The importance of knowing what you really want as a new year begins

2020 04 09 23 13 2027 Hill Amanda 400thumb

As the calendar flips over to a new year, talk of goals and resolutions floods social media feeds. Events to make vision boards or join weight loss challenges junk up your inbox. The pressure to change your life is palpable. Should you commit to a "dry January," a healthy eating group, or a financial makeover? Is the sight of everyone's goals sending you into a panicked feeling to declare your 2021 destiny? How do you even begin to figure out what your goals should be?

In the most recent episode of the "Your Dental Top 5" podcast, I interviewed hygienist Kimberly Carpenter. She recently returned to clinical hygiene after leaving it to pursue "out of the op" opportunities. What Carpenter realized is, while she was seeking coveted nonclinical options, she wasn't happy and, frankly, was pretty mediocre at the jobs. She discovered that if you don't love what you're doing, it shows. In her search for "more" (because aren't we all supposed to want more?), she concluded that her "more" was treating patients. All those other opportunities were someone else's goal, not hers.

Amanda Hill, RDH, BSDH.Amanda Hill, RDH, BSDH.

It's easy to get caught up in the great goal race or feel inadequate if your vision doesn't sound as glamorous and shiny as someone else's. Why lose 10 pounds when you could lose 20? Why increase your revenue by 10% when you could double it? More is better, right?

Well, not exactly. Before you hop on the great goal bandwagon, a little reflection and introspection are necessary. Who are you, and what do you actually want? A simple question with no simple answer.

In a 2016 Forbes article, "The Top 8 Things People Desperately Desire but Can't Seem to Attain," author Kathy Caprino identifies happiness as the No. 1 thing people want, but then says the biggest challenge to finding that happiness is not knowing what they want to do. In fact, five of the eight things people want have to do with understanding themselves, their purpose, and what they want. We are scrambling for someone to tell us who we are and what to do. When that doesn't happen, we end up chasing other people's goals, hoping they are right for us.

Scrambling without knowing

During the COVID-19 shutdown, I had the opportunity to take an in-depth mastermind course with Corey Jameson-Kuehl of Custom Dental Solutions. We evaluated a series of self-assessments to help us understand ourselves better. Through this course, we learned our communication styles, where we are most comfortable, and what drives us to a feeling of fulfillment.

Understanding my drivers helped me look at all the goals, challenges, and opportunities before me and determine what will propel me forward. More importantly, it helped me figure out which way is forward. It's easy to appear busy but actually be running in place (or even in the wrong direction), as Carpenter discovered.

Starting with assessments like DiSC, Drivers, and Emotional Intelligence is a significant first step in finding your direction; then, taking the time to understand your assessments is the trick. I have to admit that I had the assessment for months before I really read it, as if somehow just having it saved as a PDF on my desktop would give me direction. Much like a child that loses his or her first tooth awaiting the tooth fairy, I was looking for a direction fairy!

Unfortunately, no fairy was going to dig in and do the work for me. Figuring out who you are and what you want takes work. Some people hire coaches or join groups to help them on this journey. Below are a few simple first steps to take to figure out who you are.

Take a personality assessment

This will help you get some idea of who you are on paper. But remember, while you have a type, you aren't your type. No assessment is going to be perfectly right or tell you what to do. While you can find free ones on the internet to get you started, finding one that comes with a professional debrief is truly worth it to get the most out of the data. If you want more information on this, reach out to Editor-in-Chief Kevin Henry, who is a certified DiSC trainer. You can also learn more about it through this continuing education course on

Figure out your values

A core values assessment will help you develop a clear sense of what is most important to you in life. Once you know what your values are you can look for opportunities and set goals that align with them. You can find a free core values assessment on

Start journaling

I hate saying it because it feels so froufrou, but I'm shocked at what I learned when I started asking myself some serious questions and writing about it. Consider questions like "If I had unlimited resources and knew I'd be successful, what would I do?" Or even a simple question like "What do I want?" You'll be amazed where it takes you.

The steps above are truly just some baby steps onto a long road of introspection, but it's a great way to help you move forward in the right direction for you. So before you declare 2021 the "new year, new me," be sure to take time to know yourself and what you want. Or you might find yourself living someone else's dream.

Amanda Hill, RDH, BSDH, currently practices part-time clinically and is an industry educator for the nation's largest dental job board, She also hosts a podcast on the Dental Podcast Network. She can be reached at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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