What’s your Why?
When I start talking to therapists about why they want a private practice, they most often go into the reasons why they are a therapist. They talk about helping people, feeling constrained by the bureaucracy of agency work, wanting to do the best clinical work they can, about feeling a sense of wanting to give back… But I have to tell you, I don’t think that’s enough. Running a business takes a bit of work and at some point you are going to be tired and you are going to be grumpy and you’ve got to know which way to steer and you’ve got to know if you should keep going or not.
You might not want to hear this, but you’ve got to get a little selfish here. The work we do is incredibly challenging. It asks us to check ourselves constantly, manage our own reactions so we can be there fully for the client, give and be present even when we are having our own bad day. That takes a lot. And honestly, I don’t think it is worth doing unless you are really clear about why you are doing it. And in your darkest moments, the reason can be partially about other people, but I think you’ve got to have a personal why too.
It’s got to go beyond I can’t stand agency work anymore. It has to go beyond I want to help people. It has to get personal. Is it because your kids are growing up too fast and you CANNOT stand the thought of working 40+ hours per week and missing it all. Is it because you are driven to be able to make enough money that you don’t have to worry about buying organic or not. Is it because you WILL NOT be poor and struggling anymore? Is it because the stress of your work is killing your marriage and you’ve got to find a different way?
Maybe you think I am being too cynical here or too superficial and self-centered. But what I have found is that if we are all honest, the work itself gets hard sometimes. Clients can be “challenging” at times. And yes, if any of us were not driven by the helping piece, we’d probably be stock brokers. But you’ve got to know your own personal piece too. If it was just about the clients, you could work for someone else. But it is not just about the clients. So let’s talk about that. Post your personal mission below. Let’s open up this piece and take away the martyrdom of our profession and the shame of our “selfish” reasons for doing this work and own and support each other’s personal missions.
P.S. Other than motivation, there is another REALLY important piece in building a business that this informs. For that piece, you’ll have to wait until next time.