If I had a dollar for every time one of my practice-builders was discouraged by someone feeling stuck in their own agency job, I’d have a lot of dollars. Maybe we should start fining those naysayers a negativity tax.
I’ve had people announce that they were going to private practice and be flat out told they’re going to fail by someone who has never gone into private practice; someone who had no idea what he was talking about. We have to be so careful about these messages, especially early on when we’re particularly vulnerable.
These people who are saying you can’t do it are scared. They have no idea what it takes to build a private practice. Maybe they tried in the past and failed. A lot of people declare themselves private practitioners and then don’t do a minute of research on business and marketing. They just expect the clients to magically find them and then say private practice is a losing game when it doesn’t go their way. It’s like a client going to one therapy session and saying that therapy doesn’t work. You have to invest your energy, you have to be serious, and you have to want it enough to be pushed out of your comfort zone.
What’s sad is that these fear-mongerers reinforce that little voice in our heads that say we can’t do it. They give power to the part of you that feels the most insecure. We all have that part; the fact that it exists in you is just a sign that you’re human and definitely not a sign that you won’t succeed.
When I was a kid, if one of my friends was mean to me, my mom would say my friend was just jealous. I thought she was ridiculous for saying this since I didn’t really have anything to be jealous of. I didn’t have the coolest toys and the coolest clothes. I did, however, have front teeth that closely resembled Dale’s of Chip & Dale, really confusing hair, a tender heart, and really awesome parents. I didn’t realize until later that the only kids who were mean to me had parents who weren’t so awesome and that maybe they were jealous of the steadiness my family provided. I didn’t know how hard it was to have chaos and struggle at home, so I was free to assume that being awkward looking and shopping at Kmart meant I wasn’t worthy of jealousy. What a place of privilege.
So, not to get all maternal on you, but the people who tell you you won’t succeed are just jealous. It may not feel like you are worthy of jealousy as you teeter on the brink of the unknown, but you are.
They’re jealous you have the strength to take the risk.
They’re jealous that your work/life balance is about to get a lot better than theirs.
Their jealous that you can create your own non-toxic, anti-burnout workplace that you look forward to going to everyday.
They’re jealous that you can pick the clients you want to work with.
They’re jealous that you won’t have to get creative when bills come in and you can just sit down and write a check.
I feel bad for the naysayers. They’re just as miserable as the kids that were mean because their own lives aren’t what they want them to be. It’s likely that they could have the private practice of their dreams if they wanted to but they make it sound like rocket science.
I know I say this a lot, but it bears repeating, especially if you’ve been faced with others’ negativity. Building a private practice isn’t hard once you have a plan. It’s confrontive, sure. It takes some patience and fortitude, but if you can get through grad school, you’ve got enough patience and fortitude to start your practice.
Next week we’re going to talk about the importance of having supportive people to cheer you on and remind you that you’re capable and worthy of success.
Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. After retiring her individual consultation services, she opened the Abundance Party, where you can get practice-building help for the cost of a copay. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group. Allison is all about helping you gain the confidence and tools you need to succeed.