Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Dealing With The Horror Question, “When are you going to have kids?”

It drives so many of us nuts, but some people insist on being rude and asking personal questions. 

We chose not to have kids, so this one comes from the heart.


Here are some extra notes:

Alternatives to "Mind your own business" from the bluntest to the politest

My sex life and fertility status are private
You ask this every time we meet. Tell you what, when something changes, I'll let you know
Why do you need to know?
I don't know. So, what's new with you?
When the time is right. So, seen any good films recently?

If you want to opt for schooling them

About 10% to 15% of Malaysian couples have fertility issues. Therefore, that question is considered rude/insensitive.

If you want to communicate openly

Statement of emotion
"I don't know. And frankly, I dread this question. It spoils parties for me, and holidays."

Block their arguing
"I'm not discussing it anymore."

Direct to action/new behaviour
"Please, don't ask me again. Don't talk to me about it."

"So, what's new with you?"

Enforce the boundary by walking away if they persist.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Resetting Career Priorities After The Pandemic - Two Things That Worked And One Thing That Didn't

Every August I have a think about my therapy practice and figure out what I want from the next 12 months. Last year I focused on picking up some new skills; this year I am focusing on growing my business.

To do that successfully, I had to consider my lifestyle, my other activities, and fit it all together.  The huge challenge is the pandemic. Continuing lockdowns and flareups in various countries create merry hell with the economy, and the uncertainty makes it tough to plan.

Even so, it's the end of the first quarter, and I'm hitting my goals, so here are some thoughts. If you're planning a reset in 2022, I hope this will be of use to you.

What really worked super well #1: Clearing my mind of all the things that I kind of like but don't really need, and being brutal about not doing things that I maybe 'should' be doing but that I really don't want to.

This prep was fundamental. It came in two flavours: work and social.

Work: In the last few years I've had various revenue streams, and it's tempting to hang on to all of them. I listed them all, and looked at Return On Investment, ROI, to see how much work I put into every dollar earned.

I dumped all the ones that weren't giving good returns. I thought I'd freak about this, but it was surprisingly relieving.

Social: I realized during the first year of the pandemic that I find social occasions quite draining. I love small chats with small groups of people, but I don't like big gatherings. Also, I hate traffic jams.

I have stopped going to weddings and parties. And all my in-person socializing is now kept to one day a month. BUT, I have regular WhatsApp calls with friends, three to four times a week.

I thought this might be really awful, but it turns out so many people feel overwhelmed, that this worked out great.  

I also always say no to meeting strangers in person. Whenever there's a business person who wants to talk about an opportunity blah blah blah…. They get a strictly timed Zoom or a WhatsApp chat that lasts a few minutes. I may be missing opportunities but that's where the next bit comes in.

Bottom line: Getting rid of a lot of emotional burden that didn't pay off was a good move. It's left me energized to get cracking on the next thing.

What really worked super well #2:  Setting a one sentence goal.

Usually, I try to fit various things in but this year I had one goal only. I decided that what I really want is to have two stable revenue streams. That is a split between the psychology and the corporate writing.

It boiled down to this basic:  "To have 18 to 22 client hours a week, and to maintain the writing contract I have at the present level."

The writing is what it is, and there's nothing to do there except for set aside the hours it takes to service the contact.

All my energy is therefore aimed at the therapy business. I was aiming at a 15% increase, which was doable in terms of time as I dumped the low-return writing clients. But it means I had to recruit new therapy clients.

To get that going means maintaining a certain level of marketing - just a little to trickle in new business but not too much because I am one person and can only take on a certain amount of work.

Also, I focus on depression and anxiety, but I want to make sure I have a spread of work (relationships, career issues, relocation issues etc) so I stay fresh. That means I have to adjust my marketing regularly.

I'm there most weeks, and if I keep doing what I'm doing, it'll be fine - as long as the economy is stable, and as long as the pandemic doesn't flare up again.

What completely crashed and burned: being too reactive

Initially, I was seeing what was what every few days. I should have known that's not right because big picture thinking is the stuff of longterm success. So I dropped a loop there.

With my business, I need to make a monthly goal, and to note holidays which impact on client hours too.

Also, marketing tends to take two months or so to kick in, and some of it needs two or three repeats. So some of the things I did in September won't be visible until December or even January.  

I have learned to sit back and not look at how I'm doing every day or even every week. I'm looking every few weeks now and by mid-2022, I plan to be looking just once a month to every six weeks.

Overall though, it's worked well and I'm really happy. I am on FB a bit less on my busy weeks, but I see you all more on the less busy weeks.

To sum up: being ruthless about streamlining, being super focused on a very tight goal, and then stepping back is working for me.

Let me know what you think.