After 10 years of practice ownership, I did the unthinkable…I swiftly sold my orthodontic office and took a 9-month break. I worried I would regret it, but I haven’t regretted it a single moment. This is my story.
One year after completing my orthodontic residency, I purchased a satellite office from a booming practice. It met all the criteria and seemed like a great fit! I never really had intentions of owning, or not owning. Up until then, I was focused on getting to the finish line. I’ll tell you this; you don’t learn the business side in dental school!
I tried to love my work. I really did. But, there was always a nagging feeling in my heart that said, “This just isn’t right. You weren’t meant to be here.” The funny thing is that all the boxes were checked…beautiful family and home, ideal schedule, thriving practice, kind staff, and patients. And yet, I would go to work with tension in my chest and leave emotionally exhausted and unable to be present for my joyful kids when I got home.
I felt like I was on a moving train, just trying to hang on and gain some control. The train kept rolling on, and I kept racing through life.
I would tell myself, just give it five more years and then check in again. At every meeting, I’d ask my accountant for permission to leave, and he would say, “Take more vacation.”
Finally, after 9 years of asking everyone else what I should do, I listened to my heart and started to trust myself. After a minor health scare, I journaled that no matter the health outcome, I would live my life as if I had 5 more years to live. After announcing my plan to move to Costa Rica to my husband, he declined but agreed to move to the East Coast. Sure, I’ll take it!
What was truly amazing was how fast I could make my grand plans happen once I put it out there to the universe. Practice sold: check! House sold; check! New house purchased: check! Within 7 months I was sitting in a new state, free from my previous identity. At first, I planned to take a month or two off and then start looking for work. But, as I settled in, 1 month turned to 9.
I rested, reset, worked for minimum wage at a flower farm picking daffodils, volunteered in gardening at our kids’ school, journaled, sat in coffee shops, and did yoga. For the first time since my childhood, I let myself be still. And, in that stillness, I reconnected with creativity, play, and gratitude.
I learned many lessons and have no regrets about owning or selling. My time owning a practice taught me invaluable leadership and business skills. During the sale of my practice, I experienced a new model of leadership as the new doctor stepped in. In my time of rest, I became more self-aware of the ways my thoughts had contributed to my feelings and actions and gained clarity in the work-life balance I could achieve.
I told myself…
This time I will give myself work-life balance.
This time I have a better understanding of my automatic negative thinking.
This time I am committed to self-care.
This time I have given myself the respect to choose again if it does not feel right.
We can always choose again.
We are never trapped.
We can always get off the train and pick a new destination.
We just need to stop taking away our own power.
About the author:
Dr. Camden Brown is the mother of two beautiful kids, a recovering perfectionist, an orthodontist, and a nature lover. In a quest for a better life, she sold her orthodontic practice, uprooted her family and moved to coastal South Carolina to start over. After a 9 month reset, she is working part-time as an orthodontic associate and loving her new life.
“Because once we feel, know, and dare to imagine more for ourselves, we cannot unfeel, unknow, or unimagine. There is no going back.”
-Glennon Doyle, Untamed