February can be hard.

I've noticed this in my mentoring work these past few years.

It's cold. It's dark. Things are often slow.

Now we're adding a 3rd pandemic year on top of February's usual challenges.

In today's episode, I'm sharing a few observations about the early phases of starting a practice that might help explain why you're feeling discouraged.

If you've been doubting yourself and your work lately, please have a listen.

I hope this helps.

Transcript of A February Pep Talk episode

Episode 37 | A February Pep Talk - powered by Happy Scribe

Well, Hi there. Welcome to In the clinic with Camille. My name is Camille Freeman. I'm a licensed nutritionist and registered herbalist. And in this podcast, I share little tips and tidbits that might be interesting or helpful for other practitioners.

I wanted to give you a little Pep talk today because February can be a really hard month for people, especially if you're living somewhere where it's cold and dark and gloomy. This time of year can really bring on the self-doubt, the second-guessing, and starting to wonder if you are in the right place, if you're doing the right thing, if you are cut out for being a practitioner, for having a practice, all these types of things come up. And in my one on one work with people, I consistently see that January and February are really, really hard months for people to keep the faith in what they're doing in themselves and to feel like they're doing the right thing. So with that in mind, I just wanted to share a few things that maybe will be helpful, especially if you're in the early stages of starting your practice. Some of what I'm talking about applies to everybody, but especially if you're just getting started or in the first couple of years of your practice, this is for you.

Okay. So here's a couple of things that I want to tell you. Number one is that when you are getting started and you don't yet have the benefit of being really well known in your community, you don't yet have lots of clients that you've worked with in the past who can then tell their friends about you and send other people to you. And you're really just working on getting up momentum. It's very easy to feel like nothing you're doing is working and to change a lot of things, to try something once or twice and then say, oh, well, that's not working.

Why don't I try something different? Why don't I change my package? Why don't I change my price? Why don't I try a class or this or that? That's a really common response.

And instead, what I want you to know is that it takes time. It takes time to build up momentum and start a practice. And if you keep starting over, if you keep saying like, oh, well, now my focus is going to be this instead of that, or now I'm going to do workshops instead of one on one sessions or whatever. If you keep changing things all the time without waiting for something to get traction and momentum, then you're starting over. Every single time you're starting over and you're having to come from a complete stop and get up to speed.

One of the things that I found is that for most people, coming from having no clients to a reasonably full practice is going to take you probably a couple of years for most people. Are there people who do it more quickly of course, yes, that is possible. But for most people, it is a multi year process. And the people who are doing this successfully are not people who have magical skills and properties that you don't have. These are not people who necessarily went to get their MBAs or have a bunch of business training or extremely vibrant personalities or anything like that.

The people who are doing this and making it work are the people who just keep going when something doesn't work. And they say, okay, what can I learn from this? What am I going to do a little bit differently next time? How am I going to keep moving forward in the direction that I want to move? That's it.

That's the only magical special thing is that they just kept going, okay? It's hard to do that, especially in February when you've got all of this self talk and things just seem really heavy and gloomy, and it's hard to gather up enough resources of various kinds to say, all right, I'm going to just trust, I'm going to persevere. I'm going to keep at it. And of course, there's a certain amount of privilege involved with that, that most people cannot support themselves from this work right out of the gate. And so having some kind of other source of income, whether it's a different second part time job or spouse, partner, family member, etc.

And who can contribute all of those things are helpful and certainly assist people. But I just want you to know that it does take this amount of time for most people so that you don't feel behind and like everyone else can do this and you can't and so that you have reasonable expectations for yourself and your practice. These things take time. Someone once said to me that a lot of the work that we do in the early stages is under the surface. We cannot see it.

And it's so hard to keep going when you don't have the manifestations of it for a long time. Another analogy that I've heard that's really helpful is that getting your practice going is kind of in some ways, like melting an ice cube, where if you're starting from an extremely cold temperature, let's say negative 40 or something, and you're moving the temperature up from negative 40 to negative 20, that's a massive change. But it's still too cold to melt the ice cube. Every time you get a temperature a little bit warmer, a little bit warmer, a little bit warmer all the way from negative 40 right up until you get to the freezing point, nothing's going to happen. But you've made massive progress.

And then all of a sudden you reach that threshold, you find what's working, you get a little bit of a foothold, you meet the right connection. You have a client who is a super spreader, in terms of the not Covid, in terms of telling other people about you, whatever it is, something shifts a little bit, you reach that melting point, the ice cube starts to melt and it happens pretty quickly, often from there. So think about that. Think about all of that effort that's needed to get warmer and warmer and warmer until the ice cube finally starts melting. That's kind of like what is happening here.

All right, so I'm not sure exactly how peppy this Pep talk was but maybe it gives you a little bit of context for how you're feeling if you're telling yourself, oh, this isn't working, I'm not good enough, I'm not sure I can do this all of that. I encourage you to just have realistic expectations for yourself, to acknowledge the work that you have been doing and also to reach out and get some help. If you're worried about maybe not doing the right thing or are you moving in the right direction? Get together with some colleagues and share thoughts together. That's one of the most powerful things you can do and it's also free. I have a previous episode of this podcast about creating a mastermind group or an accountability group for yourself and that's a very, very powerful step that you can take or work with a mentor.

Check the American herbalist Guild list of mentors or other check in with people that you admire and respect and see if they do any mentoring work. Get some outside perspective if you're feeling stuck, alright? So the takeaway point here is just trust yourself know that this is a hard time for many people. One of the key things is just to keep moving, to keep orienting yourself in the direction that you want to go and know that when things are hard they get better. Spring is coming, spring is coming.

You just need to kind of get through this time of year and reach out for help if you need it. Okay. I hope that was helpful for you and I'll be back next time with some additional inspiration, thoughts or ideas for you to mull over. Alright? Take care, everybody.

~ More to Explore ~

June 20, 2013

July 11, 2022

September 8, 2022

June 23, 2022

Sign up for weekly Practitioner Notes from Camille.

Tips, resources, & encouragement for herbalists & nutritionists, delivered to your inbox most Thursdays.