Happy New Year!

Reflections & Goals on NYE

2018. Man, what a year. As I woke up this morning, I found myself doing some reflecting as is common practice on New Year’s Eve. I’m not a big “new year’s resolution” type person, however, I am a person who does better when I have goals and ideas to work toward. It helps me take the millions of things that run through my mind, sift out the most important pieces, and get some focus and direction.

Last year at this time, my family and I had traveled up to Boston to see family then to Rhode Island to see friends. On NYE, we went around in a circle and shared what we were thankful for in the year prior and what we hoped for in 2018. Some were silly, some were serious. I remember feeling unprepared when it was my turn but went with the thing that had been nagging at me for quite some time. It started some time around 2014, and got louder and louder and louder in my mind: it was to find more balance and to be more present. Well, doesn’t that just sound like a therapist’s response? But something happened when I said it out loud for myself and others to hear: shit got real.

I remember going through that night chewing on those words, my mind trying to operationalize what that meant. It sounded great, but what the hell did it mean? We’ve probably all heard about SMART goals, right? A goal that is Simple, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound. Well, mine was none of those things. We had a 12 to 13-hour drive home for me to keep thinking. Between changing movies for the kids, gas-station stops, and answering “how much longer til we’re home, mama?” 1000 times, this hope for the upcoming year started to take shape.

It took some digging into exactly what was preventing me from feeling balanced and present, and also what “balanced and present” would actually look like. As much as I had been fighting it, I had to look at my job. My work was killing me. I wasn’t happy there anymore. I dreaded Mondays. Hell, I dreaded every day. I was depressed. I talked to my husband and told him I think I needed to go back to school and totally switch my career because I couldn’t imagine anything in my field besides where I was. I knew I couldn’t find a more stable, predictable, well-paying job than what I had. Plus, I was 12 years into my career, so starting over somewhere else seemed like a major step backwards. I was so focused on the scary parts of change I missed the obvious question my husband hit me with: “what parts of your job do you still like?” I still liked, no LOVED, working with trauma survivors and PTSD. Seeing people live lives they wanted to live without letting the trauma drive. Meeting new patients. Understanding where they are vs. where they want to be. How excited I still felt every time a patient said they felt “hope” for the first time in decades or were able to go do something they never thought they’d be able to do. It’s my heart work, it’s what I’m good at and what I love doing. Jumping into the scary stuff that most people want to ignore or run from somehow became normal, and joining with that person to face their fears and come out on the other side stronger, empowered, and hopeful was the most fulfilling thing I could imagine.

So thanks to my husband for helping me to see through the fear and anxiety and shift my focus back to what I love.

Ok, so my job was fucking up my balance and ability to be present. And i realized I still am in love with what I do. Now what?

I looked for jobs. I interviewed for jobs. I got job offers. None quite fit. I met some of the most inspirational women along this path though, and it got me thinking: I could own my own practice. I could start a business. I can do the work I love to do, help people who need my help, and still be a wife and mom (and maybe find some time to take care of myself?).

Well let’s just say this idea went from just an idea to owning a business just a few short weeks later, then I just had to jump. I took trainings. I took classes. I learned all the boring business stuff I had to learn. Forced myself to learn to build a website (there were a lot of tears). I did all of those things again because, while I wanted to do it, I’m also a person who has taken the safe route in every major decision I’ve ever made. Slow. Calculated. Deliberate. Sure, I had ideas for where I wanted my practice to be, but now I had to put my faith in MYSELF to DO THE DAMN THING and, holy shit, was that scary! For a couple of months I still kept my job and started seeing folks in my practice as well. Then I decided I’m quitting my job. I’m focusing on growing my practice 100%. There is a need for my skills in my community. People who’ve found me and have worked with me told me how refreshing it was to have found someone in the community who “gets” it. So I quit. I had about 6 weeks until I left for good. I waited for the panic to set in. It didn’t. Then my last week came. Still no panic. Last day. I left feeling 100% confident that after 11 awesome years in the position I held, I had made the right decision. I had a fantastic boss, the best colleagues I could have asked for, access to the most cutting-edge trainings and experience, and the opportunity to treat hundreds of awesome patients, who trusted me with their care.

I kept waiting to freak out and run out and get the first “safe” job I could find. But i didn’t. I kept focusing on my practice, and creating a “job” that fit more beautifully into a life of a mother of four kids, one fur-kid, and a wonderful husband.

I don’t have everything figured out. In fact, most days I realize I have very little figured out at all. I’ve learned that sometimes that “balance” doesn’t feel figured out. My practice has not even been open for a year and I’ve got plenty of time to fall flat on my face. But, I also have more time to breathe. I’m excited to go into my office every day. I feel fulfilled when I close up for the night. I am more present for my patients. I’m more present for my family and for myself. I get to eat dinners with my family, I get to spend more time doing the things I wasn’t getting to do. I’m slowly learning to be more present.

This was a very long-winded post. I guess what I’m hoping to say is that while New Year’s Resolutions are often blown off, don’t be afraid to look at what seems scary to look at because it’s too ambiguous, big, or overwhelming. Write it down, talk it out with someone, hammer down what you want to focus on. For me, this year it was a career shift. For next year? I’m still thinking through it, but I’ll let you know.

I wish you the best in 2019, whatever that is for you.

Take care,
Jenn