Finding Joy in Your Private Practice: 4 Things to Learn from Donald Altman

Have you ever reached that point in your life as a private practice owner where you’ve thought to yourself, ‘I just can’t do this anymore. I’m done with this.” 

If so, you’re not alone. Most, if not all, business owners have had to go through something similar at one point or another. Times when we feel as though our passion has burnt out and that we’re simply doing things out of necessity.

This is exactly what we’ve talked about in our interview with psychotherapist and former Buddhist monk Donald Altman, during a recent episode of the PsychBiz Podcast

In that interview, Donald opens up about the struggle of nurturing that passion practitioners have for their profession given the challenges that come with the industry, and how he has found joy in his career.

In this article we cover 4 of the key takeaways from our interview with Donald.

Find Your Flame and Keep It Burning

As a private practice owner, you’re always at the frontline trying to help others keep going. You’re always there cheering other people on and doing your best to inspire them. 

But what about you?

Do you also find the time to inspire yourself and cheer yourself on? 

Other than your private practice, is there anything else that you find happiness doing? Whatever that may be, make time for it. 

As Donald said in his interview, ‘it’s important that we find ways to stay inspired and to inspire others. We all can be candle lighters. We can have a flame and light someone’s candle, get them inspired and share something motivating with them.’ 

So the key then, in staying happy and fulfilled as a practitioner is by finding your flame. Find what gives you energy. What is it that motivates you?

In Donald’s case, he found his flame in helping other people figure out who they truly are at their core and what they’re called to do by authoring books on mindfulness and spirituality. And by drawing strength from this passion, he was able to find ways not to get burnt out. 

Now you may not be a writer, but you definitely have a passion you can draw strength from and share with others. Find that flame and protect it. 

private practice owner at work

Seek Opportunities for Growth in Every Struggle

Struggling to find your balance? Then maybe it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate how you’re doing so far.

Most of the time, opportunities for growth come up in the form of setbacks, so keep your eyes open for these. As Howard said during the interview, “Don’t be afraid to fail because that’s how we learn.”

In David’s case, he initially failed in his internet comic strip company. And this failure is what led him to entering the monastery for a short time. It certainly was the break he needed. In that monastery, he found who he truly was at his core, and he discovered what he wanted to do for others with the gifts he had. 

By the time he left the monastery, he decided to train other clinicians as well as author books, in addition to establishing a private practice. 

The lesson?

Struggles, as David puts it, are merely situations where we’re ‘turning something into gold in our lives.’ So don’t be afraid to fail from time to time. Think of each setback as a chance to reflect on how and what you could do better as a practitioner. 

Journal your thoughts and realizations from the entire ordeal and look for ways to move forward and grow as a person. Remember, there’s always room for improvement.

happy private practice owner

Practice Mindfulness

If there’s one thing that therapists have to be mindful of, it’s in the way they practice mindfulness in their daily lives.

And I’m sure you’d agree, this one’s easier said than done. As a practitioner, there will be days when you have to go from one client to the next and listen from one story to another, and sometimes all that stress can get into you. There’s just so many things going on in your life on a daily basis, so much so that it can be quite challenging to slow down and enjoy every moment you have. 

But as you well know, just because it’s difficult to slow down and savor life’s moments doesn’t mean it’s impossible. 

Take it from Donald’s narrative in his book, The Mindfulness Code, where he talks about mindfulness as the key to fighting stress, anxiety, and depression in this age and time where everything is fast-paced. 

Having a long day at work? Try doing something as simple as stepping outside your workspace so you can take long, deep breaths. Go for a stroll. Take in the beauty of nature around you. Create a space in the present so you can practice self-care. Doing these things is often enough to relieve you of any stress or tension.

Spend Time For and With Yourself—Away from the Screen

These days it seems like everyone is busy building their lives online. On social media, most especially. And while having a strong online presence is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be disruptive as well. 

So the key here is in striking the balance between your screen time and your off-screen time.

As Donald puts it, “we also need . . . divine silence, time alone, time to recognize the wonder, the awe, the grace that exists in the world, the beautiful things that are out there, to connect with joy and a deep profound sense, and to actually cultivate that childlike curiosity.”

And this is a continuation of the previous point we’ve made on practicing mindfulness. Really, one of the best ways for you to continue nurturing your passion and growing in your profession is by setting aside time for yourself. Time to process your thoughts and feelings. Time for personal reflection. 

You’ll be surprised to see how much of a difference such simple habits can make in your practice as a whole!

Listen to the podcast!

In this post, we’ve only touched a bit on what we discussed with Donald during our podcast interview. There’s still so much more on the topic for you to discover! Plus, there’s a little gift waiting for you as well at the end of our episode.

Want more tips you can use as a practitioner? Click HERE to tune in to our podcast today! We’ll ‘see’ you there!

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Hi! I’m Sarah. 

 I help counselors and therapists  have a bigger impact on the world through better client connection. I do this by creating beautiful visuals and strategically designed websites.

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