Answer these three questions to see if you need a re-alignment with work-life balance programs
When it comes to building a practice, the last thing on a DC’s mind is building a life outside of it. Getting new patients, managing day-to-day flow, patient retention and training staff monopolize precious time and energy. Practice-life balance falls to the bottom of the priority totem pole.
The weight of running a practice starts right out of the gate and, odds are, it will get heavier as a practice grows. With more patients come more profits, yes, but also more responsibilities.
Pressure mounts. Lunches turn to catching up on paperwork. Late nights happen on a regular basis.
Reaching a breaking point
There’s a hidden epidemic affecting almost half of chiropractors, and it needs to be called out.
Approximately 40% of DCs report experiencing moderate to high emotional exhaustion. The toll of running a practice is weighing heavy on far too many.
The irony is that, as chiropractors, the grounding principle for everything we do comes down to one word — alignment. In the clinical sense, we focus on helping patients align with their bodies to express better health. No matter our technique, practice model or philosophy, everything we do for our patients is focused on being centered, connected and vibrant. But when it comes to alignment in our own lives, it falls to the wayside.
Health gets put on the back burner. Long hours in practice interfere with family time. Vacation dreams turn into ever-growing bucket lists.
We need alignment to “live into how we serve.” Not just from a spinal standpoint, but holistically, so we can be a model to our patients for how to thrive in health and in life.
Most DCs take the approach that one must build a profitable practice first, then focus on building an amazing life. But this approach is backwards. It puts chiropractors out of alignment and actually makes the journey to success that much harder.
If all hands are on the practice deck, priorities fall out of balance. Eventually stress will fester, planting seeds for less energy, lack of focus, and resentment, which is why it’s critical to address practice-life imbalance.
To build (and maintain) practice-life balance, start with reflecting on these three questions:
What are you doing it all for?
It’s easy to get lost in the daily grind of practice, forgetting what motivated you in the first place to be your own boss. Most DCs have an entrepreneurial spirit that propels you to be in charge of your own time, how you care for patients and how you make your money.
Underneath that calling lies something deeper…something that motivates you to be a doctor every day.
Who are you building a future for? Who are you being an example to? What dreams can your success cultivate? What does your practice give you the ability to do when you’re not working?
This is about reconnecting with the big vision you have in mind. If you remember what drives you to wake up each morning, then you’ll be motivated by a bigger vision, one that lies outside of your practice and even yourself.
So when the practice stresses show up (and they will), you’ll be more resilient because you are connected to your deeper “why.” This is the foundation for building a practice-life balance and remembering why it’s important.
What does your practice look like when it’s booked?
Most DCs don’t have a clear vision of what their practice looks like when it’s filled with patients.
They are operating their practice and making decisions based on present circumstances. For the burned-out chiropractor, that can mean staring at empty schedules and waiting for insurance checks to come in, so building a practice feels desperate and reactionary.
DCs end up scrambling to get new patients in any way they can and often compromise on the type of practice they actually want. Office hours expand and marketing budgets burst at the seams. When the end is not in mind, It’s the perfect recipe for practice burnout. There is no room for balance with this picture. So the switch? It’s about looking at your practice with a new lens.
Picture your practice this way:
- What hours do you want to work?
- How much money do you want to generate every week, month and year in practice?
- How many patients do you want to see?
This is about building your practice based on what you “want” versus what you “have” to do. The “have to” approach only leads to rash decisions and sleepless nights, all to forget the type of practice you actually want.
And it’s not easy to see this happening, so here are a few questions to help you play detective:
- What are you tolerating in practice that steals your joy?
- Where are you making exceptions to your policies?
- Are you compromising on your care, schedule, or recommendations to please patients?
Building a practice based on an end goal is what will help you build a practice that’s authentic — something that is true to who you are and reflects the type of doctor you want to be for your community. When you use this perspective, you instantly create balance because your practice reflects your truth. You and your practice are one and the same.
What life moments can you experience along the way?
This last question is pivotal, because it gives you the leverage to make micro-changes in your daily and weekly life, so you improve the quality of it. Balance doesn’t mean you instantly have to figure out how to go on a trip around the world or buy your dream home. Rather, it’s about creating subtle moments that make you feel like you’re living in the here and now. Sometimes the simplest changes can create the most profound shifts, making you recognize what you’ve been missing out on yet how simple it is to integrate into your life.
- What’s a hobby or activity you used to do that you keep putting off?
- What’s your favorite thing to do with a loved one that you aren’t making the time for?
- If you opened up 15 minutes a day or one hour a week to do something you love, what would that be?
Now schedule it in your calendar. Create a standing appointment with yourself that is 100% focused on life and fill it with that one thing. Then watch the shift that happens. Creating this one shift will elevate your happiness, which will translate into more focus and intention in your practice, all in just creating a few moments of time for yourself.
Practice-life balance doesn’t have to be a pipe dream or something that gets put on the back burner. It can be crafted starting day one by having clarity on what your ideal practice and life looks like to you, so you can be in alignment with it.
JEN FABER, DC, is the founder of the House Call Practice Program and coaches chiropractors on how to escape high-volume stress with house calls. Named by Longevity Media as one of the Top 10 Wellness Leaders to Watch, Dr. Jen has been featured on CBS, CW, FierceCEO and Project Happiness. She can be reached at housecallpractice.com.