Are You Burned Out or Moving On?

Is there a difference between having gone as far as you need to go in your career and choosing to make a change and feeling burned out?   Obviously if you don’t make the change when you need to it, it may feel the same.  There’s the lack of interest in going into work and wondering why you keep doing it.   How do you figure out which it is?  And what if it’s some of both?

If you think it might be some of both, then consider whether you want to move your practice into a bigger business, with more practitioners and potentially allowing you more time off.  If you have that time off from seeing patients, what will you do with it?  Are you more into teaching or writing or some other aspect of your business?  Consider incorporating more of that into the time you spend and see if that new balance works better.

On the other hand, if you really don’t have the passion for the medicine you once had, maybe it’s time to listen.  What originally drew you to the medicine?  Are those things still true?  If you still find those ideas true, then perhaps taking some courses, time off or working with a coach may all be appropriate.   Expanding who you and the knowledge that you have may re-ignite passions that you feel are lost.   If it’s money that draws you down, working with a coach can do wonders.

Sometimes, though, it’s that there isn’t the passion.   While I love acupuncture, I’ve never immersed myself in the way some people did.   Additionally I always felt like I wasn’t as good at marketing my practice as I could have been.    It seemed like when people came up with the “yes but” responses that I didn’t want to push.  Healthcare is their personal decision.  Who am I to push them into something they don’t seem to want to hear?   How do I make them hear that I can help them without pushing?

Sounds tough right?

So here I am, starting to take my website design hobby side business into the realm of being profitable on a regular basis.   One of my first people, an ideal candidate for the type of sites I love to do said she didn’t see anything that fit her.  They all had way more content and she didn’t think her site would work.    I sent a note back that said something along the lines of  “I’m not trying to be pushy, but here, let me show you some other things and look particularly closely at this website.  I can do something similar for you.”   She bought my services.   I had no problem answering that because I absolutely believed that this was a person who was perfect for the types of services I was offering.   It felt only a little pushy to me, but I wanted to address the issue and make sure she made an educated decision before saying no.

I don’t know why exactly I was never able to do that as an acupuncture practitioner.   Maybe because I didn’t have such a specific target market?  Maybe because I wasn’t confident enough in my abilities?   Maybe because I was too cautious about never being able to make guarantees?  I mean, there is always someone who doesn’t respond to acupuncture.   However, even though I have been very confident in helping insomniacs sleep, I was never quite able to give the same level of enthusiasm to answering “yes buts” for acupuncture.   I know people who can and they don’t even sound pushy.

This was a wake up call to me.   Obviously I have a greater passion and confidence in my WordPress skills.   And as that’s what I do when there’s nothing else going on, maybe that’s a sign.   If you’re struggling with acupuncture, what would you be doing if you were paid to do whatever you felt like?  If you have a clear direction and it’s something other than acupuncture, no matter how much you love the practice, maybe there’s another way or another place you have to focus a good portion of your time.   Maybe that’s telling you something.    If you just think you’d nap all day because you’re exhausted, well that’s a different issue.  Good luck with figuring it out. It can be a long journey, but a rewarding one–it may also bring you back to where you are, but with renewed enthusiasm which others will hear when you talk about your practice.

This is the second in series on Burn Out.   Next time, I’ll be doing a review of Dan Clement’s book, The Practitioner’s Journey that I talked about in the first post.


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Bonnie Koenig has been a licensed acupuncturist since 1999. She is passionate about helping people find real healing and real health. In the process she keeps asking about our attitudes towards sickness and health. Only by being clear on what sickness is, can we ever find health.

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