Tweaking 2011

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This is my first blog entry on Evernote.  I’m excited about that because learning and trying out Evernote is one of my 2011 goals.  More about that in a sec.

One of the reasons I love supervising therapists is that it keeps me honest and focussed on innovation.  The other night I was talking with a supervisee about scheduling our time for the upcoming year.  Would an evening time on another day work better for me? (Quite a thoughtful supervisee, not an uncommon experience given our field.)  I found myself answering that I wasn’t sure yet, because I needed to re-evaluate my evening time.  I have been noticing a drop-off in my work with adolescents, and have been coming to the conclusion that if I want to keep working with adolescents I’ll need to give up some of my evening time.

This time of year is an excellent time of year to give your practice and your career the lookover.  In the past several years I have gravitated to more traditional hours so I could pursue other projects.  For example, my professional development and networking goals for the past year and a half have been fulfilled by my Fellowship appointment at the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis.  In 2009 I identified the need for more collegial contacts and friendships as well as wanting to have CEs for my license.  The Fellowship has provided me both in abundance.  Like many of my actions to meet my goal, the MIP Fellowship was a “twofer.”

I always try to have as many twofers or threefers as possible, so that I don’t overwhelm myself with actions to meet the multiple goals.  Twofers are important to me because I want to consolidate my actions, but not my goals.  So I list my current goals and then put the actions under the goal(s) it fulfills.  I also rate it hot or backburner.  That way if I have a few actions I make myself evaluate the relative strength of my interest to do each.  So follow me along for an example:

Professional Development Goal

  • MIP Fellowship- heading towards backburner.  This is my last year of it, and I’m ready to move on to a different structure and get my Monday night back.
  • Program Exploration – hot.  I need to begin planning on what I will do to replace the Fellowship, which means taking a look at workshop or mini-course offerings or webinars that happen during the day.  Am I willing to give up my weekends yet?  Traditionally I have balked at Saturday workshops, so I am revisiting this.
  • Continuing Ed on cultural competency working with transgender population- hot.  My practice has been trending towards an increase working with this population, so I need to invest time in updating my skills in theory and best practices.

Clinical Therapy Goal

  • Adolescents- hot.  I have noticed that I am trending downward in my work with adolescents, a population I love.  Most adolescents require parental transportation and can’t miss school regularly, so I need to revisit my giving an evening up.  Saturdays? No.  (This is an excellent example by the way, of how there is no one right answer for this.  My colleague Susan Giurleo regularly works an evening and Saturday, and there are lots of good reasons for doing this.  I have consciously chosen the last 2 years to not have an evening because the evening time was more valuable to me than the money I was choosing not to make.  Choosing not to make money is different than saying, “why can’t I fill my practice, whoa is me.”  Money is one item of value, time is another, it is up to you to choose what you want to give up.
  • Gamers- hot.  I want to continue to focus on working with more gamers.  I need to revisit where and how to get referrals.  This year I will try to offer more public speaking opportunities to colleagues to increase awareness of gamer-affirmative therapy.  Also will use Twitter to remind my followers of my interest in working with this population.
  • Couples work- backburner.  Even on my best day, this is not my preferred modality.  I will maintain my “no more than 3” couple limit, but am tweaking it to focus on private pay, gamer couples or online therapy.

Technology Goal

  • Twitter-hot.  I continue to find Twitter useful, but am tweaking it a lot.  I will use it to Tweet blog articles or RTs and hold to my goal of 2RTs and 2 salient tweets (i.e., tweeting something I think is relevant professionally rather than for the sake of Tweeting.  Recently I have fallen short of this goal because of the magnitude of tweets that come my way.  Will add this to my Epic Win program and scale back on how much time I spend reviewing.  Will keep an eye out for Tweet-management software to see if I find any I like more than TwInbox.
  • Evernote- hot.  I have heard about how great Evernote is for too long from too many people I respect to ignore it.  I will familiarize myself with this program and try using it for blogging, as well as exploring which other goals it might further.
  • Game exploration-hot. I have been focussing on WoW and Second Life.
  • Rockmelt-backburner.  Still in beta and having some bugs.  Still limiting access so limited as social media.  Shut down and I lost a whole blog post!  I am continuing to play with it a little but relying on Firefox until it gets a little more stable.

Social Justice Goal

  • Give an Hour-hot.  I still find this a meaningful way of donating clinical time to fulfill the gap for returning vets.  There is an increasing number of vets and active duty gaming, and this is a potential twofer with the Clinical goal.
  • Diversity Class- hot.  I continue to find teaching this worth the “pay cut” I take by giving up those clinical hours.  This is a twofer a teaching goal and writing goal on rethinking how we teach Diversity.
  • Masshealth-backburner.  I am opting out of taking Masshealth due to the high cancel rate I’ve experienced in the past.  This is a twofer with my business Goal below of decreasing my involvement with insurance and diversifying revenue.

Business Goal

  • Reduce dependence on insurance-hot.  The writing is on the wall for decreased revenue and increased hassle as Health Care Reform takes effect.  Leave Masshealth and UBH networks.
  • Increase online therapy-hot.  I need to focus on increasing marketing for this modality, it is all private pay and more flexible in time to meet patients and my needs.
  • Increase consultation and supervision-hot.  Supervision and consultation was the biggest growing area of my practice last year.  Need to poll current consultees about what they find most valuable so I can emphasize that.  Be willing to slide down to my bottom line to attract supervisees in early stage of their career.  Make and post more video on supervision and consultancy.
  • Advertising-backburner.  Google Ads not yielding much ROI, decrease ad bids.  Stay on Psychology Today for next year but focus marketing/advertising through speaking engagements.

Teaching Goal

  • Additional psychodynamic class-hot.  New syllabus written and course approved.  Hopefully this will be offered this summer, will apply to teach it.
  • One class per semester-hot.  This tweak from two classes one semester and one the next was a big improvement.  Evaluations better, enjoyed work more.  Will consider whether to make up third class by committing to summer course regularly.
  • Offer visiting lecture or workshops to universities-hot.  This year I want to get out to more college health centers and schools for social work to present on gaming.  Tufts very successful, will look for opportunities to present at other universities.   Put the word out, twofer with business and professional development goals.

Writing and Research Goal

  • Newsletter-hot.  The readership response has been positive and begun to generate revenue.  Need to stay focussed on keeping newsletter relevant and yet distinct to my niche.  Review of clicks indicates that the psychoanalytic topics are more popular than the gaming ones.  How can I increase traffic to those stories?
  • Blog-hot.  Now have over 100 readers subscribed, and growing.  Need to continue to make this a focus.  2-3 posts weekly remains doable and will maintain 2 minimum.  Again, the practice/business posts are more popular than the gaming ones, need to consider how to increase interest in those articles.  This is a threefer with business and clinical goals.
  • Journal article-backburner.  The style and tone of blogging is much more satisfying currently, will revisit later in the year to see if this changes.

So that’s my beginning of 2011 review and tweak.  It took me 40 minutes to think and write about this.  Don’t you think it would be worth 40 minutes of your time to do the same?  What are your goals for this year, feel free to use the blog comment to get started!


  1. Mike I LOVE this analysis! All of us should take the time to outline our plans, and goals each year, adjusting and tweaking based on our interests, market realities and life style changes.

    I’ve worked 2 evenings and Saturdays for 6 years now and could fill those hours 5x over if I really wanted to. I did this initially so I could be home days with my young son. Now that he’s in school full time, I’m dialing back Saturdays and the evenings, but this is intentional and planned for. One of the perks of being self employed is being able to adjust our schedules as we see fit.

  2. I’ve been feeling the need to do a comprehensive goal assessment, too. Your post has increased my motivation. Thanks!

    Oh, and I love Evernote…been using it lots more the last few months and even took the plunge to become a paying customer.

  3. This is great, Mike, thanks for sharing. I did something similar a few days ago as I always do at this time of year. I find it so helpful to plan things out month by month and have it in writing.


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