Dr. Shalin Shah reflects on long-term decade goals and the power to focus on our passions.
Entering 2020 brings a new year and decade ahead. For some people, this is a moment to establish both short-term yearly resolutions and long-term decade goals. Regardless of what steps we laid out for ourselves, family, practices, and other important life interactions, we all shared January 1st as an opportunity to pause, reflect, calibrate, and plan for the days ahead.
What I find so beautiful in this day is our collective ability to break away from our daily routines to focus inwards and remind ourselves of our dreams. We empower ourselves to recenter our minds and thoughts again, and it allows us to focus once again on our passions. In orthodontics that encompasses our practices, patients, teams, colleagues, and ourselves.
A decade in orthodontics can be a significant landscape change in so many of the spheres in which we interact. For example, the last decade included advancements in TAD-borne expanders, 3D printing, aligner therapy (in-house, direct-to-consumer, and multiple aligner companies), social media connections (patients and peer-to-peer), and braces technology among many other notable changes. Ten years can be a significant time period for positive and impacting changes, and as we carefully stack each year of progress on top of each other, we are creating profound changes in the orthodontic treatment process, experience, and outcomes in even 10-year blocks.
My father retired from dentistry at the beginning of 2020, and when we all reflected on his career, we reminisced not only about the last decade but almost 4 decades worth of memories. While most memories were fond moments of patients and their care, some of the reflections were milestones achieved in those many blessed years of practice ownership. It was a moment to certainly celebrate, but we realized that it was not a celebration of just one individual.
I shared the following with him on the day that he was to sign the papers and officially have someone else write the next chapter in that practice’s story:
“It is not a legacy that is only your story, but one that encompasses the narrative of so many that chose to journey with you. You are celebrating your accomplishments as much as that of your patients, your family, your current and past team members, and all those who have come in and out of the practice’s evolution — your electrician, IT support, practice cleaning staff, mail carrier, etc. None should be forgotten, and all should be loved and remembered at this moment. We rarely reach a personal milestone alone; it is the support of many along the way that help us to individually become successful.
“It is also important to remember that as much as you have helped so many with their dental and health needs, your contribution was not only to them. You helped bring people within the community into your team, helped them build their lives, and helped them support their families. Furthermore, your personal gains from your practice helped you build your family. As important as both of these achievements are, your equally greatest benefit of your personal gains comes in the way of your strong capacity to have given back to the people who need it most in the world. The philanthropy and charitable contributions are what really fill our hearts and minds, and those acts of kindness profited from what the practice could do for you.
“Value in this world should have less of a focus on consumption and more on giving. You can now be grateful for the memories, achievements, challenges, and growths that the years have brought you, and when you finally make that last signature, you can be proud that the baton will be passed to help others write their own incredible story for themselves, their patients, their team, their community, and hopefully in helping those who need it most.”
As we establish our goals for the coming year and decade, may we remember that our orthodontic goals and hard work ethics can benefit so many around us, and when we reach those milestones, it was because of the many helping hands carrying us to those moments. May you all move forward with clarity and 20/20 vision. The future for orthodontics is bright, and if the advances of the last decade are any indication, we are in store for some beautiful changes in the coming decade.
Finally, for those of you who may be leaving orthodontics in the coming decade or left in the last decade, thank you for being our inspiration, role models, and mentors — and for showing us that love and passion can successfully thrive in our orthodontic profession!
Dr. Shalin Shah
Editor’s call to action
Looking over the decade goals of the past, Dr. Shah has kept readers of Orthodontic Practice US in touch with the latest studies and evolving technologies with his Abstracts column. See it here.