Fear in the gut, tight chest, stressed, overwhelmed, doubting our skills or that we can succeed: these are the real killers of a therapy or coaching practice.
More of us give up because we feel bad about it, than any other reason.
So, identifying where these feelings come from and resolving those issues, is a huge advance for many, many people in the wellness sector.
When last I did research on this, I got a lot of replies from therapists, trainers, and coaches. I have put together the top 5 points they raised plus some suggestions on ways to deal with them.
In my experience, confidence is less about what we pour in and more about how we boost or drain the feelings already present inside. I'm not confident about flying a plane, but if I simply had confidence by itself, I wouldn't be any better at doing it because I don't know how to fly.
However, if I learn how to fly and get some practice, then my confidence will grow hand in hand with that ability. In short, building success is building ability and confidence together. One without the other can still see us holding back.
So here are the top 5 issues raised. There were many others but these were the most frequently mentioned:
Here are some ideas to get you thinking. There are many ways of succeeding in this, but these are aimed at getting that process of looking for the right answer for you, underway.
5. Don't know how to start
Break it down into small chunks. Set aside a bit of time each day, maybe just 45 minutes, and work through one chunk. Usually a small amount of focussed time yields good results, whereas all the time in the world used under stress, can yield little. One way to look at this could be this set of questions taken in turn:
Do I have a method of helping people?
Is there any more work I must do on this ability before I can actually help anyone? (beware of feeling that there is always more that could be learned before starting. The question really is – 'who can I help now?')
Do I have insurance & a place to work (office, skype, seminar room, gym etc.)
Where can I put my message out effectively? (Cards, Brochures, TV, Radio, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Community Groups, Newspapers, etc.) Pick the one that seems best to you and work on that one for a while, then another if you need to. We generally need far less of these options than we expect.
Do I need a website?
There are many more things we could think about, but usually less stuff done well, is way better than a lot of stuff done OK.
Once you've identified the 1st area to work on, get stuck in. A golden rule is – if you know what you need to work on but don't know what to do, your 1st job is to get advice on that part. Don't hold back, keep going. Looking for the solution is really valuable. Always Try.
4. Fear of technology
Fear of technology is something I faced a lot too. I really was stressed about social media in particular.
Somehow we seem to think we're supposed to be good at it as if by magic. It's OK to have to find our feet on this. We can learn what we need one step at a time. Again breaking it down to where we can get into it with a plan and a time schedule for when to work in it, is a big help.
The good news is: it's all simpler than we tend to fear. A big part of it is that we're usually focussing on ALL the options and imagining we need to be on them all. Not so! Pick one and get used to it. This will build confidence as well as get your message out there.
Most people's experience is that once they get comfortable with one element of the technology, then the rest seems more manageable too.
I found Facebook to be the best option, even more important than having a website. Just getting good on that one platform would have done more for me than all the cards, flyers, posters, and newspaper advertising I did. Each of those took time and effort to create and get out there, so it's not much different to online, except you can do it from the comfort of home if you like.
3. Not busy enough
Not being busy enough is very common. 90% of therapists I know, would like more clients. But we tend to hope for them rather than plan to find them. And again magical thinking is often at work here: 'I hope I'll be busy' seems to be mistaken for taking action by a lot of us. Been there myself in the early days when somehow I thought being able to help people should translate to people automatically coming for that help.
We only get to help the people who know we exist and who understand how we can help them. How many people know that about you?
Almost certainly there are more people who could learn that. Once they have, then that is more people now open to your help. Wouldn't that be a step in the right direction?
Being open to learning new skills on how to reach people, is a good start. Thinking that because you're good at what you do, it will be enough, sadly misses the point that people need to also know that before they choose you.
2. Earning enough
The money side is a big area for just about all of us. I had to get my head around it in the early days, and it
wasn't comfortable for a while.
My best advice is to look at it in terms of what will let you help the most people and make the biggest positive difference in the world. If we don't charge a fee that lets us live the life we want, then we have to do something else just for money. How many people can we help part time? Put a number on that in a week.
Now if you allow yourself to earn an income that supports you and your family so that you can do as much of this as you like, how many more people can you now help in a week? Put a number on that. Multiply each by let's say 46 weeks a year. The difference is how many more people get help. Isn't that a good reason to let yourself earn a living?
1. Confidence in our ability to help.
Rather than look at your abilities as on/off, ask yourself if you can already help someone move in the right direction? Notice the value in this. I helped people on day 1. Now I can do much more in less time for someone, but I still helped people at the start. Those people are still grateful. And I got to where I am now by starting, learning, experiencing, and continuing. That's how we build expertise.
Look at who you can help right now. There are always more skills we could get, but wouldn't it be better if we use what we have now rather than hold off?
Not being busy is often confused with 'am I any good'. The two issues are separate. Busy is about people knowing and understanding how you help. Good is about the result when they've been to see you. If they're not coming to see us, it's way too soon to judge how good we are.
Bank your successes. We always remember the difficult ones, but do you give thought to the people who said thanks that you helped them? If you get testimonials (which you get, in general, by asking for them) read them over from time to time. It really shows how we make a difference.
Remember why you chose to train in helping people. Keep this in mind and it can focus us on success and why it matters. Our desire to help others must be greater than any hesitation or fear we have. Build that desire, motivation, and strength one step at a time.
It's OK to have to learn aspects of how to be a successful therapist or coach. You build your ability to help, so why not build your ability to be successful in the business side – reaching clients, earning a living, and helping more people?
This is something we can learn and build.
Why is this worth doing for you? Find that reason, that call, and you're drawing yourself towards success.
Go for it!
Please keep sharing your help.
Have a great week,
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John Prendergast is an award-winning Success Coach and and Psycho-Trauma Anxiety Therapist.
He is also the Founder of Therapy and Coaching Success that specialises in helping Therapists, Coaches and other Wellness Practitioners, connect with those in need, build their diaries and earn the income they need.
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