Goals & Success

How To Prepare Yourself To Be A Successful Acupuncturist

The first step toward becoming a successful acupuncturist is obvious.

First, become an acupuncturist by getting a great education and training from one of about 50 US acupuncture colleges accredited by the ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). 

Whether your diploma says Traditional Chinese Medicine, Oriental Medicine, Asian Medicine, 5-Element Acupuncture, or simply Integrative Medicine, your education will prepare you to treat your patients effectively with skill, proficiency, & wisdom.

The second step is to open your own acupuncture practice. Be successful, love every moment of it, help lots of people, keep expanding your knowledge & skills, have a great family, take lots of vacations, and retire comfortably.

Oh wait... that step, as wonderful as it sounds, only exists AFTER a bunch of other steps that your acupuncture college failed to mention.

Because the truth is, your acupuncture school will prepare you to be an excellent health care practitioner. But YOU must prepare YOURSELF to be a successful acupuncturist

So how do you prepare yourself to be a successful acupuncturist? 

You can start by asking yourself two essential questions:

  • What does success mean to me?
  • What are my goals as an acupuncturist?

Let's look at both of these questions in depth. 

What Does Success Mean To Me?

Like beauty, Success is in the eye of the beholder. For some people success is setting a goal, like graduating from acupuncture college(!) and then achieving it. For others, success is less defined. It is more about a feeling. Like planting a garden and feeling the joy and wonder as it grows. And for many others success is about very tangible things, like money, homes, cars, clothes, or jewelry.

There is no right or wrong definition of success. What matters is that you have given some thought to what you want to create in your life.

What is your vision for yourself next week, next month, or next year? Five years from now? Ten years from now? Where will you be living? With Whom? Doing what? Be clear. Know what you want, even if what you want changes over time (because it will). 

The way you see yourself practicing as an acupuncturist and in all areas of your life is important. This vision creates the seeds that grow into your future. 


"To create a balanced and successful life, your vision needs to include the following seven areas: work and career, finances, recreation and free time, health and fitness, relationships, personal goals, and contribution to the larger community."

Jack Canfield , in his book,
The Success Principles (2007)

It is vital to take the time to ask yourself what you really want. Define what success means to you and then imagine in great detail every aspect of your life. 

Business coaches, life coaches, and counselors can be very instrumental in helping you find clarity.

So can books.

I highly recommend Jack Canfield's inspiring and informative book, The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.

The exercises that he guides you through will help you understand what it is you really want to achieve in your life.

After all being an acupuncturist is not the goal. It is a means, a wonderful means, to a far greater goal.

Acupuncturists have more in common with this self-made multi-millionaire than you may realize. Don't believe me? Read the article, What Do Acupuncturists Have In Common With Jack Canfield? 

What Are My Goals As An Acupuncturist?

What is it exactly that you want to accomplish by becoming an acupuncturist? There are as many answers to that question as there are acupuncturists.

But the only answer that matters is YOURS. Unfortunately very few acupuncturists bother to ask themselves about specific goals.

I was one of them. I see now that by avoiding the questions of defining goals, accomplishments, and achievements, the possibility of (unconsciously) sabotaging success is far greater.

This is especially true for acupuncturists and healers in general who often, not always, but often have an aversion to material (i.e. financial) success. Here's the problem: A certain amount of financial success is necessary to keep your doors open and you in practice, and if you are preventing yourself from receiving this flow of money, your efforts to succeed are being undermined.

Even if your number one goal is to help people (and I know it is), you cannot achieve that goal without the financial success to keep your acupuncture practice in good, solid business standing.

Your job is to define financial success for yourself. Start by asking yourself a few simple questions listed below.

  • Is it okay to earn an income from my acupuncture practice?
  • How MUCH money is it okay to earn?

If you do not know an exact dollar amount that feels "okay to earn", try answering these next few questions. Look for the place where you start to "draw the line".

  • Is it okay to earn enough to pay all my business expenses, such as: Rent? Supples? Malpractice insurance? Taxes? Continuing education? et cetera?
  • Is it okay to earn enough to pay for all my living expenses, such as: Home mortgage? Utilities? Groceries? Gasoline? Student loans? Credit card bills? et cetera?
  • Is it okay to earn enough to pay for: A reliable car? Nice clothingto work in? Beautiful art for my home & office? A vacation or two each year? Health insurance? Dental & Optical Insurance? Life Insurance? 
  • Is it okay to earn enough to save for: An emergency fund? My kids college fund? My aging parents? A new home? A truck or sports car? A Retirement Plan? An investment account?
  • Is it okay to earn enough to: Donate to my favorite charities? Provide a sliding scale to my patients? Take time away from my acupuncture practice to volunteer?
  • Is it okay to earn enough to: Buy organic food for myself, my dogs & cats? Go to concerts? Pay for hobbies like flying lessons, horse-back riding, skiing, climbing, or kayaking? Travel to China or India? Go with friends to gamble in Las Vegas? Take my kids to Disney World?
Do you see that where you draw the line and where someone else draws the line as to what constitutes an acceptable level of financial success may be completely different?

There is not a right or a wrong place to draw the line. What is essential is that you know where your individual line is. Or take conscious action to stretch, expand, or eliminate the line all together.

Asking yourself these questions and truly pondering your goals are more important than having specific answers. This process is, in large part, how you determine your financial comfort zone and consequently, your future acupuncture practice blueprint for success.

I know that you did not become an acupuncturist because of the money.

Acupuncturists are driven by a personal passion that supersedes financial reward.

Nonetheless, you have a responsibility to be a successful acupuncturist by keeping your doors open and serving your community in a way that brings you joy, fulfillment, and peace of mind for as many years and years as you choose to be a successful acupuncturist.