My RD Journey

From Undergrad -> Internship -> RD -> Private Practice!


1 Comment

Feeling Stuck – Ideal Clients & Taking Action

Welcome back to MyRDJourney! Have you ever just said to yourself, “What am I even doing with my life?!” Maybe, feeling a bit stuck and unsure of what to do next?

That was me over the past few months (and part of why I was on a blog hiatus). I hit a point in my business where I just plateaued. I could live comfortably where I was; however, it was starting to become less fun and exciting. I wanted to re-find my passion and be challenged again.

I really started to think about my 5 year goals, short-term goals and how that did (more like didn’t) align with what I was currently doing in the business. I spent a lot of time re-evaluating my business and working ON it (instead of in it). I talked to a lot of other Dietitians and began to realize this was a pretty normal thing to go through in business and not to be too hard on myself. I have only been in business for 3 years (2 years full-time), so I really needed to first cut myself some slack and second start to plan.

One crucial thing I did this month was to figure out who my ideal client was and how my services aligned with them and their needs. I dug deep into their struggles, their barriers to change, what they needed to succeed, and most importantly, where they find nutrition information. I started to connect the dots between my ideal clients, services, and goals.

It became really clear to me that there were a lot of instances where my business offerings didn’t match my current target client. For example, I started a Weight Management Support Group in July as a beta-program. I had 12 participants. For the paid group in the Fall that dropped to 3. I ended up re-branding it as the Healthy Habit Jump-Start for 2019 (still in open enrollment). I just now realized that this online program doesn’t target my current clients and how they receive nutrition information. A lot of my face-to-face clients prefer the face-to-face, aren’t comfortable using online programs and are too busy to have a specific class time (as in they prefer a more self-guided program). There was so much disconnect that was stunting my business growth and I was completely overlooking it until now.

IDEAL

With all of that in mind, I took a few days to lay out the following in a chart (email me if you want a copy):
-My ideal client profile: demographics, struggles, barriers, needs
-My current (and planned) products/services
-How my products/services are beneficial to my client
-What changes I needed to make for that specific product/service
-How I was currently promoting the product/service
-What actions I needed to make
-What tools I would need to succeed

I took a look through this chart and asked myself, “What am I doing that I am no longer passionate about or no longer find fun?” I also thought about my current partnerships and how they fit into the mix. I stepped away from a few that were very one-sided (not in my favor) and others that were a complete time-suck with little to no benefit to my business. It is hard to let go of things (check out my blog on this). It’s like when you clean out your clothes closet and try to get rid of things you never wear. You play a mind game with yourself by saying, “I might wear this again.” They usually say if you haven’t worn it in the year, you probably won’t ever. I tried to apply this same line of thinking with certain clients/partnerships, “If it is not working well now (or you hate it), chances are it won’t get better (and it needs to end).”

Watermelon-adult-seeds-pompomAfter doing that, I created my urgent action goals, 1-month goals, and daily action items, which I scheduled in my calendar. A lot of my monthly goals are focused on social media content (blogs, Facebook posts, Instagram, YouTube videos, etc) and developing some of my newer products/services. Some of my new business ventures are fruit-themed knitted hats, fruit and vegetable songs (using my piano-playing skills finally), and a plant-based fitness component. I am hoping to pass my ACSM Personal Trainer Certification in the next month to be able to tie in my passion for a plant-based style of eating and fitness (specifically strength-training). I am doing a bit of test marketing and building of my online presence through Instagram for now, since that is where my ideal client is. Follow me @plantedinfitness!

watermelon-string-art.jpg

All-in-all, I am really happy with with what I have accomplished over the past few years and I am excited for 2019 now that I have a clear idea of my target clients, goals, and actions. If you are feeling stuck or if you are in the process of planning for 2019, remember to ask yourself this key question, “Is the thing that I am doing (or striving for) my passion?” If the answer is no, you might want to do some re-evaluating before launching or moving forward. Remember, I am always here if anyone wants to bounce ideas off of me. Shoot me an email or schedule a Free Coaching call via my website!

Advertisements


1 Comment

Business Lessons Learned – Letting Go

This past month, I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do long-term with my business. One major thing I learned is that it is okay to just let go. Let go of aspects of your business that are not working. Let go of hangups you have on moving forward. Let go of bad business connections.

I used to think of letting things go as a sort of moral failure; that I just wasn’t working hard enough at whatever it was to make it succeed. The fact is that I have changed since I started my business and I can guarantee many of you reading this have done the same at some point in your career. Maybe the change was gradual and you didn’t even notice it right away or maybe it was sudden and out of necessity. I needed the change in my business to become a better and more well-rounded professional. Letting go does not mean you didn’t put in the time and effort for success. It is not to be seen as a “failure,” but a learning experience, opportunity for growth, or chance to try something new.

I challenge you to look at your business with an outside perspective. What is eating at your time and not producing results? What connections are more damaging to your business and/or productivity than they are beneficial? What can you you let go of for the opportunity to grow?

Earlier this week, I sat down at my business journal and just brain dumped what I was thinking. I wrote down things I wish I had known (and did now), tips for myself, frustrations, “aha” moments, just everything. I filled almost 4 pages with random thoughts and it was actually quite invigorating. Going back a few days after writing, I realized there were some gems in my string of random thoughts. If you have a rough day (or month) or even a great one, take a few moments to just write out your thoughts on paper. No judgement. No worries about grammar. Just write and see what realizations you come to have about yourself and your business. This could help you in taking the next step in your business or changing the way you run things.

Below are just a few of the many business tips and realizations I brain dumped that day.
-I think I would like (and need) a secretary to help with fielding calls and scheduling appointments. (This made me look into online scheduling software).
-I like guiding and teaching, which make me want to search out more opportunities to do presentations and also develop more programs to coach or work with other Dietitians.
-Some days, I am just completely unmotivated and that is okay. Every day won’t be super productive. Just as long as those unmotivated days don’t become an issue for business.
-Mid-day gym sessions really boost my productivity and momentum.
-A support system can really make or break you. Just having that 1 person makes a world of difference.
-Some days you just work late.
-I wonder how other people see me and my business. I wonder how I could gauge this.
-I need to DO more than THINK. I spend too much time planning and overthinking that this sometimes leads to inaction.
-Relating to your clients is key. Trust begins here and they feel safer opening up.

Have you ever just brain-dumped in a journal? What “aha” moments did you have? Leave a comment and let me know!


Leave a comment

Dietitian Interview Tips

Welcome back to My RD Journey! Things have been a bit crazy over here the past few weeks. I half expected my client load to decrease with the end of summer and beginning of the school year; yet, it is has been the opposite, which is good! I also got the opportunity to teach an in-person class at a local community college for this semester. It was super last minute as in I found out about it on Thursday, interviewed Friday, went to an in-service the following Monday and started teaching Wednesday. I didn’t have access to anything, just a textbook and role-book on my first day. I am now heading into week 4 of classes and I love it! I love being able to teach young minds about nutrition and I especially love that I have so much flexibility in how I teach the materials. Despite the craziness in my schedule, I love that I have the opportunity to teach and ultimately grow professionally. It is very gratifying!

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about my business and the direction I want to move in. I have enough clients to bring on another Dietitian, yet, I am hesitant to do so since I would have to change up my business structure, figure payroll out, and whatnot. I know a few other RDs that do this; however, I am not sure if this is my ideal long-term business plan. I am also finishing up the editing for my first book and I definitely want to get it out for September. I have about 6 other book ideas fleshed out (some for RDs and some for public); however, I am just struggling to find time to write. I am at the point where I could just continue with my current load of clients and classes; however, a part of me wants to change it up. I also want to have more time to myself versus running around every day. I am wondering if teaching is something I will end up wanting to do more of long-term. Anyone else reach this turning point in their business? What did you do in moving forward?

Since I had recently interviewed for a college faculty position, I wanted to share some of the tips I gained. Whether you are a new RD looking for a job out of your internship or an RD that is debating switching careers, these tips will hopefully provide you with some insight.

(Dietitian) Interview Tips 

1 – Do Your Research
For almost every interview I had, I was asked the question, “Why did you choose ____(insert facility name here” or something along those lines. So, think to yourself, “Why are you interested in this facility or this position?” If you are just trying to get any job, spend a few minutes on the company’s website or Facebook page. Are there programs that they run that you think are great? What about their philosophy for wellness or patient care? Pinpoint some aspects of the facility that you could touch on in the interview.

2 – Bring the Essentials
For my interview, I brought in my resume, CV (which had more detailed information about my education), cover letter, list of 3-4 references, and some examples of my work. Even if the information was submitted already online or via email, I always bring hard copies with me. I have had interviewers put my copies in with my employee file or review with me during the interview. When thinking about bringing work examples, I tailor the materials towards the type of interview I am in. For example, with teaching I had sample lesson plans I wrote for high school students and adults. I normally wait to bring out my work samples until it comes up in conversation.

3 – Be Prepared
If you haven’t interviewed in a while (or ever), make sure you do some practicing with a friend or family member. Go through some of the most common interview questions like: what are your strengths and weaknesses or what is your teaching philosophy or why would you be a good fit for this position or how would you handle scenarios for conflict or working in teams. Trust in the education and experience that you have!

4 – Dress to Impress
I always say to fellow Dietitians and interns that it is better to dress up and be told to dress down than the opposite. Come to the interview in your best professional attire even if you know the position you are applying for involves wearing scrubs.

5 – Come with Questions
When you go in for an interview, you are also, in a sense, interviewing the facility/interviewer. Will this place be a good fit for you? Do they offer the benefits you need? Always come prepared with questions. The last thing you want to do is get into a job and realize it was not what you expected! Ask what a typical day looks like for the Dietitian. Ask about the interview process or training procedures. Don’t be afraid to come with a list of questions to ask. This also shows your organizational skills, that you prepared for the interview and you care about your role as a Dietitian.

Remember to just be yourself and trust in the experience that you have. Leave a comment and let me know your best interview tips!


1 Comment

Balancing Work & Personal Life

Happy Saturday! This is going to be a bit shorter of a post since I have a ton of cooking to do for Easter tomorrow. I am making about 70% of the menu this year, which I am so happy about, since it was a slow process getting my whole family interested in healthier meals/sides.

The past few weeks, I have had a lot of time to reflect on how one-sided my life felt in terms of balance. I felt like I was always working and just squeezed in time for myself or my family. I still wasn’t working on the things that I had set goals for (like writing an e-book or creating Podcasts) and I really needed to make that change. I had a few family issues this week (all resolved) that made me appreciate the fact that I have a private practice and do have flexibility. I did realize that my time still needed to be adjusted for a more optimal day-to-day routine. So, with that being said, this post brings to you my top 3 tips/lessons for having a more balanced work and personal life.

1. Set (and Keep) Boundaries for Yourself
I am the worst at keeping my boundaries. I will say to myself that Tuesday I am not booking clients so I can work on x-y-z. Then, a client comes along needing an appointment and I say, “Hey, what’s an hour?” The reality is that the 1-hour appointment also includes travel time + prep + post work (billing, report writing, etc) and can really break the concentration I had going for the day. I now schedule in my calendar the days where I don’t see clients and I stick to it. Setting boundaries also means not checking emails or your phone constantly. I no longer answer emails after 8pm, unless it has been a late day for me. I always think to myself that, “It can wait, or they would call.” If not, I end up checking the email, spending the time to respond or react in some way and ultimately it feels like my work day is just dragging on and well into my personal time.

2. Schedule It
Going along with keeping boundaries, use your calendar to schedule when you are doing personal things. I planned out the days I would go to the gym and when I would be gardening. I also set days for office-work for my business and times when I would work on content creation. This could mean seeing clients on Mondays, Wednesday and Thursdays and also teaching classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It could mean Tuesdays are when I garden and spend time doing personal things. It could mean Fridays are office-work days where I follow-up on billing issues, work on social media, etc. At first I had the thought that my life was so planned it leaves no wiggle room; however, I discovered that by setting aside the time initially, I had more freedom and flexibility.

3. Don’t Overbook Yourself
When I first started my practice full-time, I just wanted to get as many clients scheduled as I possibly could. After realizing that I wasn’t spending time on furthering my practice, I began to cut back on my workload and space it out a bit more. If I overbook, I end up stressed out and really just not at my prime. Not overbooking yourself ties right into keeping the boundaries you set. If I lose a client because I can’t see them in 2 weeks, then so be it. It rarely has happened that someone doesn’t want to wait for an appointment; however, I know for my sanity and stress level that cramming in an appointment isn’t good for me. Usually, those cram-in appointments take the place of the time I wanted to go to the gym or time I wanted to create something. In the long-term, it isn’t worth it. In my last blog post, you can read all about how I have been striving to reform my practice to allow for more flexibility while maintaining income in the long-term.

In the end, the reason I am so busy is due to my own fault in over scheduling and plain overbooking myself. I no longer want to be so busy that I can’t enjoy the things I love like gardening or spending time with my family or cooking. So, my personal commitment is to streamline my business and tasks that go along with it to be able to have the optimal work-life balance for me.

Leave a comment and let me know what your tips/strategies are for keeping your work and personal life in balance.


3 Comments

4-Month Practice Recap – Self-Employed Vs. Employee

This blog post was originally going to be all about setting income goals and figuring out billable hours; however, as I approach my 4-month self-employed, private practice milestone, I had something different I wanted to share first. This revolves around mainly how I left a “9-5” employee job for a 9-7 if not 8-7 self-employed private practice. Was it worth it? Of course and I would do it again; however, I did come to realize a few things this past month that are going to redefine how I do business in the future.

When I first thought about private practice, I didn’t think it would end up being something full-time. Sure, I would have absolutely loved to just be doing my practice; however, I just didn’t see that as being realistic. I was certain I needed the traditional path of jobs to be successful. After a few years, I began to see that full-time private practice was definitely realistic and coming faster than I had imagined. Now, let’s flash-forward to when I was deciding to leave my full-time employee job. I debated with myself A LOT in the months leading up to my quitting. Would I make enough money? Would I actually like what I was doing? Would I get overwhelmed? I was someone who was ingrained with the idea of making money and saving for a future. Not that this was at all a bad thing, but I was fearful that I wouldn’t be saving and would instead drain the savings I had been building for years.

With those thoughts in the back of my mind, I still quit my job and was quite successful being a private practice business owner. My income surpassed what I was making being an employee, I was flexible enough to be able to spend time with my family whenever needed, and I loved being able to choose what I was doing. So, this doesn’t seem so bad at all, right? To be honest, my success was largely due to stretching myself beyond capacity, taking paying gigs whenever possible (even if they were at lower rates than I wanted) and seeing clients even on the days when I wanted to just focus on office work. I wasn’t spending time on creating products for my lesson plan store. I wasn’t spending time on making YouTube videos. I wasn’t spending time on writing a book. I was just working to make money (and of course because I truly like what I do). It was at this point that I realized that I couldn’t add more to my schedule because the time just simply wasn’t there. I also wasn’t adding in the pieces of my business that would be a source of passive income, thus lightening up my day-to-day workload. I was still bound to certain time constraints for classes or counseling for income and low and behold, that cut my flexibility in half.

After a long chat with my beyond supportive boyfriend, I set goals for myself to cut the fat out of my business. My time was more valuable than what I was being paid for some classes and that needed to change. I also needed to actually set and stick to a schedule where I would only see clients and have classes on certain days. I stopped trying to join various committees and groups to network or invest my time in (for free). I stuck with the organizations I was already in and set boundaries for myself as to how involved I would be. I needed to block off time for content/product/program creation. I refused to be a slave to my own business anymore.

So, why I am I sharing all this with you? Well, for me, the easier route in private practice was to just go out and make that quick money. It was the instant gratification and certainly short-term. What was harder was investing (or starting to invest) my time into what would turn into a long-term income source. This long-term income source would free up more of my time so I could actually enjoy being self-employed. I could get back to more of my hobbies without feeling guilty that I wasn’t working on the business. I could spend more time with my family without bringing work along. I could invest more time in personal development and enhancing my skills as a Dietitian. The positive side of this was simply endless.

If you ever get to this point in your practice, think to yourself what you truly want in being self-employed. Do you want to work like crazy for the goal of not having a boss or company telling you what to do or do you want to have more flexibility in what you do on the day-to-day, while still making money through passive income sources? Once you think about what your long-term goal is, break it down to determine short-term goals and plan your schedule around that. It is so easy to get sucked into the work and make money thought process; however, this process can be simplified, streamlined, and more so minimized to create more time for yourself. In the end, isn’t that what we all want…more time?

To sum up this lengthy blog post, I want to say that when I think about my future, I want that future to include more time for myself, my family, and eventually my kids (I don’t have any now). I don’t want to be forced into 8 or 10 hour workdays to make enough money, even if it is on my own terms. This post is by no means me saying that if you want the traditional private practice that it is in some way less ideal or wrong for you. The beautiful thing about private practice is that YOU can create the type of business structure that will suite YOUR needs above anybody else.

So, leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts on this topic. What does your ideal private practice look like? What does your ideal workweek entail?

Stay tuned next week where I will be sharing my thoughts on how to set income goals and defining billable hours!


Leave a comment

Two-Month Private Practice Anniversary

Today official marks the two-month milestone of quitting my full-time job and jumping into a full-time private practice. If you have read my previous blogs, I recently wrote on finding out what success looked like for me and what direction I wanted to take my practice in. While I am still figuring out what my long-term goals are, I know that I am rushing for things to happen, which is not good. It mean it does make sense that I was getting ahead of myself since my practice became my sole income source. I was constantly trying to plan my next move, develop more ideas, create partnerships, and more! I was becoming overwhelmed and ultimately beginning to dislike the position I was in.

I thought back to my previous 3 years of just doing my practice on the side, without much real effort (minus the insurance provider part). During that time, I still gained clients and had opportunities arise. I realized I was stressing myself out over just 2-months of focusing all of my efforts on my business. I thought to myself that I really did a lot more than I was giving myself credit for. I did something scary and challenging by quitting my job in December. I reached out to potential partners and gain two solid ones on top of those I already was working with. I landed a contract for a 6-week class that turned into an additional 7-week class (since the participants were so happy with the program I did). I created and stuck to a more consistent blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram post schedule. I began networking with other Dietitians in my area. I took the chance to run for a position with the Philadelphia Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. I became a blogger for Eat Right PA. The list goes on and on.

You may be reading this thinking to yourself that it may be great I am doing all of these things; however, why should you care. Well, if you are in private practice or are thinking about it you may probably get to the stage that I am in where you wonder if you should be doing more. You may wonder why (constantly) you chose to do something that is scary and unknown most of the time. I challenge you to take a few moments and write out all of the positive things you have done in the last month or even week. Doing so can help you to put in perspective just how much effort you have put into your business. The reason why I do this despite all of the doubts I have is that it is so rewarding to have success in something that you worked so hard for on your own (i.e. without a large company supporting you along the way, especially financially).

While the first two months have been flying by I know that I am doing all the right things and I need to not worry so much about forcing new ideas or opportunities. I know that if I keep doing what I am doing on a daily basis (at the level of quality I am), these opportunities will come, just as they have in the past. Getting overwhelmed is stressful and to be blunt, useless. It paralyzes you and can inhibit your creativity and drive. If I start to get overwhelmed, I journal (which really helps me to see what I have accomplished already), I go for a walk, I make a list, I go to the gym, etc. Taking that time to clear my head gets me back in the game, gets me motivated, and helps me to weed through clutter to make real progress.

So, what are your stressing over that is useless and inhibiting your creativity and drive for success?

Check out my last blog post on “Tackling Your Business Fears”Tackling Business Fears


6 Comments

Tackling Business Fears

How many of you reading this are putting something off out of fear? Fear is something that can be overwhelming and paralyzing. Fear of contacting a new partnership company. Fear of making the first step to starting your own business. Fear of driving. Fear of the dark. Fear of a new relationship. Fear of leaving the comfortable for the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of change.

Recently, I have let my own fears drive my emotions and ultimately my private practice. Two months after leaving my full-time job, I started to panic. What if I don’t make enough money to survive? What if I don’t get any more clients? I began to feel unsure of my next step and had a dip in my motivation. After reading multiple business books and filling my social media with positive business owners, I realized that everyone has similar fears to mine; however, the key to overcoming them was doing something about it. I could sit and worry all day long and that wouldn’t solve anything. In fact, that would probably contribute to the possibility of my worst fears happening since I was ultimately neglecting my business.

Through working with my own fears, I have laid out 3 steps that I believe could be beneficial in many situations. These steps are a combination of thoughts from books, articles, my own experiences, and friends and family members. I hope these steps will help you as much as they have been helping me!

Step 1 – Write out the worst case scenario

What could happen if your fears came true? One of my fears is not getting enough clients to sustain my business. This is what my worst case scenario looked like: Loss of clients (or lack of gaining new clients) –> Loss of income –> Drain or use my savings –> Lean on my boyfriend (since we live together) –> Close my business –> Feeling like I failed and disappointed those who believed in me –> Be forced to find an actually 9-5 job, which I wasn’t thrilled about. One thing I did when I wrote out the worst case scenario was think about a rebuttal. Loss of clients, maybe I would find better ones? Use my savings, isn’t this what I have been saving for anyways? Lean on my boyfriend, didn’t we talk about this being a possibility and work it out financially? Feeling like I failed, well don’t they know how hard I tried? Finding a 9-5, maybe it is something I will love? I feeling like having the little rebuttal almost helps you to emotionally prepare for what could happen and it makes it easier to settle those fears for the time being. When thinking about your worst case scenario, I would think about ways you could fix things along the way too. You don’t want to have a small loss of income and immediately think you need to forgo the business and find a job. Think about steps you could take if just one of those fears start to develop and how you could rebound from it.

Step 2 – Write out the best case scenario

Let’s say you want to take a risk and that fear is stopping you. Once you have your fears broken down, think about what is the best thing that could happen. Take my client example from earlier: Influx of clients –> Boost in income –> Ability to grow my business –> Hire assistant or an additional dietitian –> Allows me to do more creating behind the scenes –> More products developed –> More opportunities with new clients –> Working less to allow time for a family –> Feeling really awesome! The possibilities seem endless in this scenario. When you take a risk in your business or personal life, you have the opportunity to grow, make connections, and succeed.

Step 3 – Start your day with one thing that you fear

I was reading the “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss and I came across a section that said something like, “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do,” which i believe was an excerpt from a previous work of his. That quote resonated with me so much since I was in a place of worry and fear of my business direction. I decided then that I would start every day with something that I feared or something that I needed to do, but didn’t really want to. Doing this made me feel charged, accomplished, and more confident afterwards. Instead of letting that fear continue to paralyze you, nip it in the butt first thing in the morning. It doesn’t have to be a huge jump every morning, but instead, can be a small step in overcoming your fears.

Fear is definitely hard to overcome, especially in business. It takes courage and strength to push through the uncomfortable and grow. I would highly suggest finding someone close to you who could give you the honest truth about your fears. Are they even rational? Do you need a good shake? This person will need to be able to give you honest feedback in that they can’t just agree with everything you say. Find someone who will challenge you and push you.

I hope reading this blog helped you to either take the first steps in identifying your fears or take actions to overcome them. Leave me a comment to let me know what you are working on!