Happiness is something we all strive for. The big question is how do we achieve it?
There are many theories on what leads to true happiness. The wisdom literature of the ages concludes that a balance of important areas in our lives leads to contentment and happiness. Stephen Covey says that peace and happiness comes not in self, but in helping others.
Something I took to heart early on in my career was L.D. Pankey's balanced cross of life.
As I built my dental practice and Janet and I began our family, I continually strived for this balance. I believe the key is to continually grow in each of these four areas; WORK, PLAY, LOVE and WORSHIP. I was blessed to have a wife who believed in these same core values that I did, and we discussed this often. To be able to help each other stay balanced is critical. It was, and will always be, a team effort.
Let's look at "WORK" first.
To be in a profession that truly helps others is a blessing. It is important to understand that we can get out of balance in ANY profession. That is why it is so very important to pay attention to every detail in our practices. A well run practice, performing quality, predictable dentistry leads to the ability to balance the other areas of our lives. Kirk Behrendt says that the most successful practices treat patients 30 - 32 hours a week. This gives the time needed to "run" the other areas of our business within a 4 1/2 day work week.
The key is to keep your work in perspective! It is no more important than the other areas.
"PLAY" is the time to relax and re-charge our batteries.
I did two things relative to this area. I did have some activities, like basketball one night a week and golf or fishing once or twice a month that I did by myself.
The second thing I did was design most of my "PLAY" to include my other relationships, or the "LOVE" part of the balanced cross.
Janet and I would take a family vacation every year. When the children were little I would take the time between Christmas and New Years off; no work, just enjoying the family.
Another important action I do to keep in balance is planning the next year on a calendar. I put on that calendar the areas that relate to family first. For example, my wedding anniversary, family vacations, graduations, birthdays, recitals, etc. The most important relationship was that with my wife. We started a "date night" once a week and always planned one vacation a year without the children - just us.
Another example of combining two areas of the cross is to combine the "LOVE", or relationship part, with the "WORSHIP", or spiritual areas.
I became involved in my church in areas that included the family. For example, I became a youth group leader when my children reached that age. It was one of the best things I did to stay involved with their spiritual growth at a critical time in their development. Janet and I also became involved with mentoring engaged couples in their marriage preparation in our church. This helped our relationship tremendously as we read books and prepared to help these other couples. We are still very involved with this.
I, along with everyone else at The Dawson Academy, believe in the importance of continually learning how to be a better dentist, and this is true in all other areas of balance.
Read books and continue to be a better husband, wife, father, or mother. Reading books, expanding your knowledge and continuing to grow in your spirituality is just as important for a balanced life.
Ultimately, you need to make a commitment to yourself to figure out your own "balance" and even combine the different areas. This becomes possible by controlling your work through practicing quality and predictable dentistry. The rewards are beyond belief in providing happiness for you and for those you care about.