WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN STARTING A CANADIAN PRIVATE PRACTICE | EP 27
When last did you make time for your hobbies? Do you feel like you are on a constant hamster wheel within your job? What does success mean to you? At the beginning of my private practice journey, I thought that business success would help me feel happier and fulfilled. But over the last five years, I realized that I had to make a change.
In this podcast episode, I open up about my Canadian private practice journey and how my idea of what success means has changed. I hope that my experience will give you some food for thought about what success means to you, and how to find that invaluable fulfillment while starting and growing your own private practice.
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In This Episode
- What I thought private practice success would feel like
- What I realized about private practice success
- Achieving work-life balance
- What I wish I knew when I was starting my practice
What I thought private practice success would feel like
First when I started my Canadian private practice around five years ago, I started it because I wanted to:
- Be in control of my own work-life balance
- Be my own boss
- Counsel clients with therapy approaches I was passionate about
- Begin the journey of being an entrepreneur
‘I really bought into that and held onto that, that life’s going to be better once I reach this point in my career. Saying it out aloud now feels so embarrassing, especially being a therapist and knowing that just because you have money or a great career doesn’t mean that going to be happy all the time’. – Julia Smith
I thought that if I worked really hard, I would have a happy life. This idea is normalized in university with the cycle of working hard, becoming burnt out, recuperating over a couple of weeks, and then starting the whole process over again in order to get a degree.
‘I feel [that] it’s kind of been ingrained in me of delaying gratification [and to] hustle, hustle, hustle! And once you’ve reached a certain point, once you’ve gotten that degree, or once you have the private practice life’s going to be better! But now, it’s time to hustle.’ – Julia Smith
I kept waiting for the light switch to go on, hoping that I would suddenly be happy. But private practice success was not taking me to a level of constant happiness that I thought business success would.
What I realized about private practice success
Over the past five years, I have learned that this capitalist notion of success and the constant hustle did not make my life a perfect dream and was not sustainable.
‘Having a private practice isn’t going to fix your life, [and] isn’t going to make you happy all of the time. We’re still all humans and have human emotions and human issues that we all have to work through in life, and it’s a process.’ – Julia Smith
I now practice being aware of hustle culture and reminding myself that it will not fulfill me. This helps to stop myself from going back to the old ways of burning myself out to get things done.
‘It was a big wake-up call to me of how much we can get sucked into that mentality of hustle culture, and thinking, ‘Well, if I just hustle now, I’ll be happy then and I’ll be happy in the future’ … what I am realizing now is that the real work is just beginning for me.’ – Julia Smith
Achieving work-life balance
Having a clearer grasp on what makes you happy and pursuing that may help to achieve a sustainable middle ground between working and living. Don’t get caught up in work that you don’t enjoy in the present because you think a certain level of success will make you happy in the future.
‘Why am I doing what I’m doing? Why are you doing what you are doing? What is worth the hustle, and what isn’t worth the hustle?’ – Julia Smith
What are your expectations and what does your current mindset around having a Canadian private practice look like? Will your work help you in your life to achieve a more genuine sense of well-being and fulfilment?
If you are getting stuck in the mind loop of thinking that you will only be happy in the future once you have achieved a certain level of success, I challenge you to reframe that mindset!
Can you spend time and energy in the present moment to address issues that may be bothering you, instead of working straight through them?
‘I’m trying to be aware of what brings me enjoyment and moving towards that, as well as … daily reminding myself that when I get into that mindset of, ‘Oh, I’ll be happy when this happens’, to remind myself that, ‘No, that’s not going to be the case’. Yeah, [that success] might give you some good feelings for a while, but it’s not going to instantly make you feel better.’ – Julia Smith
Remember that happiness is not something you reach. It is something that you gain by doing the work, the work of prioritizing well-being every day!
What I wish I knew when I was starting my practice
I wish that I knew at the beginning of starting my Canadian private practice that success would not make all my problems go away. Those feelings and stressors are a part of being human, and they require intentional work to resolve.
What I wish that I did when I started my practice was to invest more time into my hobbies, be social outside of work, and focus on things in my work that I actually enjoyed doing rather than the things that I felt I needed to do in order to reach a certain level of success/happiness.
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Resources Mentioned and Useful Links:
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Julia Smith, MEd, RCT, CCC, is the owner of Fearless Practice. She specializes in consulting with Canadian counsellors and therapists who want to start a private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps teenagers and adults who want to be confident and happy but are feeling weighed down by anxiety, stress, and depression. She also blogs for the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. You can read more articles about Canadian counselling and psychotherapy at www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/.