So you are thinking about going into private practice as a counselor, therapist or coach. Or maybe you are thinking about going into another business or venture. Why? Have you thought about that? I have been reading again Gary Keller’s book, “The One Thing”. And what keeps resonating with me is that it is all too easy to get caught up in the “what” and the “how” of things without really knowing a clear “why”. Asking WHY matters most!
When I went into private practice as a therapist 10 years ago, spent a lot of time learning how to do it and what I needed to go into private practice as a counselor. And there is no doubt that it has turned into one of the best decisions of my life! But I will confess, I have done a lot of what I have done in a somewhat disorganized and haphazard ways. If I were to do it all over again, I certainly would do things a little differently. The first being to focus more on the “why”.
When I work with people that I am consulting with, I spend some time on their “why” and helping them get a clear vision as to knowing why they want to go into private practice. Because if you don’t have a clear understanding of that for yourself first you might as well put the whole idea on the back burner.
So let’s look at this “why” thing a little more…
One of the big questions I tend to ask people in therapy is, “why do you think you are like you are?”. If you were to ask yourself that question, what would the answer be? Most of us tend to point to things like: how we were raised, our temperament and personality type, or genetics. Also part of the answer to “why we are like we are” question comes the relationships we form. Most certainly, who we surround ourselves with has a major impact on who we are. But what are your values and the things you are passionate about? To answer these things helps us get to the “why”.
Follow your bliss!
What is your passion? One of my favorite quotes comes from Dr. Joseph Campbell who was one of the primer philosophers and educators of our time. One of his best known works was a PBS series that he did with Bill Moyers called, “The Power of Myth”. Dr. Campbell said in that series:
“Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
The major clues to your “whys” in life can be found at the core of this idea. What are the points of “bliss” in your life now? Many times these “bliss” points show up when we least expect it. I know for me one of my bliss points came when I was together with some family and some close friends, several years ago, when my daughter was in about the second grade. We were all together for dinner and finished the night just simply singing songs and playing toy instruments (kind of like Jimmy Fallon does sometimes with his school instrument segments). I remember that, in that moment I, felt an overwhelming sense of peace and joy and thought to myself, “life does not get any better than this!”.
In my professional life as a therapist I have those moments too. Moments when I am sitting with a client and they have an “a-ha” moment or some sort of breakthrough and insight into themselves. There is just a feeling of connection and satisfaction that comes in knowing you have helped someone work through something that has been very difficult to deal with in their life.
Other “bliss” times can be when we notice we are lost in some task that we are totally consumed with; it has our undivided attention. I would say, take note of those times because I think they give us clues into our personal “whys”.
Here are some questions and things to think about for discovering your “why”. Answering these questions will help you begin the process of discovering and validating where you want to go. If you are thinking about going into private practice as a counselor, therapist or coach or any other business for that matter, these questions will help you develop the target you are aiming for. Or as Gary Keller puts it, your “One Thing”. I would encourage you also to maybe begin writing down some of these things. I know when I did, it helped me to have a much greater focus and get me more grounded in what matters most for me and having a clear “why” to what I do in life.
Why are you doing what you are doing now? Is it a stepping-stone to something else or is it just because the opportunity came up?
When was a time that you were totally into what you were doing? What was that about?
Who are the people and things that matter most you? Who motivates you the most?
What have been your “bliss moments” so far in life?
What is your vision of where you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
What is your vision and mission in life?
Take the opportunity to write these things down for yourself.
Create a personal mission statement or vision statement for yourself. Keep it in a place to look at from time to time. Let it be an ever evolving thing for yourself.
Once you do all this, then “what” and “how” then become easy because you know where you are going. Setting up a private practice, or any other business for that matter, is then just a matter of taking certain steps. Putting things into action and following a plan.
So, ask WHY first!
“…extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.”
– Gary Keller, “The One Thing”
By L. Gordon Brewer, Jr., MEd. LMFT – Gordon is the President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is also a consultant and business mentor at The Practice of Therapy. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn. Join the Facebook Group.