Episode 12: Should Thinking

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Should Thinking

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Should Thinking

Do you have thoughts about other people around how they should behave? Maybe you have thoughts about yourself around what your life should look like, or perhaps you’ve noticed yourself believing that the world should be a certain way. Well, this is called ‘should thinking’, and while it can seem useful, it needs to stop.

 

This is one of my favorite topics because, when you really master identifying and eliminating should thinking from your life, the impact it has on how you feel is truly profound. So, how do we get clear on where should thinking is showing up in our lives? Well, that’s exactly what we’re discussing today.

 

Tune in this week to start identifying and ultimately eliminating unhelpful should thinking from your brain’s repertoire. I’m sharing the most common should thoughts that I’ve struggled with, where my clients generally need to do this work, and how you can take steps to eliminate shoulds from your thought process, so you can live from a more empowering energy.

 

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, enrollment for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind is officially open. This is a six-month group coaching program where you’ll be surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals from the legal industry, pushing you to become the best possible version of yourself. We kick off with an in-person live event and you can get all the information and apply by clicking here

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • 3 different types of should thoughts that every human being has.
  • Why most of our negative thoughts are actually should thoughts, and why they tend to make us feel terrible.
  • How to see the should thoughts that are making your life more difficult than it needs to be.
  • The most common should thoughts that my clients come to me with and the associated negative emotions they experience.
  • Why there will always be a handful of helpful should thoughts you want to keep, and that’s okay.
  • How to eliminate unhelpful should thoughts from your thinking, so you can concentrate on what is, instead of what you believe should be.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

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Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 12. We’re talking all about “Should Thinking.” You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.

Hello, how are we doing today? I hope you are good. I’ve been having the best week this week. It’s been really fun, a little jam packed with work. But that’s always exciting. And, I also had an alumni event to attend for the firm that I used to work at. They do an annual alumni cocktail reception once a year. So, I got to see a bunch of my former colleagues. I love that they do that, we haven’t done it since before the pandemic. It was really wonderful to see a bunch of those people and meet some other alums for the first time. Just a really fun way to spend one of my weeknights this week.

I hope you are having fun this week, as well. And, if you work in a law firm setting, and you don’t do an alum night, consider it. It’s a really good time, I had a riot. So just an idea to offer y’all.

Alright, today we’re talking about “should thinking,” and it’s one of my absolute favorite topics. Because, when you really master identifying and eliminating should thinking from your life, the impact, making that change, has on the quality of your life and the quality of how you feel on a day-to-day basis, it’s so profound. The impact is huge. So, I can’t wait to introduce you to this topic. Teach you how to identify should-thoughts and eliminate them from your thinking repertoire.

So first, I want to start by talking about the three different types of should thinking: There’s should-thoughts that you think about yourself. Should-thoughts that you think about other people. And, should-thoughts that you think about what goes on in the world. Those are the three main categories of should-thoughts.

Remember, we think 60,000 thoughts per day, on average, and a huge portion of those thoughts are negative. I also want you to know that a huge portion of your negative thoughts are likely should-thoughts, okay? And, all three types of should-thoughts tend to make us feel pretty terrible when we think them. So, if we want to feel better, we want to make sure that we identify and eliminate the should-thoughts that we think, and get rid of them from our thinking.

Let’s talk about some examples of these should-thoughts. Here’s some common ones, that people think about themselves: “I should have done X. I shouldn’t have said Y. I should be more like so and so. Or, it should be more like this. I should be less like that.” Right? I’m being very general with this; you can fill in the blanks in each of these sentences.

But I just want to be general, to give you some examples: “I should know how to do this by now. I shouldn’t need help with this.” Here’s a really common one, that a ton of my clients think pretty frequently: “I should be further along. I should offer to help. I shouldn’t say No. I shouldn’t be so behind.” Those are all different variations of should-thoughts that we think about ourselves.

And, when we think thoughts like this, we tend to feel guilty, or ashamed, or disappointed in ourselves, or frustrated with ourselves, right? You think, “I should have done X, instead of what I did.” You’re going to feel guilty, disappointed, frustrated, ashamed, things like that. “I should be further along,” maybe you’ll feel really dissatisfied, or discouraged, or disappointed with the progress that you’ve made so far. “I shouldn’t be so behind.” You might feel guilty or ashamed there. “I shouldn’t say no,” you’ll feel guilty, and then you’ll people please in response to that.

When you think should-thoughts about yourself, you’re going to feel pretty awful in those specific feelings that I just described to you. So, you want to get in the habit of identifying these thoughts, and coming up with a different way to think about yourself. Alright?

I’m going to get into that a little bit more in a second. But the first thing that you always want to do, is gain awareness that these are the thoughts that you’re thinking. So, start to slow yourself down and pay attention when you go into should-thinking about yourself. You probably do this all throughout your day, so you just want to start to become mindful of it, so you can catch it and replace it. Okay?

When it comes to other people, we tend to be hypercritical of what they say and do, or what they don’t say and what they don’t do. Should-thoughts about other people will look like, “He shouldn’t have said that. She should have done this instead. She shouldn’t have done that. She should be more like that. He should be more like this; he should be less like this.”

Again, these are widely applicable, pretty vague sentences that I’m giving you. More specifically, should-thoughts about other people might look something like, “She shouldn’t have written that in the email. He shouldn’t have scheduled that meeting at that time. They shouldn’t make us come back into the office x-times per week. She shouldn’t have said no when I asked her to do that. He should be more accommodating.”

Maybe you’re thinking this about your employer, “They should pay me more.” Maybe you’re thinking this about a friend or a family member, “They should be more supportive. They should do this when I ask them to.” These are more specific should-thoughts that we’ll have.

And, when we think should-thoughts about other people in this way, we tend to feel disappointed, frustrated, annoyed, resentful, angry, and everyone’s favorite; I always describe this as like the dark chocolate covered caramel, delicious emotion of self-righteousness. That can be really tasty, really addictive, a go-to for a lot of people when they’re thinking should-thoughts about others. Those are some examples of should-thoughts we think about other people.

We also think should-thoughts about the world: “This shouldn’t have happened. It should have gone this way instead. I should have gotten that job. I should have gotten a bigger raise. There shouldn’t be a war in Ukraine. The Supreme Court shouldn’t have ruled on the decision this way. A judge shouldn’t have decided our case in this manner. The jury should have come back a different way. The deal should have gone differently than it did. The motion hearing should have turned out differently than it ended up.” All the things that happen in the world that we tend to argue with.

“There shouldn’t be mask mandates. There should be mask mandates. There shouldn’t be pandemics. There shouldn’t be vaccine mandates.” These are all things that people have a lot of different opinions on recently, right? They’re just should-thoughts that we think about what happens in the world.

When we think should-thoughts about what happens in the world, we tend to feel a lot of the same emotions that come up for us, when we think should-thoughts about other people: disappointed, frustrated, annoyed, resentful, angry, maybe, self-righteous. We also might feel defeated, discouraged, powerless, and maybe out of control. I want you to start recognizing some of these thought patterns that might be showing up in your daily thinking.

What should-thoughts are you thinking about yourself? What should-thoughts do you think about other people, the people that you engage with, encounter on a daily basis, at work, in your personal life? Do you think that they should do things differently than they do? Do you think they should be different than they are? Do you think things that happen in the world shouldn’t happen? Do you wish things were different in the world than they are? You want to start finding those thoughts. Okay?

I also want to clue you in here on subtle should-thoughts. Because every once in a while, I’ll talk to a client and I will tell them, “Here’s what I want you to do this week. I want you to go into your week, and pay attention to all of the should-thoughts that you’re thinking throughout the week, so you can start to gain awareness as to why you’re feeling a lot of the negative emotions that you’re feeling: why you’re feeling guilty, ashamed, frustrated, resentful, discouraged, disappointed, resentful, angry, self-righteous, all of those emotions.

And, they’ll come back the next week, and I’ll say, “How did it go? What did you see? What did you realize? What did you notice, as far as your should-thinking goes?” They’ll come back and say, “You know, I couldn’t really find any should-thoughts.” But based on the emotions that they told me that they experienced pretty regularly, I know that the should-thinking is there.

And, when we start to dig a little bit deeper, we’ll uncover some subtle should-thoughts that sound like this instead, they don’t actually use the word should, but they’re a variant of a should-thought. So, it would sound like, “I can’t believe they did X. What they did was so rude or disrespectful. How dare they do that? I would have never said that. He or she isn’t being “blank” enough: Isn’t being supportive enough, isn’t being respectful enough, isn’t being kind enough, isn’t being supportive enough, productive enough,” any words like that, right?

“This wasn’t supposed to happen. You can’t do it this way. You can’t run a business like this. You can’t operate in this manner.” Or, another really common variant of a should-thoughts is: “A good ‘blank’ would do this, instead. A good friend would come to your kid’s, second year old birthday party. A good spouse would plan romantic date nights, once a week. A good colleague would help me when I’m really behind on something, and I asked them for help. A good friend would pick me up from the airport. A good associate, who works underneath me, would handle this on their own, and not ask me any questions, and figure it out and be resourceful.”

So, any variant of, “A good ‘blank’ would do it this way,” is also a variant of a should-thought. These are just different ways of thinking, that people should behave differently than they have behaved. So, even though they’re not using the word “should” in the sentence, they’re still thoughts that are rooted in should-thinking. Because you’re arguing with what someone has done with their behavior, what they chose to do, what they chose to not do, and you’re thinking that it should be different than it is, okay? So, it’s still a should-thought.

Now, why is should-thinking so problematic? Well, first of all, it makes you feel terrible, as I’ve gone through with each of these three categories: should-thoughts you think about yourself, should-thoughts you think about other people, and should-thoughts that you think about the world and what takes place in it.

You end up feeling awful when you think should-thoughts. But moreover, when you think should-thoughts, what you’re really doing is you’re arguing with reality. You’re thinking about something that’s already occurred, actions someone has already taken, or you’re thinking back on something that people didn’t do, but it’s focused on the past, right?

And, you’re arguing with what’s already taken place. So that’s always going to be a pointless endeavor, completely futile. When we argue with reality, with what’s already happened, we lose 100% of the time.

Now, you’re taking issue, like I said, with something that’s already happened. And, the reason that’s so problematic: A. It’s just unnecessary frustration. But B. It’s also really disempowering.

Instead of arguing with reality, you have two better options to choose from: You can accept what’s happened, or you can learn from it. Or, you can actually do a combination of those two things.

All of that is what I recommend, I don’t recommend just arguing with reality, and sitting in the frustration of it. So, instead of being judgmental with your should-thinking, get curious. Ask yourself: Why? Why did you do X, Y, and Z? Why did you not do X, Y, and Z? Why did they do something, or not do it? Why did they say something, or not say it? Why did this or that happen? Get really curious, and see if you can get yourself to a place of understanding.

I’ve taught you the model now. You know that circumstances are neutral, and that thoughts cause feelings. Feelings drive actions, and actions produce results.

So, if you’re looking at your own actions: Why you did or didn’t do something, why you said or didn’t say something, why something happened a particular way, why someone else did something or didn’t do something, all of that is going to go in A-line of someone’s model. Either your model or their model.

And, you can work it backwards. If it’s a negative action, it’s likely because you were resisting, avoiding, or reacting to a negative emotion. Ask yourself, “What was that feeling?” Gain that awareness.

From there, ask yourself what thoughts caused you to feel that feeling? Or, what thoughts might they be thinking that caused them to feel that feeling? If it’s something that’s going on in the world, work it backwards, “How did we get there?” Maybe it makes sense. It probably does, when you dissect it, when you pull it apart.

So, work on getting yourself to a place of understanding. Intellectual understanding where you’re like, “Oh, I get exactly how that happened the way that it did.” Or, “I get why that happened.” Not from judgment, but just from curiosity. Work towards understanding.

Now, understanding does not mean condoning. It also doesn’t mean that you’re operating from a place of compassion. That is so, so important to understand. You don’t have to love what you did. You don’t have to love what someone else did. You don’t have to love what happened in the world. But if you can get yourself to a place where you intellectually understand why it happened, or didn’t happen, exactly the way that it did, you’re going to give yourself so much emotional freedom, with that understanding.

I’d be like, “Oh, of course, that happened that way. Of course, it unfolded that way, because of X, Y and Z. Because they were thinking this way, and feeling this way, and then they responded, in kind.” You know, “I did that thing, because I was thinking this thought, I was feeling this feeling. And then, I avoided it by doing this, instead.” Or sequentially, “This thing took place in the world because this was in place first. And then, this happened after this. And then, that thing happened. And, it all makes perfect, logical sense. I don’t have to like it. But I do understand how we got to where we are now.”

Again, if you can get yourself to a place where you understand why what happened, happened the way that it did, you’ll open yourself up to feeling much more accepting and understanding of whatever circumstances you’re encountering.

You can also use this as an opportunity to learn about yourself. If you’re making judgments about yourself or other people, or what’s going on in the world, you can ask yourself, “Why do I think it should be different? Why do I believe that? What is that should-thought based upon? What values or beliefs do I have that are serving as a foundation for this should-thought scaffolding, so to speak? Does it serve me to keep choosing to think this way? Do I want to think about this differently?” Those are great questions to ask yourself when you catch yourself in a should-thought cycle.

Now, the biggest pushback that I get from people, when I talk about eliminating should-thinking from your thought process, they typically say to me, “So, Olivia, what are you saying? I’m just supposed to not have standards? I just shouldn’t have expectations? Should I just be a doormat and let people walk all over me?”

No, that’s not what I’m saying here. Here’s what I am saying, you get to have expectations and standards for yourself, and for other people, and for what goes on in the world. Alright?

Here’s the kicker, though. You get to have all the expectations and standards that you want to, you just have to take the disappointment and frustration that comes with them when people, or the world, or yourself fail to meet those expectations. Okay?

These circumstances, other people’s behavior, their actions, that’s not what’s causing your disappointment or your frustration. It’s your expectations that cause those negative feelings. If you didn’t have those expectations in the first place, you wouldn’t feel badly if they went unmet.

So, you get to have expectations and standards, but you have to take the disappointment and frustration that comes with them, when people invariably fail to meet those expectations.

Now, I’ve talked about this before; sometimes we want to have expectations, and choose to feel negative emotions when people don’t meet them. You may want to think that someone shouldn’t have done something because it doesn’t align with your values. You may want to choose to feel disappointed as a result, that’s fine, you get to make that choice. You just don’t get to blame that other person for how you feel.

You feel that negative feeling, that frustration, or disappointment because of how you’re choosing to think about that person’s actions. And again, you get to do this, it’s totally fine. There’s plenty that goes on in the world, or there are plenty of things that other people might say or do, and I want to choose to think a should-thought about that, and then feel a negative emotion as a result. Alright?

My suggestion here, is to be very discerning with the should-thoughts that you choose to think. Be picky when it comes to your should-thoughts. Don’t think a ton of them, be selective. Pick the ones that really matter.

Here are a few examples of should-thoughts that I really value, that I want to keep: So, people shouldn’t physically hurt one another. I want to think that that behavior is unacceptable. And when it takes place in the world, I want to be upset about it. People shouldn’t use racial slurs or derogatory comments. That’s a value that I consider really important.

I did criminal defense work. I’ve talked about that before on the podcast. So, I think police shouldn’t plant evidence. And, they shouldn’t ignore someone’s request for an attorney; I’ve seen that on a couple cases. So, that’s a should-thought that I’m going to hold on to. I think you should pay your employees on time if you’re an employer. I also think people shouldn’t offer their opinion unless someone asked for it. I think it’s impolite. And, I want to choose to feel a little offended when people offer an uninvited opinion.

Those are some examples of ones that I still carry with me. I choose to think them, and I’m fine feeling the negative feelings that come from having those should-expectations, when those expectations go unmet.

Now, here are some should-thoughts that I have gotten rid of over the course of learning about coaching, and learning about the model, and learning that my thoughts are what cause my feelings. I realized that I just didn’t want to be upset about certain things anymore.

I’m a big planner. I spend a lot of time planning nights out for people, planning what restaurant we might go to, comparing a bunch of different menus. I do this when I travel with friends, as well. And, I used to get really upset that people weren’t being appreciative, or wouldn’t default to my expertise, because I spent so much time and invested so much energy in curating the perfect plan. And, I would think the thought, “People should appreciate all of the hard work that I put in.”

But here’s the thing; no one asked me to do that. I was doing it because it makes me happy to do that. So, I’ve totally given up that people should appreciate the hard work that I put in. Now, I just appreciate my own hard work, and I let it go. Regardless of whether someone else appreciates it or doesn’t, it’s totally irrelevant. I don’t cause my own frustration or disappointment by thinking that should-thought.

I also used to be a little bit of a pusher. So, if I wanted to go do something, and I would ask a friend to join me and go attend an event, or go out to dinner, or go out to do X, Y or Z, and people would say no, I would get really frustrated, and kind of try and convince them to come with me. It was based on me having this belief that people should say yes, if I asked them to go to something with me, that a good friend would do it if I asked them to.

I caused so much of my own frustration from that line of thinking. So, I gave it up. Now, I trust people to know what’s best for them, to know what they can accomplish or accommodate, as far as their schedule is concerned. I let other people be the best judge of what they should or shouldn’t do, what they should or shouldn’t say yes to. So, I don’t think that anymore.

I also, for a while, thought that people should be supportive of my career decisions. Now, that was a really painful thought that I chose to think for a while. There were a whole host of reasons why people, in my life, weren’t supportive of some of my career decisions, especially some of the bigger transitions that I’ve made in recent years.

Mostly, they were just worried for me. It makes total sense to me, why they would be worried. They knew a lot less about the industry that I went into, they had their own beliefs about what was responsible, or secure, or reasonable, or practical, right? They just have different belief systems and values than me.

But me thinking that they should be supportive, and then when they weren’t supportive, that was really painful. It caused me a lot of strife and negative emotion. So, I’ve given that up. Now, I’m like, “Of course, they feel the way that they do. Of course, they think the way that they think. Of course, they’re not supportive, that makes total sense. I don’t need to make it a problem. I can just accept it, and not be disappointed as a result.”

I’ve also given up the thought that people should follow through on their commitments. I see this as a big one with my clients, too. They think, “Oh, if someone said that they were going to do something, they should do it.” But here’s the thing; people get to not follow through, that’s just a reality in the world. People get to say one thing, and then do another. They get to say yes, and then they can say no. They can not follow through, for a whole host of different reasons.

So, if you want to feel disappointed when people don’t follow through, you can choose to think the thought, “People should follow through on their commitments.” But invariably, they won’t. And, you will feel disappointed, as a result.

I like to, again, think that people are best positioned to make the decisions that are right for them. I don’t always have all of the information; I don’t always know what they’re dealing, with what’s going on, so I’m going to trust other people to make the best decision that’s available to them, at that time.

And, maybe the best decision for them, in any given moment, is to not follow through with a commitment. That doesn’t mean I have to love what they choose to do, but it means that I’m not going to think a should-thought and cause my own disappointment, as a result.

My dad and I actually had a conversation about how he thinks should-thoughts, about certain things related to his business, or the world. And, he upsets himself as a result. He always looks at me, and he’s like, “How are you not upset? How do you just let things roll off your shoulders and not take it personally, or not get super frustrated by something?” And, I explained to my dad, “You know, I just think about it differently than you. I think that it should happen because it does happen in the world. And you think that it shouldn’t. I think, ‘Of course, that happened.’ And, you think, ‘It shouldn’t happen,’”

I had a ding on one of my car doors, and he got super frustrated about it. Now, he owns a collision shop, so he’s gonna be the one to fix the ding in my car door. But he has a belief that cars shouldn’t get damaged. That’s not a thought that I’m going to choose to think, because cars do get damaged, they get damaged every day. That’s why my dad runs a successful collision shop. Right?

So, I’m going to think, “Of course, my car’s gonna get damaged.” I don’t park in Timbuktu to avoid door dings, or people hitting your car with a grocery cart when you go grocery shopping, or anything like that. I don’t park far away because I prefer the convenience of parking a little bit closer. So yeah, there’s gonna be greater traffic in those areas. The likelihood that my car door gets dinged, probably pretty high. So again, when it happens, I don’t get frustrated, because I don’t think that it shouldn’t happen. I think, “Yeah, that makes sense.”

I feel the same way, this is a pretty unpopular opinion, but I feel the same way about cheating. So many people go through the world and think, “People shouldn’t cheat.” Or, “People shouldn’t lie.” Right? Now, if you choose to think that there’s nothing wrong with it, you’re just going to be really frustrated or disappointed when people invariably do those things, because they happen all the time in the world.

Instead of thinking that people shouldn’t do it, I think, “Yeah, of course, they do. That’s something that people do every single day.” Again, I don’t have to like it. Like, I’m not jazzed that my car door is damaged, but I don’t think that it shouldn’t have happened, because it is something that can happen in the world.

Same thing… Like our cars can get broken into. Or, a person can miss a deadline, when they promised us to have a work product by a certain time. Like, it happens, they’re going to miss it. If you think that they shouldn’t, you’re going to feel a lot of frustration when invariably they do. That’s something that gets to happen.

If you think people should message you when it’s your birthday, and wish you a happy birthday, and they don’t; they get to not, and you’re going to cause your own upset by thinking that they should, if they don’t, okay?

So, start to think about this for yourself. Where do you think should-thoughts? Go on a hunt for them. Find them. What should-thoughts are you thinking about yourself? See how they make you feel. What should-thoughts do you think about other people, what other people say and do, what they don’t do and what they don’t say? How do those should-thoughts make you feel? What should-thoughts do you think about the world, and what goes on in it? How do you feel when you think those?

Now, once you gain that awareness and you start to see these emotional patterns come from this should-thinking, you get to decide which should-thoughts you want to eliminate entirely.

One of the ways that I do this, eliminate should-thoughts, is I just accept that it is what happened. This is very circular, but why should it have happened this way? Because it did. Why shouldn’t it have happened differently? Because it didn’t. It should have happened the way that it happened because that’s how it happened. I know that sounds very circular. But if you switch to that thought process, it will get you to stop arguing with reality, which again, when we argue with reality, we lose 100% of the time.

So, go on a hunt for your should-thoughts, decide if you want to keep thinking them, and work to get yourself to a place of acceptance and understanding. You can do that by thinking, “It should have happened the way that it did, because that’s how it happened.”

Or, you can walk through that why process that I explained to you a little bit earlier. Why did this happen? Look for the thoughts and feelings that would have driven your actions. Look for the thoughts and feelings that would have driven someone else’s actions. Look for the logical sequence of steps that led to something occurring in the world. Work to make sense of it and gain that intellectual understanding.

Then ask yourself; can you replace the should-thought with a more productive thought? You might go somewhere along the lines of, “Well, of course, this happened this way.” That’s a thought that I love to think, instead of, “It should have happened differently than it did.”

“Of course, this happened. This happens sometimes. People get to do this. People have free-will.” All of these lines of thinking are going to be more productive than a should-thought. “I understand why this happened,” will be more productive than a should-thought.

And, last but not least, if you get to a place where you’re like, “Nope, I can’t get to a more productive thought here. I want to keep my should-thought.” You get to choose it on purpose. And then, you get to make the empowered decision to feel a negative emotion as a result, on purpose too. And, that’s okay. You just don’t want to slip into blame, where you’re blaming other people, your own actions, or what occurs in the world, any of those circumstances, for how you feel.

How you feel is always a result of these should-thoughts that you’re choosing to think, and choosing to think them is optional. All right? Hope this helps. Have fun hunting for those should-thoughts and eliminating them, as many as you can so you can feel better. All right? Have a beautiful week. I will talk to you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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Episode 11: Reverse-Engineering Results

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Reverse-Engineering Results

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Reverse-Engineering Results

Think about a result you would love to create right now. Maybe you have a whole list of goals you’re currently working towards, and you’ve got a clear picture of what you want to accomplish, but you’re at a point where you’re questioning, “But how?”

 

For many of us, being on the hunt for someone to give us the answers brings everything to a standstill. We believe the roadmap we need is outside of us, but I have great news for you this week. Did you know that you don’t ever need to rely on anyone else to give you the how? There’s one process I live by that works 100% of the time in creating absolutely any goal I want, and I’m showing you how to use it too.

 

Tune in this week to discover how to use the Self-Coaching Model to reverse-engineer any result you want. I’m showing you why implementing this process truly makes any result inevitable, the keys to ensuring your success with reverse-engineering results, and I’m also walking you through some example scenarios to show you the simplicity and brilliance of this process.

 

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, enrollment for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind is officially open. This is a six-month group coaching program where you’ll be surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals from the legal industry, pushing you to become the best possible version of yourself. We kick off with an in-person live event and you can get all the information and apply by clicking here

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How to use the Self-Coaching Model to reverse-engineer results.
  • Why it’s vital to be very specific about the results you want to create.
  • The questions to ask yourself as you create a roadmap for the results you want.
  • What taking belief-fueled action means.
  • Why truly anything is possible for you when you learn how to reverse-engineer your results.
  • Some examples of the process of reverse-engineering desired results.
  • How to navigate obstacles that might come up along the way.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 11. Today, we’re talking all about Reverse-Engineering Results. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.

How are we doing, my friends? I hope you are so good. I’m great. I am actually getting ready to head to Connecticut, I am speaking at a women’s retreat for a law firm from the East Coast. And, I’m really excited to meet a new group of women, get to teach them about all things coaching, how to have less stress, more fulfillment, and it’s at a really wonderful spa. So, there’s going to be a couple of dinners, a cocktail reception, the all-day training. I’m just really looking forward to it. I’ll have to report back and let y’all know how it goes.

Setting that aside, let’s dive in to today’s topic. In the last episode, I taught you all about the model and how to use it to gain awareness as to what you’re thinking about a particular circumstance.

How your thoughts that you’re thinking about that circumstance are causing you to feel, how you’re showing up or not showing up because of how you’re feeling. And, how and why you’re creating the results you currently have based on the actions that you’re taking. Whether those actions be good or bad, or based on your inaction. I taught you all about how to use the model to gain awareness.

Now today, we’re going to use the model in a different way. We’re going to work it backwards from the results line, we call it the R-line, up. So, you can learn how to create any result you want to create in your life. That’s how we reverse engineer results.

I want you to think of a goal that you have. What’s the result that you want to create right now? I want you to be really specific with this. It can be tempting to say that you want more clients, or you want to make more money, or you want more free time, or to have more balance. But those results aren’t that easy to measure. I talked about that in the episode where I went into defining enough.

I want you to be specific with the goal that you start to think of. If you’re thinking of a result that includes any of those words “more or less or enough,” you just want to be more specific than that. Because what constitutes more for one person may not be the same as what you mean by more. So, we just want to be a little bit more clear.

Now from there, once you’ve identified the result you want to create, you’re going to work your way up the model. You’re going to put that result in the R-line. And remember, think of five separate lines. The model consists of five interrelated components, circumstances, thoughts, feelings, actions, and results.

Okay, circumstances are neutral, as a refresher. The thoughts that our brain serves up to us about neutral circumstances aren’t neutral, they’re positive or negative. And, our thoughts cause our feelings. Our feelings are just one-word emotions that we experience in our bodies. Our feelings drive and determine the action that we take or don’t take. And then, our action or inaction, produces our results.

So, think of it like each letter on a line: C-T-F-A-R. We’re going to start at the very bottom with the R-line. Fill in that R-line with the result that you want to create in your life. Then, we’re going to move up to the action line of the model.

Now, depending on what result you want to create, your action line may be really simple. Or, you may need to turn it into a really big paragraph, it’ll just depend. If the result you want to create is a little bit more simplistic, your action line might be a little bit simplistic. If it is a more involved result that you’re going to work towards creating, there may be a lot of things that go into that. And, it’s just going to turn out to be a larger action line with a lot of different steps that you’re going to need to take and follow in order to make that result inevitable.

That’s the question you’re going to want to ask yourself next. Ask yourself, “What are all of the actions I need to take to make this result inevitable?” List them all out, be as specific as possible. You really want to use this to create a results roadmap for yourself. So, there’s no action too small, be very specific here.

And, you can also ask yourself, “What do I need to not do, to make sure I achieved this result.” I’m going to use this example a little bit later in this episode, but if you were trying to create the result of making the most efficient use of your time, one of the things you might need to not do: Perhaps you need to not check social media throughout the day, or you need to not go chat with coworkers when you should be working on something, right?

So, you are going to want to list the things that you also don’t want to do. If you were trying to lose weight, you might need to list: Don’t drink soda, or you might include a specific action item, where you say, “I’m not going to buy sweets at the grocery store, so I don’t have them available to me in the house, to make achieving my goals easier.” Again, ask all the things that you need to do, write those down. Anything that you need to not do, include that in your action line.

I also love asking the question here; what are any obstacles that you predict might come up for you as you start to take these actions? If you identify any obstacles, also come up with a strategy to overcome each one of those obstacles, and add it to your action line as well.

Now, identifying the actions you need to take, and taking those actions is a huge part of the battle here. All right? But you also want to make sure you’re cultivating the right mindset, because taking action while thinking a bunch of negative thoughts, and feeling a bunch of negative feelings, isn’t going to net you your desired results. Your mindset really matters here. You want to make sure you’re taking belief-fueled action.

Because thoughts, which are the same thing as beliefs… Beliefs are just thoughts that you’ve practiced believing over, and over, and over again. Those thoughts, your beliefs, create your results. So, you want to make sure you’re taking belief-fueled action, that you’re cultivating the mindset that will help you achieve the results that you want to achieve.

Keep working backwards, up the model, in order to cultivate the right mindset that you want to have. Start by asking yourself… Once you’ve identified all of the actions that you need to take, in your A-line… Once you’ve done that, ask yourself, “What feeling do I need to feel in order to take that action?” In order to follow through, commit, show up, do the things that you listed out in the A-line of your model?

Remember, this emotion is going to be a positive emotion. Because positive feelings, drive positive action, and produce positive results. Okay? So, you want to identify the positive feeling, you would need to feel, in order to take all of the action that you identified.

Then, you want to ask yourself, “What thought do I need to think about accomplishing this goal, in order to feel that feeling? So, the circumstance here is going to be the same thing that’s in your R-line. It’s going to be the goal that you’re setting out to accomplish. What do you need to think about that goal, in order to feel the positive emotion, you’ve just identified?

Alright, so that’s the process of reverse engineering your results. You start with the R-line, figure out what result you want to create, identify all the actions that you would need to take, or potentially not take, in order to make that result inevitable. Ask yourself what’s the feeling you need to feel in order to take that action? And, what thoughts do you need to be thinking in order to feel those feelings?

Again, like I said last episode, one thought and one feeling per model. But you can have a bunch of different models that support you achieving this result.

Now, per usual, we’re going to go through some examples, because I really want to solidify how this works in your head. And, the best way to do that is for us to work through examples, so you can see how it works.

But before we do that, I want to explain why I’m so obsessed with the simplicity of this process. It’s because it always works. You can pick absolutely any result that you want to create in your life and put it in the R-line of the model, and work this process backwards to figure out what you need to do to reverse engineer your desired results.

And, I can’t begin to tell you how cool I think that is. Truly anything becomes possible for you, when you follow this process. I also love it because of the clarity that completing this process provides. It’s really mind blowing.

So many people have what can be referred to as “how greed,” or I like to say, they’re hungry for the “how.” They want someone else to tell them what they need to do, in order to create the results that they want to have in their lives.

And, if that’s you, if you tend to slip into how greed, or you’re hungry for someone else to tell you the how, I just really want to assure you, you don’t need someone else to give you the how. You can tap into your own resourcefulness, and you can figure out how you can create the results you want, by paving your results roadmap, by working this process backwards, by reverse engineering your desired results. You can decide on the result that you want to create and then work this process backwards from R-line on up.

And, if you get stumped, or you don’t know how to do something that you think needs to be in your action line, in order to make that result inevitable, you just add “figuring it out” to the list of actions that you would need to take. So, maybe you need to seek guidance from someone else, an expert in a particular area. Maybe you need to do some research. Maybe there are some things you need to learn.

Let’s just use the example of creating a website. Let’s say you were starting your own law firm, and you didn’t want to spend the money to hire someone else to do it for you, because you’re trying to conserve as much of your financial resources as you can when you’re getting started.

I totally get that. I’ve done the same thing. I’ve started a couple different businesses throughout the course of my life. I taught myself how to design my own websites, because I didn’t have the capital to make that investment, and hiring a contractor to do that for me.

I needed to learn about the different templates that you can use, the different platforms: WordPress, Squarespace, things like that; I chose to go with WordPress. Then, I had to learn the different templates that you can use, and the different software that you can download, in order to make it a little bit easier. Those were things that I would list on my A-line, in order to create the result of designing my own website.

So, if there are things that you’re confused about, you just want to put that and include it in the action that you would need to take. And again, tap into your own resourcefulness. Trust yourself that you’re capable of figuring this out, I promise you, you are.

Now let’s go through some examples. I want to start with an example you’re already intimately familiar with, because you’ve likely already done this process yourself. Let’s take the desired result of becoming an attorney. If you wanted to go about creating that result, start by putting that in the R-line of the model, and then working backwards.

Again, ask yourself, what are all of the things that you would need to do in order to make that result inevitable? Now think about it, you’ve already done this yourself, right? First, you would have to go to college, undergrad. Then, you would have to take the LSAT. Maybe you want to get a certain score. So, you’re going to take a prep course before you would take the LSAT. You add that to the action line.

Then, you get your results back. You decide, “Do I want to take it again? Or am I happy with the score?” Based on that, you start applying to law schools. Maybe you cultivate a list of places you want to go, your easy options that you know are shoo-ins, that you’ll get into, some middle of the road options, and then a couple of long shots; that’s what I did.

You submit your applications. You fill out all the paperwork, do all that good stuff, and you wait. Then, you get responses from the schools. You ultimately will have to select one to attend. Then, you start your 1L year. You go all the way through. Maybe you enter in the summer of your 1L year, or you work for a court, do something like that, try and get experience so you can start to figure out what kind of law you want to practice.

Then, you complete your 2L year. Maybe you do on-campus interviews at that point, if you want to work for a firm; just depends on what you want your experience to be like. You’d be adding all of these things to the A-line of your model. Maybe you decide you want to get involved in moot court or Law Review, add that to the list. You’d complete a summer associate position, if you chose to do that. Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. It’s optional. But again, you get to list anything that you want to do to make your result inevitable.

At a certain point, you’re going to have to fill out your application for the bar exam. Everyone remembers that. It’s not a fun process; I hated it. But you go through that process, too. That goes on the list, add that to the A-line. Then you have to study for the bar exam. Then you have to take the bar exam. Then you wait, and then you find out whether you get your results or not. And then, eventually, once you pass, you have to be sworn in. And that is how you become a practicing attorney.

At some point along the way, you would also need to get a job, in order to be practicing, and you’d have to apply for jobs. Add that to the action line. These are all the little things that you would need to do in order to make the result of becoming a practicing attorney, inevitable. So, you’d list those all out.

Now, we want to make sure we have the right mindset as we go about taking all that action. So, how would you need to feel in order to do all of those things? Maybe the feeling you would need to feel is committed. Now work one line more up the model.

What would you need to think, about becoming a practicing attorney, in order to feel committed? Maybe it’s just a thought as simple as, “This is what I’m going to do. I’m doing this. I can do this.” If I were thinking, “I can do this,” I would probably feel capable, a little bit different than committed. But, “I am doing this, no matter what,” would make me feel committed.

That was a thought, pretty similar to that, when I took the bar exam. I thought the thought, “I’m only taking this once.” And, I felt really determined. And, then I took the action of studying for the bar. I took an extra essay course with JD advising. I didn’t go out for several months while I studied. I took a couple of months off of work, so I had the time set aside. Those were all the actions that I took, in order to accomplish the result of only taking the bar exam once and passing.

So those are two examples, I guess, I just gave you that you probably have already gone through yourself, if you’re listening to this and you’re practicing law, so you can start to see how this works as we work from the R-line backwards.

All right, let’s go through a couple more examples, now. Let’s start with creating the result of managing your time effectively. Okay, so we’re going to put that in the R-line of the model. Now let’s work backwards: What are all of the things that you would need to do, in order to create that result?

Well, first, you would need to make decisions about when you work and when you don’t. Do you work nights? Do you work weekends? What time do you start? What time do you end? You want to be really clear about that, have some boundaries or parameters about when you work and when you don’t.

You’re going to want to define what enough work is. Do you have an hours’ goal that you’re trying to meet? You want to define productive, efficient, and responsive enough. Again, I talked about that, in the episode where I discussed Defining Enough.

Now once you’ve done that, you kind of have a framework for how you want to spend your time. You have to get into the specifics. So, you’re going to control, or for some of you, you’re going to have to reclaim control of your calendar. If people are able to schedule for you, you’re not going to be able to manage your time effectively. If people have that ability, you’re going to want to cut that out.

I have a client, she calls those people “creepy crawlers;” that get into her calendar and really mess up her plan for the day, or her ability to control her time. So, you’re going to want to eliminate that so that you’re in control, that no one else is in control. You can do this by blocking time on your calendar where you’re just unavailable and people can’t schedule you. There’s different ways to accomplish that.

Okay, now you’re going to control your calendar. That might involve, like I said, not taking unscheduled phone calls or not interrupting yourself throughout the day with your inbox. Then from there, you want to plan your schedule accurately.

Most of us do a pretty horrific job of planning our schedule accurately. We normally, significantly, underestimate how long things will take us to complete. So, you want to make sure you’re not doing that. At least, double the amount of time that you think it’ll take you, in the beginning, until you get good at accurately estimating how long it will take you to complete a task. Plan your schedule accurately.

And then the fun part, honor the plan. Now in order to honor the plan, you’ve got to start your work on time. You need to work without interruptions, and you need to end on time. Don’t engage or indulge in perfectionism, and overwork something to death. You will take as long as you give yourself, so set the amount of time that you need to complete a project and then end on time. Wrap it up; doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be done.

You also want to make sure you evaluate each week. So many of my clients plan, and then it doesn’t go according to their plan. Something urgent comes up, they reshuffle their schedule, they take things that are unscheduled. They reprioritize, maybe, something that’s not as important but it felt a little bit more urgent. So, you want to evaluate each week what worked, what didn’t work, what would you do differently? And then plan for the week ahead, keeping in mind what would you do differently, and make changes as necessary.

All right, that’s a lot. That’s a big A-line, right? Lots of different actions that you’re going to want to take in order to create the result of managing your time. But those are all the things that you’re going to want to list out, and then work through, one by one, in order to make that result inevitable.

Now, let’s talk about cultivating the mindset you need, to follow through with those actions. How might you need to feel, in order to take all of that action, to follow through? You might need to feel in control. I think there are a lot of different emotions that come up here; capable, committed, competent, determined, motivated, focused, anything like that. But I really love “in control” here.

What would you need to think about time, or managing your time, in order to feel in control? You’d probably need to think a thought, along the lines of, “I’m in control of how I spend my time.” Right? So many of my clients think they’re not in control of how they spend their time. And, when they think they’re not in control of how they spend their time, they don’t control their time well. That’s the result that they create, because again, our thoughts create our results.

So, if you want to control your time and manage it well, you need to think that you are in control of your time, which you are. You’re always making a choice of how you choose to spend your time, whether it feels like it or not, I assure you, you are always making a choice, you just want to start to gather evidence for how that’s true.

All right, let’s use another example. I work with a lot of my clients on developing books of business, whether they’re in a small firm, they’re in a solo practice, or they’re in a big loss setting. We work on creating the result of developing a book of business. What are all of the actions that you would need to take in order to make that result inevitable?

First thing you need to do, you need to get really clear on the services that you offer your clients. Do you have a niche? Do you operate a general practice? What problems do you help people solve? How do you charge? What billing structure do you use? You want to get really clear on what your offer is.

Once you’re clear on your offer, who you help, what problems you help them solve, it’s going to inform all of the other actions you take in going about developing a book of business. You’re going to need to meet people. You get to decide, are you going to meet them online or are you going to meet them in person? And if so, in either way, where are you going to meet them? You want to be very specific about that.

Then, you’re going to go out and meet those people in those places, figuring out: Who are great referral partners for you? Who are the direct clients that might hire you? You want to be very specific in figuring all of that out. And then, you’re going to go out, and take action, and meet those people. You’re going to tell people what you do, very clearly and concisely, so it’s simple, and they understand exactly what problems you help people solve.

From there, you’re going to add value ahead of time, by teaching people things about the area of law that you practice. Adding value in a way that positions yourself as an expert. They know you know what you’re talking about. They learn something from a conversation with you or the content that you put out into the world, whether that’s through social media posts, emails that you send out. Maybe you do public speaking, you host webinars, anything like that. There are tons of different ways to add value to your audience.

It can even be as simple as engaging with other people’s content on social media. I always tell my clients that, “That’s a really valuable thing.” And most people are on social media for engagement. So, you can add value by just engaging with their content, and they’ll probably reciprocate.

So, you want to add value ahead of time to position yourself as an expert, and build your “know, like, trust” factor. People need to know, like and trust you, in order to do business with you. By giving away free value, ahead of time, teaching them things through your content or conversations with them, you’re able to build that “know, like, trust” factor.

If you’re on social media, you’re also going to want to post consistently, all right? And, here’s something that I see my clients not doing all that often, that you want to make sure you’re doing, in order to develop a book of business. You want to make offers to help people when it makes sense.

So, let’s say you’re a trust in the state’s attorney, and you’re having a conversation with someone and they’re like, “Oh, man, I’ve been meaning to have a will drawn up.” Or, “I need to I have a trust created for my children so my assets transfer.”

If they’re saying that to you, it makes sense for you to say, “Hey, if you’re really serious in achieving that result, here’s how you can move forward working with me. Here’s how you can reach out. You can get a hold of me here. Here’s my email. Here’s my phone number,” whatever. Make an offer that just says, “Hey, if you’re interested, I can help you with that.”

Or, “If you’re struggling with this problem…” Say you do criminal defense work, “Hey, if you just got arrested for drunk driving, I help with that. Here’s my number, set up a consultation.” What are a couple more actions you need to take? You’re going to have to conduct those consultations with potential clients. That’s how you sign clients.

And, what are a few things that you’re going to need to not do in order to develop a book of business? You’re going to need to not hide; can’t avoid meeting people; telling them what you do; adding value ahead of time; or, making offers. So don’t withdraw, don’t hide in your cave, don’t avoid social media. You’re going to have to put yourself out there and feel some of the discomfort that comes with doing that in the beginning.

Now, let’s cultivate the mindset that’s going to drive you to take all that action. What feeling are you going to have to feel, in order to take all of that action? One of the feelings that I like to cultivate, in order to take action to build my business, is feeling compelled. It’s a really powerful feeling for me.

So then, let’s ask ourselves, what’s the thought you need to think in order to feel compelled? The thought I need to think about developing business, in order to feel compelled, is the thought, “There are people, out there, who need the services I offer.” Whenever I think that thought, I absolutely feel compelled. And then, I take all of the action, that I just listed for you, and it makes the result of building a book of business inevitable.

Let’s use a simple example of taking a vacation. That’s a little bit more straightforward. So, you put taking a vacation in the R-line of your model, right? What do you need to do in order to take a vacation? Well, maybe you need to research locations, lodging, flights, look all of that up. Put that in your A-line.

Then from there, you eventually need to book the trip, and schedule the time off. Maybe, you need to delegate your work, communicate to team members or clients that you’re going to be out of the office, so people know to expect your absence; probably want to put up an out-of-office message.

And then, what are some things that you’re going to not want to do? Going to have to not work on vacation, in order to actually take a vacation while you’re away from the office.

I always tell my clients to plan time for when they come back, to catch up on what they missed while they were out. Some people just hit the ground running and don’t give themselves a buffer of a few days to acclimate to being back in the office. So, it feels like a fire drill when they get back into town, right? You don’t want to do that. Make sure that you plan accordingly, to give yourself a little breathing room upon your return.

Now, what’s the feeling you need to feel, in order to take those actions, to create the result of taking a vacation, where you actually take a vacation? You might need to feel deserving. What would you need to think about the circumstance, taking a vacation, in order to feel deserving? Probably a thought as simple as, “I deserve to take time to recuperate.” Or, “I work really hard. I deserve a break.” That would make you feel deserving. And then, you’d follow through take, that action, and create that result.

All right, last example. Let’s say you wanted to lose a couple pounds. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they gained a little bit of weight during COVID. We have been living a little bit more of a sedentary lifestyle than a lot of us are used to. So, if that’s the result that you want to create for yourself, let’s work backwards.

What are all of the actions that you would need to take, in order to make that result inevitable? So, you’re going to define the amount that you want to lose, let’s just call it ten pounds, and figure out what you would need to do in order to create the result.

Maybe you need to eat specific meals, that puts you at a calorie deficit, nothing too extreme, but eat less than what you burn; that support your health and weight loss goals. You probably also want to drink a ton of water, and get a certain amount of sleep, to support a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps you want to exercise or hit a specific step goal for the day.

Flesh that all out; be as specific as possible. You might want to decide how often you’re going to work out, if you’re going to work out as part of this initiative. What days? What times? How long? Where? Making a lot of decisions ahead of time in order to simplify this process for you, so you have a simpler plan to follow, in order to make your results inevitable.

Now, there might be some things you want to not do. Right? Maybe, if you’re watching Netflix, you don’t sit on the couch while you watch Netflix. Maybe you walk on the treadmill while you do that. Or, you don’t drink soda, or Doritos™, or Oreos™, anything like that, some of the “junk” foods that may not support your goal of losing 10 pounds.

Now, what’s the feeling you need to feel, in order to follow those actions, to follow through with that? Probably a feeling like committed, or determined, something like that. What would you need to think in order to feel committed or determined? You’d probably need to think the thought, “I’m doing this, no matter what,” about the circumstance of losing 10 pounds. And then, you’ll feel committed; then, you’ll follow through with that action; and then, you’ll create that result.

All right, that is the process of reverse engineering results. You can put anything that you want to in the R-line of the model, and just work it backwards. Identify all the action you need to take, any actions you need to avoid. List that all out. Figure out the positive emotion you need to feel, in order to take that action, and the positive thought you need to think about your goal, in order to feel that feeling. And then, follow through with the action, start taking it one at a time, step by step.

Ultimately, it will make your desired result inevitable; you will accomplish it. And, if you reach a stumbling block, like I always tell you, just evaluate what worked, what didn’t work. What would you do differently? Answer those questions from curiosity, not from judgment. Then, take action; audit and adapt, right? Once you evaluate, that’s an audit, adapt your plan and then take more action; act-audit-and-adapt over, and over, and over again.

That’s how you get to where you want to go. Figure out what your results are, and reach out to me. I’d love to hear how you’ve reverse engineered your desired results, and how you use this process to make the goals that you want to achieve inevitable.

All right. I will talk to you in the next episode. Have a beautiful week.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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Episode 10: The Self-Coaching Model

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Self-Coaching Model

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Self-Coaching Model

Today, I’m introducing you to the most important tool I use in my work as a coach for stressed lawyers: the Self-Coaching Model. As lawyers, we’re taught an it-depends mindset, so we can look at a situation from a multitude of different perspectives. The model takes this idea and really runs with it.

Although we’re used to practicing objectivity at work, the Self-Coaching Model helps you apply the same level of impartiality to every single situation you come across in your life. So, in this episode, I’m giving you the plug-and-play formula that you can apply in any situation to gain awareness around your circumstances and decide how you want to show up in any situation.

Tune in this week for an in-depth introduction to The Self-Coaching Model. I’m sharing why this awareness tool has changed my life and the lives of my clients, and how to use it to see what’s driving your actions, your inactions, and how your thoughts are creating everything you have or don’t have in your life right now.

 

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, enrollment for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind is officially open. This is a six-month group coaching program where you’ll be surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals from the legal industry, pushing you to become the best possible version of yourself. We kick off with an in-person live event and you can get all the information and apply by clicking here

If you enjoyed today’s show, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review! 

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why, as a lawyer, you’re already perfectly set up to understand and apply the framework of the Self-Coaching Model.
  • How to identify your emotions by getting in tune with your physical reactions.
  • Why any circumstance, situation, or event that takes place is objectively neutral until you have a thought about it.
  • Where your feelings and emotions come from, and how they’re driving the actions you take.
  • Why you have more control over your emotions than you might initially think.
  • How to use the Self-Coaching Model to produce the results you want for your life under any circumstance.
  • Why you don’t need to control the world around you, as long as you can control how you’re thinking about the world around you.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 10. Today, I’m teaching you everything you need to know about The Self-Coaching Model. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.

Hello, how are you? I’m so good, I hope you’re good too. I can’t believe that it’s already May. Anyone else just amazed by that? This year is flying by. I suppose that’s a good thing because it probably means that I have a lot of exciting things going on, which is definitely true. A lot of travel this year, some for work, some for pleasure, a lot of different irons in the fire, so to speak.

I’ve got a women’s retreat that I’m presenting at later this month, and I’ve got the mastermind coming up in June, I’ll be hosting people here in Detroit for that. So, just a lot going on. really excited about all that’s in the works.

Before we dive into today’s topic, I just want to give a shout out to one of my listeners. I told y’all a few weeks ago that I was going to highlight some of the amazing reviews I’ve been getting on iTunes, because I’m so grateful that people take their time to go share their thoughts and let me know what they think of the podcast.

Time is one of our most valuable resources. So, it really does mean the world to me that people are willing to spend some of their time and leave a review.

This week, I want to thank Jay Telo, who wrote, “So much good advice here. I already have tips and reminders written on Post-it™ notes around my desk. Can’t wait to keep learning from Olivia how to get out of my own way and create the life I want. Thanks, Olivia.” Jay Telo, you’re so welcome. It’s my absolute pleasure.

If you’re listening to the podcast, and you haven’t left a review yet, I would be so grateful if you went and left me a rating and a review on whatever platform you’re listening to the podcast. I love hearing what you have to say.

Those reviews help boost the podcast, so other attorneys who are struggling with overwhelm stress, feeling unfulfilled in their lives; it helps them find the podcast so they can start learning about the coaching concepts that I teach. And, they can start changing their lives and feeling better. So, help me help them; go leave a rating and review. And hey, if you do that, I might be giving you a shout out in an upcoming episode. So, thank you in advance if you take the time.

And, without further a-do, let’s dive into today’s topic. We’re talking about the Self-Coaching Model, or the model,” for short, which is how I always refer to it.

I love teaching the model to lawyers because I think our brains are already perfectly primed to look at the world through the lens of the model.

Law school teaches us the “it depends” mindset; to look at facts and circumstances from a multitude of different perspectives. the model has us do the exact same thing. So, I think lawyers are just naturally set up to really understand the model framework and to start applying it with ease in their lives.

The other reason I love the model, is how ubiquitously it can be applied. It literally applies to every single situation that we come across in our lives. There’s no scenario it doesn’t apply to. So, I love that we have a plug and play formula, so to speak, that we can take and apply to every situation. It’s just completely universal. So, I love it for that reason.

It’s also very formulaic. And I’m a little bit of a math nerd. If you know me personally, you probably know that I was the flowchart girl in law school. So, if you think in flowchart ways and systematic ways, your brain’s probably going to love the model. I love math, I love equations. I love that you can plug information into the model, and it spits out other awareness, other answers, so you can use the model in that formulaic way.

That being said, you don’t have to love math in order to love using the model. Okay, I know some attorneys don’t love math. That’s all right, you can still love the model even if you don’t.

Now, the model is ultimately an awareness tool. It allows us to figure out what we’re thinking, how we’re feeling, why we’re doing what we’re doing, or why we’re not doing what we want to be doing, or what we think we should be doing. It informs us as to how and why we’re creating our current results.

We can also use the model to reverse engineer our desired results by working it backwards. And I’m going to teach you how to do that in the next episode, because we’ve got plenty to cover today just introducing you to the model. That’s where I want to start; with introducing you to it so you can start to get familiar with it and use it to gain awareness as to what’s causing your current emotional experience, what’s driving your action and inaction, and what’s creating your current results.

So, here’s the basic premise. the model consists of five interrelated components: Circumstances, thoughts, feelings, actions, and results.

Now, the main premise of the model is this. Circumstances are facts; words we say, things we do, things other people say and do, or things other people don’t say and don’t do, events that take place in the world. Anything factual that we encounter, okay? Circumstances are strictly facts. No qualitative statements, nothing subjective, no adjectives, no descriptive terms, or qualifiers that would open up room for disagreement.

Circumstances are going to be facts that we all agree upon. Words that we could read on a transcript, actions we could record and playback on video. Those are circumstances. Those circumstances, they are neutral. They’re not positive or negative. They’re just neutral. They don’t cause how we feel until we think a thought about them. Okay?

Now, thoughts are sentences in our mind that our brains serve up to us. And those sentences, they’re not neutral. They’re positive or negative. Those positive or negative sentences that our brains serve up to us, they’re what caused our feelings.

Okay, circumstances don’t cause our feelings. The thoughts we think about circumstances are what cause our feelings. And if we’re thinking a positive thought, we’ll feel a positive feeling. And if we think a negative thought, we’ll feel a negative feeling. Always, always, always, okay?

Now, feelings are one-word emotions that we experience as vibrations in our body. That might be one of the most woo-woo things that I say to you, but if you really slow yourself down to think about this, about how you experience emotions, you can actually place them in your body. Alright?

I’ll give you a couple examples of this: When I feel angry, my face gets hot. When I feel stressed and overwhelmed, my shoulders get tense and heavy. When I get excited, I feel a fluttery feeling in my chest. When I feel embarrassed, one of my least favorite emotions, I tend to feel it in the pit of my stomach. It’s like you’re pouring bleach in my stomach. It’s hollow; it’s so uncomfortable. When I feel bored, I feel bored throughout my extremities. I just feel antsy, I want to get up and move. It’s irritating. When I feel sad, I tend to feel it in my throat, kind of like my throat is caught up. When I feel guilty, I feel it in my diaphragm; really tense, uncomfortable feeling.

So, think of some of the common emotions that you experience on a pretty regular basis, and try and place them in your body. Now, why is it so important to recognize that feelings are just one-word emotions that we experience as vibrations in our body?

Here’s the thing, we tend to do back-handsprings in order to get out of feeling a negative emotion. Because, the primitive part of our brain thinks negative emotions are dangerous, that they can actually harm us even though they can’t think of it.

Despite being extremely uncomfortable, nothing else really happens when we feel a negative emotion, right? We just feel that vibration in our bodies, our arms don’t fall off, we don’t die, nothing all that horrendous happens. It’s just an uncomfortable vibration that we experience. So, that’s really important to know, because the feelings that we feel, drive the action that we take or don’t take. All right?

If you’re thinking a positive thought, you’ll feel a positive feeling, and you’ll take positive action. Action that serves you. If you’re thinking a negative thought about a neutral circumstance, and that thought causes you to feel a negative feeling, you’re going to take a negative action that doesn’t serve you or no action at all. All right?

The action that we take, or don’t take, produces the results that we have in our lives. So, if you’re thinking a positive thought, you’ll feel a positive feeling, you’ll take a positive action, and you’ll produce positive results. If you’re thinking a negative thought, you’ll feel a negative feeling, you’ll take a negative action or no action, and you’ll produce negative results.

Ultimately, what this means is that your thoughts determine your results. Now, why is this the best news ever? Because we can control what we think. We can’t always control the circumstances that we experience in our lives. But the good news is we don’t need to.

We can control our outcomes, our results, and how we feel, and what we do if we simply control our thinking. As humans, we’re able to control our thinking, we’re able to choose different thoughts. But that starts with becoming aware of what we’re currently thinking. I’m going to walk you through that process today.

You can think both positive and negative thoughts simultaneously, about a neutral circumstance. That’s really important to know because people will tend to think that they’re able to take a positive action from a negative thought. That’s not true.

You might have two different models going on simultaneously. But positive thoughts cause positive feelings, drive positive action, create positive results. Negative thoughts, create negative feelings, which drive negative action or no action, and produce negative results. The two will never crisscross. They may be going on at the same time, like the angel on your shoulder or the devil on your shoulder, but they don’t get mixed. Okay? That’s important to know.

It’s also important to know that we are not taught this framework growing up. We are typically taught that circumstances are inherently positive or negative, and that they directly cause our feelings.

I’m going to walk you through a couple examples of how that’s not true. They’re the examples that I always use with my clients, when I’m first teaching them about the model. One is an everyday example. One is a big picture example.

In the everyday example: A friend will call me up out of the blue, and I’ll answer the phone. As soon as I get on the phone, I can tell they’re kind of huffy and puffy. They’re upset about something. So, I’ll say, “Hey, what’s going on?” The first words out of their mouth will be something along the lines of, “Ugh, I cannot believe what, let’s just say Samantha, just said to me. I can’t believe what Samantha just said to me. What she said, was so rude.”

Most of my friends know by now, if you call your friend the life coach, I’m not going to do, what we call in coaching, “jump in the pool” with you and just agree. I might ask a couple questions to find out what’s actually going on. I’m going to look for the circumstance. So, I’ll say, “Alright, let’s try that again. What actually happened? What did Samantha actually say?” The person will tell me, they’ll give me the quote, “Samantha said, ‘insert words here.’”

And, I’ll explain, “Alright, so that’s the circumstance. That’s the fact that we’re dealing with.” This person’s thought is, “What she said was so rude.” Now, when my friend, who’s called me, thinks the thought, “What she said was so rude,” she’s going to feel offended. That’s the one-word emotion that that thought is likely going to cause.

Now me, as I’m on the phone, I don’t feel offended by this. I hear the exact same circumstance, what Samantha said, and my thought, based on what I know about Samantha is, “Of course, she said that. She says stuff like that every time you guys talk, right?” So, I’m not going to feel offended. I might feel mildly amused, maybe, because this happens every single time that they speak.

Or, I might feel a little confused as to why my friend, that I’m on the phone with, is upset when this is super on-brand, and it happens all the time. Samantha’s acting in conformity with how Samantha always acts. So, my friend feels offended, I feel mildly amused or slightly confused, and if we were to call Samantha up, Samantha’s probably not going to feel any of those feelings. She would probably think a thought something akin to, “I was just being direct and to the point,” and she might feel really justified.

Now, all three of us have three completely different emotional experiences, based on the thoughts that we’re thinking. If circumstances were inherently positive or negative, and they directly caused how we feel, all three of us would have to have the exact same emotional response to that circumstance, to what Samantha said, right?

We would either all have to feel offended, we would all have to feel mildly amused, or we would all have to feel justified. The fact that we have three distinct, different emotional reactions, we know there’s something going on in between the circumstance and our feeling that causes the difference, right? There’s a causal relationship there.

It’s our thinking. Each of us thinks a different thought about the circumstance, and therefore we each experience a different feeling as a result. Now, that’s an everyday example.

Pushback that I get from my clients often is, “Well, everyone would agree with me that this circumstance is inherently negative.” And I say, “Great. That doesn’t make the circumstance negative, it just means you are all thinking the same thought, the same negative thought, about that circumstance.” Okay?

So, a big picture example of that is: I like to use 9/11. The facts that we would agree upon there is that people took airplanes and flew them into buildings, right? People in downtown New York were able to witness that with their own eyes. We have seen it on television multiple times, hundreds of times since 2001. That is something that we can prove happened; facts we would all agree upon. People took airplanes and flew them into buildings.

Now, if you live in the U.S., you probably think thoughts somewhat along the lines of, “I can’t believe this happened,” and you feel shocked. “This should have never happened,” and you feel outraged. “This could happen again,” and you might feel scared. You might think the thought, “This was horrific,” and you might feel devastated. Right? That’s probably your emotional experience when you think about 9/11, and people flying airplanes into buildings, and the people that died as a result.

Not to be extremely bombastic, but if you’re a member of Al Qaeda, you don’t think any of those thoughts, and you don’t feel any of those feelings. You probably think thoughts like, “The U.S. deserve this based on their involvement in the Middle East,” and you feel vindicated. And, you probably think that it was a success, and you feel victorious.

It’s easy for us to think that the other side is wrong. When people think different thoughts than us, “They’re wrong, and we’re the people who are right.” What I want to offer you is that thoughts aren’t right or wrong, we can think that we’re right for us, other people can think that they’re right for them. This isn’t about being right or wrong. It’s about having the awareness that the facts here aren’t what caused your feelings. How you think about the facts, determines how you feel.

So, if you’re thinking a negative thought, you’re gonna feel a negative feeling. If you’re thinking a positive thought, you’ll feel a positive feeling. The thoughts are what caused your emotional experience.

Two things here: First of all, this is the best news ever, because we can control what we think. Also, some people get confused here, and they think what I mean by this is that you should think positive thoughts about all circumstances. That is absolutely not the purpose of the model.

This isn’t to think lovey-dovey, rainbows and sunshine thoughts 100% of the time. Sometimes we want to think negative thoughts on purpose.

Now, when we know, intellectually, that our thoughts cause our feelings, we can choose to think negative thoughts on purpose. We’ll feel much more in control of our emotional experience, rather than when we let our brain run on default, and we blame circumstances for our feelings. When we think circumstances are positive or negative, and they cause how we feel, rather than owning that it’s our thoughts that cause how we feel.

For example, if either of my parents died, I don’t want to think a positive thought about that. Right? God forbid. I would want to think very sad thoughts and feel devastated. I would want to feel grief stricken. I would want to be upset by that. Okay?

There are plenty of things that go on in the world that I want to think negative thoughts about. I want to choose thoughts that make me feel outraged. I want to choose thoughts that make me feel disappointed or frustrated.

It’s pretty infrequent that I choose to think those thoughts because I don’t like feeling those feelings, but they are part of the human experience. And, sometimes they’re what make the most sense. Sometimes I want to feel heartbroken over a given situation, because I don’t like how it turned out. I wanted it to work out differently than it did. So, I choose to think thoughts that caused me to feel that way.

This is really empowering because even though I’m feeling negative, I am feeling in control over my emotional experience. There’s plenty that’s going on in the world recently to think of these big picture examples: COVID, mask mandates, vaccine mandates, the recent SCOTUS leaked opinion about the possibility that Roe vs. Wade gets overturned, right? Those are all circumstances, and huge portions of our country have very different thoughts about them, and so they feel very different feelings, as a result of their thoughts.

Now, this isn’t to say that one line of thinking is right, and one line of thinking is wrong. the model is just an awareness tool. If you’re feeling a particular feeling, you’re going to want to attribute that to the thought you’re thinking, not the circumstance you’re thinking the thought about. Okay?

Circumstances are neutral. Our thoughts, which are just sentences that our brains serve up to us. Our thoughts aren’t neutral, they’re positive or negative. And, our positive or negative thoughts cause our positive or negative feelings, okay?

Why are our feelings so important? Especially understanding our negative feelings because we tend to respond to them in one of four ways. Three of the ways we respond to a negative emotion typically don’t serve us.

The first way we respond to a negative emotion is we resist it. We pretend it’s not there. Think of holding a beach ball underwater, or shoving your negative emotions in a closet and pressing it shut with your shoulder, hoping that it doesn’t get out. My mom hates to fly on airplanes. She white-knuckles the armrests on airplanes the entire time she flies, because she’s terrified. But she’s resisting her fear instead of just accepting it, acknowledging it, and allowing it to be there.

A really good pop culture example of resisting negative emotion, is that Friends episode where Ross gets super drunk on margaritas, and he’s pretending that he’s fine. He keeps telling everyone, “I’m fine. I’m totally fine. Do I not sound fine? I don’t know why my voice is all squeaky. I’m totally fine. Everything’s great.” And you’re like, “Ross, my guy, you’re clearly not okay.” That’s what it looks like to resist a negative emotion.

Now, the second, and very common, way we respond to a negative emotion is we avoid it by doing any other action that provides us with temporary pleasure, and instant gratification, and lets us temporarily escape the discomfort. So, this looks like eating too much, drinking too much, scrolling too much, shopping too much, streaming too much. Maybe indulging in certain substances that allow us to escape, things like that. Any activity that distracts you from the negative emotion you’re presently experiencing, and provides you with temporary relief.

Okay, you can even do this in positive ways. Some people will clean in order to avoid a negative emotion, or they’ll organize, or they’ll exercise. There are ways that we can take a positive action, or a seemingly positive action, but it’s still avoidant behavior because it doesn’t produce the result that we want to produce.

I had one client, one day, tell me that instead of getting to work on her really overwhelming to do list, she organized her office. I have another client that frequently closes out and organizes all of their internet tabs, instead of tackling their to-do list, or they’ll organize their email, right? This is avoidant behavior too.

So, think about the ways that you avoid negative emotion. When you do this, it ultimately leaves you at a deficit. Think of a bank balance; you’re in the red when it comes to the results that you’re producing. You can wait, have a hangover, waste time… All of those things. Spend money. You end up in the red in some way.

Now, the third way we respond to a negative emotion is we react to it. And, I tend to find that we react to negative emotions that have us feeling weaker. So, maybe you feel inadequate, or insecure, or attacked, or misunderstood, or overwhelmed. And, you will respond in a way that makes you feel more powerful in the moment, but it’s still an unintentional reaction. It doesn’t set you up for success in the long run.

People will feel insecure, and they’ll lash out. Or they’ll feel attacked or misunderstood, and they’ll lash out. They’ll criticize, they’ll critique, they’ll judge someone else. That makes them feel stronger. But again, it doesn’t lead to anything good. It normally leads to conflict, which is not a result that you probably want to create.

Another way that I see this, is when people are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or behind. They’ll just start doing anything, they’ll hit low-hanging fruit when it comes to their work, rather than focusing in on the task that would really make the greatest impact in their day. It would help them accomplish the thing that really would be most impactful, when it comes to the work that they have on their plate. That’s reacting.

So, we’ve got resisting, avoiding, and reacting. Those three ways that we respond to a negative of emotion, do not serve us. What we want to learn how to do, and when I’m going to teach you how to do throughout the course of the podcast, is learn how to allow a negative emotion to be there.

The way that I always describe that process to people, think of your negative emotions like screaming toddlers. You’ve got errands to run, aka you’ve got results that you want to create. But right now, when you’re resisting, avoiding, or reacting to your negative emotions, you’re essentially letting the screaming toddlers drive the bus, and determine where you end up. What results you end up creating. Maybe you don’t leave the house at all to run errands, you let those screaming toddlers dictate your action in that way. Or, you let them drive and end up somewhere unintentionally, that you don’t want to be.

What allowing a negative emotion looks like is: Identifying it by name, figuring out what specifically you’re feeling, gaining awareness as to the thoughts that are causing you to feel those feelings, not blaming the circumstances for that emotional experience. Then, you just let the negative emotion be there. You take intentional action in spite of and despite it.

I always tell my clients, “Think of strapping the screaming toddlers, the negative emotions, in the car seat in the back.” Unfortunately, part of the human experience is feeling negative emotion some of the time. So, the screaming toddlers are going to have to come along for the ride.

That’s okay, they can be in the car seat in the back, and you can intentionally drive and go about running your errands, and accomplishing your intentional results, in spite of and despite them. You can feel your negative feelings and take intentional action to produce the results that you want. You’ve survived every single negative emotion you’ve ever felt before you’ll survive those, too. All right?

Now, this is the basic premise of the model: Circumstances are neutral. Our thoughts aren’t; they’re positive or negative. Our thoughts cause our feelings. Our feelings drive our actions, and our actions produce our results.

How do you use this framework to support you? I’m going to teach you how to use it in two different ways. The first way is as an awareness tool. And the second way, which I mentioned earlier, is in learning how to reverse engineer your results, which I’ll teach you how to do in the next episode.

Today, I just want to teach you how to use the model to gain awareness. You want to understand what you’re thinking, how it’s causing you to feel, how you show up when you’re feeling that feeling, and the result it produces.

The really neat thing about the model is you can start on any line, okay? You always want to make sure that you fill in the circumstance line. So, we have contacts, we know what we’re thinking about, we know what we’re talking about. But aside from the circumstance line, you can really start anywhere. If you are feeling a particular emotion, and it feels really strong and you want to gain awareness as to why you’re feeling it, you can plug in the feeling line of the model. Start with overwhelmed, or anxious, or scared, or worried, or discouraged, defeated, disappointed, right? Start there with that one-word emotion.

And then you can ask yourself, “What thoughts am I thinking about the circumstance that are making me feel that way?” You can start with your thoughts. You can just look at the circumstance and say, “What do I think about this? What are the sentences that come up for me when I think about the circumstance?” You can do what we call a thought-download, just download all of the thoughts you think about a particular fact.

Then, you’ll start to see, “Oh, when I think this thought, I feel this feeling. And then I take this action, or I indulge in inaction, and it produces this result.”

If you have an action that you don’t like right now, that you want to understand what’s behind it, what’s driving it, you can start with the A-line of your model. You can plug in: Overdrinking, maybe that’s the action you’re taking. Or, procrastinating, or people pleasing, saying “Yes,” when you want to say, “No,” over-promising and under-delivering, indulging in perfectionism.

Any of the things that you tend to do that you don’t like, that don’t serve you, that don’t produce the results you want to create for yourself. You can plug those in the A-line and you can work it backwards. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now that’s causing me to show up this way? What’s the thought I’m thinking that’s making me feel that feeling?”

Or, you can start with a result that you have in your life. Maybe it’s the number of clients that you have, or the amount of hours that you’re working in a given week. Maybe you work every weekend, that’s a result, and you want to see what’s creating that. Maybe you are a certain weight, and you aren’t thrilled about that weight. So, you want to figure out what actions are creating that current result.

You can work it backwards; start with the current result, ask yourself, “What am I doing, and what am I not doing, that’s creating that result?” And then explore, “What’s the feeling that I’m feeling, that’s causing me to show up that way? And what thoughts are driving those feelings?”

Now, let’s walk through a couple of different examples, so you can see how this works in practice. Let’s take the circumstance, your job. We’ll put that in the C-line of the model. What are your thoughts about that? Some people might be thinking, “I hate my job.” And if you’re thinking the thought, “I hate my job,” you probably feel a negative emotion, something along the lines of feeling dreadful. Maybe be really frustrated, or discouraged, disappointed, something like that.

What do you do when you’re feeling that feeling? The action you take: You might dwell, you might complain to someone, you might focus on all of the things that you hate about work, you might stew, you might slip into regret and kick yourself for not doing something differently, you might second-guess your decisions that lead you there, right?

All of those negative actions definitely don’t serve you, but what results do they produce? It’s a big waste of your time, and ultimately, by focusing on all the things you hate, you’re just going to end up hating it more.

Maybe you think a different thought about your job. Maybe you think the thought, “My job is so hard.” And when you think the thought, “My job is so hard,” you feel the one-word emotion; something along the lines of exhausted. And what do you do when you feel exhausted? You might avoid work, you might procrastinate. In coaching, we call this buffering, where you do anything else that makes you feel better, in that immediate moment.

You might distract yourself with something that’s more entertaining, or allows you to kind of check out. And what do we do when we avoid work, procrastinate, buffer, distract ourselves? We make our jobs harder, right? We’re really inefficient with the way that we spend our time, we don’t focus on the work in front of us, so we still have a ton to do. So, work will feel harder. We make it harder on ourselves.

Now, if you were thinking a thought about your job, like, “I’m so lucky to have this job.” You might feel blessed, or grateful, or fortunate. What are you going to do when you feel those feelings, those positive emotions? You’re going to focus on all the good things about your job. You’re not going to complain. You’re not going to waste your time. You’re not going to need to distract yourself from a negative emotion.

Ultimately, the result you’ll create is you’ll feel more grateful, and you’ll show up and work in a way that expresses that gratitude. You’re going to be much more committed and focused on doing a good job, rather than withdrawn.

Let’s take the circumstance of email. Believe it or not, email is neutral. The number of emails you get, on a daily basis, is neutral. What your emails say, is neutral. But we tend to have a lot of thoughts about email. So, we’re going to put email in the C-line of the model. You’re going to ask yourself what are the thoughts that you think?

We’re going to run through this. When you think that thought, take one of the thoughts that you think, ask yourself, “How do I feel when I think that thought? How do I show up when I feel that way? What do I do? What don’t I do? What result does that action produce?”

If you think the thought, about email, that email is never-ending you probably feel overwhelmed. What do you do when feel overwhelmed? Probably one of two things: Either you shut down, you stop working, you avoid feeling overwhelmed, you procrastinate, you grab your cell phone, scroll through social media, do something else. You just don’t engage with your email inbox.

Or, you react to feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you constantly check your email. You can’t get your most important work done because you’re constantly interrupting yourself with your inbox, instead of doing other work.

Either way, the result you create is that you make it never-ending. You either focus all of your time on it, or you avoid it and it’s still there at the end of the day. So, if you think it’s never-ending, you make it never end.

If, instead, you thought the thought about email, “It’s so much better than talking on the phone.” You might feel grateful. If you thought that it was a convenient medium for communicating, you might feel grateful, or at ease, or relieved. Again, fortunate, might come up.

When you’re feeling those feelings, you’re not going to cringe when emails come in. You’re going to utilize email effectively, maybe respond timely. There’s going to be no need to avoid it, and you’re not going to be reacting to it, either. You’re just going to put email in its place, use it as a tool to get your work done, and you’ll create the result of working efficiently and not getting worked up over your inbox.

Some of my clients, when I tell them that emails and what they say, are neutral… I always tell my clients, “Emails have no tone.” People tend to think I’m crazy. Truly, the words that anyone says in an email are neutral, and they don’t cause your feelings until you think a thought about the email.

Let’s take the circumstance: An email comes in from your boss. Your boss says, ‘fill in the blank….’ Whatever your boss says in the email that you would tend to, normally, have a melt-down about, or spin-out in an anxiety spiral. The words your boss says in the email.

Your go-to thought is, “Oh my God, I’m going to get fired.” When you think the thought, “Oh my God, I’m going to get fired,” you probably feel terrified, or anxious. What do you do when you feel terrified or anxious? You spin, you freak out, you worry, you obsess over the email, you let it distract you from the work you have to do, it ends up consuming your whole day, you don’t get your work done, you second-guess yourself.

The result that you create: A- You engage in behavior that probably makes it more likely that you get fired, because you’re not doing your work. You’re not focusing on what matters most. But also, you waste a ton of time. It’s not an efficient use of your time.

Instead, you could take the email and you could think, “I wonder what my boss wants?” Or, “I wonder what’s driving them to ask me this question, or say this to me via email?” You might feel curious when you think a statement that starts with, “I wonder…”

What do you do when feeling curious? Maybe you ask more questions, you stay calm, you don’t get yourself worked up. Then you can inquire further to find out what they want or what’s going on. As a result, you figure out whatever you’re wondering about. You gain more information, you create more knowing for yourself when you think a thought that I starts with, “I wonder…”

Take a situation, for my people pleasers who are listening, the circumstance of you saying, “No,” to something. Maybe your boss or supervisor comes and asks you if you have time to work on a project. You think the thought, “If I say no, I’ll disappoint them.” When you think that thought, you feel afraid. What do you do when you feel afraid?

You avoid feeling afraid. You say, “Yes,” even though you want to say, “No.” Maybe you don’t have the time. But you say, “Yes,” anyways; you people-please. You do that because you’re avoiding feeling afraid, when it comes to saying, “No.”

What to do you create, as a result? You end up disappointing yourself, and probably over-promising and under-delivering, ultimately, if you truly don’t have the capacity, you don’t have the time.

Take the exact same circumstance. You’re thinking about saying, “No,” when your supervisor asks you if you have time to work on X project. You thought, the thought, “The best thing for me to do here, is to be honest about my capacity.” When you’re thinking that thought, you might feel responsible. What do you do when you feel responsible?

You communicate your capacity. You say, “No,” because you truly don’t have the time. Then, you create the best scenario possible for everyone that you’re working with. You’re very honest, you don’t over-commit yourself, you don’t over-promise and under-deliver. You’re able to have the most candid conversation possible, and be really honest about what your capabilities are, best case scenario.

Think about how you think of the circumstance of time. So many of my clients think the thought, “There’s never enough of it.” When they think that thought, they feel overwhelmed. Time isn’t what makes them feel overwhelmed. Their thoughts about time are what make them feel overwhelmed.

When they feel overwhelmed, again, you’re going to do one of two things: Either avoid it and procrastinate, or react and not focus on your most important work. You do those low-hanging fruit items that allow you to check the box really quickly, but don’t really move the dial on your most important work.

What result do you create? You don’t make the use of your time, and you still need more of it.

Now, what if you thought about time differently? What if you thought, the thought, “I’m in control of my time?” So many of the people I work with think they don’t control their time. Then, they feel out of control. They don’t control their time, they cede control of their calendar to other people, their reactionary and hyper-responsive, they don’t stick to their plan. And then, they create the result of not controlling their time.

But if you’re thinking the thought, “I’m in control of my time,” you’re going to feel very in control, perhaps powerful. What action are you going to take when you’re feeling in control and feeling powerful?

You’re going to set boundaries; you’re going to honor them. You’re going to make intentional choices about how you spend your time. You’re not going to procrastinate; you’re going to plan accurately, and follow your plan.

You’re not going to take un-scheduled phone calls. You’re going to stick to the constraint that you created in your schedule, in order to create the most intentional use of your time. As a result, you’re going to control your time.

Here’s another great example that comes up for people, especially in private practice, where they have to enter their time. So many of my clients have a lot negative thoughts about time entry. You can think about your thoughts, right now, if that’s something that comes up for you in your job.

A lot of my clients think the thought, “This is such a waste of my time.” The circumstance is: Entering your time. It’s totally neutral but their thought isn’t. It’s negative, they think, “This is such a waste of my time,” and they feel really annoyed or bothered.

When they’re feeling really annoyed or bothered, they avoid that emotion. They do other work instead. Maybe they stop working all together, they procrastinate, they distract themselves with something that is more entertaining. They create the result of not entering their time. They waste their time. They still have to do it later.

I always tell my clients, “The only difference between you and people that enter their time on a daily basis, in a timely fashion, is that they think different thoughts about time entry than you do.” They might think the thought, “This is the most important part of my job because it’s how the law firm makes money.”

When they’re thinking the thought, “This is the most important part of my job,” they’ll feel compelled. When they’re feeling compelled, they’ll enter their time daily. They’ll create the result of treating it as an important part of their job.

Okay, I just gave you a lot of examples for you to start to get a sense of how the model works, and how you can use it to gain awareness over: Why you’re feeling, how you’re feeling, why you’re doing or not doing, whatever you’re doing or not doing, and why you have the current results you have.

If you go back to the first few episodes where I talk about Creating a Life You’re Obsessed With, and Life is Choices, you’re going to see how your thinking creates the results that you currently have. So, if there are any results that you don’t love in your life, right now, you want to work it backwards.

What actions am I taking that are creating those results? What feelings are driving me to take that action, or to indulge in inaction? What thoughts are causing me to feel those feelings? You want to gain that awareness.

The model, as I’m teaching it to you, is a tool that was created by my coach, Brooke Castillo, the founder of The Life Coach School. She created the CTFAR framework: Circumstances Thoughts Feelings Actions Results.

If you think of the letters… I want you to think of it in your mind’s eye, it’s kin to how we think of IRAC, in legal writing, Issue Rule Analysis Conclusion. It’s a structure. The Model is the same way. You can write it down on a piece of paper: CTFAR.

Fill it in to gain awareness as to what’s going on, as far as your mindset is concerned. I know it’s hard for you to get a visual of this while you’re listening to me via audio, so I’m going to put a graphic in the show notes, so you can see what this looks like, visually, and how each component flows into the next component: How circumstances are neutral. Our thoughts aren’t. We think thoughts. They cause our feelings. Our feelings drive our action. Our action creates our results.

I want to let you guys know; Brooke didn’t create the underlying philosophy upon which the model is premised. The model is based on universal truths, which is why, since I first learned the model, I’ve noticed so many other people in the personal development and coaching space are all saying the exact same thing, in slightly different ways.

If you’ve ever read, As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen, which is short but very profound read, this book was published in 1903. You’re going to see the same message as what’s set forth in this episode, in teaching you the model. It’s the same concept.

A lot of what Tony Robbins teaches also falls in line with these same concepts that the model is based on. I was just watching Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart, on HBOmax™, and the in the first episode she talks about thinking, feeling, and behavior. Again, it’s the same thing as the model.

It’s this thought-feeling-action cycle. That’s what the model is premised on, it’s what so many people talk about. You may see this come up in a lot of other people’s teachings. We’re all saying the same thing, essentially. The model is just a great, simplistic framework that gives structure to what these other experts are teaching, as well.

Now that you’ve learned the model, I want you to know there are three ways to go through life. You can proceed on default, which is how most people proceed through life, very unintentionally. Where they believe that circumstances cause their feelings. They feel like they’re living the effects of their circumstances, and blame their circumstances for how they feel. That’s what most people are doing.

But now that you know the model, that’s actually off the table. So, there’s only two other ways that you can go through life, now that you know this tool and you’ve become aware that; circumstances are neutral, and your thoughts cause your feelings.

You can intentionally choose, on purpose, to keep thinking your negative thoughts. We think 60,000 thoughts a day; most of them are negative. And despite knowing the model now, you can choose, like I talked about earlier, to think negative thoughts on purpose, and to feel negative feelings as a result.

Once you become aware of what you’re thinking, you can either change your thoughts and replace them with ones that serve you… But if you don’t want to do that, if you want to choose to think negative thoughts about a particular circumstance, you can choose those negative thoughts on purpose. You can choose to feel the negative feelings that come with them. And, even though you’ll still feel negatively, you’ll at least feel more empowered and in control, because you’re exercising your agency and you’re making a choice.

The third option is becoming aware of what you’re currently thinking, by using the model, and intentionally choosing thoughts that serve you. Replacing thoughts that are negative with more positive thoughts so you can control how you feel, regardless with what’s happening in the world around you.

I’m going to teach you how to do that in the coming episodes. But for now, I just want you to start by gaining awareness. You can do that by taking a sheet of paper, I used to do this on a legal pad in my office when I first got introduced to the model, and just write down CTFAR; one letter per line.

Find a neutral circumstance. You can use some of the examples that I gave you earlier in this episode, or you can pick one that’s coming up for you, that you’re dealing with right now. Make sure you get it to a neutral C. Ask yourself, “Would everyone agree upon this being true? Is there any room for disagreement?” If there is room for disagreement, that’s a thought, not a circumstance. Make sure you find the neutral circumstance.

When you have that, ask yourself the question, “What am I thinking about this? What’s the thought that I’m thinking?” Make sure you use only one thought per model, and one one-word feeling per model.

From there, once you’ve got the thought, ask yourself, “When I think this thought, how do I feel?” If you’ve got a bunch of different thoughts, start different models for each thought. Then, find the different feeling you feel when you think each thought.

From there, once you’ve got the one-word emotion, ask yourself, “When I feel this way, what do I do? What don’t I do?” Fill in that action line. Put in as many things down as you can think of, that you do or don’t do, when you feel that feeling.

Then ask yourself, “What result do I create when I take this action, or indulge in inaction, in this way?”

It’s going to give you so much awareness as to: How you’re currently feeling, why you’re feeling the way that you are, why you’re doing what you’re doing, or why you’re not doing the things you’re not doing, and why you have the results you currently have. It’s so informative. It’s such a useful tool.

I hope you enjoy using it. I hope you find that it’s super helpful, and very informative, super enlightening. The more you practice using it, the better you’ll get at using it. It’ll it get easier, if it feels a little hard at first, that’s okay.

Alright, I hope you have a wonderful week. I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 9: Indulging in “I Don’t Know”

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Indulging in "I Don't Know"

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Indulging in "I Don't Know"

So many of us create our own confusion, and we just spin in it. We don’t get curious. We neglect our own resourcefulness, and as a result, we don’t figure things out and we just keep indulging in what I like to call “I don’t know” thinking. However, opting out of confusion is always available.

When we choose to keep thinking “I don’t know…” we’re never going to get where we want to go. So, do you want to stay in confusion, or do you want to try something else? Because the truth is, you probably do know. You just need to dig for the answer. And that’s exactly what we’re doing in this episode.

Tune in this week to see the truth about telling yourself “I don’t know…” and stop indulging in confusion. I’m showing you how we default to this phrase as a defense mechanism, and how to dive a little deeper, so you can see that actually you probably do know the next step in any situation.

 

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, enrollment for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind is officially open. This is a six-month group coaching program where you’ll be surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals from the legal industry, pushing you to become the best possible version of yourself. We kick off with an in-person live event and you can get all the information and apply by clicking here

If you enjoyed today’s show, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review! 

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why spinning in a place of “I don’t know…” is an indulgent behavior that we need to change.
  • How to see why “I don’t know” is just a thought you have, and it’s generally not true.
  • Where to look to get clarity on the places you’re willingly sitting in confusion instead of finding the answer.
  • Why we use “I don’t know…” as a defense mechanism that only leads to more confusion.
  • The importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and getting curious about what to do next.
  • How to ask yourself questions and facilitate the process of finding a more helpful answer than “I don’t know…”

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

  • I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review
  • If you want more information about the Less Stressed Lawyer mastermind, visit my LinkedIn, my Instagram, or email me!

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 9. We’re talking all about Indulging in “I Don’t Know.” You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.

Hello, my friends. How are you? How’s your day? My day is just splendid. It is sunny out here and it feels like spring. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of spring. But that means summer is right around the corner, and I absolutely love summer in Michigan.

I am so excited for the first The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind cohort to get to experience Detroit during the summer when they come here for the in-person kickoff event in June. It’ll be warm here, the city’s so fun during the summer, it’s gonna be really amazing. I get to teach them all the coaching concepts for the two days that we’re going to workshop together. And then I get to introduce them to a city that I just absolutely love.

If you haven’t been to the Midwest before, I want you to know it’s pretty fantastic, Detroit especially. I just filmed a little impromptu behind-the-scenes video giving people a sneak peek of downtown Detroit and the venue that the live event’s going to be at, as well as the Welcome dinner. It’s just so incredible. The outdoor area is beautiful, it’s right by the river, there’s a couple parks to go walk to. The venue itself, the hotel and where the dinner is going to be are just absolutely beautiful. I really love the decor. So, it’s gonna be really neat.

If you haven’t seen that already, head on over to my LinkedIn, or my IG and check out that video. I’ll also make sure it’s linked in the show notes so you can go check it out. Also, if you’re getting major FOMO as I’m talking about this right now: A- I don’t blame you. B- Stop yourself from having FOMO Best news ever? There’s a couple more spots available in the Mastermind. So, if you know in your heart that one of those spots has your name on it, go slide into my DMs on LinkedIn or on Instagram, or email me at Olivia@TheLessStressedLawyer.com, and tell me you want in, and we’ll make that happen.

All right. Now, let’s get down to business. Today we’re talking about Indulging in “I Don’t Know.” First of all, I love a good alliteration. But that’s not the only reason I gave this topic, the name that I gave it. It’s really what we do when we immerse ourselves in what I like to call, “I don’t know” thinking.

What we do is we create our own confusion, and then we spin in it and just stay confused. We don’t get curious, we don’t tap into our own resourcefulness, we don’t figure it out. We just keep choosing confusion. I think that’s super indulgent because we can opt out of confusion. When we stay confused, when we continue to indulge in “I don’t know” thinking we ultimately don’t get where we want to go. Okay, so that’s why it’s a problem.

But it’s optional, you get to choose to stay there, or you get to choose to leave. So, if you keep choosing to stay, I want you to know you’re indulging in that. That’s indulgent behavior. Now, here’s what I need you to understand about “I don’t know.” I want you to imagine that I just put air quotes around the phrase, “I don’t know.” That’s a thought that your brain serves up to you.

In most cases that thought is not true. You actually do know, but you’re going to have to dig for the answer. Your initial “I don’t know” is a defense mechanism. It’s a reflex, an easy escape hatch, a knee-jerk reaction that ends up being a go-to for your brain, because when you think the thought, “I don’t know,” you begin to feel confused and then you stop the inquiry. You shut down; you give up. You don’t move forward through the confusion. You go do something else that’s easier in that moment.

Now, this isn’t good for you in the long run, because it just creates more of the same result, right? You still don’t know; you end up with more not knowing. So, we’re going to want to fix this.

Why is this a defense mechanism? Remember, the primitive part of your brain is always aiming to achieve three goals; it wants to seek immediate pleasure, avoid immediate discomfort, and conserve energy.

So, when you tell yourself that you don’t know something, you don’t know how to proceed, you don’t know what the answer is, you think that thought “I don’t know.” Thinking it tends to accomplish all three of those initiatives.

Conversely, when we do know the answer to something, then we normally have to take action. That’s what comes next. Now, when I say, “have to take action,” I want to be really clear here. Taking action is always optional. But once we know the path forward, there normally isn’t a very good reason to not pursue it. That becomes the logical next step. And taking that logical next step goes against your primitive brain’s efforts to accomplish those three goals.

Moving forward requires something of you, sometimes it requires your time and energy. Sometimes it requires you to leave your comfort zone and put aside temporary pleasures that you’re used to providing for yourself. Whatever it is, it requires something. Choosing to accept “I don’t know” as your final answer to whatever question you’re presented with allows you to bypass all of that discomfort.

But again, this is how you stay stuck and stagnant. I told you I like alliteration. So anyways, it’s ultimately a problem, right? Staying stuck and stagnant is not going to be what you want to be doing. What should you do when your brain serves you up an “I don’t know” answer?

Here’s what you want to do. You want to push past it, you want to sit with the confusion for a few seconds or a few minutes, heck, even an hour, or longer. Really, it’s however long it takes you to work through the confusion, but you want to work through it, you want to push through.

One of the ways you can do this is by asking yourself better questions to help facilitate the process of finding a better answer. Now, confusion is pretty common so it can come up in practically any scenario. But it commonly arises with regard to the following.

You might think that you don’t know, with regard to what you’re going to do; you might not know what you want; you might not know where to start; you might not know how to fix a particular problem. You might not know how to go about achieving a particular goal that you’ve set; you might not know what you even need to learn; you might not know how to proceed. And you might not know what to say, in a given situation.

Those are some common areas where your brain might typically serve you up an “I don’t know” answer. Now, again, I told you the way to not indulge in “I don’t know” thinking is to push past the initial “I don’t know.” Work through the confusion and come up with an answer.

The best way for you to learn how to do this is to work through an example that you’re currently dealing with. So, I want you to think for a second. What are you currently confused about? What’s a problem that you’re faced with at the moment that you don’t know how to solve? What’s a goal that you have set for yourself that you’d like to accomplish? That you’re confused about how to accomplish or achieve. What is something where “I don’t know” is coming up for you? Where do you have confusion in your life? Find that particular situation, put it in your mind and let’s walk through some of these questions.

The first thing you want to do in order to gain some clarity and clear up your confusion is to ask yourself, what exactly are you confused about? Make sure you’re being as specific as possible. Our brains tend to serve us up that “I don’t know” response to situations that we encounter, and it tends to be pretty broad. So, you want to make sure you’re being very specific with what you do know, and what you don’t know. What, specifically, are you confused about?

Now another really insightful question to ask yourself here is the question: What does thinking “I don’t know” pretend to protect you from? Normally, like I said earlier, we think “I don’t know” because it prevents us from having to take action. So long as we stay confused, we get to stay idle. We get to indulge in an action when we indulge in “I don’t know” thinking. So, get really clear on what you would need to do next if you weren’t confused.

What emotions do you attach to that next step, to taking that next move? What flavors of discomfort are on the horizon for you? That “I don’t know” line of thinking is protecting you from having to experience those emotions, okay? Getting clear on that, you’ll start to see, “Oh, I’m actually not all that confused about how to proceed. I’m just protecting myself from having to experience this discomfort down the road once I clean up my confusion here.”

Similar questions along this line of thinking include, “What would I need to do next, if I weren’t confused right now?” That’ll help illuminate the path forward, and also clue you in as to what you’re avoiding. Same thing with this question, “What does being confused allow me to avoid?” So again, all of that gets at what’s next on the horizon. What is thinking “I don’t know” pretending to protect you from? Once you become aware of that, can you just move forward, allow that discomfort, and take action despite it?

Another question I ask my clients all the time when they respond to a scenario that they’re faced with… with “I don’t know” thinking, or I ask them a question and they respond with an “I don’t know” answer… I will ask them this question that seems really nonsensical. They tend to not like it when I ask it, but it’s a super effective question to push past the “I don’t know.”

They’ll tell me, “Olivia? I don’t know.” And I’ll simply respond with, “Okay, but what would you say if you did know?” Sometimes they respond with, “I just told you; but I don’t know.” And I just repeat the question, “Okay, I understand that. But what would you say If you did?” And sure enough, every single time, they have an answer.

You can use that coaching trick on yourself. When your brain serves you up “I don’t know,” just ask yourself, “Okay, but what would I say If I did know?” If that doesn’t work, it should work, but if it doesn’t, you can also use these two other questions. “What would I say If I had to guess?” Take some of the pressure off when you throw in guessing as an option. You don’t have to have the right answer. You just have to have an answer.

And then, I also love this question because it normally illuminates exactly what you want to do when you’re indulging in confusion; about what you should do. The question is, “What would I do if this was easy?” And again, I get pushback from clients on this because it’s like, “But it’s not easy. This situation feels so hard.” It feels challenging, right? But just sit with the question, “What would I do if this was easy?” And normally, the route that you want to take, the option that you would prefer will immediately pop into your mind. From there, you know how to move forward.

If you have resistance to picking that path and moving forward, you just want to ask yourself, “Why am I hesitating? What’s preventing me from moving forward in this way?” Typically, you will find… normally, you’re concerned about what someone else will think, or there’s some type of discomfort on the horizon that’s preventing you from picking that path. Again, gag and go through that discomfort, move forward in spite of and despite it.

If you’re really stuck in “I don’t know,” you can also ask yourself this question. If you’re faced with a situation about how to proceed, how to move forward, what you should or shouldn’t do, what would your answer be if no one else had an opinion? Because, again, you’re probably a little preoccupied with what other people are going to think about the path you choose moving forward. So, get clear. What would your answer be if no one else had an opinion? What you want to do in that moment should probably come into your mind pretty quickly.

Now, a couple other questions to ask yourself. If a situation feels really overwhelming and complicated, ask yourself this question. “What’s the problem here?” What’s the very specific problem that you need to solve? That will help you figure out what to do next, how to proceed; it’ll clear up the “I don’t know.”

Also, when you’re dealing with “I don’t know,” make two lists. Separate, in a given situation, what do you know versus what don’t you know. That will help guide you forward and illuminate the path you need to take. It’ll help you figure out your next steps. So, what do you know versus what don’t you know, and then start to solve for what you don’t know. Again, I mentioned this earlier, but you want to be as specific as you possibly can be when you’re indulging in “I don’t know.”

Let’s talk through a couple examples here. Let’s say you’re working on a project, and you don’t know how to proceed, you don’t know what to do next, you’re thinking, “I don’t know what to do in this situation. I don’t know what arguments to make on this motion. I don’t know how to respond to this person’s email.” You just feel confused, because obviously, you’re thinking the thought “I don’t know.” And your natural inclination, when you feel confused, is to avoid the task at hand, and to procrastinate on that particular project.

In that moment, again, you want to get very clear on what you don’t know, get as specific as possible. You can make that list of what do you know; all the things that you do know in that particular situation with that project. Then get crystal clear about what you don’t know.

And from there, start to solve for what you don’t know. What information do you need? Where can you find that information? What resources do you have at your disposal? Ask better questions that work through the not knowing, and get you to the point where you can get the answers that you want for yourself.

Like I said earlier, indulging in “I don’t know” happens when we don’t tap into our own resourcefulness. So, you want to get resourceful here, you want to solve these problems yourself. You want to create knowing, create answers for yourself. You can do that by asking better questions, and then answering them.

So, what information do you need? Who can you go to, to get that information? Where can you find it? Thinking through that problem, it will help eliminate the confusion.

I’m gonna use a non-work-related example for a second. My dad and I were talking, a couple of years ago, about how I can help someone solve any problem. He didn’t quite understand the context of coaching, and what coaching does. So, he was like, “Well, you don’t know how to solve every problem.” He used the example: You don’t know how to build a deck, so if a client came to you wanting to build a deck, you wouldn’t be able to help them. And I said, “Oh, you’re mistaken. I would be able to help them build a deck.”

We talked through it, and I said, “The problem is their thinking about it, and their unwillingness to work through confusion.” So, my dad’s super handy, and if he didn’t know how to build a deck, he wouldn’t think, “I don’t know how to build a deck and feel confused,” and then avoid the project. He would think the thought, “I know how to figure this out,” or “I’m capable of figuring this out.” And then he would feel resourceful. From feeling resourceful, and probably determined, he would seek out the information that he would need in order to figure out how to build a deck.

So, when we were talking through this example… if you had no idea where to start, if you weren’t indulging in “I don’t know thinking” and you were thinking, instead, “I can figure this out,” where would you start? What would you need to know? You might need to know what kind of wood you would use to build a deck. You might need to know how you construct it. You might need to know measurements.

If you identify a few bits of information that you would need to have in order to get started, then you can take an educated guess on where you can find that information.

When my dad and I were talking through this example, we both said that he would go to YouTube and watch some videos on how to build a deck. He might search on Google and see if there were any blog posts or articles about building a deck. He also said he would go to the local hardware store and talk to some of the experts there and see if they had any suggestions. Those would be his go-to resources to begin with, to get the ball rolling.

And then from there, he would reassess. Is there anything else he doesn’t know once he’s gathered some more information? The process continues on and on until you finally get to the end of the road where you know how to build a deck, and you go and put that plan into action, and you actually build it.

So whatever project you’re working on, you can do the exact same thing, whether it’s building a deck, renovating something in your house, solving a problem at work, doing a PowerPoint, anything that you feel confused about. Maybe it’s working through social media, learning how to create a TikTok because you want to start advertising your law practice through TikTok.

Whatever the case may be, figure out what you don’t know in the beginning. What would you need to know to get started? Where can you find that information? Take an educated guess. Put that plan into action, and then just keep that process going.

Now, another example that I want to give you, is an example that came up for me in the beginning of a pandemic. I put on a virtual summit. It was a five-day virtual event called, Thrive and Five. I had over 30 speakers present as part of the summit. As I was getting the whole slate of speakers lined up, I had talked to some people in the beginning and I had promised them longer time slots, 45 minutes to an hour to speak. People were so amazing. They kept introducing me to other people that they knew.

When I would meet those people, I would get so excited to include them in the slate of speakers because they had so much to bring to the table. I really wanted the Thrive and Five audience to get to know these people, and to learn from them. So, I kept adding more and more speakers to the schedule. The problem was, I had decided very early on that each day was going to be three hours long, because even though it was early days of the pandemic, that’s a lot of time to stare at people on Zoom. I figured three hours was plenty. I wanted to constrain to that timeframe.

Now, here’s the problem. As I kept adding more and more people, it was messing with some of the time limits that I had originally given people. I needed to now go back to the original speakers I had spoken to, and shorten the amount of time that they were going to be able to speak. I was afraid to get pushback from them because when I had originally spoken with some of them, they had a pretty severe, kind of harsh reaction to 45 minutes that I had originally given them. They really wanted an hour, they thought 45 minutes was too short.

So now that I was cutting it to an even shorter period of time, I was really nervous to deliver that bad news. I overcomplicated the situation. I was thinking about making certain segments the original 45 minutes, and other ones like 35 minutes or 25 minutes; just a really haphazard, complicated, confusing schedule, with really weird start times. The easiest solution available was just to make all of the speakers segments 30 minutes long, it was so easy.

I got coached by a friend of mine on this issue because I was having all this mind drama about it. She asked me that beautiful question, “What would you do if this was easy?” And just like a lot of my clients say to me, I got frustrated and was like, “But it’s not easy. This is so complicated. This isn’t easy at all.” But I took a deep breath and I sat with the question, “What would I do if this was easy? What would I do if this was easy?” And then the answer became so crystal clear for me.

I said I would give everyone 30 minutes. I would tell them 30 minutes is more than enough time for them to teach people what they need to know. For them to demonstrate their expertise and to add a ton of value. 30 minutes was going to be perfect for them. They’re going to be great, it’s all going to be fine.

I would tell them that. It’d be done. I’d have the schedule that I wanted. The start times would be super easy. I wouldn’t have to extend the three-hour limit that I had set for myself. That was the simple solution.

Then I asked myself, “Why wasn’t I taking that simple solution that was available to me?” And it was simply because I was worried about what the original speakers, that I had spoken with, what they were going to think about me changing what I had originally told them. It was just guilt coming up and a little bit of worry. I can stomach those feelings.

I decided to pick the easy route, to make everyone’s time limit 30 minutes, and to gag and go through the guilt and the worry about going back and changing what I had originally told them. And it all worked out fine. So that’s a really great scenario where that question, “What would you do if it was easy,” comes up and is super useful.

Now, if there’s a scenario that you’re currently dealing with feels super complicated, very overwhelming, it would take you like 30 minutes to give someone the rundown and the back story of what you’re dealing with. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to think of that situation, all the tangled ball of yarn and complication that comes with it, and I just want you to distill the situation down to a one sentence problem.

If there was only one issue to solve, what would that issue be? What is that problem specifically? Don’t allow yourself to say, “I don’t know.” Force yourself to get specific. Sit with it, poke around, come up with your answer. You do know, trust that you know, sit in the discomfort of the confusion for a second, and distill it down. And ask yourself, “How do I go about solving for that problem? That specific issue?”

Again, your brain is going to want to serve you that knee- jerk “I don’t know.” Push past it. You do know, trust yourself that you know, and come up with the questions that you need to ask in order to get to an answer.

I gave you a bunch of questions that you can ask yourself. Force yourself to answer these questions: What, specifically, are you confused about? What does telling yourself that you don’t know pretend to protect you from? What would you need to do next if you weren’t confused? What does staying confused allow you to avoid? What would you say if you did know? What would you say if you had to guess? What would you do if it was easy? What would your answer be if no one else had an opinion? What’s the specific problem here? What do you know versus what you don’t know? Separate it and make those lists.

These are the questions that you can always go to when you find yourself indulging in “I don’t know” thinking, in order to push past the “I don’t know.” Get to a clear path forward, figure out the answer, and come up with the solution to the problem that you need to solve.

Hope this helps you guys. It’s what I’ve got for you this week. I hope you have a lovely week, and I will talk to you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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