“Pathological” may sound strong. Learning is vital to what we do, after all. Occasionally I work with someone who is using learning to feel good enough. To try to beat back the imposter syndrome. It may start as a desire to feel more competent in order to better serve clients but for some it evolves into a worthiness chasm that they can’t fill. Four degrees and six certifications later, they’re still looking for the next thing to learn in order to be enough.
I see it in practice building, too. I’ve worked with some people who have worked with other consultants, then me, and went on to get more consulting after me. These people could teach practice-building to a bush. What is usually going on is that fear is holding them back from implementing what they’re learning. It’s far more comfortable to learn new things than it is to take action. Taking action is scary and hard and vulnerable.
This is just one way in which I see avoidance show up in the private practice experience. There are a ton of other ways it shows up. So if you’re not on the learning-to-be-good-enough-train, you’ve got your version of cognitive dissonance getting in your way.
So for all of us, I have a request (and I just did this before writing, so I’m with you here):
- Sit down.
- Be still for a minute.
- Ask what you’re not doing that you want to be doing.
- Ask what you’re afraid will happen if you do that thing.
- Be with it. No need to reframe. Just accept that it’s hard for you right now.Go back to that thing you want to be doing- why do you want to do it? Not the obligation part… what will doing it provide for your business or your life? What’s the anticipated outcome?
- Revisit the fear. Is the outcome worth facing the fear right now? That’s not a leading question- sometimes it’s not time yet. Sometimes we need to work on some of our own stuff to be ready to do those things. Charging ahead and doing them anyway will either cause you to stuff the feelings, or will reveal them VERY LOUDLY (as I may have discovered the hard way).
- Create a plan. Whether it’s to address the stuff that’s popping up or whether it’s to do the hard thing. Break down the steps and put it in your calendar. Yes, even the feeling stuff. Our clients put us in their calendar, why not carve out some time to work on yourself?
Here’s what I just got from doing this:
After 6 weeks of 50-60 hour work weeks getting the Abundance Party launched, I feel like I’m fast-peddling a bicycle downhill. I can relax now but I feel like I’ve forgotten how. The Abundance Party’s purpose for my business is two-fold: to be able to help more people build practices and to be able to do less work (because obviously I’m not a fan of 50-60 hour work weeks.) So I want to slow down, but feel compelled to keep up that pace.
So I put some activities in my calendar to force a slow down:
- A spa day with a friend today at a spa that doesn’t allow technology.
- Most of this week off.
- A list of home improvement chores to work on (house stuff is like my sudoku) this week.
- A great book to read.
- Plans with friends.
- Plans with my family.
If this wasn’t in my calendar, I assure you, I’d work more than the <2 hrs/day I’m slated to on my week “off” (don’t worry, it’s fun interactions & training with the Abundance Party people, not work-work).
I guarantee some good and uncomfortable stuff is going to come from this slowdown. It always does (thus the avoidance.)
What about you? What will you put in your calendar this week to take care of yourself and your business? Let us know in the comments.
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.