“You're doing what? BE HONEST, do you feel that you are competent enough to understand a business, a budget or to lead? You must have a hidden agenda. You are not ready to do that. You can’t do that.”
Hidden? No. Focused? Yes. Every hygienist should have a career plan. Whether that plan is to become a “rockstar” hygienist in a clinical practice or work outside of the op. I've been to countless seminars and continuing education courses, but I have yet to see enough emphasis on setting a clear direction in one's professional career. We go about each year taking CE after CE, not truly working towards anything. After 5 or less years of practicing we are burnt out, disenchanted with our profession and saying to ourselves, "Why did I get into dental hygiene?" Then the self-oppression begins with us beating ourselves up..."The dentists only view us as teeth cleaners", "There are no clinical practice jobs", "This career is for the birds, I can't do anything with a bachelors in dental hygiene" and "There aren't enough opportunities out there."
Stop! Stop, right there! A defeated demeanor will get you nowhere and was certainly not the driving factor that enabled you to push through the hardest 2-3 years of your life in dental hygiene school. I had the privilege to listen in on a conference call with Trapped in the Op hosted by Elijah Desmond. In that call, he mentioned something that struck him in his conversation with the CEO of the American Dental Hygienists' Association, Ann Battrell. Ann stated that "there may not be many opportunities in clinical practice but there are an endless amount of opportunities outside of clinical practice." That resonated with me. Consider, if you had the drive, passion and motivation you had in dental hygiene school and sustained that same motivation in your professional career, the possibilities would be infinite!
You cannot create opportunities or be ready to embrace your dreams and goals until you reclaim and establish your agenda. That means you must start today!!! Write out a 5 year plan. Every day aim to take 1-3 steps towards that plan, even if they are little ones. If something serves as a distraction remove it from your life! Be proud of your goals.
If you are interested in Academia, then tailor your continuing education to prep you to be a change agent in the future of education. If your desire is to own a business and speak, tailor your continuing education to learn how to be a great speaker. With more knowledge comes CONFIDENCE! With confidence and executing your goals you will gain momentum to achieve anything you desire.
So remember - having an agenda is not a bad thing. This year alone I accomplished all the goals on my 5 year plan with the exception of one. I had no idea how my life would unfold so quickly. What changed for me was my desire to have personal freedom from self-doubt and social oppression. I was confident that although I don't know everything I have faith that I will figure it out. And so far I have!!!
You may come across self-doubt, negative people, naysayers who question your agenda, or may even try to criticize your goals. You know what you say to them: Take a hike! Regardless of what others may think, say or do, always strive to be the greatest version of yourself.
And if they aren't questioning "Who do you think you are?"…You are not living the life YOU were meant to live! You are not challenging the norm and thinking beyond the prophy.
How do I sustain my motivation and work towards my goals? Check out these resources:
A Tale of Two Hygienists (podcast):
Trapped in the Op (Facebook community group):
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg:
Audible version…Listen on the go!!! The best.
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