Why You Suck At Following Through On Your Private Practice Dreams

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Alright, Fellow Clinicians.

Today’s post is all about getting real with ourselves and fessing up when we know we could be doing something a bit better. I mean, I wouldn’t be doing you any favors if I didn’t call you out on your crap at least a little bit, right? 

Whether we’re procrastinators, multi-taskers, or victims of ‘oh shiny syndrome,’ a lot of us just plain old suck at following through. It’s probably not even our intention to leave things up in the air or unfinished. It’s just something we do as we get distracted by the other things we allow to take precedence over balancing therapist and family life. 

Our lack of follow-through could be the result of having a “monkey mind” or inability to focus on the task. Or, we could have mental and/or emotional blocks that are keeping us stuck. Or, worst of all we’re hiding behind the façade of someday – “someday I’ll make my dreams come true.”

The problem with having a bunch of unfinished things out there floating around in our lives is that, consciously or unconsciously, this reflects our psyche.

Have you ever noticed when you have a big project to do that it’s really hard to settle down? The project may be related to your practice, an obligation to a friend, a family function or whatever.

You’ll find yourself burning dinner or completely forgetting a dentist appointment because you can’t seem to slow down or concentrate. Instead, your obligation has seeped into every part of your life and has left you scattered.

Well, the longer we leave things unfinished, and the more they pile up, the less focused our minds become. It’s like living through the rush of holiday season all year long.

A better/healthier practice to get into is to complete tasks as they come up. Yeah, yeah so much easier said than done.

The world doesn’t pause when you have a growing caseload and it's super hard to get enough time together to devote to solidly crossing one thing off your list. I get that, and I’m not arguing that after today you’ll never let anything slide to the next day again.

However, after today, it is my hope that you’ll recognize yourself in one – or a few – of these common reasons busy therapists suck at following through. And by doing so, maybe you’ll start to see strategies and solutions that will keep you on track to achieve your goals.

Why you suck at following through

1. You haven't defined your purpose

Sure, you want to help your clients or you want to earn a great living for your household, but why do you want it?

Would this make you feel as though you were successful beyond being able to get your toddler to eat dinner at night? Would you feel like all the time you spent in grad school or on personal development was being put to use instead of shoved to the back of your proverbial closet?

A lot of times we know we are capable of making things happen. We know we have the skills and the ability, but we haven't sat down to figure out the real reason driving us to want more.

Without this deep, personal motivation, it’s easy to get knocked off track and let smaller, less important things eat away at our determination.

If this sounds like you, start by asking yourself: What will be your personal reward when you finally make your private practice dream a reality?

2. You don’t know how/see the value in asking for help

I’ll be the first to admit I fall smack dab in the middle of this camp. I rarely ask for help, and when I do, it's usually way too late and I’m way past my breaking point. Yes, there is a great sense of pride in accomplishing something all on your own. But often, there is also a sense of foolishness.

All people are born with different skill sets. Your strengths may be in one area but you may utterly suck in another. If you know someone who’s abilities complement your own, why not ask. People are nicer than you think and are often more than willing to lend a hand if you simply ask.

If this sounds like you – think of others in your circle who might be able to help you reach your goals. Invite them to lunch, your treat, and brainstorm ways to grow your referral base.

3. You haven’t made it easy on yourself

Lots of times clinicians jump into growing their practice without first thinking about the most efficient and effective ways to accomplish it. Maybe it just seemed too fun and they got too excited to think it through.

The problem with this though is that you can often find yourself up to your elbows in the mess and realize you haven't figured out all that needs to be done or how everything fits together. Just writing this makes me think of my first time trying to cook a holiday dinner. I was so excited to make the meal that I didn’t really set anything up ahead of time. I just grabbed ingredients, bowls, utensils here and there and didn’t pay attention to oven temperature or cook times.

Well, as you can imagine, there were a lot of screw-ups and a lot of cold food by the time we finally sat down to eat. I sure didn’t make the endeavor any easier on myself by not getting organized first.

If this sounds like you – before thinking of things like decorating your office or setting up your EHR, list out everything you need in place to make your practice dreams a reality. Make a timeline so you can see what your schedule will look like, and go ahead and prioritize your to-dos so you know what steps are the most important

4. You haven’t worked through your baggage

Have you had this particular goal for a long time? Some time, some where did someone make you feel silly for wanting to achieve it? Or, are you reluctant to admit you want to be a successful business owner and have passions other than simply serving clients?

Perhaps these experiences And emotions are throwing up a roadblock in your goal-achieving abilities.

The smallest amount of criticism can linger with us forever if we do not learn to set the luggage down and continue on with our travels.

If this sounds like you – try to get an outside perspective: Imagine someone you love unconditionally (a bff, your spouse, your kids) had a dream. How would you support them in reaching their goals? Now show yourself the same support and love.

5. You haven’t done enough self-care

How many of you have pushed so hard to meet a deadline or accomplish a goal that you actually end up falling on your face right before the finish line?

*shyly raises hand and drops head*

Maybe you caught a cold days before a huge presentation or just felt too anxious or burnt out to be creative for one more minute. This, my friend, is the result of not enough self-care. Sure, there is a season of hustle for all of us, and there might be a time when you are getting by on a little less sleep and a little more coffee than usual. But living like this long-term is only gonna get you further and further from the result you are looking for.

If this sounds like you – start by creating your ideal schedule for meeting your private practice goal. Think of all of the tasks and to-dos that are absolutely necessary for making your dream practice happen and develop a timeline for getting it done. Now, go back through and add several self-care days into your timeline. Build this into your goal and have it scheduled from the beginning. Yes, this may add on days or weeks to your end goals. But, there’s no use trying so hard, if you’re just going to fail right before you succeed.

Which camp or camps do you fall into? Now that you know why you're not following through how will you go about fixing it?

Marissa LawtonComment