Anna Garstin

I can do anything I set my mind to if I want it badly enough

I remember it like it was yesterday. My mum dropped me off at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport in 1999 to say goodbye and good luck, as I was about to set off on my new adventure in the UK. I was very excited and had been waiting for this moment for a long time.

Training to become a Doctor of Chiropractic had been something I wanted to do for a few years. The last thing my mum said to me before I went through the passport control was, “I bet you’ll find yourself an English man and never come back”. I just laughed it off as I could not really see that happening and said, “Don’t be so silly”. Now here I am sixteen years later still in the UK writing an article about my ten year roller coaster journey as a business owner.

When I finally graduated from the Anglo European College of Chiropractic in 2004 it was with a great sense of achievement and excitement. I’m the sort of person who believes that I can do anything I set my mind to if I want it badly enough. I was 30 years old at this stage and felt that it was about time I achieved something and started a proper career. I couldn’t wait to go out into the real world and help as many people as possible to better health.

When you graduate as a Doctor of Chiropractic you are an expert in diagnosing, treating, managing, and preventing neuromusceloskeletal problems, as well as the effects these conditions can have on your nervous system and overall health. But we learn very little, actually nothing really, about how to run a business which is ultimately what most Chiropractors set out to do.

We dreamed of being our own bosses

After two years of working as an associate with my partner, an Englishman who I’d met in my third year at college (I know, mums are always right), we decided that it was time to take the big step and set up our own Clinic. We dreamed of being our own bosses, partly because working as an associate you only get to keep 50% and we wanted more. Oh but little did we know. It turns out that running your own place with all the overheads and costs of staff and insurance, and not to mention the loans we took out to set everything up, left much less than 50% at the end of every month. Life on the hamster wheel had started.

When you are with the kids you feel guilty because you are not working and when you are working you feel guilty because you are not spending time with the kids…

At the same time my biological clock was ticking. We decided to get married and were lucky enough to have two beautiful children. In life we have to make choices and when you decide to have children your career will have to take a back seat for a while. I’m sure any working mums out there will know what I’m talking about. You always feel slightly torn. When you are with the kids you feel guilty because you are not working and when you are working you feel guilty because you are not spending time with the kids.

Initially our higher purpose for the clinic was very different to what it is today. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. All we managed to do was create a JOB for ourselves where we were so busy doing the day-to-day tasks, adjusting patients, always working in the business but with no time or energy to create the business we wanted. The stress was starting to get to us. This sort of lifestyle was far from what we had dreamed of and it was just not sustainable. Something was going to have to change. Sometimes in life things just seem to happen for a very specific reason. I think some people call it sliding door moments. Well we have had a few of these recently.

We had got to a point where we were questioning if carrying on with Chiropractic was what we really wanted to do. Also it had put a terrible strain on our marriage which unfortunately ended in divorce. Now I think this is really sad and it has certainly made me want to coach and mentor new graduates so that they can avoid all this pain and get it right from the start. Thanks to my own mentors and coaches we have learned to make informed choices and become successful Chiropractic business owners and not just Chiropractors.

The higher purpose of my business

The higher purpose of my business now is this: you have to set yourself up with a process that allows you to consistently grow, enjoy life and produce the results you are really after. Too many people in life never stop and ask themselves the question “What do I really really want?” It is so easy to say what you don’t want but it is much harder to focus on what you do aspire to.

We now run an associate-driven practice where we help, coach and mentor new graduates to develop and shine. They become amazing, inspired and successful chiropractors so that when they are ready to set up their own clinics they have all the tools they need to do so. And by doing this I am freeing myself from being chained to my treatment table. This will allow me to spread the chiropractic message and go out into the community and teach pregnant women, mums and babies what I do and what I’m really passionate about. Eventually this will set me free to do whatever I want, with whomever I want, whenever I want. As the American motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, You can have whatever you want in life, if you just help enough other people get what they want.

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