While I’m writing this in mid-August, I’m struck by fall sneaking in not only to the weather, but to my mindset. The days are still blazing hot, but we are waking up to cooler, crisp mornings, the bright green of mid-summer leaves is fading a bit with some yellow sneaking in, and my late summer flowers are all in bloom, heralding soon-to-arrive fall. For many of us with children heading back to school, or even for those of us like myself who have “back to school” so ingrained in our psyche that, with or without our own kids to usher out the door, we feel this shift and transition.
Today was one of those days. It was blessedly cool overnight, leading to a crisp, sunny morning. My oldest two are happily installed in their college digs, and my youngest is out the door by 7:10 for high school. A last minute cancellation for a network meeting today meant I was not accountable to anyone for my time. My morning stretched out before me.
In my free time, I love to work on art projects. I think maybe it’s the need to counter the very cerebral work we do as therapists. Armed with paint and brushes, I couldn’t quite get into the groove this morning and realized my brain right now doesn’t want to create. It wants to clear out, edit, and make space. Like the change in seasons, I’m yearning to let go of things that no longer serve me well in order to make space for growth.
As a budding artist, this is hard. Each painting becomes a little creative baby. Though imperfect, each is an expression of self and a vision. I follow an artist who espouses a daily painting practice and tries to sell every creation. Part of her reasoning is that by creating every day and letting go of each painting, nothing is too “precious.” By breaking that attachment, space is created not only to try new things that may or may not be successful, but also to BE different as an artist–or person.
My morning took on an editing and cleaning aspect. I cleaned my paint palettes, water bucket, and brushes. After a moment’s hesitation, I gathered the canvases and panels I had painted but didn’t love and gave them a thick coat of gesso. For those who are unfamiliar, gesso is a white medium that is used to prime canvases, or to cover over a canvas that has already been painted. I now have fresh white structures to paint. I considered doing this a month or so ago and I wasn’t ready to part with those paintings, but today it felt good to leave them behind and think about what I could work on next. It’s liberating to clear out; whether that be culling out clothes that no longer fit, supplies you no longer use, redundant kitchen utensils, even packaging material saved from deliveries. All these actions create space. I firmly believe our brains need uncluttered physical environments to be their most expansive and imaginative selves.
It has made me think a lot about how we do this–or fail to do this–in our businesses. When was the last time I looked at all of my business operations with a truly critical eye, deciding what to keep, what to tweak, and what to trash? In hindsight, I know as a newbie provider I clung pretty tightly to my policies and procedures, without necessarily thinking through whether or not they were perfect for my practice and my clients, but knowing they were “standard” in my area. Reading through all paperwork on a yearly basis with a mindset of curiosity now helps me to get clear on how to reflect my values through my policies and communicate my business boundaries in a way that is authentic.
I love the creative side of business creation: the color schemes, the websites, the way we articulate our mission and vision to connect with our clients. But sometimes even that creative vision changes. A color scheme that reflected our business and, by extension, our selves, may no longer be a great fit five years down the road. Copy that read as fresh and vibrant may sound stale and jargon-y as our vocabulary shifts over time.
Fall is a great time for redefinition in our personal lives and in our businesses. I encourage you to embrace this urge, should it strike you, and find what fits, what you’ve outgrown, and what needs to be altered in your business to reflect who you are as a provider right now. If you don’t naturally have this tendency in the autumn, perhaps you find yourself in that mindset at the end of the calendar year, or as the days lengthen and spring arrives. Whenever it is, embrace it. There is no room for growth and expansion without culling, and no shame in saying goodbye to practices that no longer fit your needs. Once you create that clean white canvas again, you’ll be open to the possibilities and inspiration that will come.
Struggling to actualize your vision and mission for your work? I love supporting providers in key stages of their business development: dreaming, launching, growing, and re-defining. Reach out for a no obligation discovery call and we can explore whatever season your business is in and strategize on your next steps.