Everyone is quick to tell you what they think. They tell you what you should do, what your problem is, and what they think is best for you. They are quick to tell you where you are messing up and why they know better. Does this sound familiar? Think about a time when you told someone something you wanted to do with your work or a major purchase you were considering. How many questions did they ask you about what you wanted, or did they go right to, “you know what you should do”?

The reason I picked this topic today, is because of the input I received from a practice management class I was teaching. One of the topics I was covering was about picking a niche. I had asked two questions, “Who can you help the most with what you do?” and “Who do you want to spend your time with all day long?”. I could see from their expressions and comments this was a new topic for many. After the class was over, one of the attendees even said, “I never thought I could pick who my patient is. I thought I just get who shows up in my clinic.” My response was simply, “Yes, you can build your practice and design your marketing around how what you do helps those you want to most”. It is a very simple idea, and it can have profound effects on your work day and the success of your business.

It turns out this concept was a big change in thinking for many. They have been doing what they do, but basing their practice on the input of others instead of making their own decisions. Please don’t get me wrong. I am interested in customer feedback and using surveys to better understand the needs and wants of your clients, but what I am suggesting is you can pick who your client is and how your business runs. This isn’t about the right of refusal or ignoring those coming to your clinic in need. It is about “finding your tribe” or those you resonate best with. Doing so can be a game changer to the quality of your care and boost your motivation.

Picking a niche forces us to focus and allows us to build our expertise. It is a way to demonstrate our uniqueness and build our skills while working with a population we want to. It provides consistency and allows you to maximize efficiency. This applies to many aspects of your business from your clinical approach to your marketing efforts. When you know who you are trying to serve, you can build a comprehensive experience that meets the needs of the market and better invest your time and money.

We can explore more about he benefits of serving a niche market and strategies to capitalize on this way of thinking, but my focus is on helping you understand your opinion is the only one that matters here. I find this point is when problems tend to arise. When presented with the opportunity to decide what is best for us, many people get stuck very fast. “What do you mean when you say what I want?”, they ask me. We are used to living the dreams of our parents, families, friends, and even strangers. We worry about the judgement of others and put their opinions above ours.

There are a few sayings about opinions, but many have the same point. Opinions are everywhere and everyone has them. Most people are self centered and only concerned with how things benefit them. Their thinking is based on their lives, experiences, and desires. This isn’t malicious (though it can be) and a completely common way of thinking, but this is your business and your life we are discussing. Each and every day you will be the one doing the work, reaping the benefits, and dealing with the hardships that result from your business. Don’t you think it should be based on your thoughts and ideas?

If you know anything about me, you know I like to hear both positive and negative feedback. I feel other people will help you see the things you don’t see, and their opinions will help you understand their way of thinking. I use this information as a tool. It can help guide me, but any decision is my responsibility. This was a hard concept for me to accept. When I first went into practice, I treated the symptoms and conditions my professors and friends told me I should. I felt they knew better. It turns out they didn’t. My lack of confidence while pursuing a new endeavor caused me to put their opinions above my own. It caused me many years of confusion and limited my potential. In some way, I felt if I followed their advice and failed it wouldn’t be my fault. It would be their fault, and I would have an alibi if it didn’t work out. I was afraid to be accountable. I was afraid to make a mistake. I was afraid of the judgement.

Now, an interesting point about judgement. Judgement is going to happen no matter what you do. Most people are secretly plotting for your failure and misery to match theirs. I know. This is a terrible way to think, but I hear it pretty regularly. Luckily, I have stopped listening to it. You have to as well. You can’t care about the judgement of others and need to understand most people are glad you are having the problems and not them. It’s quite sad, but you know what isn’t? Focusing on your success and the confidence and freedom that results from not caring about the judgement of others. People will be mean. They will say hurtful things. There will be jealousy and anger, but this is about them not you. What is about you is how you react to their comments. I’m not going to tell you it never bothers me. Sometimes it is a solid punch in the stomach, but the more you focus on yourself, your happiness, and your success the less it does.

This is a new way of thinking for a lot of you. It is a theme that will repeat on this blog regularly. Social media is an easy platform for keyboard warriors to hurl their opinions and destructive comments your way. You need to figure out what you want to do. Look to understand what makes you happy. You have to do the work and live with the results of what you do both good and bad. Shouldn’t the decision be yours to make?