Dr. Wall Says

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Love What You Do, with these Four Questions

Love what you do TWWe’ve been told that if we want something badly enough, and we go for it, we can make it happen. I call bullshit! It takes more than just wanting something to make it happen. Making life look the way you want it takes hard work and a clear vision. And sometimes it takes several tries before you get it right (right for you that is). This is the story of how I tripped, and faltered and fell on my face and finally figured it out. It’s Life in Focus’ story, but in the end it’s everyone’s story.

When I became a psychologist they taught me diddlysquat about business. I guess they figure we’ll all just go into academia, or work for a hospital or some other institution. I, however, knew from the start that I wanted to have my own practice – I’ll credit Pat Conroy and The Prince of Tides here, the appeal of Lowenstein was too much for me to ignore (I am sucker for a tearjerker).

I put in the work, did my due diligence with regards to internships and postdocs and then decided it was time to get my swanky office in a high-rise, put on suits and pearls and get that shiny plaque with my name and pedigree on my door. In reality, I ended-up in a beautiful 1920’s craftsman office in the appropriately named neighborhood of Banker’s Hill in San Diego. I went to work in jeans most days of the week, and was CEO, CFO, COO and Janitorial Officer of my business (less glamorous). I my got a plaque, black with gold lettering, and it reads “The Wonderful Dr. Wall”.

Being a psychologist and building a business around it was very easy. I’m good at what I do, I’m comfortable talking about money and I had the smallest bit of business acumen – for psychotherapy that’s all I needed. Being a coach, or rather building a successful coaching business is much harder. It’s not for lack of ability – I’m still good at what I do, and the same skills that make me a good therapist work for coaching. No, it’s not an issue of ability, it’s a question of business savvy, and no matter how badly I want to have a thriving coaching practice, not understanding the business piece was a huge issue.


As I previously mentioned, they taught us NOTHING about business in grad school. I spent the first six months of Life in Focus, bobbing along, thinking that it would be like my psychotherapy practice. I thought I could hang my shingle, announce to the world I was now coaching, publish a new website and they would come… they didn’t. Which, is why I eventually hired business strategist Tara Gentile. Getting help, getting a coach, was the first really smart move I made with this dream. I am convinced it has saved me at least 6-12 months of floundering.

Working with Tara I’ve spent the last year trying to understand what Life in Focus is about, and how to get that message across to the rest the world. I was told there were some key questions that needed to be answered:

  1. Who did I want to work with?
    This one is super important, because if I was going to make a shift, I wanted to be hanging out with the right people for me.
  2. What did they need?
    No point in trying to hawk services. I wanted to be of serivce!
  3. Why me, what unique quality makes me valuable?
    Because let’s face it, the competition is pretty awesome, so I needed to know what else I brought to the table.
  4. What value do I add to people’s lives.
    What specific changes could I effect at the end of the day.


I found it easy to answer the first question. I knew exactly who I wanted to work with. Busy professionals and parents, people who once felt excited and driven by life, but who now were just getting by. I pictured myself, and a ton of other people I knew who had all done the right things, taken the right steps, made the right choices and yet still felt uninspired by the results. These people were stuck! Because when you do everything right and right doesn’t work for you, where do you go? There was second category of person I wanted to work with, individuals who were one step ahead of the previously described group. These were people who had a really clear idea of a change they wanted to make, but felt paralyzed by the fear of not doing it right, or not getting it right.

The other three questions were harder. In trying to answer them I came-up with variations on a common theme, but no one version seemed to fit perfectly (as evidenced by the six iterations of my website that have been released since March 2014). That is until May of 2015 when I had an epiphany about what I want my message to be, and then August 2015 when I had a second one about my unique value. Suddenly, the answers to questions #2 and #3 are crystal clear and #4 is just the result of those!


To understand the difference between right and right for you. The people I want to work with need to be able to define their choices in terms of values that are current, pertinent and personal, rather that going off of recommendations or theories that just don’t fit who they are. Why do people need to be able to define and express what’s right for them? Because when you make choices that aren’t just based on what’s right, but on what right for you, you stop wasting time and effort on goals that don’t work. You can build a life around goals that fit who you are, what you need, and where you’re at in your development. When you hit that right for you sweet spot, making changes isn’t scary, it’s exciting! With that you can thrive.


Exceptional insight! I am really good at figuring out the right questions to ask to help people take a good, honest and eye-opening look at their lives. I, partially by virtue of my training as a psychologist, and also because I am naturally curious and interested in others, have this ability to listen very carefully to what people are saying, and also what’s not being said. I have no issues whatsoever asking tough, probing and necessary questions (it’s what I like so much about podcasting). It helps me guide my clients. It helps them break free of all preconceived notions of right, and shoulds and fear, to get to that place where they can finally talk about what they really want their life to look like. From there it’s a hop, skip and a jump to figure out what needs to be done to make a version of the right for you life become a reality.


You can thrive. You can wake up most days knowing you look forward to your life. You get that feeling that things are happening, that life is right, good, satisfying. Although you’re busy, you’re not wondering why you’re working so hard on stuff that doesn’t do it for you. More importantly, you have the tools, the method and the code to stay on top of your life, to continue answering that question “what right for me?” as you grow, evolve and your needs inevitably change.

Who cares?

I share this story for two reasons. First, I am pretty excited to have this all figured out, and clear in my mind for the first time in 18 months. Since, this is about making sure others know how I can help, why not share it.

The other big reason, the one that initially prompted the post, is to remind anyone reading that figuring out the “right for you” piece is a process. It takes times. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll have to fine tune, revise and change your approach; sometimes a lot.

It took me three months to figure out that I needed to make a professional shift, nearly a full year to admit it to myself, my husband and my colleagues and then another 18 months to understand exactly what this new venture was going to look like. In those 18 months I had to understand what I really wanted Life in Focus to be about, then I had understand myself, so that I could be clear about what I’m doing. This process is no different than what anyone coming through Life in Focus’ virtual doors goes through, except that unlike me, they have a guide to that exceptional insight, and shortcuts to getting their right-for-you.

Not sure what’s right for you? Have you downloaded your free copy of the Focus Map?

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Hi! I'm Dr. Alessandra Wall

I help smart driven women and forward-thinking companies bridge the gap & build real conversations.

Here on the ‘Dr. Wall Says’, I share tools, tips, and insights about speaking up, getting heard and how women can take up space and thrive in the 21st century.



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