I’ve talked to many therapists who have struggled with learning how to start a business. They have listened to every single therapist-business podcast, general marketing podcast, read a ton of books, and participate in multiple Facebook groups. They all have the intentions of learning how to run a private practice. But, they might never do much with that information. I’ll be the first to admit that this was a HUGE problem for me before I ever opened the doors to my practice; and to a lesser extent it still is a problem.
I was in learning overload, but was not actually doing much with this knowledge. At first, it was understandable. I had no idea about anything related to business or running a private practice. But then, the information consumption became like an addiction: binge podcast listening, signing up for every freebie, etc. I was sucked into learning and was feeling quite confident. I could spout out marketing ideas, avatars…you name it. But I wasn’t applying any of what I was learning. I was consuming, but not doing. I was scared. Scared of failing, scared of being rejected, scared of putting myself out there. I was trying to succeed through consumption alone.
This is all well and good, but learning and understanding things about private practice is very different to taking action on what you are learning. If you don’t know if you are a consumption addict, I’ve listed a few of the “symptoms” that might indicate that you are.
Fear: The following thoughts plague your mind: you’ll be rejected, you need more information, you don’t have enough information to REALLY make it work, it’s not perfect, you don’t have anything to offer that is unique, people will realize you are a fraud.
“Shiny” Addiction: Every book, course, podcast, newsletter, freebie, etc. seems like it’s the golden ticket. If you just had that particular information, you’ll be good to go and you too will be an overnight success. You buy into all the marketing pitches that you are actually learning about.
“Easy” Addiction: You want instant gratification. You’re worked long and hard in graduate school, or at your 9-5 job, that you just want this to be easy. So, once again, you treat yourself to the “shiny” things of business. You think that if you at least have the products and knowledge at your fingertips that maybe you’ll be successful. But you only apply ¼ of what you have invested in because you’re just plain tired of working.
“Lack of progress”: You feel like you are working so hard, but you just find yourself spinning your wheels. You are thinking, dreaming, listening, reading, and then doing some more thinking. All the “work” you did that day didn’t produce anything tangible or anything that you can check off the list. And, the work is not producing results (aka clients calling you).
- Start something and stick to one thing. If you’ve listened to any of Joe’s podcasts, or consulted with him, you know that he is a fan of doing “just one thing”. Efforts at multitasking are going to get you no-where fast. Check out the book and other useful resources here.
- Time block. As part of The One Thing, the authors talk about the concept of time blocking. Time blocking is a system of setting appointments with yourself every single day so you can focus your energy on achieving what you want. Here is a great blog by a man who went through Time Blocking mastery training. He offers some great insights and resources in his post.
- Chunk tasks into palatable-size bites: If you don’t break your goal down into projects and tasks, you will quickly feel overwhelmed and risk becoming paralyzed. Does social media marketing feel overwhelming to you? Use a social media planner like this free one from Hubspot. Feel stressed with trying to blog weekly? Why not be consistent by changing your expectations from weekly to every other week?
- Take Advantage of Creative Spurts. It’s difficult to feel confident and creative when you are tired. Find the times when you have your most energy or when you are most creative. My most creative times are in the middle of the night. I tend to wake up once a week or so with a lot of creative ideas. I embrace that insomnia and write down or research my ideas. And it’s a good thing I do, because when I wake up in the morning I can barely remember what I was thinking. This blog post, for example, was partially written at 3:37am! Here is an interesting article about creative times.
Now, if you don’t want to embrace the insomnia, read here for some tips to improve your sleep, or learn about Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia here.
To wrap up, I encourage you to notice how you are spending your time and energy. If you are doing a lot of thinking, dreaming, hoping, but not putting feet to your ideas, then you need to take some steps to move out of that fear, organize yourself, and get to work!
Dr. Leedy is a clinical psychologist. She owns and operates Legacy Counseling Service (www.legacycounselingservice.com) in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Dr. Leedy specializes in depression, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic illness/injury. She has embraced the occasional insomnia that plagues many business owners and now counts those sleepless nights as part of a productive work week.