Category Archives for Action

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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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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blogging on a daily basis

Six Lessons from ^Almost! Daily Blogging: A behind the scenes look

Today marks three full weeks of The ^Almost Daily Catalyst! Seth Godin has been encouraging me (and, you know, the other 4M people who follow him) for 2 years to blog every day, but it always felt like such a big ask.

I started as more of a blogger than a coach, then the coaching took off and the blogging dwindled to maaayyyybbeeee once a month. And yet, the call of regular writing was always running along in the background like an excitable little dog.

“Bark! Bark, bark!” he says! (That’s dog for “Hey! We could write a blog about that! And this! And that! We totally have enough to write every day! Let’s do it! It will be SO. FUN.”)

Unfortunately, those thoughts were being “managed” by these super “helpful” thoughts:

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constant worry

The Power of “What If”

Oh, worry, my old friend. If there were worry olympics, I coulda been a contender. I am GREAT at worry. A natural!

And worry LOVES company! As long as I was worrying, I’d always have someone to talk to. But, my conversations would be exhausting, and my life would be joyless.

We certainly have the option to feeling anxious or concerned right now- If we wanted to, we could worry ourselves sick about the state of the world: the handling of the crisis, the mental health of our friends and families stuck at home with only the black hole of the internet to occupy them, and the danger experienced by our heroes in scrubs.

Worry is is a verb that means to be consumed by the anticipation of negative emotion.

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creating opportunity

Three Things That Just Aren’t True

It’s been a heck of a week and I’m glad for a few days off. What are you going to do this weekend? Nothing? ME TOO!

And, honestly, I’m ready for it.

I, like you, am doing my best to show up for the people I care about. I want to get it right but some times I get it all wrong… like the time I yelled at my daughter because she wanted to hug me when I wanted to read my book.* I want to be empathetic and honest and grounded and peaceful but sometime I’m pissed and sarcastic and anything but peaceful. And I want to write the very best, most beautiful words in a row for you guys on my ^Almost Daily Catalyst, but I’m always missing the typos, using the wrong their/there/they’re, and getting my punctuation wrong.

The world wants us to hold ourselves to a standard of absolute perfection, and keep ourselves small UNTIL we figure that out.

But of course, that’s some bullshit.

You don’t have to be perfect to be valuable.

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finding beauty in a broken world

Beauty is everywhere if you choose to see it

In our previous post, we talked about how psychologists estimate that it takes 10 compliments to counteract a single critical comment, 10 exposures to beautiful, hopeful images to neutralize the fear of seeing a scary picture. This rule of 10 dictates that fear will draw you in at 10x the power of hope, beauty, and opportunity.

In practical terms, this means you need to surround and immerse yourself in proof that the world is, in fact, beautiful.

How can we do that?

First, what IS beauty? I’ve been thinking about this and my current definition is that beauty is the honest expression of emotion. Human history is the parade of one unprecedented thing after another that simultaneously pulls us towards each other and pushes us away from each other. The expression of how that feels IS BEAUTY.

We feel connection and beauty when our heart says “I know that feeling… despite our differences, we are the same.” And beauty isn’t all hugs and pollyanna hand-holding (though… bring it on!), it’s honesty about pain, loss, and rage as well as connection, pride, and even routine.

Beauty is EVERYWHERE… are you choosing to see it?

Here are some examples of the beauty I see:

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how to stop living in fear

Manage your Fear to Hope Ratio

In our previous posts, we discussed how there is nothing more fundamentally “alive” than fear. In fact, it’s fear that keeps us alive despite the tigers, freezing cold, and food scarcity that have historically plagued our species. Perhaps this is why fear is so much more powerful than hope.

Psychologists estimate that it takes 10 compliments to counteract a single critical comment, 10 exposures to beautiful, hopeful images to neutralize the fear of seeing a scary picture. The rule of 10 dictates that fear will draw you in at 10x the power of hope, beauty, and opportunity. During times of overwhelming fear, this means that you need to PROACTIVELY reduce the number of exposures you have to the fear and intentionally jack up your exposure to hope, beauty and opportunity.

How can we do that? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

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