Goal Setting: Measurable Motivation


As the year comes to a close, you may be looking to the new year to create resolution or revisit goals in the hope of change. It’s a time to explore goals that are measurable and attainable; it’s a time to create small steps to build self-confidence to remain motivated and hopeful. Perhaps you say “I want to join a gym to help my depression.” You want to work out every day to help your mood but aren’t currently working out on a consistent basis, and not at a gym. So, you find it important to explore your motivation as well as the perceived strengths and challenges of reaching your goal. You learn that smaller steps can support success and agree to working on short-term goals to build confidence and to move towards your long-term goal of working out daily.


Monitoring Motivation

Why is it important to explore motivation around a goal? Research tells us goals around fitness and gym attendance peak in January and dramatically decline by February and March every year. Additional research tells us that we must do something consistently for a minimum of 30 days for it to become a habit. What this conveys to us as human beings is that we need to see results or progress to continue to work hard at a goal. You may normalize this for yourself in understanding the pattern of motivation. You may also explore research on the Stages of Change from Motivational Interviewing as a visual to support yourself in identifying strengths and barriers to change. By being open and honest with yourself, you will be setting yourself up for success. Ask yourself the following questions to fully discover where your motivation lies (and note the Stages of Change in parentheses):

  • What do you want to change? (Precontemplation to Contemplation)

  • What makes that a problem for you? (Contemplation)

  • Is it a big enough problem to want something different? (Contemplation)

  • How would you achieve the desired change? (Preparation)

  • What do you need to support change? (Preparation)

  • What would help you to begin? (Action)

  • How will you know when you are ready for change? (Action)

  • What would help you keep going? (Maintenance)

  • Who/What would hold you accountable?

  • What would happen if you don’t succeed?

By exploring these questions, you can identify any current strengths or barriers to succeeding and further explore what is needed to progress through the Stages of Change.


Make it Measurable

It isn’t uncommon for someone to identify a goal but not know how to attain it, thus remaining in the stage of contemplation. It becomes our responsibility to break down a long-term or larger goal into measurable, smaller pieces for it to feel worthwhile. Here are some examples of how to make it measurable when identifying a larger, more abstract goal:


Smaller, more measurable efforts can support short-term goals blending into long-term goals over time. By identifying and writing down goals that are measurable, can be reviewed regularly, and can be celebrated when attained, the effort it takes to achieve these goals can feel validated and encourage motivation for the long-term work as well.


Accountability Buddy 

Motivation can be internal such as, “I can do this” or external, “she said I can do this.” Identifying a trusted support as an Accountability Buddy can help you achieve your goals. Accountability Buddies are selected as a support person who is aware of your goals and holds you accountable by remaining in regular contact with you on your progress. They may meet with you weekly, monthly or on whatever schedule can help you remain focused and present on the goals you are working towards. Sometimes Accountability Buddies have a similar goal and may participate alongside you, such as going to the gym with you three times per week. Not having to work towards a goal alone can serve as an incentive in absorbing someone else’s positivity when you begin to question your own motivation. You may struggle to recognize the small but important shifts in progress and begin to question why you are working so hard for minimal results. Perhaps they help you recognize the smaller changes that have taken place when you feel the seeds of doubt are planted, thus preventing you from giving up on a goal that is supporting healthy change. By identifying an Accountability Buddy that is supportive throughout the process, you can experience motivation and recognize goal progression, allowing the ongoing growth and change you desire.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama.

Streamlining Your Business Process: 7 Tips for Private Practice


A new year has begun! For many mental health professionals, we are resuming our schedules after holiday travel and hoping to start the year off right! What are your goals for the year? Perhaps you want to streamline your paperwork process to maximize time with clients? Or maybe you want to explore a billing support business to stay on top of your insurance claims and expenses? Perhaps you want to transition to only taking private-pay clients so you aren’t required to identify a diagnosis and can work with clients from a different lens? So how do we stay on top of our thriving practice addressing client needs and interventions while still remaining compliant with the more mundane and time-consuming processes of paperwork and billing?  Below are some tips and tricks to consider in maintaining a balance of both organization and time management!


Tip #1: Go Paperless

In today’s day and age, technology continues to enhance our processes of organization and time management. Consider going paperless with your client note system to complete paperwork in less time. Companies like SimplePractice, TherapyPartner, and TherapyNotes offer encrypted, protected and thus confidential note systems that can support your client files electronically as well as connect clients to appointment reminder texts and emails and offer billing services to streamline claims submissions and payment.


Tip #2: Set a Schedule

When trying to balance your time with clients and stay on top of paperwork demands, it can help to set a schedule.  Setting aside some time daily or weekly to submit your billing not only helps you complete it when the content is fresh in your mind and getting paid in a timely manner, but can assist you with leaving work truly at work, representing a transition ritual from work to home.


Tip #3: Use a List

This may seem strange when we’ve just discussed the benefit of going paperless bur having a to-do list where items can be crossed off when completed can be very satisfying. Consider using a planner or notebook that’s with you at all times. For others, consider using your to-do list in your phone where you can set reminders and due dates for completion. In our busy world, it can be hard to keep track of everything so a list that’s accessible from anywhere at any time can help record thoughts and ideas that come up in our daily living.


Tip #4: Creating Connections

Staying on top of trainings, webinars, books and other materials can help you streamline your niche and business practices. There any many great materials out there but we especially love Simon Sinek’s Start with Why in discovering what drives us as helping professionals and business owners. Joining an online community for mental health professionals can also be helpful in asking in-the-moment questions about business practices.  We suggest checking out The Private Practice Startup and Building Brilliance as two online communities that offer tips, tricks, and offer access to a community of like-minded individuals.


Tip #5: Have a Business Plan

Working as hard as you do, it helps to have a business plan to create a sense of direction. Is your goal to have 20 clients per week consistently? Do you want to expand to include other insurance panels to serve more clients? Perhaps you want to identify a stream of secondary income? By creating and reviewing your business plan on a regular basis, you can check in on both short and long-term goals of being your own business. Templates for creating a business plan can be found online.


Tip #6: Have an Accountability Buddy

Even with a business plan, life can sometimes get in the way of tracking where we are headed. Combine that with how private practice can feel isolating at times and we can find ourselves procrastinating or drowning in the details. Connecting with a colleague and identifying one another as our accountability buddy can help hold us to our goals as well as remain connected within our community. Engaging your accountability buddy can help inspire your process, define your goals, brainstorm strategies to achieve those goals, and celebrate your successes along the way.


Tip #7: Take Time Off

Being a business owner can take a lot of our time and energy. Don’t forget to take time off to prevent burnout and allow creativity to flow from s different headspace in another environment. We know that being our own business means we can potentially work 24/7 not only in serving clients but the behind-the-scenes responsibilities. Time off can support us in being grounded, compassionate clinicians as well as focused, driven business owners who can enjoy the results of our hard work and remain inspired to continue to serve the populations we value most.