Some people add to our stress, and some people help take it away. Ultimately, we have to decide how much stress we will allow in our lives.
Stress does not always feel like something that is within our control, but the amount of stress we have in our lives is often more controllable than we think. The choices we make affect our stress. Our responses to people and life's circumstances also affect our stress.
Through dental school and my career, I have heard many, many sorrowful stories about my colleagues suffering because of their difficult relationships. Spouses, roommates, girlfriends, boyfriends, or business associates all have the possibility of not lasting. I've had relationships that started out beautifully take unexpected twists that led to additional stress in my life.
With these possibilities in mind, I offer the following six pointers to help minimize relationship stress.
1. Pick your life partner carefully
As a woman, I envisioned my life with a career and a family. I wanted both. To accomplish these things, I knew I would need help to do this. I would either need help with domestic and child-raising responsibilities (meaning hire a housekeeper or a nanny, or count on family members), or I would need to marry a person ready and willing to help take on domestic and child-raising duties.
I wanted to be more involved with anticipated children, so I chose a partner that shared my vision and was willing to make career sacrifices as I did to raise our children and maintain a household. Many men now also desire to be more hands-on in their children's development, so picking a partner with similar desires is incredibly important.
Many times in a dental career, time is available in extremely limited quantities, such as when you open a practice or have a staffing emergency. It's imperative to be able to count on a reliable, supportive, capable spouse/partner to pick up the slack if outside child care is not desired or cannot be afforded.
2. Create a network
Create a network of backup child care helpers if your primary provider has an issue. Remember that even the best child care providers get sick or have family emergencies, so make sure a backup plan is in place.
3. Do not take your partner for granted
Once the dust settles from a practice purchase or an employee crisis, thank your partner with quality family time. Show appreciation for all the time your partner was devoted to your family and home goals when you could not be.
4. Prepare for the worst
We should all also position ourselves for a worst-case scenario, such as a divorce or a death. Although no one anticipates this occurring, it's pertinent to have life insurances in place, estate planning updated, and accounting advice available for financial stability.
5. Pick your business partner(s) carefully
Just like a life partner, this relationship is based on trust. Because many of us are busy and not legal advisors, it is best to get many things in writing to prevent future disagreements and adversarial encounters:
- Make sure the agreements are fair to both parties and get at least two opinions about its fairness to both sides.
- Make sure it is spelled out who is responsible for which duties.
- Make sure the division of payments and wages is discussed thoroughly.
As money is a stressor in partnerships, this should be in the contract. If you are an ADA member, consider using the association's free contract analysis service.
6. Prepare for the worst in your practice
Position yourself for the worse-case scenarios with your business partner, such as a breakup of the partnership because of a death or disagreements. Knowing the difference between what could and what should happen could be crucial. This should also be included in the contract.
Ultimately, all these pointers boil down to making sure you plan ahead. Planning ahead is crucial to the success of any dental professional. Practical, sound decision-making early on minimizes the strife later on in life. There will surely be stress and difficulties. With a sound foundation of support, there is ample time to be less practical and take more risks later on. Start out with strong relationships that will act like pillars to your well-thought-out home.
Lisa Knowles, DDS, practices at Haslett East Lansing Dental Health & Wellness in East Lansing, MI, and is the founder and CEO of IntentionalDental Consulting. For more information, contact her at IntentionalDental@gmail.com, or visit her website at Beyond32Teeth.com.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.