What I've Learned About Practice From My Seven Year Old Daughter

Today is my first baby’s seventh birthday.  Which means that it was about six and a half years ago that I left a very stable, well-paying job.

A job where my bawse lady was fulfilled through having a team of about 40 residents and interns under my direction. 
A job that afforded me four weeks of paid vacation annually, plus paid sick days and holidays (sometimes even snow days). 
A job that allowed me to travel and support high-level athletes all over the world. 
A job where I loved and adored my coworkers and even my boss. 

You see, after a two-year residency at Logan College of Chiropractic, I was promoted to Assistant Director of Sports and Rehab.  I was incredibly lucky to have this job, with as new as my licensure was. 

Even crazier, the position of Assistant Director was created specifically for me so that I’d stay on the faculty at the end of my residency. 

I both loved and hated that. 

I loved it because it felt like the then President of the college, Dr. George Goodman, must’ve seen me as worth what he offered to pay me in that role.  And I hated it because so often I felt completely undeserving of the title, the privilege and the money.

I left this job—that I was amazingly lucky to have—in order to do two things:

1.      Start my own practice, which had been my intention with going to chiropractic school in the first place.  I wanted to own my own business and help people.  Chiropractic seemed like a good way to do both.

2.      Have more time with my baby, who was just about 9 months old at the time I turned in my resignation letter and jumped into entrepreneurship.

See as great as my job was, there were drawbacks of course.  Traveling all over the country to athletic events was super cool before I had a baby at home.  Working nights and weekends at games and practices had once been perfectly fine. 

But after having my daughter, it felt strangely wrong.  So, to have more time freedom to be the mom I wanted to be, I left all of my employee benefits behind and ventured out into “the real world.”

I had no idea what I was in for next.  I had no idea that shit was going to get a whole lot harder. 

I was reasonably confident in my ability to grow a new practice, because I had my business degree and years of marketing and sales to draw from. 

But what I was completely lacking was the ability to manage both motherhood and my work ethic.  Add financial instability to the mix, and soon my then-boyfriend/now-husband didn’t even want to be in the same room with me anymore.  (and we'll talk more about the scarcity mindset some other time :-) )

You see, what actually happened when I jumped from the employee cliff into the valley of entrepreneurship is that I ended up spending less time with my baby.  Way less.  And zero time taking care of myself.

Because I’d set my practice up from the start with business expenses that were unnecessarily high, I operated out of fear every day.  Fear that if I didn’t keep pushing and driving hard for growth that I wouldn’t be able to generate the revenue needed to cover the expenses.

Also, I lacked in time management skills, which becomes really, painfully apparent when you’re alone on your island.  While working at Logan, I thought my inefficiency was because I had 1,473 interruptions from residents, interns, my director, patients, and other faculty and staff all day. 

But when I was suddenly alone and still couldn’t focus on getting one task completed, there was no one to blame but myself. 

Working all day and getting nothing done meant that I almost always went home and tried to continue getting work done.  Answering emails, completing chart notes, verifying insurance benefits, researching businesses I wanted to connect with, brainstorming new marketing ideas, and on and on. 

Nights, weekends, holidays… I never turned my business brain off.  Most nights, I even dreamt about work. 

Worst of all, I was so worried all the time that I started having severe abdominal pain that seemed to have no explanation other than I was way too stressed.  Although it seemed there was "nothing wrong with me," the pain had started making me double over almost daily.  Especially bothersome when it mostly happened at work...

I was able to make things look great to an outsider.  My business had grown super fast thanks to my hard work.  But on the inside, the picture was much different.  I barely saw my daughter awake, my relationship with my husband was a mess, and I was trembling like a leaf from the stress of trying to keep it all together. 

Well, very long story short, I burned myself out.  After just a few short years of running my own practice, I found that I had exhausted every ounce of myself. 

I look back and wondered how I thought I was going to be able to sustain that pace for the long run. 

But that was one of the biggest lessons I learned through all of it: start with the end in mind.  I was too busy then to even consider the long-term picture. 

Today, on my daughter’s seventh birthday, I’m looking back on those days with gratitude actually despite how challenging they were.

I’m thankful that the universe has worked through me to create a community, tools and resources to help other female chiropractors navigate being the mom they want to be while growing their practice, too.  I could never have guessed back then that this is what I’d be doing now. 

I appreciate my husband for supporting me every time I’ve wanted to work with a coach or take a new course over the last 5 years, all of which have been absolutely necessary steps for me to learn how to help others and to create Mama Chiropractors and Aligned Women.

Most of all, I’m so incredibly thankful that my child is the happiest, kindest, most helpful and loving kid I know despite how little I was there for her in her earliest years.  From the very first time she nursed throughout her whole life, I’ve always felt that she was patiently teaching me how to be a mom. 

She’s been the best teacher.