As a therapist in private practice, have you ever found yourself saying,
“I don’t know what to focus on!”
“I feel scattered”
“I’m always jumping from one task to another”
“I don’t know what to do next”
“Am I doing enough!?”
If yes, you could benefit from setting goals. But not the way that most therapists set goals.
Because Most Therapists Set Tactics Instead Of Goals (And That’s A Mistake)
- “Redesign my website” is a tactic, not a goal
- “Network with 5 new people” is a tactic, not a goal
- “Create a TikTok account and create content regularly” is a tactic, not a goal
- “Get my EMDR training completed” is a tactic, not a goal
And yet, these are the types of things that most therapists set as goals. Jumping from one to the other, spending loads of time efforting into them, or spreading themselves thin trying to do all the things.
The Difference Between Them. Tactics Vs. Strategies Vs. Goals
A tactic is a specific action or plan of action that is designed to achieve a specific objective. It is a short-term, specific plan of action that is meant to achieve a specific goal.
A strategy is a broader, long-term plan that outlines the overall approach to achieving a goal. It is a plan of action that is designed to achieve a specific objective or set of objectives over a longer period of time.
A goal is a desired result or outcome that an individual or organization aims to achieve. It is the end result that a person or organization is working towards.
In general, tactics are specific actions or plans of action that are used to implement and execute a larger strategy, which is the overall plan for achieving a goal. The goal is the desired result or outcome that is being worked towards.
For example, a goal might be to increase profit by 10% over the next year. The strategy might be to implement better marketing efforts, and a tactic might be to redesign the website so that both best fit clients and referral sources identify you as their best fit.
Tactic = the action
Strategy = the plan
Goal = the desired result
If You Start With Tactics And Strategies Rather Than Goals, The Result Is Misalignment
Which means you’ll be implementing things that don’t necessarily help you move in the direction you desire. It’s sorta like saying “I will start rowing tomorrow, every day!” but not really thinking of what destination you want to reach. Sure you could reach somewhere eventually, but wouldn’t it feel so much better, and be so much more effective, to be clear on where you’re going?
Instead Of Setting Tactics, Set Goals. Here Are The Three Goals You Want To Focus On
The good news is that when you break things down, there’s really only three goals in business.
- More Money
- More Efficiency
- More Impact
Keep it simple!
How To Know If Your Goal Should Be More Money, Efficiency, Or Impact?
Depending on what types of problems you face in your business, you can diagnose what goal you ought to have. Just look for the signs:
Example Signs You Should Focus On More Money
- You don’t have enough money to sustain your lifestyle (including day-to-day like being able to pick your kid up from school or lifelong like saving for retirement)
- You often feel stressed that a dip in inquires is looming and would wreck your business
- You aren’t confident your marketing is effectively attracting clients or have evidence that it’s ineffective
- You aren’t attracting the right type of client so they don’t do therapy for long or don’t even come in for a first session
- You still have business debt
- You don’t have an emergency fund to cover at least 3 months of business expenses
- You know you need to get off of insurance or raise your fees
Most of these problems have to do with sales, marketing, making or managing profits, or financial literacy.
Example Signs You Should Focus On More Efficiency
- You are wasting a ton of time playing phone tag and scheduling clients
- You’re doing a lot of your intake by hand – like emailing pdf forms back and forth
- You have a virtual assistant but you don’t know what work to hand them or how
- You hire new clinicians into your group practice and you don’t have a set process for onboarding them – it’s a stressful mess every time
- You have an old laptop that takes 5 minutes to load your EHR or the battery runs out in 20 minutes at the cafe if you’re not plugged in
- You hate your email marketing software because it seems overly complicated and takes forever everytime you want to send out emails
- You keep spending your time “DIYing” instead of outsourcing: like that Sunday afternoon you’ll never get back after trying to post a blog post to your blog for the first time
Once you have more money, you may find you need more efficiency. Most of these problems have to do with order, automation, systems, and effective delegation/hiring.
Example Signs You Should Focus On More Impact
- Your practice is stable now but you’re lacking fulfillment
- You feel like you’ve reached a plateau in your own healing work and often wish you could focus on your own healing journey more
- You’ve been reading about another therapy modality that you believe would be super helpful for your clients, but haven’t figured out how to get the training
- You feel you have something important to share with the world
- Your ideas would revolutionize humanity, if they just heard of them
- You miss working with those in need/volunteering
- You know that after you retire, your group practice will have to close with you – it’s not built to sell or have a sustaining legacy
Have money and time? Maybe it’s time to ask, “how can my practice support me in making a deeper impact in the world?”
Know Your Goal? Next Step: Gather Your Best Ideas For How To Achieve Your Goal
Once you know what your goal truly is, that’s when you can start to gather ideas that will directly achieve your goal.
More Money: Ideas For Increasing Revenue
- Increase your client base: You can make more money by increasing the number of clients you see. This can be done through marketing and networking efforts, such as attending local events, joining professional organizations, and building relationships with other professionals in the community who may refer clients to you.
- Raise your rates/ditch insurance: You can also make more money by raising your rates for your services or no longer accepting insurance. Most therapists feel more confident raising rates if they have a lot of experience, specialized training, or if they have created high demand first.
- Offer additional services: Consider offering additional services that you can charge for, such as workshops or group therapy sessions.
- Create an additional income stream: Therapists aren’t limited to offering therapy services. Consider diversifying into another income stream.
- Collaborate with other professionals: You can also make more money by collaborating with other professionals, such as doctors or lawyers, who may refer clients to you.
More Efficiency: Ideas For Saving Time
(Here, you have a full or steady income and are profitable. Good work. Maybe now, you need to focus on saving time).
- Set up and streamline processes: Streamlining processes can help reduce the amount of time and resources needed to complete tasks. Ideally, you want to move through the same steps for common processes and continue to streamline those processes over time.
- Automate repetitive tasks: Automating repetitive tasks can free up time for more important work or simply for life. This can be done through the use of software and other tools like schedulers, EHRs.
- Invest in technology: Investing in technology, such as computers, software, and other tools, could help you and your team become more efficient. Are there any tech upgrades that would enable work to be completed more quickly and effectively. E.g., taking notes on tablet with a stylus vs. having to type them in on a keyboard.
- Delegate tasks (and effectively): Identifying tasks that can be delegated to a virtual assistant, outsourced to a third party, or given to someone on your existing team can help free up time for more important work and allow you to focus on your core competencies. If you’re scratching your head on what or how to delegate: that’s the first challenge to focus on.
More Impact: Ideas For Making A Difference
Once a therapist has stable income and has freed up time, they may find their business supports them in making a deeper or broader impact.
- Heal yourself: While most people might argue that “making an impact” means impact on others, I believe that “impact” can also be inward facing. What healing do you need? And how can your practice support that? Or what healing could you do that unlocks higher levels of business fulfillment for you. Maybe healing money wounds or codependency patterns? What do you need in order for your business + life to feel more awesome.
- Invest in training: To be honest, I feel a bit silly putting this one on the list as most therapists love furthering their therapeutic skills, but it should be included as a therapist will make a deeper impact with their clients the more training they get. If you’re noticing the IFS techniques you’re casually learning are really helping clients, maybe it’s time to invest in the full training. (Or any other therapy modalities or skills you’ve got your eye on).
- Become a thought leader: Thought leaders in the mental health space become critical sources of information and inspiration in the world. They can shape the way others think about life, stimulating new thinking and innovation. They can act as mentors or role models, providing guidance and support to others in their field.
- Offer pro bono services: In addition to one-on-one sessions, pro bono efforts could also include facilitating a group, giving free or discounted workshops at nonprofits, temporary support in times of crisis, or more.
- Write a book: While many therapists think of books as a way to increase income or authority, books are also a way that more impact can be made. For just $10, anyone can purchase and read your book – one that could impart vital information for their healing journey.
What’s Your Favorite Idea?
From here, I can highly recommend prioritizing the ideas based on impact. Or sometimes a gut-level-excitement or full-body-yes-this-is-it can show you the way.
Once you’ve selected your favorite idea, THEN it’s time to get into strategies and tactics. (And that’s actually the easier part).
It’s easier because there are known strategies and tactics to accomplish every. single. one. of the ideas above.
It’s like knowing you want to bake vegan chocolate chip cookies and simply having to browse and select a recipe that works for the ingredients you have on hand.
Or knowing you want to visit Santorini, and just needing to book the flight, hotel, and go!
Ready. Aim. Fire. You got this.
Need Help With Setting REAL Goals And Achieving Them? Get Coached In 2023
If you know where you’re going, then it’s just a matter of taking the steps to get there. But if you don’t know where you’re going or the steps to get there, coaching can help.I can help you make more money, more efficiently, or even make a bigger impact. My January 2023 schedule is filling fast but you can get started with your first session today. I would absolutely love to help you build the business and life of your dreams.