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All in the mindset: Life-changing mindset shifts to succeed in the massage business


August 10, 2021
By Rachel Beider, LMT

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Photo credit: © ARUTA Images / Adobe Stock.

 Mindset, as a massage therapist and business owner, is everything. The success or failure of any business has so much to do with the owner’s psychology. The first mindset shift that has made a huge difference for my own business involves a radical look at self-accountability.

What am I tolerating?
The first self-accountability question is, “What am I tolerating?” Consider: “What am I tolerating from myself?” and “What am I tolerating from my team, my career, my clients, etc.?” Tolerance is a sneaky one; it can creep up on you. It can start off just as an annoyance or mild irritation and grow into a full-blown issue that festers if left unattended and unresolved.

Having a clear understanding of what you’re currently tolerating can help you to navigate your goals with better boundaries. When we set a boundary, we protect ourselves from being hurt. Tolerance of mistreatment, bad behavior, etc. is a breach of a boundary and puts us at risk of resentment down the line.

For example, when I asked myself this question at the start of my massage therapy career, I found that I had been tolerating a lot of fear and anxiety from myself that was preventing me in some ways from being vulnerable with others and sharing my gift. I knew that if I didn’t address this swiftly, it could lead to depression and feeling stuck in my career. 

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Tolerating things that we shouldn’t also hurts our relationships with ourSELVES. It feels really good when we can trust ourselves to do the things we say we’re going to do, whether that’s getting enough sleep, working out regularly, or showing up for friends and family. The same value holds true in personal relationships. When we tolerate a partner behaving badly toward us, it lowers our self-esteem and can put us in dangerous situations if the behavior escalates. It’s imperative to put down strong boundaries early and regularly check in with ourselves, being brutally honest about where we are putting up with stuff that we really shouldn’t. When we tolerate things that we shouldn’t, the result can be anything from mere annoyance to feeling wrong in our soul—like we’re not living our truth. Those are the kinds of feelings that eventually keep you up at night.

What am I avoiding?
 You can follow this with, “What am I dreading?” or “What am I afraid of doing that I need to do?” or “What keeps me up at night?”  The things we dread doing the most are the things that need the most doing. Those are the items that typically need to be resolved that we should tackle first.

We often spend more time worrying over doing something than actually doing it. A gentle reminder: bravery is not about being fearless; it’s about being terrified and doing something anyway.

As business owners, we tend to do a lot of the activities that we excel at and less of the things that we perceive we aren’t as good at. We might avoid doing something because we are bored by it, scared of it, or just need more support in getting it done. Acknowledging where there is an issue is the first step in actually making real changes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when asking yourself, “What am I avoiding?”

Take a look at the list of things you’re avoiding. You may notice some self-judgment here: We judge ourselves for procrastination, calling ourselves “lazy.” Or we feel ashamed that we haven’t fixed the thing, or done the thing we said we’d do. In my experience, people are generally not lazy, they just need more support and more resources. Consider delegating as much of that list as you can to others who are more able to handle the tasks. If you can’t delegate something, I want you to find someone who knows how to do it and get help. Maybe it’s a YouTube link, a coach, a mentor, or an expert in the field. Before you tackle your least favorite tasks, get inspired by journaling, reading new books on the topic, listening to podcasts, and talking to other business owners. Remind yourself of your own resilience and resourcefulness.

The things that you are most afraid of are typically the things that need the most addressing. Think about what really scares you and makes you feel overwhelmed or concerned. Write a list of everything: What I am tolerating, from myself, from my career, from my clients. What I am avoiding, dreading, or afraid of. Write down absolutely everything. Do not edit while you write, just let it flow out of you.

You can also reach out for help using an accountability partner to keep you on track—there are so many strong, awesome friends to be made on Facebook who are also going through a similar journey. Join a professional entrepreneurship organization with a local chapter. For even more support and accountability, consider hiring a professional business coach and seeking out a mentor. These self-accountability questions of “tolerating” and “avoiding” will help you, as they’ve helped me, to stay on track. By doing this exercise every month, I can easily identify where I should be focusing my energy and strategizing. Surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable, who care about your success, and who are supportive of you.

Why is this happening to me? Shifts to: “Why is this happening *for* me?”
This is another mindset shift that is helpful is to reframe the question – that simple shift can help you quickly lift your mood, and focus on gratitude. Consider: what if problems are the universe ON OUR SIDE calling us to grow? 

What if I don’t take action?
What if nothing changes one year from today? In a year, will I be ok with the consequences of not taking the leap? Many of my motivations for moving forward come from the knowledge that NOT doing so will feel devastating a year from now. I can tell when something isn’t worth pushing through if I wouldn’t mind so terribly if it didn’t happen. 

Use this strategy when you’re faced with making a major decision. Don’t do things halfway. If you’re in it, you’re in it. Decide to do something and then take huge actions to accomplish it. Not “I’m going to think about doing it,” or I’m going to “try” doing it, but rather deciding, “I’m DOING IT” and then taking huge giant massive steps to getting it done! This builds the kind of enthusiasm and momentum needed to accomplish absolutely anything.

Move away from “What if the very worst happens?” and into: “What if it turns out WAY better than I could have ever imagined?”
When you think about what it would feel like if the very best thing happened, you actively counteract all the catastrophizing that your brain wants to do. It’s not totally crazy to have this kind of range, by the way. Economists call this a projection – the very worst and the very best outcomes that could happen. The biggest and best outcomes can become goal posts that allow you to dream, and keep you focused on a vision. Try to get clear about the rewards and start imagining what it will feel like to see your goals all come together. Close your eyes and breathe in the feelings of how deeply satisfying it will be. You might even picture yourself popping a bottle of your favorite drink and toasting, a big smile on your face, knowing you’re making your dreams happen, knowing that your family can depend on you and knowing you can truly depend on yourself. 


Rachel Beider is a globally recognized small business expert, best-selling author, and the proud owner of PRESS Modern Massage, a group of award-winning massage studios in NYC. Her work has been published in Forbes, Entrepreneur, “O” Oprah Magazine, and the Wall St. Journal. She recently released her book, “Massage MBA: Run Your Practice, Love Your Life”. Rachel loves helping wellness professionals grow strong, sustainable practices via her coaching company: Wellness Business Consulting.


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