Goals are Great, Just Be SMART!
My hope is to keep these articles evergreen, but at the time of this writing it’s January and for a lot of our clients, and for us, it’s a time to set intentions and make resolutions. There’s a ton of information out there about why making resolutions doesn’t work. Or why ‘all or nothing’ thinking is so bad for our health and well-being. We gently challenge our clients on this every day, hopefully! But Practice of the Practice is about building your dream career and making a financially successful business work for you to free up your time, mitigate your burnout, and give you the flexibility in your work that you always wanted. What this means for us is that goals are important! What if we need to resolve ourselves to do things that get us out of our comfort zones in order to build a thriving practice? Then we have to talk about discipline and motivation.
- What do you want to accomplish this year? Can you get specific (ex., take on an employee or contract worker, get your finances in order, make over $100k).
- What are some of your identified strengths and how can you harness their power to meet your goals?
- What are some of your identified weaknesses, and what sort of discipline and attention do they need? If you’re struggling to answer this, enlist a trusted friend or colleague.
Fear of Success and Staying Small
I have often heard therapists talk about how they would love to work for themselves in a therapy private practice. But in the same breath talk about how they could never leave their agency because of the “good work we do serving people who wouldn’t get the help otherwise.” That was me for a long time. I thought the only way I was going to do good in the world was by working for non-profit agencies. And some prevailing attitudes in those agency cultures is manifested in a good-natured sigh, and the ever-present statement, “well you didn’t get into this profession for the money.” Well we didn’t take a vow of poverty, either! We see this same type of attitude from therapists who are already in private practice: “I don’t want to increase my fees because then I won’t see my ideal client. I want therapy to be affordable to everyone.” One of the unexpected gifts of going into private practice is that there is a great opportunity with more free time to find other ways to be of service in your community besides your work. Take a second right now to ask yourself some important questions:
- Do I feel connected to my work and what I’m doing?
- What are my work values and/or mission statement for my business? Am I upholding these values daily in my business?
- What might be scary about growth and success?
Discipline and Distress Tolerance
I recently read a description of discipline that touched me deeply. It likened building the skill of discipline to being your own disciple. I appreciate the metaphor of following and training in the service our own higher selves. Whenever we are learning something new, or especially trying something that is difficult for us, our brains scream at us to go back to doing things the old way. It’s one of the age-old reasons that New Year’s Resolutions fail! We want change fast, and when we don’t get it, we want to get out of the distress that we’re experiencing. That’s the definition of distress intolerance. Building our capacity to deal with that distress is strengthening our distress tolerance, or just good old-fashioned discipline. Being uncomfortable is so good for us.
Elizabeth Pace is a therapist and clinical supervisor in private practice in New Orleans, Louisiana. What she loves the most about private practice is supporting others as they question their old ideas about “doing it right” and start to cultivate a newer awareness about the kind of life they want to fearlessly pursue. Another passion is advocating for and advancing the counseling field through presentations on professional development, financial literacy, and coaching others towards the personal and professional goals that bring them joy, excitement, and financial stability!
You can visit Elizabeth’s website here!