Am I ready to retire from dentistry?

A practice transition is a long-term proposition that will change your life and upend your daily routine. Be specific about your transition goals. Determine whether you want to retire partially or fully and map out a timeline. Decide if you are looking at a five or ten-year window. Depending on which you choose, the financial implications will be vastly different. Once you run the numbers associated with each transition scenario, you will be positioned to make the right choice.

Many transitions fail because the dentist about to sell is unprepared for the journey. Stephen Covey has it right when he says in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.”

Imagine where you would like to be five or ten years from now, and what kind of life you want to live. Calculate the money required to finance your desired lifestyle. Once that navel-gazing exercise is complete, your transition journey will become clear. A careful practice transition plan will help crystalize your thoughts about what you really want from retirement and help you achieve your dreams.

To keep focussed on your goal, avoid spur-of-the-moment actions. Resist the urge to accept unsolicited offers, unless you are sure they meet your requirements.

Even if you are eager to leave your practice and have an overflowing bucket list of things to do and places to visit during retirement, we suggest you hit the pause button for a moment of self-reflection. Imagine what your life would be like if you left your practice and dentistry altogether. Your identity is probably more wrapped up with your profession than you might think.

Recognize that habits are hard to change. Think about how long you have reigned over your practice. For years, you have risen early five days a week, looking forward to the morning huddle. You have long-time staff members who respect you both as a leader and friend. You have loyal patients who look forward to their appointments; they too have become your friends.

Staying on top of your game has been your religion and you have spent countless hours honing your skills through professional development courses. Your philosophy, “Do what’s best for the patient and the money will follow” has helped you build a practice that has succeeded beyond your expectations. And because work has meant so much, you have not taken time to develop many outside hobbies.