Living a Purposeful Life with Amy Wine
[The following is a transcript of the Texas Counselors Creating Badass Businesses February 21, 2022 Mentor of the Month series featuring Amy Wine LPC Supervisor.]
I'm Amy Wine, and I'm going to talk to you about living a purposeful life. I had always worked, raised kids, volunteered, led women’s ministries, I was a wife, I overdid everything for everyone else but me. I thought I had it all figured out, but then life did not go according to my well-laid out plan. And it wrecked me. So I beat myself up for being in that place. Really bad, because what I couldn’t reconcile was the fact that I lived in my car at 18 to escape severe abuse. So why could I not handle getting a job?
In retrospect, fast-forward a decade, those six weeks were the most influential, pivotal moments of my life. They allowed me to redefine myself, find my worth, and to know truly who I am. They allowed me to be standing here today knowing I’m right where God asked me to be, teaching what I’ve learned.
How Do You Set Goals?
I want everyone here to know that you can design a life you love by applying just four guiding principles. Principle number one is you’ve got do discover your reality. What makes knowing your current status important? What is your current status right now in your now? Think about that for a moment. Are you having one of those moments, kind of like Kate, where everything is hitting her, going wrong with tech? Are you not able to find the energy because it’s yet another Monday morning? Did you get the mid-afternoon lulls, need a nap, hope that the caffeine in front of you gets you energized to get through another workshop? Or are you energized, eager to learn, and ready to finally find purpose, balance, and connections? I’m pretty sure we all need to find some energy this Monday morning.
There are three components of your current reality. You must acknowledge where you are currently in life. The best part about this is you can change anything you want. You can completely erase any area you do not like, you are not fulfilled in, and you can rewrite your stories. You can also enhance, spend more time on, and focus on things you’re already good at. There are no right or wrong rules here. It is simply knowing where you stand in this moment.
Creating a Life Inventory
In your workbook there is an activity called the Thrive Life Inventory. It looks at ten domains of life: physical health, emotional health, wisdom, marriage, purpose, financial, parenting, spiritual, social, and adventure. Why do we need to look at these? We cannot be at the top of our A-game in all ten of these areas at the same time. Especially as business owners, and supervisors, and being wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, all the things that we must be. But you’ve got to know where your strengths are and where your weaknesses are. We often beat ourselves up for what we’re not getting right in these ten areas. We’re going to talk more about that. We have to figure out how to find our balance. And I almost hate the word balance because it feels like all ten should be balanced and equally going, and that is not reality.
Number three of the components of your current reality, you have to accept your reality. Now I had a plan forward and I was going to grad school. I was going to go to grad school and become a counselor. I literally was walking out the door for the interview when I got the call that I got the teaching job. One more thing not going according to plan. I accepted that assignment for the teaching job and had the best year ever. But ultimately, it was just another lesson so I wouldn’t wonder what I was supposed to be doing in my life. I had doctors’ kids next to homeless kids, so many social issues I couldn’t even count them. I truly loved every minute of it. But my reality was I just wanted to talk to those kids and not necessarily teach them to read.
Changing Plans In Therapy
I didn’t think that was good, so I pivoted again. I started grad school the same night as the last day of school to become a counselor. For me, I had to accept that my identity wasn’t tied to me as a teacher, a mom, a wife, a volunteer, daughter, nurse, chauffeur, or even the dog poop picker-upper.
When you go through the Thrive Life Inventory, you’re going to just simply know. Have you heard the saying “knowledge is power”? It truly is. But there’s more power in the accepting what you know than on acting on it. Today when you leave here, you’re going to leave here with all three: knowledge, acceptance, and an action plan.
Principle number two: what else do you need to know before you can get to your purposeful week? You’ve got to discover your core values. What makes your core values important? As counselors, I think you probably know some of what I’m saying to you. I want you to take that hat off and think of yourself as a leader and a business owner. Does your business have core values? Do you have them listed? What makes your yes’s or your no’s? Do they align with what you’re doing?
Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person. They are guiding principles that dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong. Core values also help you determine if you’re on the right path. They’re going to help you fulfill your goals by creating an unwavering guide.
Changing Careers As a Therapist
During grad school, I had a job that led me to do my internships there. I thought I would never leave. Until a new leader came in. It became very quickly clear to me that our values didn’t align. Over time, I distanced myself and just did my thing as a counselor until one day a conversation happened that honestly ticked me off. This is hard to do, because I can take things as they come, type of gal. Upon reflection, it was because I was hit with a gut punch on a core value that I had held very high in my life: integrity. Everything in my body was screaming at me that something was wrong. So I Googled “counselor space for rent in Cypress, Texas,” and here I am, five years later. It all came down to that core value.
But there are three phases of value application. The impact of your values. In our day-to-day life, we don’t sit and think, oh, I wonder what value of mine is impacting this relationship. Is it my negative thoughts? My latest choices? The decisions in front of me? Or how I do my job? I mean, when is the last time you went to dinner with someone and said, hey, can we talk about our core values? It just doesn’t happen. It is just the natural flow of how we go about the rhythms of our day. However, the impact to your values is the most important part of determining who you are, how you do things, what you do. Your core values answer your whys, where you place your priorities, and the choices that you make.
Why Is It Important For A Therapist To Have Values?
The number two phase in value application is the impact of living outside your values. What happens when you don’t know what your values are? Or even if you do, you start living outside of them? You’re going to know exactly when you’re living outside of your values. You probably just never thought of it this way. It is that feeling in your gut that something doesn’t feel right. It’s that stress, that anxiety, headache, stomachache, racing heart, sweating palms; all of those things that happen when your body is trying to tell your brain something is not right. It’s not aligning with who you are.
It’s also when you’re living outside your values, you’re not happy. Your negative thoughts take over and the negative spiral begins. We don’t think about our values in the day-to-day. Because we don’t even realize that they are the core of everything happening in your life.
Why Are Values Important?
Number three phase: impact of living inside your values. When you’re living inside your values, everything changes for you. It allows you to stop and ask yourself, why am I feeling this way? Because the downward spiral takes over. It also allows you to align your yes’s and no’s. For every yes, there is a no. You’ve got to choose wisely. If I am going to say yes to speaking at Kate’s presentation, the first thing I do is say, what is the someone or something I’m going to say no to? For me I have a very strict morning routine. I had to say no to my morning routine to be here today. On occasion, that can happen. But if I’m doing that every day, my life gets topsy turvy and I cannot manage all of the things I have to do.
How Do You Say No Professionally?
My yes, and the reason I wanted to say yes, was bigger than my no. It was okay for me to say no to me today; it is okay, I’ll make it up tomorrow. But my yes was that I really fully believed that if people could start figuring how to live in a purposeful week, you truly can have it all. You truly can. I run three businesses and I work less than 40 hours a week. No lie. I was literally in Michael Hyatt’s latest book, “Win at Work and Succeed at Life,” because I put this into action. It all came down to this week I’m going to talk to you about.
It also had to with my core values. Did this talk today align with my core values? Yes, because one of them is community. Not just my internal community at the counseling center, but our external community as counselors and in Cypress, Texas. If it doesn’t hit a yes in one of my values, and my no is bigger than someone or something, then my answer would be no.
Let’s talk about principle number three -purposeful week. What makes that week important? When you start putting your purposeful week plan into action, you gain automatic clarity on your life’s purpose. I mentioned that I was in Michael Hyatt’s latest book, “Win at Work and Succeed at Life.” When I first started working with Michael, I was working 80+ hours a week at the counseling center. The business was running me. Now I own my business, I don’t run it. There’s a big difference in that.
What is The Work Schedule For a Therapist?
I literally went from 80 hours to 4 hours a week. I have help, I have to. To do all the things I want to do, I have to put everything within a purposeful week. To be balanced where I want to be in the ten areas, which means I hit about six of them pretty well, I had to shift some things and change some things. We have 18 counselors and growing. I have help. But literally, the counseling center runs itself. The policies, procedures, processes, they are down to a fine art. My director of operations only works ten hours a week in that role. The counseling center runs itself, all because we got really clear on what my purposeful week was. What three areas do you need to play in to do the same thing?
Here are your three areas. You’ve got to have a time for work. And You’ve got to have a time for self, and you’ve got to have a time for relationships. Quite often, our focus is only in one of these areas. We have to even them out. But I want to say one thing to you right now, and I want you to hear me as we go through building your purposeful week: all things do not balance equally. You have to determine what balance looks like for you, specifically, what do you align with? What is your reality, your core values, and your non-negotiables?
How Do I stay on a Schedule As a Therapist?
There’s three components of a week. My oldest daughter loved theater and was performing on the balcony in our home from the time she could put on a costume, talk, sing, and dance. We would watch show after show after show that she was constantly performing. As she grew older, this love of performing never left her. In high school, she was president of the theater. To say she was in love with theater was an understatement. As someone who knows nothing about theater, this was a fascinating experience. Something I learned by watching her applies to you here today. Everyone watches the final production: the gorgeous costumes, the stunning scenery, singing, dancing, sitting in awe of the talent of our children. It's hat they don’t see that’s most important: the things that happen off-stage, backstage, in the amazing front-stage production. So let’s apply this to your purposeful week.
How Do I Organize Myself As a Therapist?
I put a purposeful week calendar in there for you. I really want you to print three of these and I want you to print one that’s your current reality. You’re going to fill out everything that you’ve currently got on your calendar. Then I want you to do another one where it’s where you want to be. Where do you want to live? Even if it’s not true, do it as if it happened. That means if you want more time with your family but you’re seeing clients until seven, eight o’clock at night, well, you’ve got to back up your purposeful week to where you’re leaving at four, or whatever works for you. Or maybe you’re doing two or three nights but you just need to be doing one. You have to figure out where your values and what you want out of life do and align.
The front stage is going to be in your third one. This is the activities where you’re performing in your job. Speaking to students, parents, you’re at events, things you have to do when you have to be forward-facing. It’s usually the things you’re paid to do. This is your frontstage. For me, my front stage activities are only on Mondays and Tuesdays. Once a month, they’re on Thursdays, when I record a podcast. I have built my days – it took me a while to get here, don’t get me wrong. I was working 80 hours a week. That thing was ugly. There wasn’t even enough space on the page to put what I was doing every week.
Is Having a Schedule Good For You Mental Health?
So just know as you’re going through it, it’s really good to try to batch your frontstage, backstage, and offstage time. Backstage: these are your invisible activities, the one everyone doesn’t see, but they’re crucial. The quality of your frontstage work is dependent on the backstage work. The backstage is where you prepare everything. It’s your meetings, your lessons, your reports, and your client notes, at home, the laundry, meal plan, cleaning, coordinating schedules with work and relationships, your delegation happens here, development of self, both personal and professional. All those things that have to happen that nobody sees.
Then offstage. This is the one that does not have an element of work in it. This is not take my work home with me. Your off-stage activities allow for rejuvenation, but you have to have time to plan this time. You’ve got to find the time in your calendar. This is date night, relaxation, walking in nature, working out. Creating a space where you do not think about work.
How To Plan Your Time As a Therapist
Now, when it comes time to doing the activity of building your purposeful week, I really want you to think about planning that frontstage, backstage, offstage. Sometimes it’s helpful just to make a list of what those are. I’m going to be honest, it’s overwhelming. If you’re anything like I was doing, it is overwhelming in the beginning. You’re going to think, there’s no way I can get over here. I’m going to be honest: it took me 9 to 12 months to actually get me into my ideal week. Now I look at it every quarter and I change it again, and I change it again and I change it again. Until I get it to where I want to go.
I also add things in, but now I know this is my north star. If I can look at my ideal week and I say, okay, I want to write a book, I have to have a place to put it. And that means something else is probably going to have to go. So I have a hard decision to make: what or who am I going to say no to?
When you’re building your future one, the one you want to get to, you’ve got to put your non-negotiables on first. Non-negotiables: what are yours? Mine are that date night with my husband. Now, I’m empty-nesting so I’m in a different season, but when I did this, I was not. I had three very, very busy teenagers when I started learning how to do this. We were gone every night of every week doing something, and most weekends. Sports, theater, something. You can do it no matter what your life looks like, you just have to decide what’s right for you and what you want.
Maintaining Personal Time As A Therapist
My non-negotiables were, I wanted to be there for my kids’ events. That meant I could no longer say yes to clients after a certain time. And you know what? Somebody kind of inadvertently gave me permission for that. It is something I have learned. I am very good at getting clients to come during the day, even children. Full schedule. The counseling center, now 17, full, all day long. I do not believe you have to work at night if you don’t want to work at night because I’ve done it, I’ve seen it done. Even children.
I started shifting. Now, it took me a while to have clients fall off, but I just didn’t replace them. I hired someone; they went somewhere else. You can also have part of your day be frontstage and backstage. On Thursdays, when I have to be frontstage for podcast interviews, that morning is all backstage. You’re going to put your current commitments in: work hours, kids’ activities, whatever it is, and then you’re going to plan for your rejuvenation.
Now, a few things might happen here. You may not have space left that isn’t for someone or something else besides yourself. You will have to ask yourself some hard questions if you truly want to live the Thrive life. What stays and what goes? You really should start to add your non-negotiables into your week, whether you do this week or not, start adding them in. Small steps, one at a time.
I did it backwards because the first time through, it was easier. I could do a multi-day workshop just to get you comfortable in this purposeful week. But I did the next best thing and gave you a blank one so you could make copies.
Creating Realistic Expectations
When I first started learning the purposeful week, and Michael Hyatt was coaching me for business, and I was very frustrated with this because I could never achieve it. I’m a very high achiever. He looked at me and said, do you get that 80% is actually like 100%? And if you’re doing 80% of the time in your purposeful week because life happens, you’re doing really good. Well, at the time I was doing 30% or 40% in my purposeful week. That gave me the freedom to be flexible, to know that it can change.
Most weeks I live within my set out week. I have it time blocked for if I need to be creative and write; that uses a different side of my brain than if it’s financial Friday. I don’t go back and forth in chaos anymore between different types of activities. If I need to be counseling or coaching, that uses another part of my brain than the creative one. They’re all blocked together. That will help you be more efficient, more purposeful, and more productive.
Th last principle is discover your future. What makes uncovering your future desire important? For me, it comes back full circle: back to my absolute love for a future plan. You have to know where you’re going before you can attempt to get there. I do it differently now. It’s going to look different for each of us based on your core values. For me, I take the time to know exactly who I am and who Christ says I am. I’m a bit obsessive about my calendar. I run all my yes’s through questions we talked about earlier, and most importantly, I realize that life happens and I will have to adjust.
How Do Therapists Stay Organized?
For instance, April 20, 2020, life happened to me, and everything I planned and had thought I was doing was thrown out the window, and none of this was pandemic-related. We already had telehealth at the counseling center for college kids. We hadn’t really advertised it, but kids that had grown with us and went to college, we had it, so that was just a click of a button for us. I could not work for four months due to a mental health crisis in my own house. I could not leave my house for safety reasons. My husband lost his job of 35 years, my mother-in-law passed away, my husband’s best friend passed away. I burned down a successful online business in the marriage realm because it was draining me and not energizing me. The list goes on and on and on over those four months.
Sometimes I have to pull out the purposeful week and do it one week at a time based on what’s going on in my life, or what unexpected things happen. But I still create one, or else time is just going to fly out the window, scrolling things that don’t really help me, and then I can’t live with purpose, balance, or connection.
How To Life a Purposeful Life As a Therapist
Living purpose is the why you do what you do. And living within your core values helps you find and design a life with purpose. Living with balance is the what you do. A balanced lifestyle is simply a state of being in which one has time and energy for obligations and pleasures. It’s kind of like your pieces of the puzzles: your pieces come together to form the person that you are. You work and play. Then you rest and extend energy. You find joy and you find sorrow. Balance is the state that you achieve when all the aspects of your life and yourself are in harmony. While balance is necessary to have a satisfying, energetic, joyful life, only you can determine what that balance means to you. Remember, balance does not mean everything is equal.
And living with connection. This is who you do what you do with. Living within the purposeful week helps you to build deep, connective relationships because you are now intentionally planning for a time to connect and deepen the relationships that are most valuable to you, and it’s okay to be selective. In the workbook, you can do this if you’d like: you can take all this information, work through all the exercises, and my favorite activity when I learn something new is to build a plan of action. What challenges, conflicts and questions are you facing?Notes from what I’ve learned, insights, breakthroughs, how to apply what you’ve learned today.
How To Build Your Purposeful Week
I gave you a step-by-step so you can plan how to build your purposeful week into your life. Because you really have four guiding principles to discover your future. You’ve got to discover your reality. You’re leaving here today knowing exactly where you stand in ten life domains and what you want to work on. Your values, you know exactly what your top core values are and how to apply them in your life, and your purposeful week. You’re leaving here with a purposeful week you can revisit and use to meet your goals with intention. And discover your future. You’re leaving here today having designed a life you love of purpose, balance and connection.
Blog post by Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC/LMFT Supervisor
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