Episode 50: Creativity & Crash — Neurodivergent Entrepreneurs [featuring Amber Hawley]
Nuerodivergence can be an amazing superpower for entrepreneurs that often leads to more creativity and inventiveness over the course of like a weekend than might seem feasible, but with that drive and extreme productivity comes some intense hyper-focusing and an equally big crash.
In this episode, I talk with Amber Hawley, private practice owner and host of The Easily Distracted Entrepreneur and Couples Fix podcasts, about neurodivergence creativity, the process of bringing ideas to life, and how to create an environment that supports the way a neurodivergent brain gets things done, as well as about the crash that can follow big ideas and actions.
More about Amber Hawley (Biz Owner/ Podcaster/ LMFT):
Amber Hawley is a licensed therapist and lifestyle strategist who works with entrepreneurial individuals and couples with the emotional side of business. She is the owner of a group therapy practice in Silicon Valley, host of The Easily Distracted Entrepreneur and Couples Fix podcasts, wife, mom of three kids, and Marvel movie super fan. Amber originally worked in the tech industry but her love for people led her to pursue a career where meaningful relationships are at the center of everything she does.
Amber's Website: amberhawley.com
A Thanks to Our Sponsor!
I would also like to thank Diversion Center for sponsoring this episode.
If you are looking to tap into a cool niche that can take your private practice to 6 figures or more, check out my guy Derek Collins at courtmandatedtraining.com. He helps licensed therapists expand their practice by working with court-mandated clients. So if you are burned out, and tired of writing notes and dealing with insurance companies, I highly recommend that you check out what Derek has to offer.
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This niche could be the breakthrough that you have been looking for.
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PATRICK CASALE: Hey everyone. If you are looking to tap into a cool new niche that you can take your private practice to six figures or more, check out my guide, Derek Collins at courtmandatedtraining.com.
He helps licensed therapists expand their practices by working with court-mandated clients. So, if you are burnt out, tired of writing notes, dealing with insurance companies, I highly recommend that you check out what Derek has to offer.
He can show you how to get paid cash every day through court-mandated evaluations and classes like anger management, domestic violence, substance use, shoplifting, theft prevention, and more. This niche can be a breakthrough that you have been looking for. Go to courtmandatedtraining.com and watch the free webinar to get started. Remember that is courtmandatedtraining.com
Hey everyone, this is another episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast. I'm here joined today by Amber Hawley, two first names she wanted me to mention, a LMFT, ADHD Coach, Business Strategist, Podcast Hostess and so much more.
And we are going to talk about neurodivergence today, being an entrepreneur doing all the things, and the kryptonite verse superpower conversation, so to speak, of how creative the brain is versus the fallout in the crash and the behind-the-scenes stuff that a lot of people don't see.
And Amber's in Asheville, so another Asheville person on here today, which is really wonderful. And I'm really thankful to have you on. I know our schedules are quite busy these days.
AMBER HAWLEY: Yes, no, I'm so excited to be on. So, thanks for having me.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, you're welcome. So, you're an ADHD coach, you have a podcast all about ADHD and neurodivergence. And I am just kind of curious, like, as you've kind of grown your, so to speak, empire, your podcast, your book writing, your coaching businesses, where did the strengths come in, when it comes to that brain that maybe functions a little bit differently than a neurotypical brain? Like, what have you noticed be really, really powerful for you and all of these experiences that you have?
AMBER HAWLEY: Well, I mean, I think there's, it's so funny, right? Because it's like those two sides of a coin, where it's like, the strength can also be the weakness, that's sometimes how it feels or it can be the, not the weakness, but it can be the thing that can pull you down. I think, creativity to me, that's what I see in all the, you know, business owners I work with or, like, whether they're neurodivergent or not, but I really see it with people who are neurodivergent, that creativity, that ability to just, like, think differently and see things a little bit differently to me is, like, the biggest strength, because yeah, you're just willing to, like, try new things that can also be, you know, the Achilles heel, but that willingness to try new things.
And I actually say, my hyper-focus when I'm in those moments, those days where I hyper focus, that's how I'm actually able to deliver and get the shit done, right? So, to me that's the part where I'm like, thank fucking God that that happened. I forgot to ask if you swear on this podcast, so…
PATRICK CASALE: I'm so grateful that you just did it without asking me, because so many people ask and I appreciate the ask. But I'm like, if you know me, like, yes, absofuckinglutely. We want that raw, authentic real people on this podcast.
AMBER HAWLEY: Oh…
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah. I think it will-
AMBER HAWLEY: I will keep it raw, then. But that's the shit where it's like, the hyper-focus allows me to deliver on my dreams, I guess.
PATRICK CASALE: That's so well said, because I completely relate and it is that hyper-focus, almost tunnel vision in a way where you're like in the zone, and you're so focused. Sometimes I look at the fucking clock and I'm like, "Oh, my God, I haven't eaten today." But I've been like knocking stuff out left and right. And it feels so good. It feels so energizing, right?
Like, a lot of people, I don't think realize the fact that when that creativity takes over it's really energizing. It's almost like hypomania in some ways. And I can sense sometimes the stigma and shamefulness that comes up when it's like, well, you're just in, like, grind culture or hustle culture, or you're, like, really feeding into like workaholism or having to be productive. And I think it's not that way at all. I mean, there are components of that for sure, but I know I really enjoy it. When that takes over, I really, really enjoy it.
And I think the other side of the coin is the depletion that comes with it afterwards where like, I don't know about you, but after I do knock all of that stuff out my brain can barely function for like a week or two where I have to almost retreat, and hibernate, and like, put Game of Thrones on repeat, and lay in my bed or do absolutely fucking nothing.
AMBER HAWLEY: Yes, I call it the hyper-focus hangover. Like, you definitely can get that and I think what I've tried to figure out is how can I do it in the most sustainable way, because, obviously, having to recuperate for like two weeks is not really going to be that helpful. Like, the gains of the hyper-focus kind of get lost in that.
But you do need to allow yourself some space to recuperate from that. And I agree, I see that all the time when people are like, "Oh, yeah, that's…" You know, when they're on, they're like, "Oh, you're just, you know, glorifying being busy." And I'm like, "No, this is about working differently and just like being all in." Because you're in a flow state, you're just there, and you're getting it done. And that's very different, like you said, than being like I'm in hustle mode.
And, you know, I think like 10, well, 11 years ago, when I first started my business, like, I loved Gary Vaynerchuk. I still do, I still love him, I have respect for him. But he is a unique beast as far as like, his ability to go, go, go.
And I'm like, "Yeah, I'm not so much into that as I can't, like, it's just not sustainable for me, it doesn't work for me." But I do think like, if you have big goals, and you want to make them happen, like you're going to have to fucking work. Like, that's all there is to it, right? So, I like working differently. I would rather hyper-focus for a couple of days, and then, have to work less during the week.
PATRICK CASALE: I love that. And I think for people like ourselves we absorb energy very differently, right? So, like, having to work differently throughout the week and preserving that energy that comes with some of this magic, so to speak, that we have in a lot of ways as neurodivergent people, I think we have to almost be proactive in approach where I'm like, okay, hyper-focus mode, creativity mode, and I've gotten a lot better at not letting it be two-week hangovers. But more so like knowing, all right, the rest of the week I have more freedom, I have more space so that I can do the things that don't drain me as much.
And protecting energy is just really, really crucial. Like we were just talking before we started to record about the retreat I just had an Ireland and that was so much energy absorption. Even though it was really wonderful, I left feeling so depleted. And just realizing, like, this is why this is happening. It's not a shame-induced response, which it probably would have used to have been. But now it's more like, okay, I gave a lot of myself away, I absorbed a lot of energy comparatively and now I just need a break. Like, I cleared my calendar last week, and I was just like, nope, not doing anything unless I absolutely fucking want to do it. Otherwise, I am dead to the world, so to speak.
AMBER HAWLEY: Yeah, and you have to give yourself that. Like, that's the other part is you can't say, oh, I'm going to work differently, but then I'm going to, like, somehow follow the rules that I have to work, you know, a 40-hour workweek every single week, or, you know, whatever, we need to have that downtime.
And then, you know, the goal is, hopefully, during this hyper-focus times, or during, like, something like a retreat where you're doing events, that you're making enough money, or you're doing something that will generate enough income to allow those downtimes not to be so stressful. Like, I think that's the other piece, that can be the downside of it.
But yeah, I think it's one of those things, like, not everyone can do that, not everyone can go all in and really knock a bunch of stuff out in like a few weeks or, you know, a few days, I mean. And yeah, I've had that experience too where I go to like a local hotel, and my ideal I have found is like two to three nights, because then I can just go all in, and not have to be on anybody's sleep schedule and kind of do whatever.
And there are times where I might get like four hours of sleep a night, you know, because all of a sudden, I look up and it's 5:00 AM. And then, I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to take a little nap and then start doing stuff. And I come back and my husband's like, "Oh, you look great. Like, you must have, like, slept." I was like, "No, I haven't, but I feel fantastic." Like, I'm on that high that you're talking about. And I feel so wonderful. And I keep going. And then, it's usually, like, the day after that, that I kind of crash, and I'm like, I am done, I am dead to the world.
And yeah, for me, it's the same thing. Like, I do love Game of Thrones, but like, there's a high likelihood of, like, serious Netflixing or I can't even say that now, or Marvel movies. Like, I am just going to be doing this for a long time. I'm not moving off my couch or changing out of my pajamas. That's my version of balance.
PATRICK CASALE: And I think for so many people that probably feel so unusual or counterintuitive, right? Like, we hear all the time, "You know, self-care is like relaxation, and you need to open up space in your schedule and let yourself do nothing."
And for some of us, I don't think that works. And that's I guess why bipolar disorder, and mood disorders, and ADHD get misdiagnosed so often, because there's such a similarity there with like, hypomania, and maybe the neurodivergent piece of the ADHD component. I know when I'm working like that, I might get ideas at 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11 o'clock at night. And I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to start creating the shit now because my brain is not going to rest or let me stop until this is out of it.
And I need to come up with those strategies because, otherwise, I just lie in bed and my insomnia takes over. And I'm like, looking around, and I'm like, "I've got to get these ideas out." And that, I think, is when we start to get really energized and stimulated.
And for my wife, she would say, like, "You traveled for two weeks, like, did you rest at all? Like, were you able to just relax in the hotel? Were you able to just slow down?" And like, I didn't really want to, that didn't feel useful or energizing for me.
And I think it is about finding that balance, because that creative process can also be disruptive. And I have experienced the other side of it, where you deplete yourself so much that the things that once felt energizing no longer bring you joy. And it's not about getting to that place, because that place doesn't feel good.
AMBER HAWLEY: Yeah, totally. And I agree, I've been through some major bouts of burnout where I just had, like, nothing left to give. But for me, it's always finding that, like, checking in with myself, like, is this the time to rest or is this the time to rally? That's kind of like one of my things.
Like, you said, sometimes you want to ride that energetic wave, and you're like, "Okay, I have the energy right now, and this is where I'm at, and I'm going to ride it, and I'm going to get that stuff done." And there are other times where, like, it's so exhausting and drudgery to do something. You're like, "Okay, I might as well just not do this. Like, that's so inefficient."
And so, for me, I think I get really hung up about efficiency, sometimes too much. Like, that's where I get little stuck, you know, where my, like OCPD tendencies kind of come in, where I'm like, I am stuck on this, but I love efficiency. And I look at that over productivity to say, like, it's not about always having to produce and I think that's that hustle culture piece, right? Like, always having to produce, always needing to be on. Like, I don't feel that. I definitely, you know, I have to have my downtime, I need to give myself that rest, probably, more than we think we need to give ourselves.
But at the same time, when I'm in that go mode, I'm going to go for it. And that doesn't mean yeah, I'm like, in the hustle. But I have been accused of that. A therapist friend said to me once, like, based on some interactions online, I had to go back and reread them. I was like, "What?" She asked if I was bipolar. I was like, "You've got to be kidding me, come on."
Like, people who know me well know, I'm like, I'm excited. Like, we get enthusiastic about shit, right? Like, that's the part and that's the energy. I think that excitement gives us the energy to get that shit done. And that's my whole thing.
I'm a GSD. This is what I call those weekends, I call them GSD, get shit done weekends or during the week, you know? I'm going to go to a hotel or I'm going to do these things, and I just go all in and get it done, and then, it's great.
PATRICK CASALE: And it serves you well in the long run, because the return on investment on get shit done in a matter of three or four days can create space for months on end. Like, this retreat for me, as much as I poured into it, I did make a good amount of money. And it's just the reality and realization of like, we can work hard and we can be really creative, and then, that can allow us to have the things that really are important to us: movement, autonomy, you know, freedom to travel.
And how often do you think like, travel in new environments are so crucial for people who have some sort of neurodivergence. Like, I, for one, think travel is so important for me, because it's new stimulation, it's being in a new environment, new food, new sights, new people. And for me, that is really exciting. And I really do need that, because I get so fucking bored sitting in my office where I am right now in home, my dogs are being annoying, I'm doing whatever, I get distracted. But if I'm traveling, there seems to be more clarity, there seems to be more, almost like, I just feel more connected in some ways and I feel almost more alive when I'm in movement and in new environments.
And I know that like there's a difference between shiny objects stuff, right? And then, ultimately, like, no, I just want new exciting stimulating environment and that's really what it is for me.
AMBER HAWLEY: Absolutely. Like, I think, you know, the shiny object thing aside, because I agree, like, sometimes we just need that changeup, and you know, there's a book called The Best Place to Work. And they talk about this, that there's research that shows, like, changing up your work environment actually allows you to be more productive and more focused. And I am a firm believer in that.
So, the same with you, now I have this home office and it's beautiful, I love it, my cave, whatever. But you know, there are times where I'm like, I have not even seen outside like in four days or something. But I need to get out and so I will go and co-work with people locally, like, at a hotel or something, or I need to do those GSDs, you know, where I get away from my day-to-day and kind of change it up.
So, I'm just coming back from actually my longest one ever. It was three and a half weeks. And I was trying to finish my first solid draft of my book. And I really just kept seeing, like, okay, I'm not getting this done, I keep saying it's important, and I'm not focusing. And I needed to change up the environment to do that, right?
And the beauty of being, you know, even my therapy, so I own a, it was a group therapy practice, and I've just transitioned back to solo after nine years. And so, I have a group therapy practice in California, see, I'm so used to saying that, I have a therapy practice in California, and two online coaching and consulting businesses. And I'm like, God, this is great. I can literally continue working and still get to travel wherever.
And, you know, a few years ago that was my dream. And it was like, how can I make this happen, you know? And so those are some of the upsides of figuring out those different ways to work, right? So, yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: It's important. So, so important. And I think modeling that to other people, like, and I don't want to discount this, like, for those of you listening, like, "Oh, my God, I wish I could do these things, but I can't afford it yet." There was definitely a time where I could not afford it yet. And like, sometimes, it is just about getting out of your fucking house and going to a coffee shop. Sometimes it's just about going and sitting outside with your computer. Like, it doesn't have to be, "Oh, I'm going to go to Europe, or I'm going to go here for weeks on end." You know, there's a build-up process to that.
And I think, like, even being in a coffee shop surrounded by people I don't want to really necessarily talk to you or have conversation with, the energy of it can still feel really stimulating. And just being able to be in that new environment can really help kind of create that catalyst for that shift and headspace, because I think I can get stuck, where I'm like, really in a loop, where my brain is just like, "Okay, I can't get out of this, I can't be creative, I can't write new copy, I can't think of new ideas."
But that means I know I have to be in movement, and I have to get out of my environment. And like you said, working from different environments is really, really productive. I don't want to ever discount the power behind that, because it really allows us to unlock that creativity and it allows us to kind of have that different sensation of being in a different space. And I really, really love that part of my job now. If you could have told me years ago you can combine travel and helping people kind of create a mindset shift and experience and get paid, I would have told you you're fucking, like, out of your mind. Like, this is not something that could be possible.
Like, this is my dream. And it feels surreal to be able to say, like, I just hosted the first successful retreat in a different country. And that feels amazing to me. And I owe it all to harnessing all of this energy as a superpower and not letting it feel so overwhelming, or create so much feelings of being scattered, or just like, so unclear on things.
But I don't know what I owe that to. But I do think that having more understanding of the way my brain works, and no longer feeling ashamed by it, feeling really proud of the fact that, like you said, we can think outside the box, we have all this creative energy, we can pivot, we have some resiliency, right? Like, when we try something and fail, and we learn from it, and kind of create a different way to approach it. I think that's also really important.
AMBER HAWLEY: Yeah, and like you said, I think, yeah, you know, and I want to put out there I have three young kids. So, I could even imagine people saying, "Well, you know, okay, well, my life doesn't look like that."
And I'm like, you can make it look like that. There are things that you can do. But when I started doing this, I mean, I think I started doing GSDs like, I don't know, gosh, now it's probably like eight years ago or so that I really started getting into that, because I wasn't getting out, I wasn't doing that and I felt that burnout.
And my ideal was going to a hotel like lobby bar, those are my favorite, because and I like to go with, like, one other person. It has to be somebody you know is like a good fit, like, because you can't have the person who just wants to talk to you the whole time. Because you're like, "Fuck, I need to get my shit done." But you also don't want somebody who's like super boring and you're like your energy is draining me. You got to find that balance. Like, you're interesting and you know when to shut up. Like, you're the best person to be with.
But I love hotel lobby bars because we would go or I would go, and the reason I like to have somebody this is like such a practical ridiculous thing, but then I can leave my shit and go pee, and not have to worry about it. Like, it's really where that comes from. Otherwise, that's why I do hotel rooms so that I can, you know, not have to worry about that.
But it doesn't have to be expensive. Go to the hotel lobby bar because they serve you food and drinks, you know? Like, I'm talking like coffees, whatever. I mean, do whatever you do, you do you, that's my philosophy. But, but like, they serve you so they keep you nourished and they don't, like, try to turn over the table like a restaurant would all the time, right? Like, coffee shops are obviously made for staying there long term more than a restaurant, but being able to have that space, they have great Wi-Fi, and it feels, like, more open and spacious. And then, you get, like, the people watching is super fun. So, you know, you get those ins and outs.
And so, I like doing stuff like that. And that's nothing, it costs nothing to do that, you know? And that's where it's like, get creative in how you do that. I have a local friend who has an art studio and I would sometimes, like, I'll go to her art studio just to work, because I'm like, I just need to get the hell out of here. That was more so during COVID, right? When we… Oh, I know we're still in COVID. Sometimes I-
PATRICK CASALE: Never ending.
AMBER HAWLEY: I know, the perpetual COVID state. But in the height of things that I would go there, because you know, I wasn't going, obviously, to restaurants and stuff. But yeah, it doesn't have to be expensive. And I think you start small. And like you said, this was my dream for so long. And it was hard for me to make it happen. And I think that was part of us moving across the country was this, you know, like, I feel like I need to have a big shift in order for me to actually, you know, make my dream of being able to work completely online come true so that I have that true flexibility that I was looking for.
PATRICK CASALE: That's really well said, and I want people to take that in, it does not have to be expensive. It really can be low-key, and hell, you could go get a hotel room at like a cheap hotel that has a bar inside of it and do that, you know? You have to start being able to invest a little bit in yourself and take risks too if you want to have some growth, because I think we play small really way too often and we have all these great ideas, but convince ourselves, like, I'm not the one who can be successful with this idea. It's probably better suited for somebody else, or I can't take this risk or this leap of faith into myself.
And if you want to be an entrepreneur, I think that comes with being risk-averse. And I think that's the quality of just being a successful business owner, is the willingness to try something and know that it's not always a guarantee, but to have enough excitement, and investment in yourself, and some confidence that you're going to figure it out. I can't say how crucial that has been in my career and just the willingness to try. I think that's so, so important.
AMBER HAWLEY: Yeah, absolutely. And like you said, even, okay, I go to the hotel, like there's the local hotel here, The Foundry, they have this awesome giant, like, work table. And you know, there's tons of space, and you can switch it up, so you can sit on a comfy couch and like, move around. And so, that costs nothing. And literally, like, you know, I got DoorDash delivered there, you know? Like, you just chill and it costs nothing, so it's so wonderful.
But then you can rent a hotel room. And frankly, you know, in the height of COVID I was able to get hotel rooms. I got like this, what is it? A penthouse suite, that was all windows for like $150. So, there's so many options. And this just happened when I was on my book writing tour, as I call it. I realized I was staying with people, and I realized that's not working for me, I need to go back to my roots. And I rented a room. And it was like $120 a night, and it was awesome. Like you said, it doesn't have to be expensive. But the gains that I get out of that are absolutely worth it. And just like giving ourselves, you know, that opportunity to kind of change it up.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, absolutely. I couldn't say that better myself. I mean, and that's been so crucial for my business growth, is to be able to take some of those risks and just invest in myself. And just the reality of like, you have to try to do that sometimes to be able to grow or create these ideas, because they don't grow inside of our heads, that's for sure. And we have to get them out.
And I think that so often we convince ourselves, like, I'm too busy this week, I can't take a couple of days off to focus on this other thing. But if we can't do that, then I think we just stay stuck. And I know when I left my community mental health job, all I cared about was having a private practice and not working in my community mental health job. I didn't care about anything else. I didn't have strategy, I didn't have structure, sometimes still don't know what the fuck I'm doing. But like, it was so important for me as progression has happened throughout my career I noticed it's all about risk-taking, but it's also all about creating space for that creativity. And knowing that for me, the creative process gets started when we work outside of the box and I think that is just really important for how my brain works and it's got to be a consistent process. And I hate to say that I almost like book travel every month, because I kind of do.
But like, I love that shit. Like, I'm going to Spain in May, I'm going to Nashville in May to speak at a conference. I've got other plans throughout the summer. Like, I need that to keep going. I don't have kids, so I have that fortunate ability. But I do have two dogs that are driving me nuts right now. I just think that's so crucial.
But there is a flip side to that, too. It's like, being on the road is exhausting, being away from home can be hard. But at the same time, I know that pushing myself that way has really led to a tremendous personal and professional growth, too.
AMBER HAWLEY: Yeah. And like you said, I think that's where I come back to, you know, the people that I work with. Like, we have to sometimes schedule that stuff. Because I get that life can get busy. There's never usually ever a time that's going to present itself, like, "Well, look at this, I've got four days unencumbered, and I may take time off." Like, I don't know when that's going to happen, you know? And so, I like to plan too. It gives me something to look forward to. But then, it also lets me know, like, okay, I need to make sure I've taken care of, you know, the other stuff that I have, my day-to-day business stuff, so that when I go for these, you know, three days… I mean, you could go for one day, you could go for two, right?
When I go for a couple of days, I need to have those things kind of taken care of so that I can focus on what I'm there to focus on, because that's the other part is, you know, and I've done this one, where I had no plan, and I show up, and that's fine. But all I ended up doing was really, like, tasky stuff. Like, should I, could have done sometime else that wasn't as important, because it always feels like, oh, I need to do this, you feel that pressure of like, oh, well, now all of a sudden my, you know, 90,000 emails are really bothering me, I think I'll clean out my email.
Well, that's great. If that was your plan to do so that you're trying to clean up stuff and organize things, if that's the plan, great. But if it's not, then you're doing yourself a disservice. So, there are definitely ways to structure it. And like you said, I was usually doing like once a quarter, and then, there was a little bit I did once a month during, like, 2020, 2021, because I just needed more space. But as 2021 went on, then I was like, that's too much.
And so, figuring out that balance of travel, and like I said, I have kids, so I think, you know, that's not a full excuse. Like, you get to choose, like, and you just plan. You just make plans for this stuff and finding that right balance for you. Because I know for some people traveling at all is really draining for them. Well, then obviously, that's not what you're going to do. But you can do the local thing.
You know, my goal initially was to be like the norm of Hotel Indigo. Like, I wanted everyone to know me when I came in, then they had some changes in their customer service. And so, I'm no longer trying to be the norm of Hotel Indigo.
But, you know, like, it doesn't have to be, like, big travel, because I know for some people that's overwhelming, right? But like you said, so then there's this downside, there's what is that dark side of trying to, you know, be creative and create new things. And I've had to hire people to help me balance that, like my operations, just kind of like my OBM, Operations Business Manager. She'll say to me, "Okay, Amber, no. No more creations. No, you're delivering, you're executing, you're selling. Like, stop it."
I'm like, "But it's not fun. That's not the fun part for me." But I think we need that balance, because otherwise and I'm proof. I can say I've made every single mistake in business I think possible. I would create, and create, and create, and then, never, like, sell it or put it out there the way that I should be, right? And so, that's not sustainable, that doesn't work. So, you do need strategies to kind of balance out that creative, you know, hypo manic energy.
PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely. And I think we all need someone to hold us accountable in that way or some strategy to hold us accountable, because what I will do is something very similar, where I'm like, okay, I'm working on this four-month program, and we've put so much into it. But now I have six other ideas that I want to create.
And I remember, like, literally sitting in my dad's living room in Florida a couple months ago and being like, "Yeah, I'm working on this program for private practice building. But I think I actually want to launch a retreat in Asheville." Started making that. My virtual assistant lives in California. She woke up at like 12 PM Eastern Time, messaged me, she's like, "What the fuck are you doing? Like, one, I guess congrats on creating this in two hours. But two, you're supposed to be focusing on this other thing."
And I think when I get into that headspace if I don't have that accountability or ability to balance out, I will spread myself way too thin. And I'll be doing five different projects and none of them will really get done well, and then, you almost burn yourself out. And that also creates a lot of insecurity, for me at least, and vulnerability of like, why is none of this stuff working? Or why is none of this stuff selling? And it's like, "Because you're not really dedicating any sort of intention towards this one thing."
So, I have had to create a document where I list all of my ideas out as they're coming up. And then, I revisit that, like, a couple of days later, does this still give me energy? Is this still exciting? Because if the excitement factor has worn off, that's a good indication to me that I shouldn't pursue it.
AMBER HAWLEY: Yeah, well, I've had to create a lot more structure for myself. And I remember, you know, back in the day, like, I would ask different, you know, experts or people who I respected in business, like, "Okay, this, and then, this, and like, how can you do it?" And they're like, "Well, you need to get the first thing stable first, and then, you can add more." And I'm like, "No, that's not the answer I'm looking for. I'm looking for someone to tell me my craziness will work."
And it's so funny, because, like, sometimes we get into business so that we're not being told what to do. And then, eventually, I think we build our businesses to a place where I'm like, "Okay, I need to pay someone to tell me what to do." You know, like, I'm still making the decisions, but I needed to bring on people to kind of reel me in. But, yeah, I've created a lot of structure. And I have finally, like, internalized, like, I logically got, you know, the idea of like Your One Thing, there's that book, Your One Thing and Essentialism, and I read them, like, I don't know, eight years ago or something. It was like yeah, yeah, I get this, I get it, I get. But now I have internalized it, and truly do believe it. Ish, I'm an ish girl. I always, like, ish, you know, like, I know one thing.
So, I run like quarterly goal planning workshops that are called Your One Thing. And I really try to help people, but there are going to be those little times where, like, you do that fun, exciting thing, right? But I do agree, though. I think when you spread yourself in too many directions, you're not showing up as your best self. And so, you're doing yourself a disservice. And it does feel like shit. You do feel like, "Oh, I'm not good enough, nobody likes my stuff, or what's wrong with me, like I drop the ball."
Like, a lot of shame comes up. And so, like, build it out in a way that's sustainable, but still gives you enough flexibility to kind of pursue different things and not be in that boredom state, I think is the key, right?
PATRICK CASALE: Couldn't have said it better myself, because I don't think we have the black and white thinking, like, the all or nothing can exist. But I don't think that serves us. Like, it can't just be I can only focus on this one thing, because that feels restrictive. But logically, if I can say, focus on one thing, and as things come up, you can do them, but this really has to be your priority right now. That's a lot more useful for me instead of like, because what that does, right? When we spread ourselves so thin, not only does that shame and that vulnerability come up, that impostor syndrome comes up majorly, where it's like, nobody's going to buy my shit, nobody's ever going to pay me again, I'm never going to be successful, like, and then I'll lose sight of the fact, like, that you just sold all these Ireland spots. Like, just because your other thing isn't selling, it's because you focused all your energy elsewhere.
And that's so hard to remind yourself in the moment as it's happening. And I've had to really work hard on doing a lot of work around that. And I do think it's just about honoring how, however your creativity comes up and manifests and harnessing it, but also ensuring that you don't deplete yourself, don't run yourself ragged, like, don't get to the point where the things that are exciting to you are no longer exciting, because you've burnt yourself out.
And it's very easy for that to have happen. I mean, it happens in our profession all the fucking time. And we're seeing therapists burnt out all the time moving to other things like coaching, courses, consulting, whatever the case may be. And that's fantastic. I encourage that. But really, it's hard for people when they're like, I have nine different really big ideas, and I want to do them all at once. And I would just caution all of you to not try to do that. I've tried to do that many times and have crashed and burned from that too many times to count.
And, you know, I just had a conversation with a coaching client who was like, "I want to do a podcast, a retreat, a coaching course, etc, and you make it look so easy." And I'm like, "I assure you, it is not fucking easy." That hours of energy go into this and heartache. But at the same time, I had to start my private practice, which then led to a private practice coaching business, then that led to a group practice, then that led to a podcast, and then a retreat business. It did not all happen at once. They were always big goals for me, but there was no way I was ever going to be able to dedicate enough energy, intention, have the capacity to do five different businesses simultaneously starting out.
AMBER HAWLEY: Yeah, and that's something I see, because I work with a lot of therapists as well. And I see that when people are not willing to say no to things and my philosophy, I say, let's put a pin in it, because if I tell you, "No, you can't do that." Not that I would do, but you know, like, if I say, "No, you can't do that." There's this resistance you feel, this pushback of like, "No, well, I'm going to make it happen." Like, we all know. I'm kind of like that sometimes myself as the rebel-like motivated person, you know, the Gretchen Rubin four tendencies, the rebel tendency, that was the word I was going for.
But I was like, you know, fuck, I forgot to take my Adderall today, so the fact that I'm even coherent is lovely. But, you know, so it's like, you're going to push back, but at the same time, like, there is a point in which I see people, like, self-sabotage, because they're like, "Okay, here's my one big goal." And I say, that's why we go for a quarter because it's long enough to get something done, but short enough to not feel like, "Oh, my God, I just made this, like, year-long commitment to something." And so, you know, you're able to achieve a lot. But then, they'll say, "Okay, this is my thing." Or, "Here's my two things." And then they start saying yes to all this other stuff. And I'm like, "That's not helping you. Like, you're actually ensuring that nothing gets done."
And sure enough, that's what ends up happening, like you said, they get burnt out, and like, there's no movement forward. And yeah, I think it's like building on top of each other, and, of course, seeing a lot of therapists helping a lot of therapists switch into coaching, or, like you said, the courses, or something different, which I get, because that was kind of, when I was at the height of my burnout, you know, I already had a group practice, that has always been my bread and butter for so long. And so, I'm grateful that it allowed me to explore these other options. But I was so burnt out, and I was like, I just wanted to do something fun. Like, I need to do something different, you know, that is just like, more fun.
And I love talking about business and marketing, and before becoming a therapist I was in .com world, so it was like, oh, I get to do all of the things I love, and talk to people, and, you know, get creative, and help them figure things out, which was great, because I needed that balance.
But yeah, it was baby steps. Like, my group practice was really solid, you know? Like, I built that to a place. And I never wanted it to be like a giant group practice, because that wasn't my thing. I was like, "You know, I'll do this." But I was like, "Oh, I'm ready to do something different." And I think that's great. So, if you are and you're ready to do something different, like, how can you do that in a sustainable way so that you don't like, cut yourself off at the foot, and then, are so stressed out either about money or whatever and then, also, on the flip side of that you see those people who, like, you know, when you mentioned community mental health, like, they'll stay in a job like that, like years beyond when they needed to, because there is that fear, right? And so, some people are a little more, you know, risk-averse, and so, they have a high need for security, and that may keep them stuck, and other people that like jumping off of cliffs all the time keeps them stuck, because they can't actually finish something.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, yeah, that's a good way to highlight both sides of it, and to know that this is a spectrum in terms of how we move through this stuff. And I really like that perspective on that, too, so…
And for those of you listening, like, don't beat yourself up if something feels really exciting and new, and really enjoyable, and then, six months down the road or a year down the road it doesn't, because that's going to happen too, where some of the stuff is just going to evolve and transition and change. And that's kind of what being an entrepreneur is. It's not stagnation, and it's about figuring out what feels passion-driven, and what feels joyful at the time and exciting. And it's just about the balance piece, I think that's really crucial. Yeah, couldn't have said it better yourself.
And also, you were very coherent today, so I want to just say, I appreciate that. I know you may be exhausted from getting back from three and a half weeks away, so I just want to thank you for even being here.
AMBER HAWLEY: Yeah, oh, no worries. No, this is great. I mean, definitely, I had an interview on Monday morning that I was like, that should have been rescheduled, because I drove like from Chicago to Asheville on Sunday. That one should have been rescheduled, but yeah, I'm fully in my zone this week. And yeah, and like you said, when you're loving it and you're enjoying it, you know, it doesn't feel like depletion, but even then, like sometimes you can be doing a lot of really good things, and you feel exhausted. But yeah, I think, like, it's okay to do baby steps.
So, you know, I guess one last story about that to maybe, if this is helpful for people, I remember there was a day, it was 2016, and all of a sudden, I had the best idea for a membership. And I was like, "This is it." And I had a free, like, afternoon because how I structure my work weeks, and I've been doing this forever. Like, even when I was seeing many more therapy clients, I would do two full days of like nine clients a day, so I could have all the flexibility on the other three days, right? Or if I even worked a Friday, so I would have a lot of flexibility. So, I would go like have really long days and then have lots of open time, because I need that. I can't stand that overscheduled feeling, ironically, right?
And I still do that. Like, my Thursday's are like 12 hours, but I'm like, that's cool, because now I got all this flexibility. So, I had a few hours, and I wrote down and had the entire outline, the entire structure, everything for my membership. And I was like, "This is amazing." And I shared it with my biz bestie at the time, and I mean, she's still my best bestie, but I shared it with her. And, you know, I was like, "Oh my God, this is what I want to do. This will be so helpful for business owners." And then like fucking life happened. And so, I as I say I put a pin in it. Like, okay, I'm putting this over here.
It wasn't until November of 2020 is when I finally launched it. It was almost like, I want to say it was almost five years, it was like four or five years. And I had that moment of clarity, like you said, and I went all in, and kind of created that idea. And then, I was like, "Okay, but I need to set this to the side, because right now I have all this other stuff going on." And then, I came back to it. And I was like, "Oh my God, this is amazing.
So, sometimes it doesn't happen overnight. And I wasn't doing anything in between times on this. But now that I have it, "I'm like, this is the thing I love so much." And you know, in hindsight, I'm sure if I had taken other things off of my plate I could have gotten to it sooner. So, that's kind of that lesson of, we need to say no to things, even if they sound fun. And I always like to say, like, we have to discern, is this a shiny object or is this an awesome opportunity? And I think we fear, you know, I have serious FOMO, or I used to have serious FOMO. I'm much better about managing my FOMO now. But you know, sometimes we do have to say no, and it takes time and that's okay.
PATRICK CASALE: I agree 100%. It's great advice and a great kind of example of what this can look like. And I do agree about the shiny object piece, like, really check in with yourselves about the why behind what you're doing or why you're saying yes. And maybe that's people pleasing, maybe it is chasing the money, maybe it's just feeling like, if I say no an opportunity will never come up again. But I promise you that if you do create the space, the energy will follow, and then, things will feel more in alignment.
And I say no to individual coaching requests all the time now, because I just don't have the time and capacity. But before I would say yes to all of them. And then, my schedule looks like a game of Tetris. And then, I look at my schedule on a Monday and think, "Fuck, how am I ever going to get to Thursday?" And that doesn't feel good, even though everything felt really, you know, inspiring at the time, and it was great work. But check in on your why, I think that's really important as you move through your stages of your entrepreneurialship. And there are going to be stages, there are going to be exits off the highway, so to speak, and then, you're going to get back on.
So, I just want to say thanks again for being on here and just tell everyone where they can find more of what you offer, because I think it's so valuable and people would really benefit from it too.
AMBER HAWLEY: Absolutely. Well, since you're listening to a podcast right now, you're probably a podcast listener. I do have the Easily Distracted Entrepreneur podcast, so you can head on over there and hear me there. But I guess if somebody is trying to decide like, okay, is this a shiny object? Or is this an awesome opportunity? I do have a free downloadable to kind… It's like a worksheet to kind of, like, reflect and figure out that for yourself. And they can get that at amberhawley.com/patrick. And they can go see if that's helpful for them. But yeah, amberhawley.com is probably the best place to find out more.
PATRICK CASALE: Cool, thank you very much. And that will all be in the show notes for everyone too so that you have access to that information and access to Amber, and if you need to ADHD coaching or any of that fun stuff that she's offering. So, I just want to say thanks again for being here.
And for everyone listening there are new episodes of the All Things Private Practice Podcast coming out every Monday morning on all major platforms, so download, like, subscribe, and share, and we will see you next week.
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