It's time to be awesome blog image

It’s time to be awesome! -Rainbow Dash

The kids (as you know) are home for the foreseeable future. One unexpected benefit of this (in addition to random, mid-day hugs) is that I get to hear the soundtrack to their current movie obsession over and over and over again. Lately, it’s bee “Hey Siri, play the My Little Pony: The Movie Soundtrack.” Mostly (to be honest), I just tune it out… but every now and then one of those songs will make its way into my brain and get lodged.

This time, it was “Time to be Awesome” by Rainbow Dash. She’s talking to a group of parrot pirates encouraging them to stop doing the bidding of the Storm King, and instead do their own AWESOME thing. It’s catchy, and worth a listen (click here).

(My favorite lyric is “Hey Scallywags, it’s time to be awesome!” 

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How to give up on more blogi mage

How To Give Up On ‘More’

Every time I run a group program—EVERY SINGLE TIME—the one topic that emerges from the group is time management.

The ask usually goes something like this:

“How can I do everything that I already do, AND these practice building things that you are teaching us.”

OR

“I was feeling overwhelmed already. How could I possibly add anything more?”

Embedded in these two questions is a tiny, destructive kernel that will stop your time management efforts (and your business building efforts… and your happiness) in its tracks.

Can you spot it?

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I guess we live here now

I guess we live here now.

My first pet as an adult was an adult shelter cat that I rescued from the PetCo in Union Square. The night before we met, I had a dream about an orange cat who slept at my feet. Then, as my then boyfriend, now husband, David and I were wandering around the city, there he was. Now this is not the cat you think you are going to rescue- he was “7-9 years old,” enormous, and plainly disinterested. And yet… he was so soft. And his eyes were a piercing green. I liked him.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“About what?” David said.

“The cat.”

“This cat?”

“Yes, what do you think of him? Is he OUR cat?”

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What It Takes to Grow a Private Pay Practice During a Pandemic

I’ve worked with hundreds of therapists and coaches who are seeking to build private pay practices and do you know what I hear again and again?

It’s either: 

“I work and work and work and work and WORK. I write blogs, I post on Facebook, and I tweak my website… it’s nonstop, I’m never done… And NOTHING is happening.  How do I know what to do, what to stop doing, and what’s really going to return on investment?”

50% of the people I talk to

OR:

“I DO NOT KNOW WHERE TO START. The internet is an avalanche of conflicting information encouraging me to do things that feel inauthentic or pushy. So I do nothing. I know I need to promote my practice, but I feel overwhelmed and paralyzed.

50% of the people I talk to

Let’s cut you some slack: Therapists weren’t trained in marketing… or sales… or social media… or graphic design… In fact, the skills of therapy can feel wildly out of sync with these business-building strategies (they aren’t, by the way, as you’ll see).

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What It Really Takes to Grow a Private Pay Practice

I’ve worked with hundreds of therapists and coaches who are seeking to build private pay practices and do you know what I hear again and again?

It’s either: 

“I work and work and work and work and WORK. I write blogs, I post on Facebook, and I tweak my website… it’s nonstop, I’m never done… And NOTHING is happening.  How do I know what to do, what to stop doing, and what’s really going to return on investment?”

50% of the people I talk to

OR:

“I DO NOT KNOW WHERE TO START. The internet is an avalanche of conflicting information encouraging me to do things that feel inauthentic or pushy. So I do nothing. I know I need to promote my practice, but I feel overwhelmed and paralyzed.

50% of the people I talk to
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Time Management is overwhelming

Why Time Management is So Overwhelming

There are two kinds of people in the world:

Those whose work is mostly or entirely dictated by outside forces and those whose work has to be driven mostly or entirely from their choices.

Think of the first group as all the people you know who have JOBS. Even those who have high pressure, high paid managerial jobs have the boundaries of their work largely set by organizational priorities.

The second group can best be summarized as people who are, to a significant extent, self-employed. This can include the partially self-employed like therapists who have a private practice on the side of their agency job, or side hustlers who offer services or consulting outside of their full-time, corporate or non-profit jobs. Or it can be the entirely self-employed, like therapists and coaches in full-time private practice or founders of small to medium sized companies.

Most of us were raised with the expectation that we would have a job and we were prepared by the schools to do just that.

We did work that was assigned to us and were graded on other people’s expectations. Unless you were raised by entrepreneurs, this kind of cog-in-the-organizational-wheel was likely the foundation of your understanding of work.

Now, just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about work that way. I’m not saying that doing your part for the mission or finding safety and comfort in a large organization is somehow “less than.” And I’m certainly not saying that a job is somehow less demanding than being self-employed. In fact, the busiest people I know have jobs!

When you are working at a demanding job these days it tends to look like you are chipping away at a mountain of relational tasks (send this report to Anna, follow up if you haven’t heard by Thursday, re-send you’re availability to nail down a time to meet… and on, and on, and on). Anyone who has ever worked in consulting, or on wall street, or any number of other high-pressure, project driven careers knows exactly what I’m talking about.

For these people, who are largely managing incoming requests, working through projects they’ve been assigned, and trying to figure out timelines for when work can be complete, traditional time management is a HUGE RELIEF.

The most famous time management system is David Allen’s Getting Things Done (or GTD, as its called).

It’s a high-touch, super structured way to get your to-do list out of your head and managed. By following the tenets of GTD you can take the drama out of all those little commitments and find headspace for the strategic and managerial aspects of your work. It can be a lifesaver; it was for me when I was a consultant and drowning under the weight of 14 projects.

The problem arises when someone who is self-employed attempts to utilize a typical time management system to manage the messy interdependency that is their life and business and finances.

Here’s an example: A therapist tries to use GTD and within a few hours gives up. “I could never do all of this!” she begins, throwing her pen down. And, then (and this is the tragic part), “I guess I just wasn’t meant to do this. I’m so disorganized and such a procrastinator… If I can’t even get myself to do what I put on my to do list, I’m never going to make any progress.”

This happen because traditional time management programs don’t support you in considering the following stone-cold realities of being self-employed:

  • You might be over-committed on things that don’t matter and under-committed on things that would move the needle. Are you doing what matters or just keeping busy? How would you know?
  • You might not believe that you CAN do the things that matter. This usually sounds like “I’m not the kind of person who does: sales, marketing, promotion, math, book-keeping, speaking, social media, or exercise. When the only person deciding what you need to do is YOU (and not those organizational priorities), then your lack of belief in yourself will be a major hurdle.
  • You might be doing a poor job of managing your work-life balance. At least when you have a job people will sometimes encourage you to take time off. You have vacation that you’ll lose if you don’t use it, for example, or your company is straight up closed on Christmas and the 4th of July. If you are the only person deciding when you should work and you are in any way concerned about your finances, you are probably working around the clock, 365 days a year. This is not a recipe for success under any circumstances, but it’s especially devastating when the core of your work is vision-setting.
  • You might be working like an employee, instead of as a founder. One of the most important shifts required to succeed as a self-employed person, is to shift away from the default, job-based settings of our upbringing and move into an understanding of ourselves as the visionary for our business. When you are the founder of a business (instead of the single employee in your private practice), you know that the most valuable time is spent setting strategy: Figuring out what you want and why. Putting together the plan to move in that direction. Hiring people to help you get those things done. 

But what seems to happen instead is that the self-employed cast around looking for certainty from a boss that doesn’t exist. (Un)Fortunately, the internet is full of (ill-conceived, probably irrelevant) advice. Because we just want to be told what to do, we take on these expectations in an almost unconscious way. “Finally, here’s the checklist on how to do this the right way” we say, and then we run ourselves into the ground on the hamster wheel of “best practices” and “tips and tricks.”

These realities (which are DIFFERENT from the realities of our friends with jobs) are why any serious attempt at time management can result in panic.

Now, just to be clear, this doesn’t mean that time management isn’t possible for the self-employed.

It just means that your time management practice has to begin in a more foundational place.

We don’t get to start with a list of foregone tasks based on a job description or the guidance of a supervisor.

Instead, we have to dig in and build a messy, imperfect vision. What do you want you practice to be like? How many clients are enough clients? How much time off do you want? How important are those other areas of your life (health, family, adventure, friend)? 

It’s very important that you operate from a place informed by the answers to THOSE questions.

When that is in place, you will be ready to manage your time.

How To Make Progress On Your Goals

Have you had the experience of setting a goal (like get more clients, stay ahead of my paperwork or taxes, reach out to members of my network, or write a weekly blog) and then doing NOTHING about it? 

I’m not talking about setting a goal that you actually have no intention of pursuing (Hello, “10 pushups!”).

No, I’m talking about a goal you care about, would love to accomplish and, in fact, fully intend to accomplish. 

And yet, despite all that interest and commitment, nothing happens.

I’m very confident that you have had this experience, because I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t. In fact, if you are like many of the people I’ve worked with, you may have had this experience so often that you’ve developed a story about how you are “just plain lazy.”

That’s not true, by the way. People who declare themselves “lazy” are almost always either overcommitted, tired, and in need of a break (which is wildly different), unmotivated or confused (which is entirely fixable), or are doing an incomplete job of managing their new goal (which is simply a matter of process).

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The New Normal Emerges

The New Normal Emerges

I’ve noticed a shift in the world lately. We used to endlessly speculate with each other about when things would get back to normal.

  • Do you think we’ll get back to school this year? (Answer: nope)
  • Do you think we’ll go to a restaurant for Abi’s birthday in May? (Answer: nope)
  • Do you think that people will feel weird coming back to campus when we go back this fall?” (Answer: nope, because we’re fully online until 2021)

Lately, as the realities of the breadth and depth of this outbreak settle around us, the conversation is shifting. We’ve begun to wonder: Where are we going? What are heading towards?

Only one thing seems certain; we aren’t headed back towards “normal.”

I’ve largely opted out of these relentlessly speculative conversations because I hold two things be true no matter what:

  1. The human brain can get used to anything.
  2. So very much of what happens next is CHOICE.
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It Happens.

This is a modern tale, if ever there was one.

I wake up at 5, wander downstairs to get my coffee and do some writing. Life is good!

Around 6:30, as always, I take a look at the ^Almost Daily Catalyst to try to find the typos and make sure it’s scheduled properly.

I log into Convertkit, and there is no Catalyst. How did this happen?!

Panic! Searching! Realization. Acceptance? And then…

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We all need an oasis

We All Need An Oasis

This is the 37th ^Almost Daily Catalyst, which means that we have entered the 8th week of the coronavirus quarantine.

How are you doing?

I live in the NYC Metro region and it’s been tough. Everyone knows someone who has been infected. Almost everyone knows someone who has died. Some of my students, clients, and friends have had multiple deaths in their close circle of family and friends.

These are hard times.

And while it is absolutely important to shore up and move forward, it’s also very, very important that we create space in our lives to recover from the emotional toll of it all.

Everyone needs an oasis right now.

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