My big fat lie … Can there really be work/life balance in the dental world?

Women are fed a lot of information about work/life balance. Turns out it's all lies, according to Lisa Newburger. But there are steps dental professionals can take to achieve some balance.

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Women are fed a lot of information about work/life balance. Turns out it's all lies, according to Lisa Newburger. But there are steps dental professionals can take to achieve some balance.


This article originally appeared in Dental Assisting & Office Manager Digest. Subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter here.

Please forgive me. I’ve been lying to you for years. Having written many articles, coached many clients, and presented workshops on work/life balance, this is the moment of truth—I don’t think there is such a thing as work/life balance. It is absolute nonsense. (Ahhh. Confession feels good for the soul!)

That said, I need to apologize to my readers, as well as my workshop attendees. Let me explain why. I believe work/life balance simply isn’t possible. It isn’t a myth, it’s a lie. Do the math. There are only so many hours in a day. Conduct a time study of one week, and this will open your eyes to this fact.

You’re probably saying, “What’s the point of reading the rest of this article if what she says is true?” It’s simple. You can’t balance your two worlds, but you can protect the most important thing—your time. How do you do this? Set goals. It’s that simple. You aren’t going to be able to have it all, but you can get where you want to go with a few helpful suggestions.

So, what are your goals? Is it spending more time with family, making more money, traveling to exotic places, meeting Rihanna, skydiving, writing articles for DentistryIQ, getting through dental school, reducing stress while taking care of your parents or kids, exercising, or what?

How can you achieve your goal? That is what really matters here. Pick two goals and figure out what you need to do to get there. Accept now that you can’t do it all. For some reason, we women think we can. Pick the goal and stay aligned with the big picture. For example, my friend has four kids, works full time in a dental front office, and has a busy social life. She wants to go to school to become a dental hygienist. So, how is she going to fit in school? Well, her mother can help with the kids. She is resourceful, and found scholarships for her training. She has the support of her boss and coworkers. But, most important, she will protect her most valuable asset—her time.

Here’s what she’s done to protect her time:
1. She gave up Facebook—This gave her back hours of her life every day because now she’s “living it” instead of reading about everyone else’s life on Facebook.
2. She limited her phone calls to the evenings.
3. She blocked out time for studying—There’s no phone in the room to distract her while she’s studying.
4. She learned to say “no.”—This was hard, but she knew it needed to be done. She is keeping her eyes on the prize. This means setting boundaries and sticking to them. Interestingly enough, people stopped asking her to do things after a while. They realized she was focused.
5. She got over being a people pleaser—We try to make everyone happy. But face it, that’s impossible. We need to do the best we can, but set boundaries. It is OK if we don’t save the world. We need to focus on what matters most to us in life.
6. She gave up television and other shows—This was just sucking more time out of her life.
7. She became more productive at work—She learned not to allow schmoozing to eat away at her time on the job. Whether it is with patients or colleagues, a lot of time is wasted socializing. This is a major problem when trying to get work done. I’m not saying to be abrupt with people. Just be more succinct, and help even chatty patients to move along. This is an art, but you can’t control others, so take charge of your own time!

I share these thoughts to help you become inspired to dream and make things happen for you. Things will not happen unless you protect your time. Determine your goals. Then, tackle one or two at a time. Otherwise you might end up overwhelmed. When people become overwhelmed, they give up their dream. My friend didn’t. She graduated from the dental program and was able to move into her dream job.

Let me know what your dreams are at diana@discussdirectives.com. Take the time to dream, then stay focused, and step by step you will get there. Good luck!


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New Lisa NewburgerLisa Newburger, LISW-S, aka Diana Directive, is not afraid to tackle difficult topics for dental professionals with humor and aplomb. Her entertaining workshops are available for conferences and association meetings. Writing for DIQ since 2010, her “in-your-face” style of presentation and writing will make you smile, or perhaps shock you into taking action. Check out her website at discussdirectives.com.

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