Friday, March 21, 2014

Emotional Preparation for Retirement from Dentistry

This is another guest post from our dear friend and client, Dr. Don Lurie.

It seems to me that many of the doctors that I talk to as they prepare for retirement, are terrified.  Their anxiety is obvious after just a few minutes of conversation.  I am asked (being recently retired for 2 years): what do you do with yourself, are you happy, does your wife like having you around, and many similar questions.  I have talked before in my articles about the obvious financial preparation for retirement and associated subjects in my blog titled "The Profession of Retirement."   I think that attention needs to be placed on the emotional aspect of retirement.  This was difficult for me and, while I thought I was prepared and "longed" for retirement, it took the better part of 2 years to be emotionally comfortable with this new life. 

Now I would like to share with you some of my fears, visions, and thoughts that have occurred and I am, excited to say, how wonderful this new life - this new career - has become.  In the early stages, the financial aspect was certainly a fear.  After all, I never had to live on a budget where there was a "fixed income."  Thanks to my "Team of Retirement." which I outlined in another earlier article, this was easily overcome and after about 6 months, it was obvious that our preparation was accurate and that life could be sustained.  I don't want to minimize this but I would like to concentrate on the emotional aspects of retirement for this article.  For some folks, no amount of money is enough.  But just as important, is the fear of being unprepared for retirement.  After all, there is no clock that says you must be at the office at 8:30 and leave at 5.  Or that you must be at this meeting or seminar at the given time and so on.  It is a challenge to be able to make your schedule properly; but that is exactly what must be done.  I knew that I wanted to be in a situation that allowed me to be a mentor and a helper.  I wanted to give of myself and this was a major factor in planning my time and for concentration on this new career.  I would urge everyone to look at retirement as the beginning of a new and wonderful career.  You have the tools and the experience.  You have been the CEO of your practice, and with help, the CFO also.  You have learned to communicate, delegate, and to take part in community service.  You have learned to keep informed and to take continuing education, and more importantly, you have learned to bring healing, happiness, and joy to others.  So, soul searching need to be done as to where this new career is headed and what ends do you desire.  There is no limit. 

I prepared for retirement with my team, with my wife, with my pastor, and with my heart.  I knew that I wanted to be an instrument to give back to people and community.  Thus, I was able to list the areas that I could do a little good with the tools that I possessed.  I was then able to see that the areas I was interested in were both professional, secular, and religious.  And then, the list got larger and the openings became clearer.  This introspection takes time and effort.  The schedule is now so filled, that I wonder how I had time to practice Oral Surgery. 
I give council to students, I work at a new profession (photography) which was a hobby of long term, and I still teach at local area study clubs.  I try to write articles that come from the "school of hard knocks" and to share the experience that comes with 50 years of practice.  But this was not enough.  I am proud to be part of a large out-reach program that takes a great deal of time plus volunteering.  And now a new idea has come to me!

Since I wrote an article on "The Specialist and theStudy Club", it occurs to me to start a Study Club for Retiring Dentists.  This would be a group who can share their story with those who are near, not so near, or just beginning to think about the "new career after dentistry."  As I have said before, Planning for Retirement should start when you first begin practice.  Now you see why my group of articles start out with mistakes made! My thoughts on this club would be simply a chance to exchange ideas, to help rid ourselves of the fears, to hear a colleagues' story, or just knowing that you are not alone.  As the time goes on and the group continues, many other avenues can be addressed.  Psychologists, out-reach experts. hobby enthusiasts, financial planners, wives and spouses and their interaction and so on.  I think it can work and it is something that we will start in our area.  There is no age limit and should encourage the 30 year-old on up to the senior group.  Each age has a different prospective and could be a big help to both senior and junior including the transition of a practice. 

These are just some thoughts that have been on my mind and I think you understand where I am coming from.  We are all here to help one another.  Please do not hesitate to send me your thoughts and questions.  It would be an honor to help.

More Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned next time.

If you are interested in participating in a study club for dentists thinking about transitioning out of dentistry, contact Dr. Lurie or Ellen Dorner.

Dr. Donald B. Lurie, DDS
Phone:     717-235-0764

Cell:         410-218-2228