May 9, 2023

Episode 11:

Pivot over Passion: Redefining Private Practice Success

In this episode, I’ll discuss how pivoting helped me find what I’m passionate about in my private practice and I share with you how you can do same.

Episode 11: Pivot over Passion: Redefining Private Practice Success

Show Notes

Welcome back to The Designer Practice Podcast, and I’m your host, Kayla Das. I’m so glad that you’re here with me today. This episode is actually going to be a little different than most of my episodes. Today, we’re really going to be talking about what I call pivot over passion.

And I’m going to ask you, have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t know what my passion is.” Maybe you know that you want to help others, but you don’t know who it is you want to help, or even the context in which you want to help people. For instance, maybe it’s therapy. Maybe it’s group coaching. Maybe you want to help people through a course or a membership.

A Common Misconception

And a common misconception is that we have to choose the one thing that we’re passionate about and stick with it. Whatever the goal was that we have created for ourselves, years ago, must be the answer, and we have to stick with it at all costs.

Have you ever thought about this yourself?

Well, this shows up in so many contexts. I’ve worked with people in my therapy practice who have dealt with this. I’ve worked with therapists and coaches in my business coaching. I myself have dealt with this. And it often is rooted in fear and usually fear of failure. And this stops many therapists and coaches from either starting their private practice or scaling their private practice. Thoughts of what if it doesn’t work? What if private practice isn’t for me? What if I fail? What if I don’t get someone enrolled in my course? These are all common thoughts that many of us experienced, and I too have experienced these thoughts. But I think there’s one key here that has really helped me. Is pivoting.

The truth is you don’t always have to know what your passion is to start your practice or start your business. Maybe you don’t even want to do one-to-one therapy. Maybe you want to help people in other methods, just like I mentioned before, courses, memberships, group coaching, digital templates. I mean, so many possible ways you can help people.

But at the end of the day, you can always pivot.

The Magic of Pivoting

So, let’s say something doesn’t work or you don’t actually like something specifically. Maybe you try it out, you can pivot. Maybe you don’t like it, you can pivot. Sometimes we actually pigeonholed ourselves to the idea of something. Something that we thought might happen, but once we get there, we’re just not happy. And again, the simple answer, although it’s simple, yet not easy, is pivoting. Because sometimes through pivoting you actually find your passion and find what you love.

And the whole reason for me creating the Designer Practice Podcast is your practice, your business should be designed for you. It should be a business, a career, a venture that you love to work in. And if it’s not, that’s where pivoting comes in.

My Journey

Now, a shared parts of my story publicly, I haven’t shared all of my story publicly and how I became a business coach and just all the pivots I’ve created throughout my life to get where I am today. And I contribute, pivoting to be the success to where I am today.

The Beginning

When I first went to university, I decided to become a recreation therapist. I worked in that a few years, and then I realized there was something missing. There was something more that I could be doing. At this point, I had no idea what that was, but I thought to myself, “Well, maybe I’ll find what I’m looking for doing a social work degree.” So, I applied and I completed it. During my undergraduate degree in social work, I realized that I wanted to start a private practice. I wanted to start a therapy practice. So, I actually applied to have my placement at a counselling centre, which I loved. It was so interesting.

Imposture Syndrome

But what showed up for me is I was plagued by imposter syndrome. I had no idea what imposter syndrome was. I’ve never heard of it before. I had no idea what I was experiencing. All I knew is that I thought I wasn’t good enough to be a counsellor and I wasn’t good enough to open a private practice. So, I even stopped my original goal of doing my master’s right outside of my bachelor’s. I planned to do my bachelor’s, then my masters, and then opened my private practice.

All of my friends went and did their masters, but I didn’t think I was good enough. So, I worked on the frontline for a couple years. Then I quickly rose to middle management in organizations, and then while I was doing my middle management work, that’s when I decided to go back and do my masters.

My Vision

But interestingly enough, at this point, I wanted to do it completely in leadership. So, everything that I did with my masters come from the frame of mind that I was going to be a senior manager. I wanted to be a social worker in leadership.

And by the time I completed my masters, I was already in senior management positions in non-for-profit organizations, and this was my goal. I thought that if I reached the top of an organization that would be success for me. But it wasn’t. What I thought was my dream didn’t make me happy. I was burnt out. And I think the burnout came from several years. I don’t think burnout just happened from being in senior leadership. Although I loved many parts of it. There was something missing that I didn’t know what it was at the time.

And if you asked me why I wanted to run organizations, I could not tell you why. I just knew running organizations and businesses was my thing. I knew I had skills in it. I was just energized and motivated by that. But I couldn’t tell you why being in senior management was important to me.

My Why

But looking back after so much self-discovery through the process, it was actually rooted in my values and my biggest value, again, didn’t know it at the time, is autonomy. I wanted freedom. I wanted to be able to take time off if I wanted to. Again, didn’t know it at the time, but I love working from home. Right now, I work a hundred percent from home. That if I need to go grocery shopping today, I can do it. If I want to take my lunch at 1, 2, 12, it didn’t matter. I could run my own day and organize my own schedule. And that was important for me. But I couldn’t label it. I didn’t know what it was. And I thought by rising the ranks, I’m becoming a head of an organization that I would finally have autonomy, but I didn’t.

And for a little while I thought to myself, “Did I get to where I wanted to be? But then I failed?” “Was my vision of one day running an organization a flop?” At the time, I would’ve said yes. I thought I was a failure. I reached the top. In many people’s eyes, was successful. But for me, I wasn’t, even though that’s what I thought would give me success, it was not what I was looking for.

My Big Career Pivot

What I did know I needed to do was pivot, and I did.

And with my last senior leadership position, I knew that I wanted something else. So, I registered my business, I sought legal advice, I incorporated my business. I opened my bank account. I started my website. I got my Psychology Today profile up. I did everything that I needed to do to start getting clients. And it took me about a month and a half to get all of that stuff done. I was really motivated. I moved forward. I started getting clients. It was actually a month and a half after starting the process, I had my first consult.

So, I did those consults and about a month and a half after I opened my practice, got some clients. I had six clients that I was working with on evenings and weekends, because of course I was still working throughout the day. But then I put in my resignation and I built up my practice. And I was excited cause I finally was able to get autonomy. And although I did get autonomy, there was still something missing and I thought to myself, “Wow, shouldn’t I have the answer by now?” “Shouldn’t I be where I need to be?”

And I pivoted my ideal client as well. And you might hear me talk about finding your ideal client or finding the person that you want to work with.

And at first, I thought I wanted to work with women experiencing domestic violence because that is the field that I had worked in prior to going into private practice. But then I realized it wasn’t my passion. It wasn’t something that I was driven to do. But what I realized is that I love helping people with career development and fulfillment.

So, I pivoted my ideal client to working with people with workplace burnout and stress, and many of you who may have been following me for a while know that is the area that I work in in my private practice. And although I love working with workplace burnout at stress, because career fulfillment and development is really my area that I thrive. At this point, I still didn’t know that business coaching and helping others to design practices was even a thing. It was even a possibility. And it’s not until I started speaking to other therapists who said to me, “Kayla, the business side of private practice is so hard for me.”

Self-Discovery after Pivot

And I looked back on my own experience, and that was the easiest part for me. It was like this light bulb moment because for me, the business side was so easy, but the therapy side felt so hard. And then I realized that was it. My passion was helping others design businesses that align with their values, goals, vision, so that they not only make sustainable income, but feel fulfilled while doing it.

And I truly don’t believe there is a wrong and right way to start a business, to start a practice. It’s only your way. But to find that sometimes we need to pivot. And if it wasn’t for pivoting, I wouldn’t have found my passion. We don’t need to know where we’re going now. We just need to take steps and realize that, “You know what? I can pivot.”

If I allowed myself to be pigeonholed to the idea of what I thought was the answer and that I thought was the dream, which was being a senior leader. I thought with all of my heart that once I got there, I would be happy. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t what I wanted and I would probably still be working in some leadership position today, if I didn’t allow myself to pivot.

I didn’t know if private practice was for me. I didn’t know about business coaching at that point. But all I know is that I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I didn’t feel autonomous. And I wasn’t happy.

Allowing Yourself to Pivot

So, I want to ask you, have you been holding onto passion over pivoting? Have you allowed yourself to pivot so that you can learn lessons? But you are going to learn lessons through the pivoting process. If you’ve been avoiding pivoting because there’s this internal obligation to whatever you thought you wanted over what you actually wanted.

You might be even thinking I don’t know what I actually want.

Because like I said, if you asked me several years ago why I wanted to run organizations, I wouldn’t have had a great answer for you except, and I quote “Because that’s what will make me successful.”

Whatever successful means, I have no idea.

And I think this is another key piece of this is often we think of success as this big word, but we all have different versions of what success is, or even what being successful means. If you asked your parents. If you asked your friends. If you asked a colleague. If you asked your supervisor. If you asked me, we would all have very different definitions of what success is.

But at the end of the day, success can also change. Few years ago, I thought success was running an organization, and now I have my own practice. And I guess in theory you can say that I’m still a head of my own organization, but it’s different. That’s not what I thought. That wasn’t the vision. The vision that I would be running an organization with 30 or 40 different employees. Right now, it’s just me. And then from time-to-time I hire contractors to help.

So going back to the whole idea of success, we need to define what success means now, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t pivot.

Self-Discovery Activity

I actually have an activity for you that I want us to go through. So, if you’re sitting and drinking your morning coffee, haul out a notebook or even your phone’s notepad. I am very much an iPhone notepad girl. Everything that I think through the day goes on my iPhone notepad. Or if you’re driving or for a walk, just remember to come back to this later when you have a moment.

So, I want us to take a few minutes and I want us to define what success means for you. And ask yourself these four questions to help you get started.

To help you answer each question, we’re going to do one at a time. I encourage you to pause this podcast episode after each question so that you can take a moment and actually answer them before going to the next question. When you’re finished with the question, press play. And then of course get the next question.

Question #1: Who and What is Important to You In Your Life?

So, the first question is, who and what is important to you in your life? There’s no right or wrong answers here. You may include your hobbies, maybe places that you like to go, might be values that you hold, things in your career that help you feel accomplished, fulfilled, and motivated. List them all out. Like I said, take a few minutes, pause this episode and list out who and what is important to you.

Question #2: What are your Career Goals?

The second question, what are my career goals? In other words, are you like me? Is your goal to climb the corporate ladder? Or maybe it’s not something vertical. Maybe it’s other things that you want to do. But what are your career goals? And this is valuable, whether you want to go into private practice or you don’t want to go into private practice.

Question #3: Why are these your career goals?

So, for number three, bring question two a little bit further. And ask yourself, why are these your career goals? Are they connected to the people and things that are important to you, that you answered in question number one? Are they a vision that you’ve had for yourself? Is there a reason on why you’ve chose those specific goals. Because again, if you asked me a few years ago why I wanted to reach the corporate ladder, I could not tell you that autonomy was my big goal because maybe if I knew that beforehand, I might have made different decisions. Now in saying that, I do love the journey that I have taken and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But we need to know why these are our goals, not just because they are.

Question #4: Has the thought of something holding you back from what you actually want?

And number four, has the thought of something that you thought you wanted holding you back from what you actually want. Now, I’m going to repeat that again. Has the thought of something that you might have wanted holding you back from what you actually want? And if the answer is yes, I want you to list or identify pivots that you can make in the near future that can help you move towards the people and the things that are important to you and the thing that you actually want.

Back to my own example. I was sure that reaching the top of the corporate ladder was success for me. I thought that was the answer. But then I got there, it wasn’t actually what I wanted.

So again, I want you to think about what you thought was going to happen, that vision, is that holding you back from really the reason on why you’re doing it and holding you back from what you actually want?

Pivot over Passion

I want to bring this back to the whole passion piece. You might not have even discovered what your passion is. And even the word passion is kind of overrated because passion can be fleeting, right? We can really be passionate about something one day and change our mind the next day. And that’s okay. But you may not have discovered what the possibilities are because you haven’t pivoted.

Just like me, I absolutely love business coaching. I love this podcast. I love talking to each of you every day, whether it’s through this podcast, through my blogs, whether it’s on my Facebook group, or one-to-one or group sessions together. I love it.

But I did not know it existed.

And just like that, there might be other things out there that you don’t know exists. But the idea of where you thought you had to be or that internal obligation of being in a specific place, might be holding you back. And pivoting and allowing yourself to pivot and not looking at it as a failure, but actually as a lesson to explore something new is the only way to get there. 


So, this is a really short episode, but I wanted us to go through this because I think it is really important and it shows up time and time again. So, I hope this episode given you some inspiration and motivation to start making pivots in your life so that you can start feeling fulfilled in your career, your practice, and your business.

And if you’re already feeling fulfilled with your career, your practice, and your business, that is great. And asking yourself if you are there. How did I get here? My answer, pivoting. I would not be where I am today without it. Pivoting gave me those lessons, and it allowed me to build upon myself and those experiences I didn’t know existed.

So, in my opinion, business is all about pivoting. Without pivots, we actually slow down progress.

Thank you everyone for listening to today’s episode. I hope this was helpful.

Until next time, bye for now.

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Music by ItsWatR from Pixabay

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