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[00:00:00] Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

This episode is brought to you by PAR. The Feifer Assessment of Writing examines why students may struggle with writing. The FAW and the FAW screening form are available on PARiConnect- PAR’s online assessment platform. Learn more at parinc.com\faw.

All right, everyone. Hey. Welcome back. Welcome back to myself, actually. It’s been a long, long time since I have recorded a new podcast episode.

Some of you have probably noticed that the podcast [00:01:00] release schedule has been a little slower over the summer, or a lot slower as a matter of fact. And that’s a big part of today’s episode.

I will admit right off the bat that the reduced content schedule was not deliberate. What happened was I ignored all of the advice that I have given on the podcast over the last four years and got completely overwhelmed, took on too many things and frankly just fell behind in nearly all aspects of my life for the first time in a long time. So that’s what I’m here to talk about. If it’s interesting at all to you to hear how I totally messed up and ignored everything that I’ve been preaching for a while and subsequently dug [00:02:00] myself back out, then this is the episode for you. My hope is that talking through this process will maybe help some of you who may be in a similar situation or who have found yourselves in this situation in the past.

So just a few things I’m going to talk about. I’m going to talk about a little bit of a post-mortem analysis of what went wrong over the last few months and things that I did that I shouldn’t have done, decisions I made that I shouldn’t have made or should have made differently. So I’m going to do a little analysis. I’m also going to talk about what I learned, how I fixed things and got back to normal, and at the end, have two small announcements about the podcast and my consulting world.

So welcome back. I hope [00:03:00] I didn’t lose too many of you in the interim, and I am excited to be back and chatting with you again. Let’s get to it.

Okay, here we are. We are back to talk about how I royally messed up over the last six months or so, what came of that, what I’ve learned, how that changed things, and what things are going to look like moving forward.

First and foremost, I want to apologize. Over the years, we’ve established this informal contract between myself and the audience whereby [00:04:00] y’all count on Testing Psychologist podcast episodes to come out on a regular schedule. Well, I’ve taken breaks in the past. They’ve been a little bit more planned and they have been shorter. So, I want to apologize to some of you out there who have contacted me, others who have not contacted me but undoubtedly have been wondering what is going on with the podcast and where are the new episodes?

Simply put, I just took on way too much over the past several months and got behind on the release schedule. So I apologize to all of you for that and I just want to acknowledge that this has been a bit of a humbling experience.

In general, this is a hard thing for me to talk about. It’s a little vulnerable because [00:05:00] I certainly have it in my mind that I need to have it all together. I’m one of the folks. There are plenty of podcasts out there on business strategy, but I have talked a lot about managing your schedule, being efficient, how to keep your tasks under control, and all sorts of things in that realm. And here I am a victim of busyness yet again, so a little bit of vulnerability.

I feel like I’m supposed to have it all together and I have mastered all of these concepts and yet it was just another reminder that that is not the case. But I want to acknowledge that for two reasons. One, I want to keep myself accountable to you all and this contract that we’ve developed, but also I hope that [00:06:00] it might normalize this experience for any of you who may be having something similar going on. It’s okay. We know, we get overwhelmed. Things get out of balance and there’s always the opportunity to turn things around and get back to a better place.

So again, my apologies, and I’m so glad to be back and recording more episodes. Looking forward to the content that is to come.

Now, in thinking back to what happened, it’s pretty simple. The post-mortem could have been very, very simple and very straightforward. Essentially, I for some reason decided to take on literally every opportunity that was presented to me all at the same time over the last, let’s say six months. This really came to a head back in [00:07:00] April, May, June when I found myself incredibly busy and then had good fortune, of course, to be able to go on vacation, but these vacations were not pleasant because I had so much hanging over my head and that did not feel good, but I also did not work on vacation.

So, I took on everything. Here’s what I did. I took on more clinical work than I have done in probably three years. So I made the shift over the past, let’s say year to only doing one evaluation a month and only taking referrals from returning families of kids I’d previously evaluated or “special requests” from [00:08:00] therapists or colleagues here in the community for cases that were, let’s just say special for one reason or another or unique.

What I found though, is that that made it really hard to say no when people felt some urgency for an evaluation. Working with families I’d already worked with and with my close colleagues specifically, that made it really hard to say no. So I went from one evaluation a month to probably 6 to 8 evaluations a month for a few months, which was not a good move. I simply did not have the time in my schedule to do that.

And it’s just like I talked about in a previous episode about designing your schedule the right way. Intakes are the gateway drug. So at the time [00:09:00] when I was scheduling these intakes, it didn’t seem like I was taken on that much work. It’s just two hours here and there, but long behold, those reports came due and that was very troublesome.

Another thing that happened is I took on more one-on-one consulting clients than I really ever had before. I really enjoy consulting and did not want to say no to anyone. I took on a lot of folks which was fulfilling, but again, filled up my schedule as well. At the same time, as usual, I was doing my two mastermind groups concurrently. That’s pretty normal, but that was just part of the mix. 

Another extra thing, I chose to write a curriculum or develop a curriculum for a social-emotional learning class. [00:10:00] This is as a partnership with the pediatric practice that we are co-located or integrated with, and a great project, really fun, a lot of research that went into it also took up an insane amount of time. And then, on top of those things, I took on a few presentations here and there that I had to prepare for that were relatively important and it all just coalesced into a truly crazy schedule. It was not pleasant. And I realized, of course, too late that I was way over my head and had to dial it back. And then it took another two months to do that.

When I reflect [00:11:00] back and think about what led to all this, it is on the surface the desire to keep everyone happy. I didn’t want to say no to anyone. I did not want to disappoint anyone because there’s still enough of a performer in me too. I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I want to do everything. I want all the people to like me all the time. And this is just a recipe for disaster because the paradox, of course, is that by taking on all these things and not wanting to disappoint anyone, I actually ended up disappointing literally everyone because my reports were late or later than usual, podcasts were not getting published on the schedule that they should have [00:12:00] been, I ended up working on the weekend a few times, which I haven’t done in years, I let down my staff and my supervises because I wasn’t fulfilling what is now my primary role in addition to podcasting, which is, directing our practice and visioning and executing the big picture strategy for our practice. I did not do these things.

I want to say that again, one to keep myself accountable, but also to reinforce it for anyone who might be listening that my desire to not disappoint anyone actually led to disappointing, I think everyone. So keep that in mind.

I’ve talked before about how [00:13:00] saying yes to something means you are saying no to something else. You just don’t know what it is. And I truly learned how severe that can get with my experience the past few months. So, that’s what went wrong. On the surface, pretty simple, deeper level, I still need to work on not disappointing people and being okay with saying no.

So, what did I learn and how did I fix it?

Let’s take a quick break to hear from our featured. The Feifer Assessment of Writing or FAW is a comprehensive test of written expression that examines why students may struggle with writing. It joins the FAR and the FAM to complete the Feifer Family of diagnostic achievement test batteries, all of which examine subtypes of learning disabilities using a brain-behavior perspective. The FAW can identify the possibility of dysgraphia as well as the specific subtype. [00:14:00] Also available is the FAW screening form which can be completed in 20 minutes or less. Both the FAW and the FAW screening form are available on PARiConnect- PAR’s online assessment platform, allowing you to get results even faster. Learn more at parinc.com\faw.

All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

Well, one thing is that I really got back in touch with the part of me that is okay saying no and disappointing folks because deep down, I know that it’s okay to have boundaries and not take on absolutely everything. I just had to get back in touch with that.

So I recommitted to the Hell Yes/No philosophy that I mentioned a few [00:15:00] podcasts back or a few months back. The idea behind this is, when you’re checking in with yourself to decide whether to commit to something or take something on, you adopt a “hell yes or no” philosophy, which means that if the opportunity in front of you is not 100% amazing and right up your alley and sets you on fire, then there’s a really compelling reason to just turn it down. So I learned again that saying, no is was totally fine and that doing so actually keeps my doors open down the road to other things that could be hell Yeses.

Another big part of this, very logistically or practically speaking is that I revisited my schedule. Instead of having little blocks of [00:16:00] open time here and there where I previously was tempted to fill those in with urgent needs or things that other people might need, I went back in and blocked off my schedule again so that I was not as tempted to just plug appointments in where they don’t belong. I also just redid my schedule. I fought really hard about how I want to be spending my time, and I restructured things on my calendar. Now this takes some time to kick in, of course, but it is a really important exercise that I typically do every six months anyway, but I did a little bit of an interim update simply because things were so bad this time.

So I restructured my schedule. I also sat down and ran some more numbers. I’ve said many, many times [00:17:00] before that a lot of anxiety can be solved with math. I got back in touch with the numbers. I just realized or reinforced that I don’t need to be taking on as much as I did for any kind of financial gain. That’s not a primary motivation at this point, but it’s easy to get lost in that. As someone who certainly sees money as a route to security and stability, there’s always that temptation to do more and make more. And I think I had that script operating in the background a little bit as well. So I did some math to help combat any financial worries that may have been there.

And the last thing that I did that has been super helpful is that I got back into an accountability group to [00:18:00] help me refocus on my priorities and to have other folks keep me on track, people who will hold me accountable, people who will hold my feet to the fire make sure that I’m doing what I say I want to do. So that’s been super helpful as well.

Hopefully, hearing some of these things might be helpful to you. If you are finding yourself kind of overwhelmed or over-committed, I just want to give you some hope that you can absolutely change things. There are always choices that you can make to steer the ship in a different direction. It may take a couple of months or a few months, but it is totally doable. And so at this point, I am back on track and this leads into the announcements.

Podcasts will be resuming at the regularly scheduled, two episodes a week. I [00:19:00] will continue to do a clinical episode and a business episode each week.

The main change that is coming is with my consulting availability. What that means is I am shifting to primarily leading Mastermind groups rather than taking on more individual consulting spots or individual consultant clients. Now, I will continue to have a very limited number of individual consulting spots open for folks who are a really good fit and highly motivated to work. And at the same time, I’m going to be leading more groups because I love doing groups. They are so powerful. And as I continue to do cohort after cohort of mastermind groups, it’s clear that [00:20:00] the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, that the vicarious learning, the support, the accountability that happens in these mastermind groups is really pretty life-changing.

So, I will be focusing more on a mastermind group, which means there is more availability for mastermind groups, both at the beginner level and the advanced level and at intermediate level. The intermediate level is for folks who have mastered the beginning phases of practice, they have a solid referral stream, they do not have any aspirations of growing necessarily, but they would love to dial in their systems and make their practices more efficient, and use their time wisely and just run a really solid solo practice with maybe some admin support, but no aspirations to hire clinicians necessarily.

[00:21:00] There’ll be more announcements about that. In the meantime though, you can, of course, get information about upcoming cohorts for mastermind groups at thetestingpsychologists.com/advanced or thetestingpsychologists.com/beginner.

I’d like to close with an action item or question that can turn into an action item. And that question, is what is one thing that you could do this week to cut back on being overwhelmed? And even if you’re not completely overwhelmed, I think it’s worth going through this exercise. What’s one thing that you could cut out of your schedule, one thing that is extra that you wish you’d said no to but you actually said yes to? Just pick one thing and then find someone to keep you accountable to get rid of that thing. f you can do it really easily, if it’s just a matter of deleting it off your calendar, that’s fantastic. If you [00:22:00] need to get someone to keep you accountable, find that person and make that happen, but just pick one thing.

All right. I am so glad to be back. I love doing this. Hope that you have all had amazing summers. My kids are going back to school in two weeks somehow. And thankfully, we got a couple of vacations. I hope that some of you got to get out of town, relax a little bit and regroup and get your head straight. So, look forward to more episodes and continuing to interview amazing folks, talk about business and all the fun stuff that comes with this podcast.

That’s it for today. Take care, y’all. I’ll talk to you next time.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you [00:24:00] need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with an expertise that fits your needs.

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