If you were told that you would die tomorrow and someone offered you a way to extend your life for one more year for a price, how much money would you be willing to pay? Ten thousand dollars? One hundred thousand dollars? Perhaps one million dollars?

It's an interesting and thought-provoking question that makes people stop and think about their lives. No one likes to think about their immortality. It's probably better not to because it's not a matter of if; it's when, and there is little that we can do about it. We'd rather leave it to fate or divine providence and not dwell on it.

The only thing we can change is the way we live our lives. During our youth, many of life's rewards are out of reach. The financial demands of getting an education, providing economic security for a growing family, plus all of the other domestic expectations made of a professional, require many of us to set aside personal needs for the family's good. We carry life insurance to provide security for our loved ones if we died during those early years. Doctors especially face pressure to provide extra well for their families (indeed, no average expectations). Work harder and provide more for the family is the responsibility that goes with a professional's job.

However, once you have reached an age where you have paid your dues and have acquired all the things for your loved ones that you feel compelled to provide, then perhaps it's time to think about yourself and your needs. It can be hard to do because when you reach a certain age, you tend to forget that you are a person and practice more out of habit than need.

How many times have you heard "Oh, what else would he do?" or "He wouldn't know what to do with himself if he weren't practicing dentistry!" and "He loves dentistry, he'll never quit!" You hear it so much that you begin to believe it yourself. What else would you or could you do? Well, close your eyes for a moment and think about all the things you have put off all these years, like traveling to exotic places, fishing trips, golf outings, or even beachcombing. Time to write or read, time to do everything, and nothing or whatever you want. It's hard to picture yourself doing that, isn't it!

It's a fact of life that you are not going to live forever. So stop working like you are going to live forever! All the money you can make between now and the time you die, you would gladly give up for just one more year of living, and you know it. Unfortunately, most people will not get the chance to buy one more year when death comes knocking. Then it's too late, but there is an alternative. You can give yourself a break now and add more "good years" to your life. You don't have to be a super doc all your life, so think about giving up some of those responsibilities. Take some time to travel, see your friends and family. You are not compelled to practice dentistry until you die. You can do other things with your time, and more importantly, you should do it while you still have the time and good health. Live your life as you would want your children to live theirs. Remember, you are the one who is setting an example for them! It's time to call AFTCO.

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