Things I wish someone had told me when I was just starting out as an entrepreneur in the healing arts

I spent yesterday at holistic fairs talking with practitioners of different kinds, handing out my brochures and hearing about their businesses. My overwhelming take-home from the day was how weird and lonely and scary it can be at the beginning of a new venture, when you really don’t have much to go on to know whether the decisions you’re making and the things you’re investing your energy in are the right things.

When I asked about long term goals and big vision, those just starting out looked sheepish. How about just seeing clients and getting some cash coming in? Fair enough. And quite valid. You have to start somewhere, and everyone has been there. The beginning.

The beginning is one of those times that you can’t appreciate for what it is while it’s happening, because the only thing you’re able to experience is the uncertainty and the terror of just trying things until something works. And even then, you’re not sure for a little while whether you even like what’s happening. “So this is what I worked so hard to achieve?” is one thought.

And some get right into a groove, knowing that this is a stepping stone to something else. Some have a bigger picture from the start. Love those folks. Those are the ones I like to confer with, because it reminds me that someone’s nailing down the four corners of the universe while I’m running around the periphery looking for my entry, and when I get where they are, they’ll be there with lots of advice and help. (Because they’re also generous, grounded and wonderful people.)

And then there are the hummingbirds, the flitters, and I’m sure some of the folks I talked with yesterday fall into this group. But flitter or fitter, everyone’s way of figuring this stuff out is unique. However, there are some things I wish someone had told me when I was just starting out as an entrepreneur in the healing arts.

And here they are.

Things I wish someone had told me when I was just starting out as an entrepreneur in the healing arts
  1. Make goals. It’s okay if they change. Do it now: What do you want from your healing practice? How much money do you want to make? How many hours do you want to work? In what setting? What’s your pie in the sky vision, dream or goal? If you suspect this isn’t your end-all in life, what purpose do you want it to serve in the grand scheme? It’s okay to plan for temporary. And it’s okay to move on when the time is right. It’s not a lifelong commitment. But in order to get where you want to go with what you’re developing, it really helps to know where that is. Make 6 month goals, 1 year, 3 year and 5 year goals. Write them down. Then every so often, check in and tweak. Don’t be a slave to them, and don’t let them scare you, but do write them down. It’s another piece of the roadmap.

2. Don’t do anything that feels icky, even if it’s the way it’s supposed to be done. I used to think I had to talk to everyone about my business, because they might be a potential client or know of one. But sometimes it felt icky to do it. Then a coach told me to stop doing things that felt icky, that I wasn’t trying to get everybody to be my client, just the right clients. From an energetic perspective this meant I could let go of trying to do everything myself and allow the Universe to help me. If there are things you’re making yourself do, ask someone you trust in your field if you really have to do them.

3. Learn how to become a validation machine for yourself. Make it become a habit, as hardwired as hunger, as automatic as breathing. We are already naturals at finding fault and seeing what’s wrong, cataloguing our failings, and focusing on disappointments. Don’t even try to stop doing this. Instead, start a habit of looking for things to validate, affirm, and celebrate. In your journal every morning or evening write about successes from the previous day. During the day when someone near you does something helpful, acknowledge it. When something goes well, say so. Look for ways to honestly and out loud appreciate and compliment people around you. Pretty soon it will feel icky to complain, and then you can avoid it like all the other icky things you’re letting yourself off the hook for.

4. From the beginning, try to bring as much of yourself into your work as you want to. Don’t cut off parts of yourself that don’t fit into what you think you’re doing. These are the very things that make you unique and wonderful and, from a business perspective, help you to stand out in the marketplace. If you’re a musician, let your imagination go wild about how you can bring that into your healing work. Likewise with the visual arts, with writing, with movement. This is the start of creating a comprehensive, unique and wonderful service for your clients that goes beyond your title and credentials.

5. Just because you’re obsessed with your business and love to work from home on your computer, don’t skimp on fun and friendships. Don’t forget how to have fun, and don’t succumb to over-cocooning. These go hand in hand. Keep your friendships alive, and make new ones. Get out of the house and keep involved with what’s going on in your community. If you have to schedule time off, then do it. This will help everything in business and in your life.

On the other hand, there are some things I did do that I’m glad I did, and I hope you’ll consider adopting them for yourself.

Things I’m glad I did and encourage you to adopt
  1. Never stop believing in yourself. Whenever I hear somebody express a belief about what’s possible or impossible in this world, I mentally amend it to, “…for you.” In other words, that’s what’s true for them, great. I’m almost 60, and am just blossoming. I believe I’ll keep blossoming, and I believe I’m on the path I was meant to travel in this life. It’s a choice, and I choose not to second guess my dream and not to diss myself for the timing. I see all around me that people have what they believe is possible. Don’t ever give up your dream because of someone else’s reality.

2. Realize that your intuition trumps all. Get lots of opinions and learn from everyone, including people who are doing it way different from the way you would do it, but keep your truth and stay grounded in your wisdom. Don’t abandon that, because everyone has to find their own way, and what’s more, they’re just making it up!!

3. Keep learning. Keep your memory sharp by using it. You can learn about anything you’re interested in. This will set you apart from others who mostly repeat gossip and never bother to learn anything. Be curious about this vast world, and learn about what interests you.

4. When you get pulled, called, intrigued, curious, etc., follow it. Action matters more than feelings and way more than being right. Take action on your curiosities. Taking action gets you out of your head and face to face with creating your life.

6. Dream huge and don’t worry about how you’re gonna get there. Name your dream. Put it into words, and keep working at articulating it, if only in your journal. Study people whom you admire, and adopt elements of what they’re doing that match your dream. True originality is rare, and on the way there is lots of emulating, imitating, acting as if, trying things on, and creating anew. Welcome to the spiral dance. Your voice is needed.

7. Grab as much free stuff as you can, and when it’s time to invest you’ll know it, and invest. DIY will only get you so far, and eventually you’ll need more support and know-how than you can give yourself.

8. Collaborate with others. It’s enriching. But if someone gives you the creeps, move on.

9. If while working towards your dream you need to live on less money, learn to live on less money. Cut out frills, inessentials and luxuries as much as possible, and learn how to have fun without spending money. Prioritize your dream in as many ways as you possibly can.

10. Self-care before other-care.

11. If you work from home, carve out a place and a time that’s only for work. If you have to share space with the washing machine, do it (as long as there’s a door you can close.)

12. Write every day, come heat or flood, because those pages and ideas and that channel of communication between you and your intuition are GOLD. If you hate writing, talk into a voice recorder or make videos.

13. And I have to include this, because it was never included in any self-help book I ever read before I got into recovery: If you are dependent on a substance to get your through the day, seek help. It’s not normal, and you don’t have to be a slave to anything. You can have freedom and a beautiful life without any enhancing substances. If you suffer from chronic pain, there are alternatives. If you suffer from depression, there is help. Find someone to confide in, and get help. Many have succeeded at this. You can, too.

Let me repeat that last line, because if nothing else, beginning practitioner, I want you to remember this:

Many have succeeded at this. You can, too.

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