I wanted to be a dentist, and I still want to be a dentist. Every year I get better and faster.

Dentists much older than I am say that every year they get so much better, so much faster. They've had thousands of people walk through their doors, they have a client list a dozen feet long—they get better each step of the way. Maybe around 55 they say their goal is to work one hour less a day and make $100 a day more, and they can.

Kenny now works a few hours a day Monday through Thursday and he's probably making more money on Monday and Tuesday than any dentist is making off their 401(k)s.

Another inspiring elder dentist is an Auschwitz survivor who attended one of my seminars. This man was 92 at the time, living in Los Angeles, and even though he'd lost his wife, he still loved life and dentistry. He stood there excited as can be telling me how much he likes his new CBCT X-ray machine and that he's all about placing implants. Imagine that. He may have thought the entire time in Auschwitz that he was going to be killed every day, and then he makes it out of there alive and he's the happiest guy in the world placing implants in his nineties while you're talking about retirement.

Most of the time, when dentists 50 and under start talking to me about retirement, it only takes five minutes before I find out that they hate dentistry, they want out, they're done. Then you ask why they hate it. Well, they hate a couple people on staff and they hate some patients. Well, you can fire staff and let patients go. You can work fewer hours and quit doing certain things. Focus first on how you're going to be happy right now and the farthest thing from your mind will be how soon can you retire.

I love my work, in dentistry, and at Farran Media.

I get approached often by people who want to buy Dentaltown and I always say no, and always will. They say they'll give me a lot of money and I say, "What would I do with a bunch of paper?"

What would I do with money that would make me as happy as I am right now, when the first thing I do every day is check the message boards and see what's going on? I'm addicted to my product. I love my teams. I love dentistry. Sure, I'm preparing for retirement financially, but retiring is far from my mind; I'm too busy enjoying our profession and our Dentaltown community.

Enjoy your retirement, and plan for it, but don't squander the life you have today, wishing it away for full-time golf. Live in the now, dental friends. It's a good career you built. And if you don't like it, do something else. Life is too short to do what you don't like just for money.

Carpe diem. - See more at: http://www.dentaltown.com/Dentaltown/Article.aspx?i=396&aid=5474#sthash.e08A0k0k.dpuf

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