When you entered the world of physical therapy, fresh out of school and ready to tackle to world, what were your goals? What did you see yourself accomplishing over the first five, ten, fifteen years of practice? Now here’s the big question: how much of that have you accomplished?

Are you satisfied with the current status of your profession and the state of your career?

Whether you are in a private practice, home health, school, a skilled nursing facility, or in a hospital the goal is clear: you want to build a practice that is fulfilling and builds upon your passions and expertise.

However, in today’s competitive, ever changing healthcare economy it’s almost a given that at some point you’re going to have to re-invent your professional self.

This article provides you a step-by-step approach to discover your calling and develop your professional platform. It will help you look at your strengths, your experience, your relationships, and your mastery to take the leap of faith into uncharted territory.

Develop Your Expertise

Today’s successful practice requires three types of expertise: clinical expertise, business expertise, and marketing expertise. This may be your first stumbling block as you feel you have mastered your clinical expertise over years of practice and providing therapy to patients but haven’t had the opportunity to learn business and marketing.

Rest assured and be encouraged, you are not aiming to be a jack-of-all-trades but rather a master of the essentials ones. You don’t need to have a masters in business and marketing to be excellent at the basic fundamentals that make a business successful.

By 2020, 40 to 50% American workers will be freelancers.

(Thomas Fisher “The Contingent Workforce and Public Decision Making”) What does this really mean? You might be asking what a freelance healthcare worker looks like or what skills must be mastered to be a freelance therapist. First and foremost, you have to be skilled in a specific area of practice or expertise.

You need to have something to offer the marketplace that few others have to offer. In other words, you have your services as a physical therapist however your professional degree in therapy may not have prepared you to compete in the marketplace.

This is where physical therapists often decide to shy away from private practice, opting instead for the safety of a larger entity that is run by so-called business and marketing experts.

Discover Your Calling

In The Art of Work, Jeff Goins shares valuable information on finding your life’s work and abandoning the status quo. Goins explains that a truly fulfilled life is a rare thing and yet, anyone can attain it. It’s available to anyone willing to truly seek it, to endure the difficult and muddled process. Think back on your life and look for the common themes that run through all the memories.

What have you learned from all your life experiences? We are so much more than individual events that take place over time, each season in our lives is woven together to create the entirety of what makes us, well, us. Identifying the overarching theme of your life is the first step to truly identifying your calling in life. Find some time to escape the noise and the distractions and reflect on this.

Who were the teachers, mentors, role models that influenced the trajectory of your life? Who is influencing your life right now?

It’s equally as important to spend some time reflecting on times in your life where you went against the theme or the calling on your life. These are valuable lessons and you can likely recall the way you felt when you realized the choice you made didn’t resonate with your mission.

I’m guessing your plans didn’t pan out the way you had hoped and though the end result may have been ok, it didn’t live up to your expectations. Take some time to identify these forks in the road and reflect on what you learned.

Now that you’ve had a chance to reflect on the lessons learned and the life experiences that have formed both you and your calling, think about some small steps that you can take towards the calling you have identified. You may need to find some resources to help you acquire a new skill or learn more about a certain area of interest.

Perhaps there are others who appear to have a similar calling and are carrying out their mission beautifully, seek them out, pick their brains, and learn everything you can from them.

Re-Invent Yourself

How many of us would say that we are the same people today that we were ten years ago? Just think about your style, your language, your friends, and your home. What’s changed over the last decade?

What about your vision for your career, your dreams?

If you’re like me, much of this has changed as well. And yet, while our goals expand and take on different shape and meaning, we often don’t realize that we operate in much of the same way and we view ourselves as the same person we were when we got started.

In Reinventing You, Dorie Clark shares her experience and expertise in creating your personal brand. This may be a new concept for you, the idea that you are your own brand. But it’s true, especially as you take on entrepreneurship. You are now selling yourself—your personality, your unique perspective, your skills and talents, and so much more.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you start to form your personal brand.

  1. What makes you unique? What makes you different?
  2. What do people often ask your advice about?
  3. What’s your destination? Or what direction would you like to start in?
  4. What professionally intrigues you? What captures your attention?
  5. What clinical skills are the most relevant to the direction I’d like to go?
  6. Whom in your network can you connect with your new direction?
  7. How can you connect with your professional association in this area?
  8. What ways can you leverage social media?

Know Your Why

If you haven’t given any serious thought up to this point as to why you feel particularly passionate about your calling, now is the time. A clear understanding of your personal why enables you to focus your efforts on what is essential.

A personal mission statement is a great process for thinking through your why and crafting into a statement that clearly communicates your purpose and why that purpose has taken root in your life.

In First Things First, Stephen Covey describes your personal mission statement as “connecting your own unique purpose and the profound satisfaction that comes from fulfilling it”.

In Start With Why, Simon Sinek argues that the why is the difference between companies, movements, and individuals who are successful long term and those who aren’t. It’s the difference between those who manipulate and those who inspire. Below are some questions to ask yourself as you work on defining your personal why.

  1. How do you measure success in your life?
  2. How do you measure significance in your life?
  3. Where do you contribute the greatest value?
  4. Identify your key motivations
  5. Write down your key motivators in a place where you’ll see them
  6. Connect on a deep emotional level with your top 3 motivators
  7. Review your motivators along with your goals.

Know Why People Buy What You Are Selling (Michael Port-Book Yourself Solid)

So now you know what you’re passionate about and you know why you’re passionate about it, it’s time to take it to the people. But which people? Whom are you called to serve, what makes those people uniquely fitted for your calling?

Once you know who your specific market includes, be sure you take the time to understand their urgent needs and compelling desires and gain a clear understanding how what you offer solves their problem.

Knowing this will allow you to demonstrate that benefits they will receive from your solution.

Michael Port discusses this in greater detail in his book, Book Yourself Solid, describing how this understanding of who you are uniquely fitted to serve and what you have to offer them helps you create relentless demand for your services.

Mind Map or Mind Dump

Mind mapping is an elementary concept but that a lot of therapists use. Therapists tend to be more analytical and don’t use the tools that creatives use to unleash their creative juices. A mind map can help you access the creative side of your brain that as a therapist, you might not be used to using.

You might even believe that you don’t possess much in the way of creative thinking but through the use of a mind map, you’ll likely surprise yourself. Use this process to brainstorm your ideas and connect them to your master goal, then step back and look at the big picture you’ve come up with and get excited to chase that dream.

Mind Map Process

  1. Start with a large piece of paper
  2. Put your refined practice idea in the middle of the page and draw a circle around it.
  3. Write down the ideas, dreams, plans around the main idea and connect them to the main idea through lines. You can draw bubbles, squares arrows but you want to get everything you can think of about the practice out of your head and down on the paper.
  4. Don’t be concern about the order just dump your thoughts. Keep listing everything that pops into your head until your brain is empty.
  5. A mind map is messy. It’s not an outline. You want to release your brain of all it’s ideas, fears and doubts. Keep writing it all down, to stop until you can’t think of anything else.
  6. Unlike you were taught in school this is the best way to unlock your brain to produce and record all your thoughts about your practice. It’s not about research and analysis. It’s about helping you see the big picture and the direction you want to go.

 Tell us what you’ve done to re-invent yourself in the comment section below or on social media.