Have you ever looked at your skills and felt – when will I be done? Done learning? Done upskilling? Done needing to learn about new disorders or unfamiliar terms? 

When will you be able to feel like you have ticked all the boxes?

Learnt everything you need to learn?

Achieved job mastery?

Does it feel like an impossible task?

I was speaking to a mentee who mentioned that in previous jobs outside of speech pathology, she felt she knew when she had reached mastery when she could do the job with her eyes closed. There was a set of skills and tasks to learn and once learnt, that was it. Mastery accomplished. 

Unfortunately for you and I, we have gone into a profession that doesn’t quite work like that. 

There is always more learning. 

With no ceiling. 

Every client is different from the last. You can contain your knowledge by working with a particular cohort (e.g. speech sound disorders, stuttering, literacy etc ) but even in that, there is still upskilling to be done. Not just for registration but for good client management. 

So what do we do to stop ourselves from burning out, feeling like an imposter, getting overwhelmed or worse –  disillusioned?

I think the answer is knowing the profession we have gone into and the key skills we need. 

Understanding that reflection doesn’t mean self-criticism. 

Getting things wrong doesn’t mean you are a bad therapist. 

Dropping the ball happens.

We need to understand that the key skills in speech pathology are connection and communication. With our clients, with our colleagues, with each other. 

If we not only focus on connection and communication but we measure our success by how well we connect and communicate, we can feel accomplished. 

If we focus on connection and communication our clients feel seen and heard. 

If we focus on connection and communication we can measure our progress in a worthwhile, impactful way. 

Each session doesn’t have to be better than the last. The games and resources don’t need to be better, louder, brighter and more fun. The handouts don’t need to be prettier and more perfect. We can have messy sessions, those with meltdowns, those that don’t go to plan and we can still feel accomplished because we focused on connection and communication.

We might not ever hit mastery, but if we move the goal post just a fraction, we can get immense success. 

If that sounds too simple – great. Because it is supposed to be. 

So start measuring your success, your mastery, by how much you have connected and communicated. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how accomplished you feel.