Handling Uncertainty

by Lynn Grodzki,LCSW, MCC 
Private Practice Success Newsletter  10/01/13
This week the US government shut down for the first time in 17 years, causing political instability that is added to an already uncertain economy. How do these uncertain times affect your private practice?

This morning the news is full of the government shut down. Events like these that play out on a national level affect all of us. We are overwhelmed with difficult news every week, from the macro, global issues affecting our planet to those more personal issues affecting the quality of our daily lives. It is no surprise that researchers report that general uncertainty is on the rise.

According to an article from the International Monetary Fund, general uncertainty, or feelings of instability and insecurity about the future are being felt around the country, especially when it comes to economics. The IMF explains that the old patterns of financial ups and downs, like recession and recovery, are no longer following the usual script. We find ourselves in uncharted waters — hence a lot of us are worried. And in a circular way, the more we individually worry, the article explains, the more economic uncertainty persists.

How does uncertainty affect you in your private practice? What can you do to feel more stable and confident as a small business owner? Let’s look at some micro-solutions that fall within your control.

In my last book that was written to address the recession, Crisis-Proof Your Practice: How to Survive and Thrive in an Uncertain Economy, I recommended a comprehensive 4-step plan to help those in private practice feel calm during times of crisis. I showed readers how to think strategically, set goals and take advantage of the options inherent within an economic slowdown.

Here is a brief look at my 4-step plan with a few ideas from my book to improve your practice stability and your personal confidence:

1. Review: To feel in control, it helps to know the very ground upon which you (and your practice) stand.

Conduct an honest inventory of your practice, as it is today. How do you judge the health of your practice? What markers do you use? It helps to have a way to summarize your current practice including your specific strengths, challenges, assets and liabilities. What are your short term goals? Want to get them on paper? See this link to my Strong Start Survey, ten questions to answer to assess your practice and its needs.

2. Recommit: When you are the boss, you need to take responsibility to insure the protection and well-being of your practice. Can you commit to your practice’s future as though it were a beloved child that you were guiding and caring for over time?

Here are a few ideas for maintaining and protecting your practice:
•    Have sufficient insurance coverage
•    Break away from unhealthy dependencies that obstruct profitability
•    Retool or upgrade your systems and operations so that your practice management is streamlined
•    Decide to operate a more efficient business — one that reflects the best of who you are today

3. Rebrand: Can potential clients find you easily? Can you highlight your value in a simple sentence? This is the time to assess and shape your reputation, to define how you are recognized in your professional community and the community at large.

Clarify and then articulate your brand — the essence of the best of yourself and your services. Be consistent so that all your marketing materials (brochures, website, advertising, internet listings, online visibility, etc.) support and align with your brand.

4. Reinvest: You (the owner) are the most valuable asset of your private practice. Your well-being, including your entrepreneurial mindset, can be the difference between going the distance or giving up. For the success of your practice, don’t skimp on your self-care.

Consider how you can be healthier and stronger. Below, see a Checklist I prepared of steps that greatly improve self care. Use your checklist to determine your next actions to invest in yourself.Check those items that are true for you.

Extreme Self-Care Checklist

A majority of these items checked indicates that you have ample care of self; checking less than half means that you may need to improve your self-care to have the energy with which to stabilize yourself and your business.

•  I get a good night’s sleep each evening.
•  I eat foods that promote my physical well-being.
•  I exercise several times each week to stay flexible and resilient.
•  I have quiet time each week for myself, doing things I love, so that I feel refreshed.
•  I have friends and family that I can talk to whenever I need a sense of connection.
•  I make time each week to engage in activities that give me pleasure.
•  I live in a home that feels nurturing, safe, and pleasing.
•  I get all my personal needs met outside of my practice.
•  I am on a strong financial track.
•  I get clinical supervision, peer support and business consulting/coaching as needed.
•  I actively seek solutions for the complaints I have regarding my life and my work.
•  I maintain a high level of personal and professional integrity.
•  I know how to forgive and/or feel compassion for myself and others who have hurt me in the past.
•  I let go of my guilt over my past mistakes.
•  I keep clear, consistent boundaries regarding my personal and professional life.
•  I rarely rush; I go through my day being on time.
•  I carry the insurance and protection systems I need to feel and stay safe and protected.
•  I take action based on feelings of love instead of feelings of fear.
•  I am part of a community that gives me a sense of purpose.
•  I live a life based on choice and meaning.

(Checklist is from Crisis-Proof Your Practice: How to Survive and Thrive in an Uncertain Economy by Lynn Grodzki, WW Norton, 2009)


Copyright 2013 by Lynn Grodzki, all rights reserved. Reprint with permission of author.