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Aug 15, 2013

Going After What you Want

This week I had a couple clients come in who knew what they wanted and needed in terms of their career, but felt a bit stuck in going after it.  Nothing earth shattering--this happens to all of us.  And to be honest, I hear it every week about one aspect of life or another. But, this self-limiting belief that we can’t have what we want doesn't need to be the case.  Not only do most people know what they really want and need, they also know how to get there--if they take the time to stop and ask themselves.

Let me share a personal example with you to illustrate how my own self-limiting beliefs were getting in the way recently.

I've been running this business for just over 2 years and the last year has been full-time. I’m so grateful things have worked out the way they did and have often felt extremely lucky because I didn't feel like I had to struggle to get clients and was fortunate enough to catch a break on the office rent initially.  As a result of my good fortune, I held a self-limiting belief that I hadn't yet worked hard enough to earn it--which my friends and family would totally disagree with btw--and I think this played into my feeling that I was tapped out in terms of business growth.  Thinking about business growth led to another self-limiting belief or two!  First--and I think this one is quieter in me than in most mental health professionals--I was supposed to be a do-gooder and not a business woman.  Secondly, I thought maybe I couldn't handle too many more clients.  I already had a strong stream of new clients wanting to get started, so I could just increase my caseload, but I was worried I would feel overloaded.  

So, what did I do?  First, I signed up for an expensive entrepreneurial business conference in NYC.  Huh?!  I know, it’s taking an initial step backward on the financial front.  However, I believe strongly that we all need to invest in ourselves personally and professionally.  Plus, after signing up and paying, something interesting happened.  I got a little pissed and wanted to recoup that investment quickly!  So, I increased my caseload over the course of a month . . . and it turns out I am fine.  Back when I was working two jobs, I had gotten a bit burned out.  I was afraid of that happening again, but needlessly so.  I’m still working less than I was then and I’m enjoying what I’m doing more.  My commute is shorter and I’m able to surround myself with positive people.  I reminded myself of what I really believe about mental health professionals--that we are well-educated and making a big impact on people’s lives, which deserves to be valued.

So, while I was in NYC at the conference trying to overcome my resistance to marketing, I had another interesting experience.  At the end of the conference, I asked the leader--now that he knew me a bit better--what he thought was the one thing I could do to make my practice more successful.  He said “You have to want it.”  Well, that hit me like a ton of bricks and got me thinking about how I've been spending my time.
I've returned from the conference and begun to implement the ideas I learned. That comment--that I have to want it--was absolutely true.  My actions hadn't reflected that I wanted to grow the business, but just to maintain it.  When I thought about it, I really did want to grow the business and so my actions needed to change.  I've been putting in more hours and not just aimless hours.  I’m planning out my time more systematically and devoting considerable time to learning more about business systems and strategy.  I’m getting more organized in terms of team meetings, storing our ideas and collaborating with local wellness practitioners.  

So, expect more good things from me and HWCA of Chicago in the future.  And expect more good things from yourself.  You've got all the raw materials you need, you just needed a reminder. Consider this your reminder!
Heather Shannon is a counselor and health coach working in private practice in Chicago.  She works primarily with "Type A" clients and takes a holistic approach to counseling, incorporating nutrition and lifestyle education into her work with teens and adults.

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