Believe it or not, it is that time of year again! The holidays are here. This might be something you’ve already experienced in private practice or it could be the first distinct and definitive time that really all of your clients will be out of town (at least most of them will take off for some part of the holidays). If you have already experienced this, then I definitely encourage you to observe how this holiday season is or is not different…just super helpful in budgeting for the future. When we can predict what our practice will do, we can plan so much more accordingly. If this is the first holiday your practice will see then let’s talk about bracing for the impact of the holidays!
There are a few main areas in your practice that might take a hit and I’d like to help predict these for you! I am focusing on some concrete ways your practice is impacted AND I think more importantly the more insidious ways the holidays can be impactful.
Obviously the holiday season is going to have a financial impact on your practice. Maybe you budgeted for this already and the hit won’t be so bad (at least it is expected). I’d say the rule of thumb is to expect most clients to take off the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve (at a minimum). If the number of clients coming into your office is going to be super low, maybe it is helpful to consider taking the time off. It is super important to have time away from our work. We must recharge. I have heard some folks describe enjoying the slow time to still see some folks who are around and use the extra time to catch up on work that they have pushed off due to time constraints. So, financially current clients will take some time away AND the other financial hit that can be difficult is that our phones will likely take a break from ringing for a bit. This could last a while and could be scarier than having your current clients cancel. Expect this, it will happen. It does not mean your marketing efforts in summer and fall did not work it just means people tend to prioritize differently around the holidays and it might take until February for the calls to come back in!
This is the less obvious aspect of how the holidays impact our practices but nonetheless important to get a head of! My busiest month has historically been October. Super exciting to see the numbers go up and great to see more of the clients I work best with. Having this high in October is thrilling and it can set up an expectation that all months will continue this way. When I reflect on why October is likely the busiest month for me, I link it back to taking summer months to hit marketing hard.
That means it take some time to let the fruits of that labor come through. The down time in late November and December does not take away how hard we work in other months, our results might just look a bit different. The down time around the holidays might actually be a time to circle back to some marketing and networking approaches so as to plant the seeds that will definitely sprout again. Just because the speed at which new client calls come in might dip, does not mean your efforts aren’t working…keep at it and you’ll notice a difference into the new year!
I am realizing that I as I am writing this it is coming across as potentially a little doom and gloomy, and that is definitely not my intent. My goal is to be somewhat cautionary with this post. The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with friends and family. They can be energizing and give us a much needed break. They can also set our practices into a bit of a lull and the more intentional you can be heading into the December and even beginning of January the more your practice will thrive! Happy and Healthy Holidays!
We would often pile in the back of the '77 Saab and head east or south, north or west. It would depend on her mood. Being in the northern reaches of the Adirondack Mountains meant many opportunities to explore. Whether celebrating the first break in a long winter or the turning of the leaves, there were plenty of roads to wind in search of a break from the monotony. My father would always comply with her need for a change.
On of my earliest memories was of crossing the narrow lake, black in its depth,to Vermont. And on one of the first trips I remember, we went to The Bakery Lane Soup Bowl.
I don't know if the cookbook had called us there or had come home with us after an impressive repast. I do know that copies of the book have circulated through my family, the recipes, long-loved staples. My copy belonged to my grandmother, her script filling the margins, reminding her of how she'd adjust or particular favorites. It is a treasure.
Two recipes make their appearance every Thanksgiving. The Apple Crumb and the Pumpkin pie. The pumpkin has made my husband a believer, the apple has elicited marriage proposals. When we were thinking of ideas to show all of you how much we appreciate our members and this community for the holiday season, I immediately went to pie. There are few dishes you can make that convey that same sentiment. The process is time-consuming, but it will be time well spent, Fueling friendships, a labor of love, to share with those we love.
Sarah mentioned a professional, which I am not, but I learned from one. Not literally, she was never compensated financially, but her pies are still spoken of, decades later, with a fond sigh and a glimmer.
This year, I am grateful for the opportunity to share them with you. I am grateful for new friendships and reminders to connect and disconnect. If you can't join us in person, you can still join from your own home. If you find a favorite, I've included the recipes below.
10" pie shell
2 tsp melted butter
2 cups cooked pumpkin
3/4 c Dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 small can evaporated milk
The instructions in the book are more complicated. We put it in a blender. That's it. Pre-heat oven to 425, bake for 15. Reduce heat to 350 an continue baking for 45 minutes more or until a knife comes out clean.
Apple Crumb Pie
Place in shell.
Bake for 25 minutes at 400
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I recently told our mailing list this amazing secret: Your energy is finite.
I know, I didn't believe it either. A teacher of mine, the amazing Renee Trudeau, broke this news to me a few weeks ago. It was hard to take in. She has this idea that I might not be able to do it all...
Lover of self-care and boundaries that I am, I did have a sense this might be true. I have done things to protect my time and my family life: change my work schedule, charge more and take fewer clients, change the clientele I take so that I am working more daytime hours... but this discussion brought up a whole new way of thinking about my energy.
Imagine your energy is an object. Something you can hold, trade, earn, give, and store. Every thing you do, all day and night, either takes energy from your store or gives you energy.
Common things can give you energy: sleep, healthy food, receiving love from certain people. Likewise, common things can take energy: being sick, being injured, being around certain other people...
Our job doesn't fall simply into one category or the other. We can't just say "My job gives me energy" or "My job takes energy" because it is composed of so many parts. Instead, aspects of our job take energy, and aspects of our job give energy.
To make it more confusing, sometimes things we enjoy and value take energy.
And, all of this is dynamic! So what gives you energy today might be an energy taker in another season of life! Geesh.
So, here's the cruz of it... Without being mindful of what we choose to do, we can easily end up spending all of our energy on things that we don't really want to prioritize and end up depleted by noon!
To solve this conundrum, I created this handy dandy grid. Think of the aspects of your job as falling into one of the boxes on the grid below: Things That Make Money but Take Energy, Things That Make Money that Give Energy, Things That Make Money and Take Energy, Things That Make Money and Give Energy.
This was when my mind was blown.
As I started filling out this chart, I started realizing some of the things that make me the most money are also currently the most draining.
This was a new revelation for me. See, usually psychological testing brings me joy, and I really find it energy giving. This year though, a lot has happened in my personal life that has been very draining. I have two sick family members I have been caring for in addition to my "normal life" tasks. Testing hasn't felt as good as it had before, and I hadn't really noticed that and given it my full attention.
I was in autopilot: I was doing what worked before.
But there it was! Right in the "Take Energy and Make Money" column. It wasn't working anymore. Now, the real question was, "Is the money worth it?" and "Can I 'earn' the energy elsewhere else to spend on testing if the money is worth it,"
After a lot of thought, and a lot of soul searching, I decided to take a hiatus from testing until after the holidays when I anticipated that some family things would shift that would allow me to have more resources available.
I also realized that I needed to hire someone to cover my phones. I'd always been VERY reluctant to do that. I had prided myself on the personal touch of getting to talk to me. People even told me how grateful they were that they could talk to me directly.
After really digging in, I realized that this value that I held -- the personal touch -- was getting eaten alive by the time I was spending on the task. I was growing resentful. Other things that I valued much more like family time and supporting my staff were getting short-shift. I had to make some changes. So, I hired someone to cover my phones. Now I have two extra hours a week -- I kid you not!! -- to spend on whatever I desire!
Clearly there are other factors at play besides energy and money -- I've alluded to another earlier when I spoke of my personal values. That said, we tend as a culture to prioritize what we do based on money. We connect everything from success to happiness to worth to money. I felt because of this it was the most important aspect to consider when contrasting against Energy. But, you might play around with your own grid to personalize it in a way that appeals to you.
However you approach it, just make sure you carve out the time to notice what happens throughout your day. Too many of us get home to the people that matter the most -- our family -- with our energy depleted.
Sending love and energy your way. :)