Don't you love the feeling you get when you are so deeply immersed in something that the rest of the world seems to fade away and time is suspended? You see this in its purest form in children, who can get so involved with something as simple as playing with blocks that they lose any sense of the world around them. Psychologists have called it “deep play,” and it's a feeling that we adults often struggle to re-capture as we deal with the multiple demands of our hectic lives.

Dr. Frank Spear has a term for it, too. He calls those episodes “flow moments.” That's when, as a dentist, you become totally immersed in a case you love doing. Suddenly the other things fall away and the world becomes just you, the patient, your two hands, and the execution of your skills. It is a blissful, transcendent feeling, these “flow moments” when your mind, body, and soul come together and you are experiencing the full measure of your purpose as a clinician.

This is another reason to institute the kind of scheduling system that I talked about in the last post, one that prioritizes the right cases, as you define them. It makes sense from a business perspective and from a value-creation perspective to get those cases in the schedule as quickly as possible. But just as important, it makes sense from a professional “quality of life” perspective. Those rewarding cases that call for your full attention and give you something to go deep with – those are the cases that make it all worthwhile in a literal, economic and spiritual sense.

Try to get one “flow moment” every week to begin with, then every other day – ultimately you should be striving for a “flow moment” case every day. It will nourish you on an elemental level and remind you of why you love being a dentist. That's why your continuing education and your execution in the practice should be centered around supporting these career-affirming moments.

So if your days seem too much like you're zigging and zagging between surface-level concerns, it's time to slow things down and get reacquainted with the deeper rewards of your profession. It's time to get in the flow.