You can read a lot of blog posts and articles on ways to make you a better private practice owner. I've written them myself too. But I had an "ah-ha" moment today when I realized the single most important thing I do on a regular basis that helps make me a better business owner, a better wife, a better mom and a better person in general.
We aren't just practice owners. We are human. We are moms, dads, a husband, a wife, a caretaker, and so many other things that most people don't recognize or even realize play into what we deal with on a regular everyday basis. We have our own problems and stressors that we try to hide so that we can work on growing and running the best business we can. We see our patients hurting all day long, so we tend to put our own pain or stress on the back-burner. Most physical therapists go into the field because they have a compassion for helping others achieve their goals and dreams, and we usually sacrifice ourselves before our patients. I know that I have scheduled many patients during my lunch hour to accomodate them; it's what we do, it's in our nature to be accomodating.
As physical therapists we preach healthy lifestyles; we teach incorporating exercise into your daily life and coping strategies for pain and stress. So why are so few of us listening to our own philosophy? I think as a physical therapy practice owner, hell, any type of business owner, we need a way to quickly eliminate the stress. Whether it's practice stress, employee or patient stress, or home-life stress; the culmination of it all is a lot to bear.
Everyone has different interpretations of stress. Everyone has different avenues they take to reduce stress. Exercise has always been my stress reliever; I can unplug and sweat and feel better. But things change when you are a practice owner. You no longer have ANY time for yourself. The time you do have can easily be swayed into working on building the business or spending more time with your family. The guilt sets in when you have some downtime and it ends up getting filled up fast. I've belonged to two gyms at the same time and barely went. I'd plan to go on my lunch breaks and then things came up. I'd get done early and then feel guilty if I didn't go home and spend that time with my kids. Over and over again. A wise person I know made me realize if I make time for myself I will be a happier, healthy person. This isn't something I didn't know. This isn't some new discovery in psychology. But I had never applied it to myself.
Want to know my #1 secret for being a better, more successful business owner? MMA (mixed martial arts)! I'm sure that's not what you were expecting, and I didn't either going into it. It's completely not the reason I started on this path, it moreso fell into my lap and ended up being the perfect solution. For one hour of my day, a few times a week, I get to go punch and kick and grapple with a coach. It might sound barbaric to some, but it's the best way I know to get any aggression or stress out of my system in a constructive way. First off, it is a scheduled appointment; I pay ahead of time so if I miss it or don't show up, I lose my money. Whereas going to the gym, I would make up excuses to prolong going. If I miss going to the gym I really don't let anyone down, only myself. Think about our nature as physical therapists again; we tend to put others before ourselves. If I miss a training session, I let my coach down (not just myself). And that works for me. I can walk into my session in a terrible mood, everything is pissing me off. An hour later, I walk out a brand new person; I can rationally think things through after I leave and get sh*t done! Getting sh*t done....isn't that what its all about?! What used to take me day after day, week after week to get a higher level task done, now turns into within the hour. As a physical therapy practice owner, that is where I find value; my time.
So if this isn't your thing, find something equivilent that is. Find something that allows you to to leave all of your stress, anxiety, guilt, anger, whatever it is, behind.
Katie co-founded HENO based on her career as a physical therapist and practice owner of over 10 years. Her understanding of the pain points many practice owners face has equipped her to create practice management solutions that optimize the efficiency and profitability of physical, speech and occupational therapy clinics.