It all began with a therapist student.

In a mentoring session at my alma-mater, I felt energized. She shared her desire to become a private therapist. Her questions were insightful and her energy was contagious.

Since over 10 years, I have been a successful psychotherapist working in a solo private practice. Over the last year, I’ve transformed my simple private practice into a more complex group practice. I enjoy the clinical side of my work, which includes continuing to be a therapist and hiring and supervising therapists in their early careers.

It was a steep learning curve for me to learn the legal and accounting aspects of running this business. It has been humbling to say the least. It has forced me to realize how little I understand about insurance for family and medical leaves, unemployment insurance and employer-sponsored health insurance. I had to admit that I needed to learn more about these topics, and find professionals to help me.

What about marketing?

This new world is so vast that I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface. When I was asked the question, all of these thoughts were running through my mind:

“How did you set yourself up for success?”


My mind went back to my graduate school days, then the years I spent working for nonprofits and in hospitals as I earned my clinical hours toward my license.

How can I make sure that I am successful? I don’t know what it means. “I guess,” I said slowly. “I didn’t …”

There is no “assurance” that you will succeed when you take on any professional or personal risks. You can find many coaches and consultants to guide you in the professional world. However, I learned a lot by making a number of mistakes. Some of them cost a lot in time and money.

In retrospect, I can see that some of my choices were a little unpolished. I created my first website long before Wix and SquareSpace existed. It was a Yahoo Small Business site, which I named Yogalena Therapeutics. What is it?

When I think of it, I laugh out loud. But I was proud of it back then.

Was this going to help me succeed? People were searching for psychotherapists who love yoga using words like “Yoga” and “Therapeutics”.

What does it mean to be successful?

There is no recipe for our never-ending search for success. You move in the direction that you feel most passionate about, or are even just a bit curious. Then make your move. You may not always know your next step.


Fear of not being “set up for failure” is what often prevents us from going after the things we want most.

This is your anxiety. This is your anxiety talking.

You need to set up a solid foundation before you can achieve any of your professional goals. Work hard and remember that learning is never over. You will never get started if you are worried about perfection.



At the end of my interview, I told him that there was no formula for success. There are only continual education and vision, creativity, energy, and inspiration. You will experience setbacks, anxieties, fears and, yes, even some losses. You may experience failures that sometimes take time to heal. You can then reevaluate your next steps.

Please, I begged her, don’t let this stop you! Decide what kind of success you’re looking for if you want to succeed at something. What is success to you? What is your definition of success? Is it a certain financial benchmark or professional milestone that you have achieved? Do not be afraid to take that step, despite your fears.

Remember that the “mark of success” is constantly moving. It is possible to reach one milestone, and then have the next in sight. Before moving to the next level, celebrate your victories. Remember, there’s no “there and there”: Few people reach their personal pinnacle thinking, “Ok, now I did it!” Stop saying “I’m successful!”

I hope you enjoy the victories you have along the way and keep your eyes on the next mountain to climb. Set your goals, and keep moving toward them. Find some time to relax and enjoy the ride.

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