Keeping Life Balanced During Your Accreditation Journey

June 4, 2020 by AACD Executive Office

By: Julie Gillis, DDS, AAACD
So, you have made the awesome decision to become a better cosmetic professional by pursuing Accreditation in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Great idea! The personal and professional rewards gained will make this process worth all of the effort you expend. But first a word about keeping your sanity and your sense of fun!

I am certainly not an authority at life management. In fact, I work at this daily. But I will share the things that have made a difference for me in the hopes that these ideas might be useful to you. Balancing life is especially difficult during times when you are challenged to push yourself to achieve the best possible results on a deadline, as happens during the rewarding journey towards Accreditation in the AACD!

Tackle the Accreditation process in small portions and set reasonable goals.

When I became Accredited, candidates were required to present all five cases at the same time in front of a group of Accreditation Examiners. And we had to use slides!  Imagine not knowing until the next day how your photos turned out! The process is much more friendly and streamlined now. Just pick your favorite case type or the ideal one that walks in your front door and work on getting just that one case documented and submitted. Just do it! Use your mentor and all the useful guides available through the AACD. Your second, third, fourth, and fifth cases will be easier. Really, they will!  It is okay to fail – like all continuing education, the learning process improves your skills. Someone very cool once said, “If you take risk out of life, then you take opportunity out of life.”

“If you take risk out of life,
then you take opportunity out of life.”

Enjoy a positive attitude & appreciate the little things.

Wake up each day and put a smile on your face. A positive attitude will make your life better and the Accreditation process easier! Accreditation in the AACD can be a time consuming yet fun process rather than hard and stressful. It is simply a matter of attitude. For example, even weeding the garden can be fun if you look at it as exercise and a potential suntan. Then, you can appreciate how nice the garden looks and enjoy the goods for dinner!

Appreciate all the little things: that good grade your child received, the sparkle in a smile, bubble baths even if the dog jumps in, the extra chocolate chunks in the cookie you are eating, the sunrise, how handsome your spouse is, how well centered your 1:2 retracted photo of Case Type 1 turned out . . . Oh my goodness, I could go on and on. If appreciated, tiny special moments can fill your life with joy.

Make time for family and friends.

Each day is a gift. Smooch your spouse or significant other. Hug your children. Maybe bring them room service by bringing a treat to their bedroom. Toss a ball for the dog. When you come home from work, take a breath before you drive into the driveway and enter your home with a smile. This is family time (for me); time to hear about their day, what happened at school or sports, time to enjoy dinner. If you talk about work, share positive stories more often than annoying ones. I’ve never been a big fan of quality time but there is something to be said for doing something unique and special on a regular basis with the ones you love. Too often we miss out on the fun of the simple things in life.

Exercise with purpose sometimes and other times just for fun!

This is huge for me! I exercise just about every day, and I am always glad that I did even though sometimes I have to talk myself into it. Choose different types of exercise from easy to hard. Don’t let exercise be the thing you do if you have time. You will only have time for the things you make time for. I believe that your physical and mental health will be better with regular exercise. I almost always have fun. I think this makes me a better dentist, wife, mom, and friend. I have more energy to get things done, and it feeds my personal and mental health needs.

Eat well.

I like this Greek saying that was inscribed on one of the temples I visited there. It said “Naught in Excess.” (It was in Greek and this is how it was translated for me.) I think this applies to all things: food, exercise, work, play, alcohol, etc. So, I try to eat foods that are good for me and are tasty, interesting, and varied. I remember the difficulties of feeding my family and trying to please my husband, my children and myself while selecting ingredients that were good for us. It’s even harder to do this while wishing you had the evening to yourself to work on your Accreditation cases! The answer seems to be balance. Sure, have some dessert, a beer or two, and some salty chips, but drink a healthful smoothie daily, eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and remember “naught in excess.”

Periodically ask yourself, “will this matter in a day, in a week, in a year?”

How you plan your time and focus your efforts should be related to this. You cannot do everything, so some things will fall behind and that is ok! Just apply the principle above often. For example, going to your child’s recital or soccer game is hugely important if it is important to your child. Cleaning your house? Maybe this can be delayed. Stressing over a patient who left your office? Not that important. Ponder for a minute whether this matters in a day–maybe. In a week? Less so. In a year? Not at all. You really don’t have to stress over every detail when it comes to Accreditation either.

Simple is better, people are important, always strive for improvement.

This simple saying has made a difference in my life, and I try to live with this philosophy daily. I’m not sure who said this first, but for me, it is a great quote!

Finally, have something to look forward to, have someone to love and spend time with, and do rewarding work.

So there it is, or there they are, the things that help me try to keep balance in my life while achieving my goals. Maybe some of these things will be useful to you. I hope so. Accomplish Accreditation in small bits at a time, use your mentors, appreciate your team, love and appreciate your family and friends, Have fun!  Run or walk in the rain. Go for your goals, and I do hope Accreditation in the AACD is one of them!  

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