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Holistic Wealth

By Sharon Desjarlais, CC

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How to Know Your Practice "Needs"

I love my orthodontist. And not just because he gave me a chocolate-covered apple to celebrate the end of my treatment. I appreciate him because he's obsessed with infusing his values into every facet of his practice. From his receptionist to his billing manager, to his assistants, everyone I've ever encountered there is warm and gracious.

I feel cared for with each interaction. And apparently, I'm not the only one. As it turns out, he shows that same consideration to his staff by doing something I've never heard of in a practice. On the Friday before every national holiday that falls on a Monday, he closes the office. So everyone on his staff gets a four-day weekend — with pay.

Why? Because he says he believes in balance and family-time. To me, that's the epitome of a practitioner who puts his money where his mouth is. Because clearly, the only way he can honor his values this way is by making sure his needs are being met. See, there's a subtle yet important distinction between your needs and your values.

Simply put, a need is something your life is worse without. While a value is something that makes your life better. My orthodontist couldn't have expressed his values to such an extent unless he made sure his need for a healthy income was fulfilled. Otherwise, no matter how lofty his values, he wouldn't have been able to deliver on them.

We hear a lot these days about gro-wing a values-based business. But how do you guarantee your needs are met first? It starts by becoming clear on what your needs and values are. Here are four simple steps that will help you distinguish yours.

Step 1: Look through the list below quickly without analyzing. As you read each word, just notice — does it feel important to you? Does it feel like a word you want to circle?

Circle only the words you feel moved to circle, no matter how few or how many.

  • Authenticity
  • Abundance
  • Achievement
  • Adventure
  • Alone Time
  • Authority
  • Autonomy
  • Balance
  • Beauty
  • Boldness
  • Compassion
  • Challenge
  • Community
  • Competency
  • Contribution
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Determination
  • Fairness
  • Faith
  • Freedom
  • Friendship
  • Fun
  • Growth
  • Happiness
  • Honesty
  • Humor
  • Influence
  • Inner Harmony
  • Joy
  • Justice
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Learning
  • Love
  • Loyalty
  • Meaning
  • Openness
  • Optimism
  • Peace
  • Perfectionism
  • Philanthropy
  • Pleasure
  • Prosperity
  • Recognition
  • Reputation
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Security
  • Service
  • Silence
  • Spirituality
  • Stability
  • Success
  • Status
  • Trust
  • Wisdom

Step 2: Now go back over the words you circled and put a checkmark next to the 10 circled words that feel most important to you (at this time in your life).

Step 3: Once you've got your top 10 words, look at each one and ask yourself, "Do I want this? Or do I need it?" Be brutally honest. Then write an "N" by your needs and a "W" by your wants.

Step 4: Choose the top four needs that feel most important to you. Do the same with your wants, which are your values.

In the end, you should have four words that represent your core needs, and four that represent your core values. If you have more of one than the other, no worries. Go back to your original list of 10 and ask yourself: "If I could only have four words for this category, which ones would I choose?" And unless perfectionism is one of your needs, don't stress about picking the wrong word. There's no perfect answer — only the best answer for you right now.

Finally, once you've got your core needs and values, it's time to use them to grow your practice in a way that's meaningful to you and your clients. Start by evaluating your needs. How are making sure they're taken care of every day?

If your needs aren't being met, make a plan to do that first. That'll give you the breathing room you need to do the same with your values. When you're done, your clients will have plenty to rave about — even if you don't pass out free chocolate.

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