Forming Good Habits after Dental School

By: Savanah Craig

Graduating from dental school marked the first time in my life where ‘student’ wasn’t my primary role.

For so many years my life had been ruled by the academic calendar.

Now, I had a choice in how I wanted to structure my time spent outside of working hours.

I really wanted to be intentional about the habits I formed during my first year out of school because if I could get into a good routine now, it would serve me well for the rest of my career.

“Your habits shape your identity, and your identity shapes your habits.”

Atomic Habits

How to Form Good Habits

Find Your Identity

There are many books, podcasts, and articles about starting new routines and developing new habits, but one I’ve enjoyed most is Atomic Habits by James Clear.

In this book, he talks about how successful habits are built around your identity.

If you identify as a person who reads, it is easier to convince yourself to find time to read in your weekly schedule. I had to find what type of identity I wanted to hold and then build habits to reflect that.

How I Found My Identity

I began by thinking of things I wanted to prioritize and that were most important for me to factor into my week.

From there I determined what habits I wanted to develop to ensure those parts of my life were being scheduled into my week.

For example, my relationships are something really important to me, so I scheduled a weekly phone call with my grandparents. I know that they are expecting me to call, and this accountability helped me to create a habit that aligns with my identity as someone who prioritizes relationships.

Another aspect of my life that I wanted to focus on was physical fitness. I reframed my identity to focus on being someone who wanted a strong body so that I could have a long career. I never identified as someone who went to the gym regularly, but by reframing fitness as a part of being a good dentist I was able to start a habit of regular movement.

Schedule Your New Habits

Starting and maintaining a new habit can be challenging. It is okay to have weeks where you don’t make a home-cooked meal or don’t make it to the gym. You can always re-set.

However, what has helped me to stick to some of my new habits is actually scheduling them into my calendar.

If something is not on the calendar or written on your ‘To-Do” list, it is not actually a priority.

Create a Support System

Additionally, let the people around you know what you are working towards. Having a support system and some friends to keep you accountable can make all the difference in the world.

“You do not rise to the level or your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”

Atomic Habits

Make Sure to Form Good Habits for Your Well Being

Habits are not just important in your life outside of the dental office. They can make all the difference in your work life as well.

Offices that have strong systems in place have more consistency in the care they provide their patients.

Teams work better when expectations are clearly established and outlined. Consider what habits and routines you can create inside and outside of your clinical practice to help create the life you’ve always dreamed of.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Savanah Craig

Savanah Craig

Savanah Craig obtained her Doctorate of Dental Surgery from The Ohio State University before pursuing a one-year General Practice Residency in Columbia, SC. Dr. Craig is passionate about patient education and utilizes her advanced training to provide excellent care for her patients as a general dentist practicing in Columbus, OH. In her free time, Dr. Craig enjoys reading, exploring new restaurants, and traveling with her husband, Adam.