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Seven Habits of Highly Successful TherapistsIn the last issue of Therapy Marketing Monthly, I covered “15 Rules of Business Success” that I’ve garnered over the course of the past decade.

As you might imagine, studying with some of the most successful marketers and business owners alive today and working first hand with hundreds of counselors and therapists across the country, I’ve seen a lot and learned a lot about what it takes to create and nurture private practice success.

In fact, it was pretty difficult confining myself to just 15 “rules” in the last article (I even went one over and provided 16). And that list was by no means all-inclusive.

For example, another thing I’ve learned is that imitation is not only the sincerest form of flattery, it can also be one of the surest paths to success… If you imitate the right people, that is.

If you want to be a great pianist, it would behoove you to study what Count Basie or Glenn Gould did every day to master their instrument. You’d want to discover and imitate their professional success habits.

If you wanted to be a great swimmer, it’d be wise to follow Michael Phelps’ life and delve into what he did … every day … to become number one in his sport. You would want to imitate his professional success habits.

Since it’s your goal to attain that same high pinnacle of success and respect as a mental health professional and the owner of your own practice, it makes sense to imitate the success habits of the very best in your field.

So, the first of my “Seven Habits of Highly Successful Therapists” is…

Habit #1: Emulate the Best Practices of the Most Successful Therapists

It isn’t enough to simply know the success habits of the most successful therapists. To attain their level of success, you must make the effort to practice those habits consistently… just as you practice your psychotherapy skills.

And, while emulating the best practices of the most successful therapists is vitally important, I don’t want you to stop there. You also need to study and emulate the professional habits of the most successful business owners in OTHER fields.

But, creating and nurturing the habits you need to succeed doesn’t start with simply imitating others who’ve already been successful. You need to…

Habit #2: Know What You Want to Create and Write Down Your Goals for Everyone to See

Knowing what you want to create is critical to your success. In fact, it’s the first step in creating it.

You ask your clients what they want to create in their lives… Now it’s your turn.

What do YOU want to create?!? Do you want a full practice? If so, what does “full” mean?

How much do you want to make per year? Per month? How much do you want to work? How many clients per week at how many dollars per client hour does this mean you’ll need?

Do you want to put in the extra effort to create passive streams of income? If so, how much additional income do you want to create for what purpose? How much time are you willing to devote to these endeavors?

You don’t need to know the answers to all of these questions right now. But, you do need to know them.

Setting goals is a vital part of your success, and the goals you create should be “S-M-A-R-T goals.” What do I mean by SMART goals? Simply that your goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time Bound

For more information on creating SMART goals, read “Are You Making Resolutions or Achieving SMART Goals?”

Once you have your SMART goals you need to write them down and put them in a place for everyone to see.

It’s important to point out that just writing them down seldom leads to getting them accomplished. Accountability is what gets them accomplished. That’s why you need others to see your goals.

Now, I’m not saying you need to take out an ad in your local paper saying, “Official Notice: These Are My SMART Goals.” However, you should put them in a place where you, your family members, your partners or employees, and others whom you respect can see them.

I’m not suggesting you do this for their benefit, rather for your own. Why? Because when others see your goals, you feel more responsible and accountable for making sure you achieve them.

There is no question that by creating SMART goals, writing them down, and putting them where others can see them, you have a much better chance of achieving them. Yet, I’m always amazed at how few people actually do this every year, track their results, and update their goals as they go. On the other hand, successful therapists, entrepreneurs, and business owners almost always do this.

Habit #3: Allow Abundance

The universe is limitless in what it offers us. Or it isn’t. The choice to believe in abundance is one we all make every day. Or we don’t.

What we choose to believe we then create. So, if you’ve created scarcity in some area of your life, be it financial, happiness, time, or love, you can be sure that this result is the consequence of a belief you have about the lack of abundance.

The good news is that you can change your beliefs. You know this from your work with clients. This is abundantly true for abundance as well. And this subject is so critical to creating success that we’ve devoted an entire video to Allowing Abundance.

Habit #4: Develop an Opportunity-Based Mind-Set

You are surrounded by simple, obvious solutions that can dramatically increase your income, power, influence, and success. The problem is, you just don’t see them.

Most people operate with a mind-set that assumes success comes one small step at a time. This is an unfortunate misconception, and it’s clearly reflected in the way most people function and go about getting clients, growing sales, and building their businesses and careers… and living their lives. They strive day to day to make incremental gains. Or worse, to merely hold their own against the rest of the world. This is the path of conventional, limited growth, at best. It’s often the road to gradually eroding whatever successes you’ve managed to create.

This approach keeps you working harder and harder for your business, instead of getting your business to work harder and harder for you.

I don’t want to see you operate that way. And you don’t have to.

Advancing at a measured pace – step by step, from where you are to a little bit better – may seem the logical and safe way to proceed. But you can and should think in terms of skipping levels and making quantum leaps. You can move rapidly, easily, and surprisingly safely from your present level of accomplishment to a place that is several stages higher. You can do it instantly – and directly. You can do it by not limiting yourself to following only those practices that others in your field follow.

I want you to stop accepting your present-day circumstances as the way it has to be by actively looking for opportunities and breakthroughs.

Think about this for a minute… While you should emulate other successful professionals, this doesn’t mean you can be a follower – by this I mean following everyone else’s lead in your industry – and expect to ever really become a leader in your field. Instead, you need to see the overlooked opportunities that are all around you and act on the vast sums of untapped income and unclaimed success just waiting to be harnessed.

As I touched on in “Habit 1” above, almost all of us spend too little time studying the most successful, innovative, and profitable ideas people in OTHER industries use to grow and prosper.

But, if you start focusing on other industries’ success practices, you’ll be amazed at how easily you can adapt these ideas to your own business. Suddenly, you’ll see significantly better ways to produce significantly better results from the same time, money, and effort.

For example, instead of running a weekend workshop and advertising it only to your current clients and peers, why not spend the same time and money looking for someone to partner with who can instantly double or triple your reach by inviting their clients and peers? Perhaps even better, offer the same workshop online, cut your costs, and offer it to a national audience instead of just a local one.

Breakthroughs like these are the dramatic improvements that make you more powerful, efficient, effective, and productive, and more valuable and/or inspiring to your clients. And developing an opportunity-focused mind-set is critical to creating breakthroughs for your business success.

When you’re always on the lookout for opportunities, and when you practice a continual breakthrough performance-maximizing philosophy, many of your previous business and money problems will dissolve.

So, you need to adopt a possibility-based mind-set that looks for new, different, and better ways to attain goals or address situations and make this way of thinking a continual, everyday habit in your professional and personal life.

People who make breakthroughs and dramatically improve their income, power, influence, and success are always opportunity-focused. People who don’t, aren’t. It’s that simple.

Habit #5: Learn to Use Leverage

Part of developing an opportunity-based mind-set is learning to look for and use the power of leverage in all aspects of your life.

Simply defined, leverage can be said to be positional advantage or the power to act effectively.

The root of the word is “lever,” as in a mechanical lever. Just as a mechanical lever can allow someone to lift and move an object they otherwise would be unable to carry alone, successful people are always looking for ways to leverage, or maximize, their time, money, and ideas so they can do more with less.

One of the biggest mistakes I see therapists make is trying to do everything themselves.

I strongly doubt Microsoft would have grown as big as it has if Bill Gates still worked out of his garage by himself. Unfortunately, many business owners try to do just this, and everything else, all by themselves.

If you’re doing everything yourself, you most likely have multiple projects that never get completed and feel constantly frustrated or overwhelmed.

At some point, your business will grow to a point where you can’t handle all the marketing, product development, copywriting, graphic design, and so on, while at the same time taking care of your existing clients, spending time with your significant other, and playing with your kids.

When this happens, things can very easily slip through the cracks. E-mails and phone calls may not get returned in a timely manner. When your customers get frustrated, they’ll go to your competitors. When you feel constantly overwhelmed, you’ll likely become frustrated and throw in the proverbial towel.

So the best thing you can do is to learn to leverage your:

  1. Time – Have others do things for you whenever and wherever it makes sense. For example, if you’re charging $150.00 per hour and would like more time to travel, write, or spend time with your family, then anything that doesn’t result in bringing in at least $150.00 per hour or isn’t something you passionately enjoy doing should be delegated to someone else. This includes professional tasks such as office administration, accounting, taxes, mundane marketing and business processes and procedures (as opposed to planning your marketing strategies), as well as personal chores such as washing your car, cleaning your house, landscaping, and even grocery shopping.
  1. Money – There are countless ways to leverage your money. You’re likely already doing so simply by re-investing your investment returns and enjoying the wonders of compound interest. But leveraging your capital shouldn’t involve just your retirement funds. You can leverage capital by advertising efficiently and maximizing your returns. By putting on joint marketing events and workshops with other professionals in which you split the costs associated with putting on the event and split the profits accordingly. And you can leverage money by outsourcing many of the routine tasks that don’t directly affect your business’ bottom line. In fact, by delegating and outsourcing tasks to others (whether the others are a student or two who live in your neighborhood, an office assistant, employees, contractors working halfway around the world, or computers), you leverage both your time and your money.

The best thing that you can do is to build a team around you.

Identify and delegate the business and personal tasks that you don’t get paid for – technology setup and troubleshooting … bookkeeping … cleaning the office … customer service … or just handling e-mails – these tasks can be easily outsourced to other individuals. The good news is you can do this relatively inexpensively.

By outsourcing large parts of your practice, you’ll be able to focus on the big picture of your business and start living the life you’ve previously worked so hard to obtain.

Even if you hire a virtual assistant to work with you just a few hours a week, you’ll be able to clear tasks off your plate and concentrate on more profitable areas of your business.

There is another and more costly version of the massive mistake of trying to do everything yourself…

“If I don’t do it myself, it will never get done right,” you say to yourself. If you feel that way, you simply have control and ego issues.

I understand that as the visionary for your business no one can do what you do, as well as you do it. Again, I strongly doubt that Bill Gates personally approved of every modification of every aspect of Microsoft’s Windows. It would be physically impossible to do so.

I hope you’re starting to see that by doing everything yourself, you are doing a disservice to your clients and you.

You no longer have a valid reason why you should do everything yourself.

  1. Ideas – Finally, you need to learn to leverage ideas. This goes hand-in-hand with developing an opportunity-based mind-set. You need to always be on the lookout for how you can use ideas from other businesses and industries to improve your efficiency, influence, effectiveness, and income.

Habit #6: Always Be Learning

It’s always amazing to me how many people stop working on their education after they get out of school.

It should come as little surprise that those therapists who are avid readers, attend workshops, actively participate in coaching and other educational programs, and practice vital skills such as writing and public speaking are much more successful than those who do not.

This is because people who continue to learn – whether it’s at live events, via webinars or tele-seminars, or in mastermind meetings, coaching programs, or marketing consultation group settings – work on their continuing education.

Fortunately, as a therapist you’re required to accumulate a certain number of hours of continuing education each year in order to renew your license. Unfortunately, there is no requirement that these continuing education hours be spent on actually learning to build a successful practice. But little is more vital to your success than spending the time and money required to learn as much about building a successful practice from anyone and everyone who can help you do so, which is why we’re happy you’ve decided to take part in the Therapy Marketing Institute.

Now, while live webinars, workshops, mastermind groups, and other events are some of the best forms of continuing education – not only do you learn from the presenter or leader, but also from all of the other smart people in the proverbial room – they’re by no means the only ones…

Read Every Day

Part of continuously learning is reading regularly.

In fact, almost without exception, every successful therapist and business owner I’ve worked with is also a voracious reader.

Reading provides fuel for your brain. Reading is a constant source of new ideas and fresh insights into what others are doing inside and outside of your field.

And because business and marketing success requires effective communication, your ability to think and articulate your thoughts in written form is basic to your success.

The more you read the better a writer you’ll become and the more new insights and ideas you’ll have access to. But, it’s not just reading that you need to do every day… It’s reading and thinking!

Does what you’re reading apply to your business? Your marketing campaigns? Does it help you better understand your prospective clients?

Everything you read (and see) becomes part of your creative idea bank. So, what should you be reading? Everything. Including:

  • Good, mediocre, and bad examples of marketing and sales copy
    Pay attention to all of the sales material that shows up in your e-mail and postal boxes. How can you tell if it’s a good piece or a bad piece? If you receive the same type of advertisement, sales letter, or e-mail over and over again from the same or different companies, it’s probably doing pretty well (it’s unlikely anyone’s mailing the same thing over and over again because they like to throw money away).
  • Marketing-related and industry-specific e-zines and online newsletters (especially those related to direct-marketing, which is the only kind that really matters!)
  • Newspapers, magazines, and books
    I’m not just talking about The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. If your prospects are reading the National Enquirer, the Globe, and other supermarket tabloids, you should too. Similarly, if you work a lot with teen girls, you should be reading Seventeen and similar magazines on a regular basis.
    It’s also a good idea to read books and publications that offer different perspectives from yours. If you’re a liberal, read a conservative newspaper or blog every so often. If you’re an atheist, read a Christian magazine once in awhile. The idea here is not to change your thinking but broaden it to include new ideas and perspectives that you can incorporate into your business and marketing.
  • Product labels and websites
    If you buy a product or service and like it, review its associated website. Look at the site. Learn how they are marketing it. Study everything that can possibly help you better understand yourself, your prospects, and how to more effectively market your practice.
  • Fiction
    Do not give up a passion for romance or science fiction or historical novels just because your brain is filled with marketing and psychotherapy-related materials. You need to take a break from business so you can integrate information and enjoy entertainment that’s of interest to the rest of the world. After all, that’s most likely where your prospect lives – in the rest of the world, not in the world of business or direct marketing.

By reading a wide variety of materials on a regular basis and keeping an open and inquisitive mind as to how it all applies to you, your clients, and your business, you’ll never be at a loss for new ideas to try that will keep you at the top of your game and at least a year or two ahead of your competition.

Write Every Day

Unless you plan on outsourcing every written word you’ll ever need to produce for your business (highly unlikely), you need to practice your ability to communicate via the written word.

Writing is not just an art or special gift. Writing is a craft, a skill that that you learn… and then perfect with practice.

If you wanted to be a world-class copywriter, it would take about 5,000 hours of practice. Fortunately, you don’t need to be anywhere near this good in order to be a more effective marketer than 95% of your competitors. To be a good, competent marketing writer takes about 1,000 hours of practice (that’s about 20 hours per week for a year or five hours per week for four years).

One hour a day, five days a week, is all it takes…

The more you practice effective writing, and direct-marketing writing in particular, the more effective a communicator you’ll become, which will have a direct impact on your success in business and in your personal life.

Habit #7: Take Care of Yourself and Celebrate Your Successes

The last success habit – at least for this article – is to practice self-care and celebrate your achievements as you go.

Most therapists have learned that if you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s more than a little difficult to be there for your clients. Self-care is critical to the work you do.

But, it’s not just self-care I want you to practice… It’s celebrating your successes!

One of the reasons I recommend setting specific, measurable, relevant, attainable, and time-bound goals is so that you can celebrate each time you hit a success milestone along the way.

Just as self-care is critical to the work you do, celebrating your successes is critical to your motivation and continued success.

By joining TMI, you’ve made a commitment to exploring and understanding who you are, so that you can succeed and be the best you can be. Applaud yourself. Keep setting goals. And when you achieve one, take some time to revel in your success before moving on to the next one.

Never lose site of the fact that working on becoming the best, most successful therapist you can be and learning to create a life of joy and abundance is definitely something to celebrate!

Do you celebrate your successes? If so, how? Let us know! And don’t forget to ask any questions you have by posting a comment below.

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