One Year Later

Well, it’s been a year – one year working as a self-employed healthcare professional. From the new-business perspective, it was the most difficult year. But not only has my business survived (in this economy, no less), it’s also grown quite a lot. I started off with maybe two clients per week, usually friends fulfilling a promise to help me out. But now things are different. Every so often I’ll overhear the clinic secretary say on the phone, “I’m sorry, but Natalie’s all booked for the rest of the day” and I still can’t believe it.

Perhaps more importantly though, I’ve grown. I’ve learned about myself and what I’m capable of more this year than any other. And since anniversaries are a standard time for reflection, here are a few things I’ve learned:

Learning: Yes, yes; I learned about learning. How original. But this year I found out how much learning is a continual process, especially when it comes to massage. I finished school with the very minimum requirements, no specialized training. That part was up to me. So I figured out what I wanted to learn, and took classes or read books on the topic. One of the things I love most about massage is that I can never be overqualified for the position; I can never know too much about massage. The more I learn, the more I can shape and refine my practice.

People: Going instantly from sitting in a cubicle and staring at a computer to working and interacting with people every day was something of a shock. And unlike the paper I pushed or the data I entered, which were all pretty uniform, I’ve learned that every person is different. Even if one client has the same aches and pains as another, it doesn’t meant that my massage will be the same or that they’ll respond in a similar way. That last part is key: Everybody, every body, responds to massage differently, so it’s not practical or feasible to have grand expectations about solving everyone’s muscle problems. Every person, every interaction, every massage is different. While this certainly makes my job more challenging, it also makes it that much more rewarding.

Marketing: If you were to go back 10 years and tell me that one day I’d have to spend my time talking to people and telling them about how great I am – and that I’d enjoy doing this – I’d have thought you were crazy. But a giant part of running a business is marketing, letting people know who you are and why you’re important. I don’t know where the surge of confidence came from, but suddenly I can spend all day telling you why I’m good at massage and why I love what I do (and why you should love what I do too). When I talk about massage, I literally start glowing; I get really happy and excited and there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that I’m exactly where I belong.

One year down, and many more ahead!

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