One of the places many clinicians find themselves is in that “no-man’s land” between working for an agency and going into private practice.They have made the decision to go into private practice, but they are not in a place financially to quit the agency job and build a practice of their own. They are trying to survive their current job until they can make that move to private practice independence.
When it comes down to it, the problem is one of knowing where and how to focus your energy. For many their current job, whether in an agency or other job, is draining and frustrating. Their overall job satisfaction is low. They dread going to work and while they are there, it feels like drudgery. But they need to keep it up in order to make a living and maintain their benefits. They truly are in survival mode.
Bloom where you’re planted
The good news is that it is possible to make the transition into private practice from agency work if a clinician knows how to focus their energy in the right way. It is possible to “bloom where you’re planted”. But it does requires a mindset shift, getting organized and being patient.
Approaching the transition from agency work to private practice does require the right mindset. The first thing is to develop a better attitude about your current job. Otherwise, you really will be pulled into the abyss of burnout and drudgery.
Part of that mindset shift comes from creating a sense of hope and anticipation. Do you remember when you first started the job or back when you were in school and starting a new school year? There was sense of excitement and anticipation. Shopping for school supplies or new clothes that created that sense of anticipation and excitement. The key for surviving your current job is to create that same sense of anticipation again for the move into private practice.
Patience is Key
A private practice is something that needs to be built. It does require some patience along with a whole lot of persistence. It is like cultivating a garden. You plant the seeds and then nurture them while they grow. So it is helpful to think of your current job as that period of planting seeds for a future shift in career. The shift in mindset can come from doing some things differently in your current job.
A mindset shift can also come from learning how to do your current job more efficiently. This will also create a payoff in the long run as you move into private practice. Teach yourself productivity habits.
Three great resources for learning productivity and getting focused are:
David Allen’s-Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s- The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
Michael Hyatt’s website and blog www.michaelhyatt.com
Think about re-organizing your office or workspace. As I tell my clients, change comes when we start doing things differently on a daily basis. It means creating new routines and habits. By creating new work habits it gives you a sense of freshness and renewal with things.
One of the ways to do this is look at how you have yourself organized. Do a time study for yourself. Track how you are using your time and look for ways to use it more efficiently. Even something as simple as making use of apps and planners to help you with your organization has a way of motivating and giving you a new sense of energy.
Set aside time and put some effort into actually work on things that will help you start and build a private practice. For example:
- Start getting your paperwork prepared and ready
- Start a checking account that you will use for your private practice
- Research office locations or private practice groups you could join
- Start creating your website and social media presence
- Start blogging to increase your SEO and establish yourself as an expert
- Get business cards made for your private practice
- Have coffee or lunch with people in private practice to begin to learn from them and network
- Get a mentor and consider getting the help of a consultant; draw on their expertise
- Make the leap and start seeing private practice clients on the side using a borrowed or shared space.
Get Your Finances in Order
One thing I do like to reiterate for people who are working for agencies and moving into private practice, is the importance of getting your finances in order. Do what you can to get yourself out of debt along with creating a reserve for yourself. Ideally you would want to have 2-6 months salary saved.
A great resource for getting your finances in order is to look into the Dave Ramsey courses and systems for getting debt free and managing your money. (The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness ) His approach is simple and practical.
Being Patient and Taking Action
Finally, be patient with the process and time it takes to create changes. It does mean you will need to start putting things into action. Albert Einstein is attributed as saying, “Insanity is doing something the same way over and over again expecting a different result”. You can keep doing what you are doing, but you will just get more of the same. Give yourself permission to do things differently and focus your energy in new ways.
Several years ago when I was working for an agency I made that mindset shift. It helped me to create a new energy around my agency job and at the same time, gave me the space and energy to start building a private practice. Then when I did move into private practice full-time, it was a win!
So do what you need to do to “bloom where you’re planted” AND start and build the private practice you have always dreamed of having!
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. “Like” us on Facebook.