Episode 17: Resting and The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Resting and The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Resting and The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

I haven’t always had a healthy relationship with rest. Like so many lawyers, I had a nasty habit of pulling all-nighters when something was due, and I know a lot of people see their colleagues operating on very little rest and think they’re superhuman. But the chances are they’re burned out beyond belief, and if you continue down the same path, you will be too.

There is an Italian phrase I’ve been coming across more and more lately, and it’s one I needed reminding of: dolce far niente. This means, “The sweetness of doing nothing.” This is exactly how I think about resting, giving yourself a break from doing and allowing yourself to just be, and the sweetness this practice has to offer.

If you’re currently believing that overworking is more productive than resting, you need to listen closely this week. I’m sharing why efficiency isn’t just doing, doing, doing, and how you can turn your hustle mindset around so you can enjoy the benefits that come with proper rest and sleep.

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:

  • What overworking, chronic exhaustion, and burnout look like.
  • The problem with comparing and despairing, thinking you should be doing more.
  • My own story with overworking, hustle culture, and burnout.
  • The carcinogenic effects of depriving yourself of sleep.
  • The important differences between sleep and rest, and why you can’t have a better relationship with sleep until you learn how to be at rest.
  • How to get to the core reasons for why you don’t like resting.
  • Why a well-rested mind and body allow you to do better work in less time.
  • What you can do to show yourself that resting is far more productive than overworking.
  • Simple ways to incorporate more rest into your life, and how your life will change as a result.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 17. We’re talking all about Resting and the Sweetness of Doing Nothing. 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.

Hey there, how’s it going? As I sat down to record this episode for you, I actually had to laugh to myself because I have been doing quite the opposite of nothing.

So, it’s kind of funny or ironic that this is this week’s episode, because I’ve just been over here crossing things off my to-do list, left and right, for the upcoming mastermind live event. And by the time you hear this, all of my work will have come together to fruition and the event will be over. Which kind of makes me sad, but also super excited, because I can’t wait for everyone to be in Detroit, in person, and for us to get to work.

If you followed along on social media, because I did a bunch of behind-the-scenes stuff on Instagram, I’ll probably have a highlight posted there. You can go check out the behind-the-scenes stuff if you missed it, and you’re just hearing about it now. But if you followed along on social media, and you’re like, “Oh my god, I have to make sure I don’t miss the next round of the mastermind,” listen, mark your calendars.

I mark my calendar months and months in advance for the mastermind that I’m a part of, with my business coach. As soon as I know the dates for the enrollment period and for the live event, they go right on my calendar, so I don’t miss a beat. Everything’s aligned. I already have the time blocked off, so I never have a conflict.

I just wanted to give you that suggestion so you can do the same thing, if you want to make sure you’re in the next round of the mastermind, and then you’re at the next live event. If you’re like me, I get crazy FOMO when I see a bunch of people, masterminding together.

Enrollment for the next round of the mastermind opens November 1st; make sure you put that on your calendar. And then, the next live event; it’ll be three days, in person, will be February 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of next year, 2023. So, make sure that goes on your calendar. If you need to pause this audio for a second, go create that calendar event so you can plan accordingly.

Alright, now that we’ve got that squared away, let’s dive in to today’s topic. We’re talking about resting and the sweetness of doing nothing. This is actually an Italian phrase that I’ve seen a few times recently, which means the universe must be speaking to me. I think when messages keep coming at you in different arenas from different avenues, you’re meant to see that message. This one’s definitely been coming to me.

And the phrase is, “dolce far niente,” which means the sweetness of doing nothing. To me, that’s how I think of resting; I think of it as the sweetness of doing nothing. You give yourself a break from doing, and you just allow yourself to be. For me, there really is a sweetness to that practice, to doing nothing. It’s something that I really enjoy. It’s one of my favorite ways that I get to spend my time, just doing nothing and being with myself.

Now, let’s get really clear about what I mean by the word “rest” here. Rest is not the same thing as sleep. Sleep is sleep; rest is rest. They are different things. In fairness, I used to be terrible at both of them. So, for someone who is going to preach to you today about the power of practicing both well, having a healthy relationship with both…

I do want to be really candid with you guys, and tell you that this used to be a big struggle for me. I had a really nasty habit of pulling all-nighters. It started when I was an undergrad, during final season, and then it would get exponentially worse as I went through law school.

When I worked on trials as a law clerk, I would hardly sleep. I would also hardly sleep when I studied for finals, at the end of every semester. I would always have to play catch-up because I was working full time throughout the semester. And then, I would cram, towards the end of the semester, to fit in a semester’s worth of coursework in the period of two or three weeks.

So, there were a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of all-nighters. And, for the sake of transparency, I’m also really honest about this, I am not a superhuman. That came, A: At a huge expense to my health. But I also pulled those all-nighters. I like to say that they were sponsored by unprescribed Adderall.

That’s not something I’m proud of, but I do think it’s really important to be transparent about that. I know a lot of people who see colleagues, and they’re like, “God, I wish I could operate like that on so little sleep.” I think people used to think that about me because they see it as something like, “Oh my goodness, you’re kind of like the Energizer Bunny™.” Not naturally, you guys.

So, keep that in the back of your mind if you’re comparing and despairing, and thinking that you should be doing more. Other people might be “energy juicing,” as they say, or “academic juicing,” in order to be able to pull those crazy hours. I just want to be really transparent about that.

Now, my refusal to rest and sleep reached an all-time high when I was practicing law. And then, go figure, cue the burnout, right? That’s when the burnout started to enter the situation. At the same time, I was starting to really experience all of the negative effects of burnout, I also met my friend Kelly Campana.

I met her in the course of completing the certification program that I went through, to become a life coach. Kelly’s so incredible. She is a coach for C-Suite women in Fortune 500 companies. I consider her one of the best coaches in the business. She’s such an inspiration to me, and she’s really taught me a ton about this topic.

Anyways, I met Kelly at the height of my burnout, and I’m sure she could see the exhaustion and lack of rest and sleep written all over me. It was probably as clear as day. If you think you’re hiding your lack of sleep and exhaustion, well, ask someone around you; you’re probably not.

In Kelly’s previous life, she had also been a chronic over-worker. So, she knew the telltale signs of overworking, of exhaustion, of burnout, all of it. Lovingly… As we started to become friends during the course of our certification program, and then afterwards, during catch-up conversations that we would have with one another, she would always talk about her rest routine. And how wonderful sleep was. And how it played such an important integral role in her life.

Now, I think it’s really important to mention that she talked about this in a really loving way. She just led by example, right? She didn’t preach to me; she didn’t tell me what I needed to do. She didn’t tell me that I should or shouldn’t make changes. She didn’t “should” on me. She just led by example. She talked about her relationship with rest and sleep.

Honestly, when she first met me, I was full-on Gordon Gekko energy here. I fully believed that “Money never sleeps.” I was all about the rise and grind mantra, hustle harder, can’t stop; won’t stop. I think I even used those hashtags back in the day, which I’m not proud of. But again, full transparency here. I had really bought into that hustle culture, hook, line, and sinker.

Again, honestly, if given a chance at that time… If you would have given me the option to just never sleep, I would have taken it. I really viewed sleep and rest as being useless, unproductive, inefficient. If I could have opted out of it, I would have. I remember thinking to myself, “I wish I didn’t have to do this. I wish I could just skip sleep entirely and operate without it.” That seemed so much more efficient to me.

So again, lucky for me, Kelly didn’t preach. She just led by example; a well-rested, wonderful example. She kept talking about this nighttime routine she had, and how well rested she was, and how getting lots of sleep really helped her thrive the following day. It started to plant a seed. This didn’t happen overnight, but I started to entertain the idea that my really brilliant friend might be onto something.

I met Kelly in the fall of 2018, and it took me quite a while longer to finally come around to address my Adderall dependency, and my affliction to rest and sleep. But I finally did. And I credit Kelly for getting that process started, or at least helping me to get that process started.

Now, once I stopped taking Adderall, I literally could not function on the lack of sleep that I once did. So, I had to start making peace with sleeping. When I did, imagine this; my life started to change. Right? I felt so much better. I started to realize I was giving myself an opportunity to gain a different perspective about sleep. I was experiencing sleep differently.

And I started to realize that overworking was far less productive than resting and sleeping. I had it flipped. I thought overworking was more productive than resting and sleeping, in the beginning. But as I started to rest and sleep more and more, I realized that, actually the opposite was true.

I can think back to times… I remember typing on my computer, being so exhausted that I would fall asleep in the middle of typing a sentence, because I was so sleep deprived. I really pushed my body to its absolute limits. At the time, I just felt like it was the right thing to do, to just keep working until I literally couldn’t anymore.

But the truth is, that working like that, with hardly any sleep, it honestly slowed me down. My cognitive functioning was significantly impaired. My analytical skills were impacted. Everything took me longer, and it wasn’t as good as it would have been had I approached it with a well-rested mind.

Those three sentence emails took me forever to write. I was slower mentally. I really struggled to articulate things. I second-guessed myself; just everything took longer. Working in a state of exhaustion like that was inefficient, was unproductive, not the other way around.

As I started to see this, I started to change my thoughts about getting regular rest and sleep. And then, I’m not quite sure how I found it, but right around the same time, so this is early 2020, I listened to Matt Walker’s TED Talk called, “Sleep Is Your Superpower.”

In that TED Talk, he talks about the carcinogenic effects of consistently depriving yourself of sleep. Now, as an ex-smoker, I clearly understood at that time, that cigarettes are carcinogenic. And that’s why we don’t, probably, want to smoke, because they have really negative impacts on our health if we expose ourselves to them long-term.

But I had no idea that a lack of sleep could also have that much of an impact on our health. So, if I’m going to quit smoking, I probably want to quit depriving myself of sleep, for the exact same reason. At the time, when I learned this, I was like, “What? You’ve got to be kidding me. A lack of sleep, like I know, it probably causes fine lines and wrinkles, and maybe I’ll age a little prematurely if I keep doing this to myself, but cancer?” That seemed insane to me.

So, this was really the wakeup call that I needed; that not sleeping can actually kill you. Since learning that, I have completely changed my relationship with sleep. If you are hearing this, and you’re like me, and you’re like, “What? You’ve got to be kidding me, Olivia.” Go listen to Matt Walker’s TED Talk, “Sleep Is Your Superpower.” It will probably blow your mind, just like it blew my mind. And it will likely change your relationship with sleep. If you have a habit like I used to have of constantly depriving yourself of it.

Now, I sleep like a normal human, and I love it. I function so much more efficiently and effectively because of it. So, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is nice to like sleep; I enjoy my bed, now. I like climbing under the covers late at night. I, like Kelly, now have a nighttime ritual. I like to sleep with it being really cold in my room, it helps me fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep throughout the night.

Find your groove with sleep. Embrace sleep into your life if you have an affliction or a negative relationship with it. That’s a bit of backstory. And, you guys know, I love a good backstory.

But sleep is not exactly what I want to talk about today. Again, sleep is sleep; rest is rest. And I want to talk to you today about rest. But up until this point in the story, where I started to learn about Matt’s TED Talk, and introduce myself back to the world of sleeping like a normal human being, I really didn’t understand the difference yet between sleep and rest.

Once I jumped on the regular sleep cycle bandwagon, in early 2020, because my relationship had changed with it, and I started realizing how impactful it was to have regular sleep, I wanted to tell everyone that I knew about it. About the whole overworking, and working-while-tired schtick was just a total lie. I started to scream it from the rooftops a little bit. I wanted people to learn what I had learned.

Hopefully, with a little less struggle, and a lot less burnout than me, than the way that I had to learn this lesson. So, in June of 2020, some months later, I hosted a virtual summit called, Thrive and Five. It was a five-day long event. Obviously virtual because it was like the height of COVID back then. I had over 30 speakers come, and they talked about every topic over the sun. We talked about all things mindset, relationship related branding, legal innovation, and leadership. So, everything from personal to professional.

It really gave the attendees everything that they would need, in all areas of their lives, to live lives with less stress and far more fulfillment. So, as I was putting this event together, on the mindset day, I knew I wanted to have Kelly speak about sleep and rest, and our relationship with both of those things, and the mindset that we need to have in order to do them effectively.

I call up Kelly, I told her about Thrive, and I asked her to speak to the Thrive and Five audience about sleep. I was so excited to have her do that. She listened intently as we’re on the phone, took a long pause, and then she told me “no.” Admittedly, I was pretty shocked. I was like, “What? You don’t want to?” Then, after another long pause, she goes, “I’m not going to talk about sleep. But I’d love to talk to them about rest. Because they can’t have a better relationship with sleep, until they learn how to rest, until they learn how to be at rest.”

The profound nature of the statement, honestly, went over my head a little bit, because I replied to her and said, “What’s the difference, Kelly?” And then she told me; she explained to me that rest isn’t what you do when you’re asleep. Learning to be at rest is something you do while you’re awake. It’s a state of being not a state of doing. It’s about stopping activity. It’s just sitting with yourself; allowing yourself to do nothing.

The benefits of this are it increases your physical and mental well-being. Now, sleep is certainly a restful state. But sleep is when you’re sleeping, right? It’s a disengagement, that’s a lot different than just resting. So, resting, you’re awake; sleep, you’re not.

Because I think Kelly’s brilliant, I told her to talk about whatever she wanted to talk about to the Thrive audience. Then, I went back to planning the summit; I had a lot of things to do. When the day came, I watched her present and teach the audience about resting. Honestly, she blew my mind.

Despite being a little skeptical about this whole rest business, I started to give it a try. And lo and behold, just like with sleep, Kelly was right. Resting, truly resting, is the practice of doing nothing.

So, it’s sort of like meditation, not a guided meditation, where you’re listening to someone prompt you and tell you what to do, and where to focus your mind. That’s still you consuming information, consuming content. True rest eliminates consumption. You don’t have to process anything external. So, you finally get a chance to process what’s internal, in that head of yours.

In Kelly’s talk, she started to explain that one of the ways that you can begin to practice rest is to pick an amount of time where you let yourself not consume; you just sit with yourself, you just let yourself be. So, that’s how I started my practice. I have breaks in between my coaching sessions throughout the day, so that’s when I started to implement this and work it into my schedule.

In between my coaching sessions, I would just lay down, do nothing for about 20 minutes or so. No phones, no distractions, no nothing. Now, as I started to practice this, I really fell in love with doing this, with spending time this way.

Here’s why. Number one, it gives my brain a chance to process things. So, I think of it like clearing out my mental inbox. You can’t get to mental inbox zero, if you’re constantly taking in new information, listening to podcasts, listening to music, reading things, scrolling on your phones, doing, doing, doing. Your brain has to process all of that new information, so you never give your brain a chance to be at rest, to take a breather. That’s exhausting.

Also, when you stop consuming and you quiet your brain, you give it a chance to start creating. You access your creativity. You access your problem-solving skills. This is why you get your best ideas in the shower. For most of us, we are not consuming information, music, or other content while we’re in the shower.

That’s not true for everyone, I know. With the advent of technology and waterproof phones and things like that, a lot of people are starting to consume while they’re in the shower. So, if you are doing that, I want to encourage you, maybe give it a little rest. While you’re in the shower, give your brain that 10-minute, 15-minute breather.

Okay, now again, the first way that you can practice resting, being at rest, is to just lay there or sit there and do nothing, for a period of time. If you’re lying there, and your eyes are closed while you’re doing this, I think that this is actually what a catnap is, and you are welcome to disagree with me. But I used to hear about catnaps all the time.

I’m not someone who can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. I used to date a guy who could fall asleep… He was like those baby dolls, where when you lay them down their eyes close, that was him. He could fall asleep in, I don’t know, 10 seconds or less, I think. That is not me. My mind is normally racing so it takes me quite a while to fall asleep.

I never really understood the concept of catnaps. I couldn’t wrap my head around people who could lay down and actually fall asleep for 20 minutes at a time. I’m like a two hours-or-nothing kind of girl. But with that said, I started practicing resting like this, for 20 or 30 minutes, of doing nothing, and just being there.

Then, I’d go back to work. I started to realize how refreshed I would feel afterwards. How I get this boost of energy that I would feel throughout the rest of the day; like way better than coffee, you guys. So, it started to dawn on me, I’m like, “Maybe that’s what a catnap is. It’s just like laying down and closing your eyes for 20 or 30 minutes.”

That’s kind of my definition of a catnap. Maybe yours is different, if you’re like my ex, and you can fall asleep pretty quickly. But that’s not me. So, these 20- or 30-minute breaks of closing my eyes and just lying there doing nothing, that’s my kind of catnap. And it’s really refreshing. It’s really restorative, very energizing for me.

As I started to rest my mind more and more, the silence started to become a little addictive. It felt so good to clear out my mental inbox and give my brain a chance to process information, and access its creativity. Just give it a chance to rest, to breathe, to recharge, essentially.

I started incorporating more and more silence throughout my day when it came to doing other activities, outside of these 20 to 30 minute “catnaps,” where I would just lay down and not really do anything. I started incorporating silence in more places.

Now, I usually drive in complete silence. I have friends who think I’m a complete lunatic when it comes to this. They’re like, “How? How do you do that? You sound like a serial killer.” I promise you, I’m not. But I do love it. I love driving in complete silence, especially on longer car rides. It really gives my brain a chance to think of different things, clear out that mental inbox.

I also like to walk in complete silence. I used to go for walks, and I would listen to something, like a podcast episode. And now, I just give myself that time to take in my surroundings, to think, to brainstorm. I just let myself get really quiet. I give my brain that additional break.

The more and more I do this, the more and more essential it becomes in my life. It is one of the reasons I’m able to create big things like; this podcast, the mastermind, all the content that I create, my webinars. Because I just give myself a chance to let my brain run wild and think of things.

As it’s become an essential, integral part of my life and I’ve realized the benefits of doing this, I started to talk about my rest practice more and more and more. And it’s so fascinating to see people’s responses when they hear that I give myself a mental break like this. People are normally horrified if I’m being really honest. They’re like, “How? Why would you do that?” They really find it impossible to be that still. To do nothing. To just be alone with themselves and their thoughts.

In fact, I had talked to a couple people about this recently, and they thought it was so bizarre, it inspired me to do an Instagram poll. I asked people if they had the ability to sit with themselves and just do nothing for 20 minutes. And every single person, aside from one, said, “Absolutely not.” The one person I know: she’s my cousin. She was like, “Yes. I love to be alone with myself.” I’m like, “Of course, you do. We’re so similar that way.”

But everyone else saying, “Absolutely not,” was really striking to me. I was blown away. It got my gears turning. I started to think about and explore the different reasons why people really struggle with practicing rest.

Number one, I think it feels super unproductive, and feeling unproductive feels awful to a lot of people. They’ve bought into the belief that they should always be doing something. That that’s what’s valuable; is to constantly be doing. It feels like they’re wasting time, otherwise. They perceive wasting time as one of the worst things you could do.

Another reason that people don’t practice rest, is that they won’t carve out the time because of other people’s demands on their time; work, kids, maybe their partner, their spouse. This is really going to look like a lot of martyrdom. Like, “Maybe I’d love to have that, but it’s just not something that’s accessible to me because people constantly need me.” It’s going to look like a lack of boundaries, or very weak boundaries.

I think people also tell themselves that they’re bad at doing nothing. That they’re bad at being still. That they’re not good at it. And who likes to practice doing something that they’re not good at? Not most of us.

I think people also, just don’t like to be alone with themselves and with their minds. They think it’s scary. They think it’s going to be a dark place. Maybe you don’t talk to yourself kindly, so being alone with yourself isn’t an enjoyable experience. If that’s the case, rather than avoiding doing this, you want to work through that. That is your work; to become someone who talks to yourself more kindly.

Another reason people don’t rest is because they haven’t tried it. You assume it’s going to feel terrible, so you avoid it without giving it a chance. If you tried it, you might actually really like it. I think one of the reasons that people assume that it will feel terrible, is because they assume that they will be bored. And being bored is something that we, nowadays, perceive to truly be a problem. It should be avoided at all costs.

I’m using “should” really loosely here because I don’t believe that at all. I think being bored, giving yourself an opportunity to experience boredom, is really something that benefits you. It’s not a problem. We access a lot of creativity when we’re bored. When we’re bored, we typically problem-solve for the things in our lives that aren’t working. It gives us an opportunity to address what’s not working, what we’re tolerating.

So, we want to give ourselves a chance to experience boredom. But bored is really uncomfortable for people. That’s been an emotion that I’ve really had to work on allowing rather than resisting, avoiding, or negatively reacting to. So, that’s probably a reason that you don’t practice rest, too, if you have an aversion to being bored.

 And then lastly, you won’t practice rest, if you don’t think you’ll gain anything from it. So, I just want you to hold space for the belief that practicing rest can be really beneficial in your life. Rest, just like sleep, can be a superpower.

A way to think through that list of reasons, that I just went through, and ask yourself; which one of those reasons resonates with you the most? Maybe it’s one, maybe it’s a combination. But you want to gain that awareness. What are your thoughts about resting? And why don’t you want to do it if you don’t want to do it?

Here’s what I want to offer you. First and foremost, don’t knock it till you try it. It can be really beneficial. I want to go so far as to say, it will be really beneficial, if you give this a chance. Give yourself an opportunity to experience the benefits of practicing rest, and then make up your mind. Don’t make up your mind beforehand, and just assume that it won’t help or that it will be awful. You might be surprised.

Also, if you struggle with embracing the sweetness of doing nothing and resting, I just want to tell you, this is a skill set that you can build. Even if it’s not easy for you at first, you can work on this and make progress. I once had a client ask me… We were talking about practicing rest, and it is not a skill set of hers. It’s not a superpower of hers, or at least it wasn’t at the time.

She wanted to practice the sweetness of doing nothing, in order to realize the benefits that I’ve listed in this episode. She asked me if she should start with 20 minutes of a guided meditation? Or, five minutes of doing nothing? And I asked her, I kind of already knew the answer to this, but I asked her, “Which of the two would be more uncomfortable for her?” And she said, “The five minutes of doing absolutely nothing.” And I said, “Great, do that then.”

Of course, I think she was hoping that I would say the 20 minutes of guided meditation, but I told her to start with the five minutes. So, that’s my recommendation for you. If you want to be at peace in your body, you have to be at peace with being alone with yourself, in your mind.

The way to become someone who is at peace in their body, with their mind, is to start small and build the skill set, build this practice. So, start with five minutes of doing nothing. Evaluate how you feel after the five minutes; what do you think about? It’s okay, if you think about all the things you have to do, that’s your brain processing. That’s not a problem; let it do that. Let the thoughts come and go

Again, this is sort of a meditative experience. You’re just noticing what comes to mind. What works through your brain. What you realize. What you notice; that’s normal. So, start with five minutes, evaluate how you feel afterwards. And then, do this every day; five minutes every day.

Increase it a minute each week. So, seven days of five minutes, then seven days of six minutes, seven days of seven, all the way until you can get to 20. I think 20 is a really great number. If you can do more than that amazing. But 20 is going to give you that restorative benefit, like that catnap I talked about.

Now, if you’re bored at first, that’s okay. It’s okay to be bored. We bend over backwards and do, what I call backward handsprings, to avoid being bored nowadays. It gets us into a lot of trouble. A lot of our bad habits and coping mechanisms come as a result of our unwillingness to feel bored. In a world of constant entertainment. We need to be able to put the world on mute, and process everything. We need to be able to be alone with ourselves and in relationship with ourselves.

So, if you struggle with this, you want to build the skill set. And for your own sake, I want you to know, if you have an inability to be alone with yourself, ask yourself, “Why?” If you don’t like resting and the sweetness of doing nothing; why not? What is it that you don’t like? Get really specific here. You want to gain this understanding about yourself.

And then lastly, how do you need to think about being with yourself, to feel differently about it, so that you’ll do it? What benefits might you get from this practice of resting? Explore it and find out for yourself. Report back. Let me know how this goes. I would love to hear about it.

Alright. That’s our show. 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 16: Following Through and Being Consistent (Part 2)

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Following Through and Being Consistent (Part 2)

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Following Through and Being Consistent (Part 2)

Last week, we talked about being consistent, and I gave you a repeatable process to practice to become someone who follows through every time. Now you have the how-to, I’m offering you some tips to help you speed up your success in building the skillset of consistency, the common obstacles that you can expect while learning how to follow through, and how to overcome them.

This is going to require you to be honest with yourself and get super clear and constrained around what you’re committing to and following through on. This is important because once you know you’re going to follow through on everything, the need to be selective with your energy and focus grows, otherwise, burnout won’t be far behind.

Tune in this week as we continue our discussion around following through and being consistent. I’m showing you how to define consistency for yourself, how to be discerning and decide what you want to commit to, and how to define what this process is going to look like for you specifically.

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:

  • The importance of constraint when it comes to your commitments.
  • Why you should never commit to anything you don’t actually want to do.
  • How to decide specifically what you’re aiming for and what consistency looks like for you, so you can measure your success.
  • The common thought errors I come across when helping clients with their consistency.
  • Why becoming consistent isn’t about being perfect.
  • How to speed up your ability to become consistent and keep things manageable when building the skill of following through.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 16. This week we’re picking up where we left off talking about Following Through and Being Consistent Part 2. 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.

Hey, my friends. How are we doing today? I hope you are awesome. I am awesome, right now. I’m getting so excited. The live event for the mastermind, The Less Stressed Lawyer mastermind, is right around the corner.

I’m just in the process, over here, getting the last-minute plans in place. I’ve ordered the swag and waiting for it to arrive; I can’t wait to see it. I’ve got the menus picked out for the two incredible dinners I’m hosting. I’m putting all of the finishing touches on the live event. And I can’t wait to see it all come together.

I can’t wait to meet everyone that’s coming, in person. I have a couple former clients that are in this round of the mastermind. And then a lot of the people who are in this round, are also new clients of mine. So, I’m so excited to meet all of them. Whether they’re returning to work with me in a group setting, or if it’s the first time I get to work with these masterminders, I can’t wait.

We are going to get to work. There’s two full days of training. We’re going to cover all the things; really get them to the place where they’re able to reverse engineer their own goals, see the roadmap forward to create the results, and identify some of the obstacles that have been holding them back and getting in their way, and implement strategies to overcome them. So, I can’t wait.

I hope you have something going on in your life that you’re equally excited about, and that you’re equally looking forward to, like I am with this. If you do have something like that, I just want to offer you this; just relish that feeling, just for a second. Isn’t anticipation awesome?

I used to work in a cigar bar, years ago, as a bartender. One of the owners of that cigar bar, he used to say that anticipation is half the fun. And, if I’m being honest, he was talking about something a little bit more risqué. But I think that concept applies to so many different aspects of our lives.

Anticipation is half the fun. So, when you experience it, savor it, savor that anticipation. Sometimes we can be so excited to get to our destination that we rush past the other fun parts, like that anticipation. So, don’t rush past it. Really notice it, relish it, enjoy it, take it all in if there’s something that’s coming up for you that you’re excited about, that you’re really looking forward to.

Alright, speaking of things that we’re looking forward to, I know you’re excited to hear about part two of following through and being consistent. So, let’s get down to business. In the last episode I talked about following through and being consistent, and I laid out a repeatable process that you can follow to practice following through.

If you struggle with following through, if you’re not someone who thinks that they’re good at it, and you tend to stumble or struggle, but you want to become someone who consistently does follow through, you want to go back. Make sure you listen to part one of this two-part episode so you can start to implement those strategies that I talked about.

Just to highlight them again, briefly here. Here’s what I told you to do: First, you’re going to want to commit to building the skill set, not only for what following through provides you result-wise, but also for the sake of simply being someone who follows through. You have to commit to being someone who’s committed to following through.

Next, I talked about cultivating the follow-through mindset that you want to have. Instead of telling yourself that you’re bad at it, you want to find better thoughts to practice when it comes to following through: You can think that you’re working at it, you’re learning how to follow through, sometimes you follow-through. Finding a different thought, even if it’s just slightly better than what you’re telling yourself right now about your ability to follow through, it’s really going to make a big difference in how you approach practicing following through.

Then, I told you to pick one task to complete or one habit to build. You want to make it small and simple. If you have to, set a minimum baseline, and have it be repeatable, so you can get those reps in and build the muscle of following through over and over and over again. The more often you get to do it, The more at bats you have, the faster you will build this skill of being someone who follows through.

Then, I talked to you about gamifying this process a bit, by creating a new reward system. I use marbles in a jar, but you can use glass beads, anything that allows you to get that visual. Instead of having a reward system from not doing the task that you committed to, you start to replace it with a new reward system. Every time you complete the task, that you promised yourself you would do, you add an object to the jar. It switches the dopamine that gets released from avoiding it, to following through with it.

Then, it just comes down to taking action. So that’s the next step. You’re going to do the thing that you said you were going to do, when you say you’re going to do it, regardless of the discomfort. And then, each week, I want you to evaluate your progress. You’re going to act, then you’re going to audit, and then you’re going to adapt. Go through and figure out what didn’t work; what you’re going to do differently through that evaluation process.

Alright, so that’s the 50,000-foot view of the follow-through process that I walked you through last week.

Now today, I want to talk about a few more important aspects that are relevant to following through. Specifically, I want to offer you some tips that will help you speed up the success you have with building this skill set. And, I also want to discuss some common obstacles that come up for people when they’re learning how to follow through, and how you can overcome them.

My first tip is to practice constraint. Be really honest with yourself about the lift that the commitment that you’re making requires. I know I mentioned this, when I told you to pick one task or habit at a time and focus on that one thing when it comes to following through. But in addition to practicing following through, I want you to just practice constraint generally here, with what you commit to.

I’m super honest with how heavy of a lift each commitment I make is likely to be. So, I don’t take on a ton of stuff. I’m very selective about the commitments I make; I practice constraint. And it’s because I know I’m going to follow through. And I know what following through requires of me; I know what it takes to do that. I don’t ever underestimate the investment of time, energy, mental focus, any of it. I accurately understand what is going to be required; how heavy of a lift it’s going to be with all of those resources. So, I’m very selective with what I choose to commit to.

I want you to do the same thing. Practice constraint; more isn’t better, here. More is just more. You want to be selective. Pick the things that will really make an impact. And start small, don’t try, and do all of the things.

Another tip, if you’re picking a repeatable task to practice the skill set of following through, and it’s something that you want to be consistent with, I want you to define what you mean by consistent. That definition is going to be different for everyone. You need to know what you’re aiming for specifically, so you can measure your success.

Also, when you define consistent, it helps you reduce the amount of negotiating that you do with yourself. So, think about this, if you’re like, “I want to exercise consistently,” what does that mean to you? We want to come up with a definition of the frequency, the parameters, how often, for how long. How do you define consistency in this context?

For me, this also comes up a ton with posting on social media. I defined showing up consistently, on social media, as about four times a week on average, for me. Now, I don’t pick the specific days that I’m going to post. I have some trends that I tend to stick to, just because I know what works for my audience and how the algorithms respond to me. But outside of that, I’m not perfect. So, if I say four times a week, and I miss some of the days that I normally post, I just know the back half of my week is going to be a little bit more content heavy than it might normally be.

You can do the same thing with exercising. Or, you can say, “I’m going to define consistent as every day, or once a week.” You get to define consistency; what it means for you. But I want you to define it. So, you’re not negotiating with yourself, so you know what you are committing to, and what you need to follow through with, as you’re practicing the art of following through.

Okay, another tip here is don’t pick something to commit to that you don’t actually want to do. I know that seems really intuitive, and probably obvious, but I watch people pick commitments that go outside of their preference all the time. So, think of it this way. Think about waking up early.

I used to do this too, back when I practiced law, especially when I worked in big law, I would tell myself, “I’m going to wake up at 5am. Successful people always say they’re waking up at 5am.” And thank goodness, I fell into a crowd and a community of people that really broke that limiting belief for me. And now, I know you don’t have to wake up at 5am in order to be very successful.

That was something that I would “commit” to because I never followed through with it. I said that I wanted to do it, and that I would do it, and then I never stuck to that plan. It’s because I don’t want to wake up at 5am. It’s really that simple. It’s not my preference to wake up that early.

I used to either wake up at midnight, and then I’d work from midnight until 7am, and then get ready for work, which I do not recommend. That’s when I was really caught up in hustle culture and had some really unhealthy habits around overworking. Or, I’d wake up at 7:38 am. Five a.m. was just a no-go for me; it is truly not my preference.

Even when I started building this business, I would tell myself, “Let’s wake up at 6am. Let’s get the day started. Let’s get a head start on what you want to do, what you want to accomplish. That’s what it’s gonna take to be successful.” And then, I would set my alarm, and every single day, I would hit snooze. I wasn’t following through on the commitment that I had said that I was making, about what time I was going to wake up. It’s because I don’t want to wake up at 6am, either.

So, instead of continuing to force myself to work to wake up, at a time that I don’t want to, and then miss the mark and beat myself up about it, I just decided to commit to something that is actually aligned with my preferences. Now, I wake up at the time I actually want to wake up, which for me is about eight o’clock; between 8am and 8:30am. I like that. Every once in a while, I wake up a little earlier, but that’s pretty much my average. It’s my preference, I plan my day around it; it works for me.

Other things that I see people commit to, that they don’t really want to follow through with and then they really struggle to follow through: Dieting, exercising, drinking water, things like that. Or, people will pick things that they think they should commit to, but they don’t actually care about. Like, staying on top of laundry or having a clean sink.

Whether you don’t actually want to do it, or you don’t care about doing it, don’t pick those things to practice the art of following through with. I also want to highlight here; you want to be on to yourself. There’s a big difference between wanting to do something and wanting to want to do something.

So, you might want to want to exercise every day, or you might want to want to lose weight, but you don’t actually want to. Because wanting to lose weight, actually losing weight, would look like eating at a calorie deficit, or maybe cutting out some of the foods that aren’t supporting your weight loss.

Maybe you want to want to work out every day. But truly wanting to work out every day, would look like working out every day. So, catch the distinction there. Do you want to do the thing that you’re committing to? Or, do you want to want to do it? Either because you think you should, or it would be nice in a perfect world, whatever the case may be.

Also, “should” as your reason, isn’t a good enough reason for committing to something. It’s never coming from a positive place. “Should” is really unmotivating; normally makes us feel badly about ourselves, very discouraged, frustrated, disappointed with ourselves, or guilty. So, “should-ing” on yourself is not going to get you to follow through. Find a better reason for making whatever commitment that you make. Don’t let “should” be the only reason that you pick something for commitment.

Now, I want to talk about how your perfectionism tends to make an appearance and prevent you from following through. You may know you’re a perfectionist, so some of the things I’m about to explain might seem obvious to you. But many of my clients, sometimes, don’t realize these habits are subtle ways that their perfectionism is showing up in their lives and sabotaging their success when it comes to following through.

So, let’s talk about it. How is your perfectionism preventing you from following through? One of the ways this comes up is, you want to start with the biggest, most meaningful commitment first. I see this all the time; people will want to pick the biggest task or challenge that they encounter throughout their workday. And when you start with something really big, it’s going to be a heavy lift. So, it’s going to require more discipline, more commitment, more discomfort allowance.

You’re going to have to gag-and-go through all the discomfort that’s going to come up for you. And it’s going to probably require more of your time, more of your focus, all of it. And because it’s going to require more of all of those assets I just mentioned, it’s going to be harder for you to follow through. So, that’s a no. You don’t want to start with the biggest, most meaningful thing first. It’s simply just going to be too heavy of a lift, if you haven’t built the skill set of following through.

Think about lifting weights at the gym; if you never work out, you can’t start by lifting 300 pounds. It’s not going to work. You won’t follow through with it. It’s going to be too heavy. And then, what you’re going to do, is tell yourself that you’re bad at lifting weights, when you aren’t. And, you wouldn’t be if you started small, built muscle, and eventually worked your way up to the heavier weights.

The same thing is true with practicing the art of following through; you don’t want to start with the biggest thing, first. You want to start small, with the lighter weights, with the lighter lifts, the smaller commitments that require less of you. And then, build that muscle, get those reps in, practice. You’ll work your way up to the heavier lifts, being able to tackle those bigger projects, those bigger tasks.

I get that you want to make the most progress, that’s why you want to start with the biggest thing, first. But it’s a thought error to think that the way that you make the most progress, is by starting with the biggest thing first. It’s not; that will actually slow you down because you’re not going to get anywhere, fast. You’re probably going to get discouraged. And then you’re going to quit. So, small, and steady wins the race here. Remember that.

Another way I see perfectionism pop up, when it comes to practicing following through, is people will start over from zero. If they start taking action, practicing following through, getting that repeatable task in every day, those reps, and you miss a day. People will want to have a perfectly clean record, so they say that it doesn’t count, the progress that they’ve made thus far, and they start over from zero. That’s a no, ma’am. I want you to not do that. Resist the temptation to restart the clock.

What happens when you start off from zero, even though you think that that serving you, it’s not. Because, cue the discouragement… When you are counting those marbles in a jar, or keeping track of your progress, and then you decide, just because you slipped once or twice, or let’s be honest, even a couple more times than that, you think that you need to start over from zero and go at it from a fresh clean slate, you’re really not going to be motivated. You’re going to be discouraged to keep going. So, you want to resist the urge to start from scratch, it doesn’t serve you.

I also see people, rather than starting over from zero, they’ll just quit altogether because of an imperfect track record. That’s definitely your perfectionism making an appearance here. And you want to resist the temptation to throw in the towel, to quit, just because you’ve taken imperfect action.

This happened to me recently. Every Friday I send an email to my email list. It’s content that I don’t share anywhere else, on any social media platform. So, if you’re not on that list, you want to make sure that you’re on it. If you go to the link of my bio on Instagram, you can get on that list. But anyways, I send out this email every Friday at 6pm Eastern. And it’s just a little dose of inspiration straight to your inbox. It’s just a thought that comes to me throughout the week. And then, I send it out, kind of like a little love note to guys.

I decided a long time ago, almost a year ago I guess, that I was going to do this consistently. Now, I defined consistently, which means every week and then, I decided at what time I was going to do it, by 6pm on Fridays. When I first made the decision to make this commitment, it was a little clunky in the beginning. I wasn’t used to following through with this new task yet. So, I did it imperfectly, and then I evaluated; I figured out what was working, what wasn’t working.

I started to get in the swing of things and really hit my stride when it came to drafting and sending out these emails each week. Throughout the past year there have been, I don’t know, less than five times where I’ve missed the mark. I just haven’t sent the email out like I planned to. Typically, what I find, is that it’s when I’m traveling either for work or for pleasure. But this hasn’t happened at all recently.

I’ve been really good about it, I’ve been really consistent, I’ve been following through. Until May, when I had two back-to-back Fridays where I was traveling; I spoke in Connecticut at a CLE, and then I went up north for Memorial Day weekend with friends. Both Fridays, it didn’t dawn on me until about 4:30pm, that I hadn’t written an email yet.

I was already engrossed in my schedule for the day, and I didn’t want to take the fifteen to thirty minutes, that it would have taken me, to stop what I was doing, go draft the email, set it up in MailChimp, and make sure it scheduled to send out at 6pm. So, I made the executive decision in that moment, that I was going to purposely miss sending out an email on Friday at 6pm.

Now, I liked my reason for making that decision at the time. But that being said, this is a commitment I made to myself, so I evaluated; “Why am I missing two weeks, back-to-back? What’s going on?” Again, it’s because I wasn’t putting it on my calendar. I wasn’t planning for it, and how that would work with traveling. I just have to plan better next time.

So, I’ll either make sure the email is written and scheduled, before I leave. Or, I’m going to make sure that I have a calendar reminder and event created so I know to see it earlier on my Friday, which is normally when I write the emails. That way, I’m not getting into my schedule already out the door; attending events, and whatnot, where I’m not willing to pump the brakes, take time out of what I’m already doing, to go write that email late in the afternoon or early evening, before 6pm.

So, I did the evaluation, and I’m going to implement it going forward. I didn’t say, “You know what? I missed two weeks. I must suck at writing Friday emails, I should quit. I’ll never be good at this.” I didn’t say any of that. Instead, I allowed myself to be imperfect. Sometimes A-/ B+ work looks like being a little inconsistent.

You can solve for it and implement your strategies to prevent things from happening again. I didn’t make that a good enough reason to not keep showing up. And sure enough, I’ve been sending out emails on Fridays since I got back from those two trips. So, I’m back on the consistency bandwagon. And I didn’t give myself that opportunity to quit just because I didn’t do it perfectly.

When you commit to whatever the task or habit is that you’re going to practice following through with, I want you to make a decision ahead of time, and plan for what you’re going to do when you happen to take imperfect action. Instead of quitting, instead of starting from zero, what are you going to do?

This came up recently in a client session, we were talking about following through with entering billable time every day. My client had been traveling for work, and she had been on a pretty good run of consistently entering time before she went on the work trip. But when she came back, she had time from while she was out of the office traveling, that she hadn’t entered.

So, come Monday morning, back in the office or work from home office, but you get what I’m saying, she started to have mind drama about not having been perfect the previous week. She still had time from the last week that needed to be entered, and she started to spin out about it.

In her mind, the perfectionism wanted her to enter all of last week’s time before she could enter any of Monday’s time, for that new week that she was just starting out with. If she skipped the previous week’s time, it felt imperfect, it felt messy. She wanted it to all be in, sequentially.

Again, that’s perfectionism popping up, big time. You want to make a plan for what you do when you miss a day or two of entering that time consistently, at the end of every day. So, you can tell yourself, “I’m going to always take the time and put in last week’s time, first. Because, I’m going to have so much mind drama about skipping it and just starting with today, that I’m going to get in my own way.”

What she would tend to do, is not enter last week’s time, and then also not enter Monday’s time, because of her perfectionism. So, if that’s you, either make the executive decision to enter last week’s time and keep the system going, or decide ahead of time, you’ll get to last week’s time when you get to it.

You’re going to start where you are, at that moment in time, and work forward. That’s probably what I would suggest, even though it might be a little bit more uncomfortable if your perfectionism is really coming in strong. I think it is the lightest lift, as far as taking imperfect action and just moving forward, rather than having to devote time, mental energy, resources to focus on last week, instead.

Perfectionism also shows up when people don’t get started, so they don’t have to be inconsistent. They’ll make the plan, but then they never actually implement the plan. They’ll “decide” to commit to following through, but then they never do anything to honor that commitment.

So long as they don’t get started, they can’t be inconsistent. They can’t do a bad job. They can’t be imperfect. They can’t be fallible. You want to resist the urge to avoid getting started. Gag-and-go through the discomfort of doing A-/ B+ or even less than that, kind of work.

People will also refuse to evaluate because they don’t want to see their imperfections or their inconsistency. That’s also a big, no. Evaluating is so important here. You want to make sure you’re going through what worked, what didn’t work, and what you’ll do differently in order to keep tweaking, keep learning, keep growing and keep improving. Don’t let your perfectionism prevent you from making progress faster through evaluations.

People will also not keep track of their progress, because they don’t want to see the imperfect action that they’re taking. You want to keep track of your progress, especially if you have that reward system that’s really associated with avoiding following through, rather than with following through. Keep track of your progress. You want that visual, so you get the dopamine hit from following through, rather than your avoidant behavior.

People will also not set a minimum baseline goal, because they think it’s not impactful enough. This is kind of like the one I mentioned earlier, where you want to start with the biggest thing. I will suggest to people that they pick a minimum baseline because you want to practice the skill of following through and establishing trust with yourself.

Not because you want to get the results that comes from completing the minimum baseline task. You’re not going to lose 50 pounds from walking five minutes a day; I get that. The point isn’t to lose weight, the point is to commit to following through with daily physical activity, no matter how big or small.

The smaller your minimum baseline goal is, the easier it’s going to be to follow through, the less resistance you’re going to have to doing that task, when it comes time to do it.

Perfectionism will also appear when people commit to doing too much, all at the same time. I see this very frequently with clients. When I tell them to pick just one thing to practice following through, and building that skill set, they want to argue with me. They want to say, “Yeah, but can I have like, three or four? But they’re really small, can I just have half a dozen? I promise I’ll stick to them,” and then they don’t, because it’s too much, all at the same time. Pick one, get it dialed in, and then you can add another one.

Perfectionism also pops up when you use the word “failure,” or that you failed, or that you’re failing. It’s my least favorite F word, of all time. So, be on to yourself. Do you have a pretty strong attachment to that word? And do you weaponize it against yourself? If you do, that’s your perfectionism making an appearance.

I just want to offer you this, I will do a whole episode on this because it’s one of my favorite topics to talk about, but you can only fail at something if you quit. If you take quitting off the table, and you decide to stick with the commitment, and building the skill of following through, no matter what.

No matter how imperfect you have to do it, or for how long you need to do it. No matter how messy it is. No matter how long it takes. If you commit to following through, and learning how to be someone who is committed to the commitments that they make, you cannot fail.

Failure requires an end point from which you measure. So, if you take quitting off the table, and you decide to stick with this, no matter what, you will eliminate the possibility of failing. Instead, you’re always simply just winning or learning. If the F word pops up, you want to eliminate it from your vocabulary.

I mentioned earlier that quitting is normally your perfectionism popping up. You quit because you’re unwilling to feel the discomfort that is associated with continuing to take action, while you’re feeling badly about your progress. You have to feel discouraged and continue to take action. You have to feel frustrated, or disappointed, or defeated, or confused, and continue to take action; that’s quite uncomfortable. It’s more comfortable to quit and jump to something else.

I used to do this a lot, when I was younger, especially with different business ideas that I had. I would jump because I wouldn’t want to sit in the discomfort when I didn’t get the immediate results that I wanted, that instant gratification when my expectations went on met.

So, understand your reasons for quitting. You never want to quit to avoid, or as a reaction to a negative emotion. If you’re going to quit something, you want to like your reasons for doing it. So, you always want to check in that you’re not quitting as an avoidant tactic. You’re quitting from a clean space.

That’s not to say that you can’t quit things ever, you can you just want to make sure that you know and like your reasons for doing so. Maybe it doesn’t serve you anymore. Maybe your interests aren’t aligned with a specific commitment anymore.

Let’s say you make a commitment to be someone who runs, and you run consistently every day. And then you sustain an injury, or the wear and tear on your body starts to make it really uncomfortable. You might like your reasons for changing the habit, or for quitting and doing something else instead.

That’s a lot different than quitting, because you tried to be consistent every day, and go for a mile long run, and you just couldn’t bring yourself to stick to that program. So, you quit because you’re frustrated, and discouraged, and disappointed with yourself. One is the clean quitting decision; the other is not.

I also see perfectionism pop up, when people change the commitment too fast, rather than sticking with it and practicing, and working on building that skill set of following through, they decide that they picked the wrong goal. Then, they switch it. They do that in order to avoid seeing their inconsistencies, seeing their imperfections, feeling like they’re missing the mark, not doing that perfect job.

If you keep changing the goal then you, basically, keep restarting the clock but in a little bit of a different way than what I explained earlier. You keep changing the goal, switching to something else, before you’ve really given yourself the time and the opportunity to build the skill set, of building that habit, and following through with that commitment. So, don’t do that.

I think you should pick a specific amount of time that you’re willing to commit to something, and then evaluate at the end of it. I love 90 days here; I think you can do six months. Pick a significant amount of time and obviously significance of judgment, it’s arbitrary, that’s going to be different for everyone. But pick a significant amount of time where you commit to not changing it.

I do this in business coaching, when I teach people to pick the same goal or pick the same offer to market and learn how to sell, rather than constantly changing what they sell and then never being good at selling any of it, or marketing any of it.

Same thing goes with building skill sets, and following through, and establishing habits. You want to pick one thing and stick with it, for a predetermined amount of time, so you’re not habit hopping or goal swapping. That’s not going to serve you, you want to stick with one thing.

And just quickly, I want to go over a couple more obstacles that people encounter, when it comes to following through and being consistent. A big one, and I did a poll on social media about this too, to see what people in my audience encountered as obstacles, when it comes to following through on their commitments.

A consistent one, that came up in the answers, was that they have a hard time following through when they’re tired, or they don’t feel like it. With love, I want to offer you; do it tired. So, what if you’re tired?

I want to make sure I underscore, I’m not asking you to sacrifice your health, for the sake of following through on a commitment. I’m not advocating for hustle culture here. But what I do teach my clients to do, is rate how exhausted you are on a scale of one to ten tired, okay? One being you have as much energy as the Energizer Bunny, and ten being you couldn’t bring yourself to possibly get up off the couch and function, no matter what.

Then ask yourself, so you have that scale; rate your level of tired. And then, decide ahead of time, if you’re below a certain number you’ll just go do the thing that you don’t feel like doing. You’ll complete the task anyways.

I like to think about this when I’m going through and rating on a scale; am I Oprah tired, or Tony Robbins tired? And what I mean by that is, if someone that you really look up to, that you really idolize, called you on the phone… For me, it would be Oprah, or Tony Robbins would be a big one. And they said, “Hey, Olivia, I know you’re exhausted. But I’m gonna pick you up in thirty minutes. You just have to be packed, and out front, ready for me to scoop you up. See you outside?”

Am I tired enough to turn them down? The answer, almost 100% of the time, is going to be no. I’m not tired enough to turn them down. I’m not Oprah tired, or Tony tired. I am going to dig into my energy reserves, get up off the sofa, even though I feel exhausted. I’m gonna go pack a bag, and I’m gonna be outside in like, twenty-eight minutes, so I don’t miss getting scooped up.

So, pick your number; maybe it’s an eight on the tired scale, maybe it’s a six. You get to decide what it is. You want to have a scale and a rating ahead of time, so that if you’re underneath it you just decide to follow through. That’s how you know that you’re either being indulgent or not being indulgent, when it comes to not doing something based on how tired you are.

Also, I want to offer you; you’re perfectly capable of doing things tired. Especially for any parents who are listening, you do things tired all the time. Law students do this, as well. We do it with work all the time. We do things even when we’re tired. So, this is the same skill set. Follow through, even though you’re tired. Even though you don’t feel like it.

If you’ve decided that you’re going to enter your time in, before you go to bed every night, and you find yourself curled up under the covers, and your time’s not in… Even though you’re tired and you really don’t feel like it, I want you to get up from under the covers, and walk across the hallway into your office, where your computer is, and put in your time. I get that you don’t want to. But that’s what following through on your commitment really looks like.

Another obstacle that I see, is with how people talk to themselves. If you beat yourself up while you practice building the skill set of following through, I promise you, it will not go well. Negative self-talk is not going to create a positive result ever, ever, ever. So, you have to be your own best friend here.

You have to be kind to yourself, encourage yourself, hype yourself up, focus on what’s working, in addition to identifying what’s not working. Be a friend to yourself here. It is easy to buy into the lie that you need to beat yourself up in order to do better, but that does not work. I’ve talked about that in previous episodes.

You want to make sure that you are not sabotaging your success in this department, by saying really nasty things to yourself. Speak to yourself kindly.

Another obstacle that people mentioned when I polled my audience about where they struggle, or why they struggle with following through, is that they commonly put other people first. If that’s you, I want you to ask yourself; why?

Chances are you think it’s selfish for you to put yourself before others, or you feel guilty doing so, or maybe you feel afraid to do so. If that’s the case, and it’s the reason that you’re not following through on commitments that you’ve made to yourself, you’re going to want to allow yourself to experience those negative emotions and follow through. In spite of and despite them, gag-and-go, like I always tell you.

Those negative emotions aren’t a good enough reason for you to not follow through on the commitment that you made to yourself. You can follow through and feel those negative feelings. They won’t kill you; I promise.

Also, this doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation. You can tend to other people, if you want to, it’s never required. But if you want to, you can. And you can follow through on the commitments you make to yourself. You just need to make sure that the math works out. That boils down to a math problem.

Time is finite, you get to spend it like an allowance, however you choose. Just make sure that if you’re committing to do something for other people and making a commitment to yourself, you’re not double-booking yourself, or trying to fit ten pounds of potatoes into a five-pound sack. Or, ten hours of commitments into a five-hour time span. You’re fitting ten in ten. You want to make sure that the math works out.

And last but not least, I see people tell themselves this all the time, when it comes to following through, and it’s one of the thoughts that gets in their way and prevents them from making any progress in this area. It’s that they tell themselves that there’s something inherently wrong with them, and that’s why they can’t follow through. That’s why they can’t stick, and stay committed to what they’ve committed to. It’s just an inherent flaw. There’s something wrong with them.

That is such a convenient excuse that your primitive brain serves up to you, but it’s total BS, okay? There’s nothing inherently wrong with you. All that’s happening is you’re thinking a negative thought, that’s causing you to feel a negative feeling, and causing you to take negative action or no action, and it’s producing a negative result. Or, you’re currently experiencing, or you anticipate that you’ll experience a negative emotion, and you’re unwilling to feel that negative feeling. And so, you don’t follow through as a result. As a way to avoid or a reaction to that negative emotion.

The only difference between you and people who follow through, and take consistent action, is that they think different thoughts than you think. Or, they’re willing to feel negative emotions that you’re unwilling to feel. That’s the only difference between the people that follow through and the ones that don’t.

The good news is that you can generate those thoughts. You can even ask people, who you think are good at following through, what they think about certain commitments, and you can borrow those thoughts. That’s one way to go about it. You can also identify the specific emotions. You’re going to have to be willing to feel, and make a deal with yourself ahead of time, that you’re willing to feel them and take action, in spite of and despite them.

Alright, that’s what I’ve got for you this week. You now have everything you need to know, in order to practice the art of following through, and build the skill set of being someone who takes consistent action. We went through the specific process you need to follow. And now, you know all the obstacles to be on the lookout for, and how to overcome them, what to do instead.

With that, I want you to go out there and practice being someone who’s committed to commitment. Practice being someone who follows through. You guys have got this.

Talk to you in the next episode. Have a great 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 15: Following Through and Being Consistent (Part 1)

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Following Through and Being Consistent (Part 1)

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Following Through and Being Consistent (Part 1)

A lot of my clients come to me wanting to get better at following through and being consistent. It’s an area so many people struggle with, so I’m sure, if you’re listening, you can relate. Now, there is one simple solution: you plan what you’re going to do, and you just do it, regardless of whether you feel like it or not. While that is a simple solution, implementing it isn’t exactly easy.

I’ve been thinking of an easier-to-digest way to explain how to build the skillset of following through and becoming someone who honors the commitments they make consistently, and I’m sharing it with you in this episode.

Tune in this week to discover how to follow through and be consistent. I’m sharing the emotional experience that makes following through a challenge for so many people, how I uncovered my own reasons for not following through, and a simple reframe for you that will make following through and being consistent exponentially easier.

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:

  • An exchange I had with a client recently that set me on the path of bringing you an easier way to follow through and be consistent.
  • Why so many people (including myself for many years) find following through so difficult.
  • How to see what you’re telling yourself that’s currently stopping you from being consistent and following through every time.
  • What changes when you become a consistent person who follows through and keeps their commitments.
  • What I’ve done to reverse-engineer my process for becoming consistent and how to repeat this process with ease.
  • Where to look to see the ways that you already follow through on your commitments.
  • How to become someone who follows through and develop trust in yourself to keep your commitments every time.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 15. Today, we’re talking all about Following Through and Being Consistent. 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.

Hey there. How’s it going? I hope this episode finds you well.

I just had a former client of mine mention that she listened to last week’s episode while she went on her walk. That I went, basically, along for her walk with her, while she was in the park with her dog.

It got me thinking that I get to come along with all of you, however, and whenever, or wherever you’re listening to this episode. So, whether you’re on a walk, or driving to work, whatever it is, I’m glad I get to come along with you for a half an hour or so.

It’s just so fun for me to think about; instead of Where’s Waldo? it’s like Where’s Olivia? all over the country, or maybe even the world. I know I have some international listeners that tune in, as well. So, you guys should post, and share, and tag me on social media. If you’d do that, because I’d love to see what you’re doing while you’re listening.

Speaking of listeners, before I dive into today’s topic, which I’m so excited to talk to you about, I want to say thank you and shout out one of the listeners who took the time to leave me an amazing review. Today, I want to spotlight Sarah Thomas’s review. In it she said. “She (Olivia) is a wealth of knowledge and knows exactly how to explain her wisdom to her listeners. She makes it make sense.”

Sara, I love it. That’s absolutely my goal to make it make sense. So, I just wanted to say thank you. I’m so appreciative. You took the time to share your thoughts with me, and that you’re really enjoying the podcast.

If you’re listening and you’re loving the podcast, do me a favor… Quick rule of three, for all the lawyers who like rules of three. Number one, subscribe, if you haven’t already. That’s easy-peasy, go ahead and do that.

Number two, I would love it if you left me a rating and review. Tell me what you think. Tell me what’s been resonating with you, some takeaways that you’ve had, what have you been getting out of listening.

And, number three, do me a favor and share this episode, or another episode that you’ve loved, with a friend. Chances are, if you’re a lawyer who’s listening, you have some lawyer friends in your network, and they might benefit if you share this knowledge with them. So, I would greatly appreciate that, if you did it. Thank you so much, in advance.

Now without further ado, let’s talk about today’s topic. Today we’re talking about following through and being consistent. And, let me just say, this is a really popular topic that I coach on. A lot of my clients struggle with being consistent and following through. It comes up repetitively throughout my week, during different coaching sessions with my clients. People tend to really have a hard time with this concept. So, I’m really excited to talk about it today, because I think it’s going to help a lot of people.

Now, I’m going to dive in deep and teach you everything I know about following through. Before I give you some guidance on it, though, I want to give you some backstory. You guys know, I’ve said this already, I love a good backstory.

Today’s episode is actually inspired by a recent exchange I had with a client. We were talking about following through with scheduling, specifically time entry, but also a couple other things that we’ve been working on together as far as planning the day and managing time. This client really struggles with procrastination. As we were having this conversation, we were talking about following through and how you follow through.

The simple, unsexy answer of how do you follow through, is you plan what you’re going to do, and then when it comes time to do it, you just do it. Regardless of whether you feel like it or not, regardless of whether it’s comfortable, you just follow through. But during this exchange, she asked me, “But how? Break it down for me more simply, more specifically, more like step-by-step instructions.”

So, I’ve been thinking about a better way to explain following through, and how you build the skill set of following through, and becoming someone who honors the commitments they make; both to other people and to yourself. In fact, if I’m being honest, since I’ve had this exchange with this client, I’ve been obsessing over this question.

Really thinking about it, kind of nonstop, outside of my coaching sessions and the marketing work I do for my business. But when I haven’t been working in my business, I’ve been thinking about this question and going through all the different ways that I can break it down, simplify it, and explain it in an easier way. Because I want to make it more digestible, so we can make building the skill set of following through foolproof. Okay?

Now, confession time, I haven’t always been good at this myself. If I’m being really honest, I was always way better at following through with commitments I made to other people, versus the ones that I made to myself. And I think that’s true for a lot of my clients, and probably a lot of the people listening to this episode.

Then, as I started to encounter overwhelm, and burnout, in one of my past jobs, I struggled more and more with following through. Regardless of whether it was for myself or for commitments that I had made to other people, I just struggled with it. I suffered more and more with discomfort avoidance and comfort entitlement. And if those two concepts aren’t super familiar to you go back and listen to episode four. I also referenced it a little bit in episode three, as well.

Now, since this time that I’ve struggled with discomfort avoidance and comfort entitlement, while I was going through this overwhelm and burnout stage, and struggling with following through on the commitments that I made, a lot’s changed since then.

Through coaching and coming to understand why I wasn’t following through, which the reasons always boil down to essentially two things: The negative thoughts that I was thinking about the task at hand, about the commitment I had made. And the negative emotions that I was unwilling to feel that I associated with following through and completing that task.

Those two things, once I understood that those were the reasons I wasn’t following through, I then had the awareness that I needed, that I could then leverage to make a change, to really improve in this area, to become someone who follows through. So slowly, but surely, I did that. I became someone who follows through and honors their commitments. And it’s consistent; both with the commitments that I make to others, but even more importantly, with the commitments that I make to myself. I’m really good at honoring them now.

And that progress, that transformation, it really struck me and became apparent to me the other day, while I was driving. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before on the podcast, but I tend to drive in complete silence, which people kind of think I’m crazy for doing. But it’s because it gives me time to think about things like this.

Just like we get our best ideas in the shower, it’s because we’re not consuming something during that time. We give our brain a chance to process. So, I do the exact same thing typically. When I drive now, I drive in complete silence, so I can think about different questions and come up with some enlightened concept, or idea, or solution to a problem I’m encountering.

It hit me the other day, while I was driving, that I didn’t always identify or describe myself as someone who followed through on the commitments that they made. But I definitely describe myself and identify in that way now. And I was like, “Wow, a lot has changed over a pretty short amount of time.” I mean, that’s subjective, of course, but to become someone who struggles with it, and then feels like they don’t struggle with following through at all, over the course of a couple years of working on this, I feel like that’s really substantial, powerful progress.

Now, it can happen a lot faster than that, for sure, doesn’t have to take that long by any means. But I still think that’s pretty meaningful progress to go from someone who doesn’t identify that way to someone who does. So, I got to thinking if I’ve made that much progress, if I’ve gone from not the complete other end of the spectrum, but closer towards that side of not following through on the commitments that I make, to ending up on the other side of the spectrum, as identifying as someone who does follow through, then that much change is possible.

And, there’s probably a process that I followed whether it seems intuitive, or it was unconscious, that I’d be able to go through and work backwards. Ask myself; what steps, specifically, did I take so that I can reverse engineer how I got from one end of the spectrum to the other, so that I could make it a repeatable process that you can follow. So that’s what I’ve done.

That’s what I’m going to share with you today; a repeatable process that you can implement to become someone who follows through and shows up consistently.

Okay, step one, is that you need to commit to becoming a person who’s committed to following through. So, how do you do this? First, you need to figure out your “why.” Why is it important for you to become someone who follows through? To be someone who is consistent in the action that they take? I want you to be really specific here. You can pause this podcast episode it helps you think through that question. But definitely take a second to answer it.

What would be better about your life if you were able to follow through? What’s the value of following through and being consistent? What’s the impact that that would have? You have to want to follow through, not just for the result that it gets you, but also because you want to follow through for the sake of following through.

Because you value being a person who sticks to their commitments, who doesn’t flake, who doesn’t back out, who doesn’t quit before they get started. Following through is a way that you establish, and build, and maintain trust with yourself.

So, ask yourself, why is it important for you to be able to trust yourself? to have that relationship with yourself? You want to get really clear on your “why.” Once you get clear on it, then I want you to decide. Decide to commit to being committed. Decide that you want to commit to building the skill set of following through and being consistent.

This isn’t always going to be easy or comfortable as you start to build this skill set. So, you have to start from a place of commitment; decide to commit to this process. Now, once you’ve done that, that’s where the fun starts.

Okay, now for step two, we need to build your belief in your ability to follow through. So, I want you again, to take a second and ask yourself, what are you currently telling yourself about your ability to follow through? And you can think back to last week’s episode of the podcast, where I talked about the labels that you assign yourself.

Think for a moment. What labels have you assigned yourself when it comes to following through? Do you tell yourself that you’re bad at it? Do you tell yourself that you’re inconsistent? That you don’t follow through? Or, that you never follow through? That you’re flaky? That you’re unreliable? What labels are you assigning to yourself when it comes to the topic of following through?

Now, check in with yourself. If it’s negative, that mindset, that self-concept isn’t going to serve you or help you course-correct. It’s not going to get you to where you want to go, which is to become someone who really excels at following through. You can’t create that positive result from that negative thought process, from that negative mindset, right?

So, you have to start by telling yourself a different story, about yourself. Now, I don’t want you to lie, right? That’s not going to get you anywhere good, because you have to actually believe the story that you’re telling yourself. So, instead of lying and saying that you’re great at it, if you really aren’t, I want you to just be more accurate, become more of that truth teller that I talked about in the last episode.

It probably isn’t true that you’re “bad at following through, all of the time,” the truth probably falls somewhere closer to the middle. Sometimes you follow through, and sometimes you don’t, that’s probably a little bit more accurate. So, I want you to start searching for the evidence to support a different belief, a more positive belief, a more neutral belief that sometimes or frequently you do follow through.

Take an inventory; what are all the ways that you are currently following through? Find those examples in your life and use them to support your belief that you can follow through, that you’re capable of it, that you already do it some of the time. That’s going to get you moving in the right direction.

Maybe you can try on the thought, “If I can follow through on my commitments that I make to other people, I can learn to apply that same skill set to following through on the commitments I make to myself.” That might be a starting point for you; have a different way to think about following through and your ability to do it.

Or, you can try on the thought, “I’m learning to follow through. I’m becoming someone who follows through.” You want to be working your way across this thought spectrum to: I can follow through, I will follow through, I do follow through.

Some of those thoughts might be a little bit of a stretch for you. If they are. that’s okay. Pick the one that feels like the best fit. That’s the most positive on the spectrum. That you can actually latch on to. That you already have some belief in, and start there. That’s going to be better than the really negative thoughts of, “I never follow through. I’m terrible at following through.” You don’t want that to be the story that you’re telling yourself about your ability to follow through. Okay?

Now, once you’ve got the mindset, and you’ve started to build belief in your ability to follow through, we want to start practicing and building the skill set of following through. So, that brings me to step three, I want you to pick one task to practice building this skill set. Now, I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough, I said one task. When I say one, I mean one. Pick one habit at a time to focus on building.

Here’s the problem with committing to more than one at the same time. You overwhelm yourself. It’s too much change all at once. It’s too much to keep track of. It’s too many different things going on. So, you overwhelm yourself, and then you don’t follow through because there’s too many things that you need to follow through on. It requires too much focus, too much mental energy, too much stamina, too much discipline, and then you drop the ball, and then you start to feel discouraged, and you beat yourself up.

You start saying mean things to yourself. You start that negative self-talk in your head, and now, you’ve created more evidence that you’re bad at following through. So, what do you do? When you’re struggling, you use this against yourself, you get discouraged, and you quit. So, more is not better here. I can’t emphasize that enough. Pick one task to practice following through with.

And, once you’ve mastered the first one, then you can add another task, and make that a habit as well. You’re constantly just focusing on one task or habit at a time, practicing constraint this way. I promise you, constraint is key here, it will help you get so much further, so much faster.

Now, I have a couple more suggestions to guide you, as you go about picking this one task or habit to build. I want you to pick something small, that’s a really minimal lift, as far as effort’s concerned. Or, pick something with a minimum baseline. I’ll explain that concept, in a second.

Your perfectionism is going to want to make an appearance here, and have you aim really high, when it comes to picking this one thing. Alright? Be onto yourself. You’re probably going to slip into the habit of being overly optimistic about what you can commit to, and what you can accomplish. I want you to resist the temptation to indulge in that kind of perfectionism here.

Keep it small and simple to start. Like I said, if it’s too heavy of a lift, you’re not going to stick to it., Then you’re going to beat yourself up with that failure. I hate that word. But that’s probably what you’ll think of if you don’t follow through. And then you’re going to use that failure to feel terrible about yourself, and then you’re going to quit. So don’t do that.

When it comes to a minimum baseline, if you’re doing something consistently, and you could do it for five minutes or sixty minutes, something like that, you want to go with an amount that seems like a no-brainer, like an easy win.

So, I’m going to use the example of walking. If you wanted to build the habit of walking every day or working out every day, what’s an amount of time that you would absolutely, no matter what, be able to force yourself to do it? Maybe it’s just walking for five minutes, or ten minutes. Or, maybe it’s doing twenty squats.

It’s not about getting the return on your investment and seeing physical results. Again, this is about the commitment to following through, that’s what we’re focused on here. It’s about building trust with yourself. So, it’s much more important to pick something that you can stick to, that will be easy for you to follow through with.

Rather than picking something that’s a heavier lift, effort, attention span wise, time commitment wise. That’s going to be so much easier for you to make excuses about in that moment: That it’s too hard to do; that you don’t have the time; that you’re too tired; you don’t feel like it. All of those excuses. We want to pick a goal, a habit to build where it’s really hard to negotiate with yourself in that way.

So, a minimum baseline is the bare minimum that you’ll absolutely do. No matter whether you feel like it, whether you don’t, you’ll be able to follow through. It’s a small enough, a light enough lift, that you won’t have much resistance to it.

I also want to talk about frequency. When you’re picking your one thing, I want it to be something that you do every day, or almost every day, or it can be multiple times today. But I want it to be something where you can get a lot of reps in. If it’s only once a week, it’s going to be a hard to practice building the skill set of following through, because you just don’t get enough at bats.

So, we want something with a pretty high frequency. The more you practice this habit, the more chances you have to do it and to follow through, the faster it will become a habit and you’ll be able to move on to something else, because you’ve mastered this one. It also gives you a lot of practice at becoming someone who follows through and is consistent. So, pick something with a pretty high frequency.

I wanted to list out a couple examples for you, just to get those gears turning. A really good example of this that I’ve been working on with a couple of my clients right now, is entering your time daily. That’s such a pain point for so many people that I work with. If you struggle with that, that’s a great thing to pick.

You can also do working out. I have a couple of clients right now, that have a minimum baseline of an amount of time that they’ll walk each day; it’s like ten minutes, fifteen minutes, every single day. So again, it’s getting that frequency in. And, it’s not that much time to where you’ll force yourself to put your tennis shoes on, and get out of your house, and go for a walk.

Doing a load of laundry every day would be a great example of this. Billing a certain number of hours. That’s another thing that I’m working on with a couple of clients. Setting a minimum baseline that, no matter what, you will hit this number working on that every day.

You could pick the amount of water that you drink in a day, if you’re trying to hydrate more than you typically do. That’s a great daily habit to build. I have another client who just picked washing her face at night as part of her evening routine.

One of the ones that I’m working on right now, is always having a clean sink. I live alone, and that’s tended to be, sort of, a bad habit of mine. I’ll just set something down and then I’ll come back to it later. So, I’m working on building the habit of having a clean sink.

It can be the number of social media posts that you publish each week. Picking a number, a minimum baseline, that you won’t let it fall underneath and staying consistent with that habit. It can be smaller things like, I’ve talked about before in a previous episode, I think with Making Decisions Ahead of Time and Practicing Constraint. I put my car keys in the same place, every time I come home. I always plug my cell phone in, every single night when I go to bed. I always create calendar events as soon as the need arises.

Those are some small, little hacks that I’ve also used to practice the art of following through, build self-trust, and establish habits with myself. Those are really small, light lifts that allow me to build trust without requiring a ton of energy, a ton of time. So, start small. Those are some examples. I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with examples yourself, but I wanted to offer you some.

Now, once you’ve picked the habit that you’re going to work on building, in order to increase your capability of following through, we move to step four. And that’s where you’re going to create a new reward system for yourself. If you know you’re going to have a hard time following through, I want to offer you a habit building hack.

Technically, step four’s optional. You don’t have to do this, but a lot of my clients like this system. So, you decide what your one thing is, you decide how frequently you’re going to do it, what constitutes as a win or a rep of you getting that follow through checkmark, and you want to get a jar, that’s glass, see-through, and then get marbles or glass beads, you can use the ones that they used to sell at Pier One Imports. You can also get them at Amazon; I have a lot of clients that order them from there.

And. every time that you follow through and practice the habit, you’ve decided ahead of time you would, you add a marble to the jar. Now, you want to keep this jar somewhere visible, and it needs to be clear, because you want to see the progress you make. You need to start associating dopamine and a reward system with doing the task, instead of avoiding the task.

Right now, the reward you’re receiving, comes from when you avoid following through and doing something else that’s more instantly gratifying. Right? Instead of entering your time, you scroll Instagram. Or, you check your email, and that’s more of an instant gratification reward. Instead of doing laundry, you watch Netflix. So, you get that instant gratification reward.

You have to start associating the reward with doing the task, instead of with not doing the task. So, by using the jar and the glass beads or the marbles, and adding one, each time you follow through, what you begin to do is that you rewire your brain by replacing the default avoidance reward system with the follow through reward system.

The more you follow through, the more marbles you add. As they add up over time, that starts to get really exciting. Your brain is going to see that amount of marbles or beads grow and grow and grow, and it’s going to release dopamine every single time you add a marble to the jar. It’ll become a treat, a reward, every time that you add one.

So essentially, what you’re doing is gamifying the process of following through. Like I said, that’s optional, you don’t have to do it. But I want you to really be honest with yourself. If you’re someone who really, really struggles with following through and staying committed to the commitments that you make, you might need to use this habit building hack. Gamify it; replace that reward system that comes from your default avoidance, with the following through reward system, okay?

Now, once you’ve picked the one habit that you’re going to focus on building, and really following through with, and you’ve created that new reward system, you’ve set that up, you’ve put it in place, step five is my favorite, as always. It’s taking action, where you gag and go through the discomfort of completing the task. You do it, even when you don’t feel like it. And you honor the commitment.

You’ve heard me talk about this a bunch before. You probably won’t feel like doing it in the moment. That default, primitive part of your brain is going to get really loud when it comes time to follow through, but your work becomes taking action, gagging, and going through that discomfort, and following through and completing the task. Regardless of how you feel doing it.

After some time goes by, of picking this one thing, practicing following through, you may not do this perfectly. Especially at first; that’s okay. Step six, we want to evaluate the action that you take, or the action that you end up not taking if you aren’t consistent, and you don’t follow through. So, I’d like you to do this on a weekly basis.

Each week, just go through and answer those three questions. What worked when it comes to this habit? What didn’t work? And what would you do differently? As it relates to that what didn’t work section of your evaluation, remember, there’s only really ever two problems: A negative thought you’re thinking about following through, about doing the task, about practicing that habit. Or, a negative feeling that you associate with doing it, with following through, that you’re unwilling to feel.

So, as you evaluate, you want to be on the lookout for these negative thoughts and negative feelings. Now, with your negative thoughts, they might look something like, “I don’t want to do this right now,” when you’re thinking about practicing the habit and following through. You might think it’s hard, and that’s going to really drive up the resistance you have to doing the task.

You might think the lie, “I’ll do it later. It doesn’t matter if I do it right now.” Or, you might think, “I don’t have the time right now,” so then you bypass it, you don’t follow through and stick to the commitment. You might be thinking that you’ve already screwed up. You’ve done it imperfectly so what’s the point of doing it now?

Those might be some of the common thoughts that really get in the way, and prevent you from sticking with the commitment you’ve made and following through. There might be other ones, too. You just want to be aware of those common ones, that I just mentioned. Then, go and be on the lookout for other problem thoughts that get in your way.

Once you identify them, you’re going to swap them out with something else; with a thought that serves you more. So, ask yourself, “What would I need to think about doing this task, in order to actually follow through and do it? Maybe go back to your “why.”

Why do you want to be someone that’s committed? What do you get if you stick with it and follow through? Why do you want to build trust with yourself? What can you think about actually just doing the task, that makes it easier and reduces some of your resistance to doing it?

Now, when it comes to negative feelings, remember, you want to name them specifically. What’s the one-word emotion that you’ll be forced to feel, if you force yourself to follow through? It might be bothered, it might be annoyed, it might be tired. Maybe, challenged, or pressured if you feel scarce when it comes to time. Or, overwhelmed or worried that you’re not tending to something else. Or, guilty, if you’re putting yourself before the needs of others.

So, whatever your negative emotion is, that’s coming up for you, I want you to name it specifically. And then, decide to feel it on purpose, and take action, and follow through, anyways. Now, the discomfort that you experience may be different depending on the type of task, the frequency, and how long it takes to complete. The discomfort that you associate with following through on one off tasks, might be a little bit different than with repetitive commitments, or long-term projects.

You might have to feel more bored, or more bothered, or unenthused, when it comes to those repetitive commitments, versus those one-off tasks. Same thing is true with long term projects. I started quite a few businesses in my 20’s, I guess I’ve always been entrepreneurial, and I wouldn’t stick with those long-term commitments and projects. Because after the initial excitement wears off, then you just have to rely on discipline, right? Despite the discomfort that comes from taking that consistent action and following through.

So, in the beginning, I would be excited and enthusiastic and energized. I would feel committed, and motivated, and determined. And then, I would start taking action. And as time would pass, and I wouldn’t get immediate results, which is probably what I was expecting to get back then, I’d start to get a little confused, and maybe a little frustrated that I wasn’t getting the results that I expected to get.

And then, maybe I’d get a little worried or doubtful, because I’d start entertaining the idea that maybe this wouldn’t work, maybe it was a bad idea. And then, I would start showing up less and less and less. I’d start becoming more inconsistent, so then, of course, I wasn’t getting any better results. In fact, I was making it harder to generate a positive result.

Then, I would start feeling discouraged and inadequate and disappointed. From there, I quickly would slip into feeling defeated. And right about the time that defeat would enter the picture, I would quit and jump to something else that felt more exciting. And then, I’d start that process over again.

So, those are some of the negative emotions that you might have to be willing to feel on purpose, in order to follow through on some of those repetitive commitments, or those long-term projects. When it comes to some of those one-off tasks. Those feelings might be a little different. It might be that annoyed, bothered, tired, things like that.

Evaluate what worked, what didn’t work, and what will you do differently in the week moving forward, when it comes to practicing this habit and following through. Identify the new thoughts that you need to think. Make a plan to feel those negative feelings.

And then, the third thing you want to do with this evaluation, when you’re thinking about what you’ll do differently, revise your plan, and implement some hacks. There may be some quick action items that you can put into your plan to make it easier for you to follow through.

I just did this with a client when it comes to time entry. We did an evaluation, and we saw some things that she was already doing that really worked. So, we thought how can we do more of the things that are already working? More shortcuts for time entry descriptions, was one of the things that we noticed.

Were there more areas that she could delegate time entry to her support staff? A couple of different things that would come up throughout the week, that maybe they could enter for her, so she didn’t have to do it all herself.

Then we also identified what wasn’t working, and we solve for that. She wasn’t getting all of her time entries, for calendar events, into her time entry program.

So, we made that part of a process; going through her emails, first, because she has automatic prompts to enter time whenever she sends an email. So, make sure all her emails are in first. Then, go through and make sure, all the appointments on her calendar, she’s captured that time. Then, anything else that wasn’t on her calendar, she captures that time.

Also, going through a process of making sure all of the time is captured first, and then going in and entering the descriptions. So, we workshopped that, through completing an evaluation together. You can do that, too.

Now, you should use this evaluation process to get better and better and better at following through. It should become easier over time, in part because you get the reward of following through. When I say easier though, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be comfortable. It might be uncomfortable, even after some time has passed.

Let’s talk about time passing. I want you to be the judge of this, yourself. Only you are going to notice it, but what’s enough time to practice a habit before you move on and add in another one? It’s when the habit that you’re working on following through with, feels dialed in. You’re going to be the judge of that; of what constitutes feeling dialed in.

I know that sounds a little arbitrary, but you have to trust yourself to be honest, and only move on to something else, if it feels really solid with what you’re already doing. If it feels shaky, I want you to slow down. This is one of the things that has allowed me to be so consistent with the action that I take in my business.

I practiced building one habit at a time, and I didn’t add anything else until everything else felt dialed in. Okay? I started with social media posts; I created a minimum baseline of four times a week. I knew I could stick to that, it’s not every day. Every day would be ideal, but that’s a lot of content; so, I picked four.

I only did that action until I was very consistent with it, took me several months for that to felt really dialed in. I was hitting that target a lot earlier, but I wanted it to feel like a no-brainer, to feel really dialed in. About six months went by before I added anything else.

Then, I decided to add a monthly webinar. And for about a year, I only did four social media posts per week, and a monthly webinar. Finally, that felt really dialed in and easy, so, I added a weekly email, that I sent out on Fridays. For about another eight months, I did the four social media posts, the webinar each month, and the weekly email. I didn’t add anything else.

When that felt dialed in, I added this podcast. I’m going to be really transparent with you guys, the podcast takes a decent chunk of my time. So, things are still a little clunky over here, as I figure out how to work this time commitment into my schedule.

I’ve also been traveling a decent amount for work. lately. Between travel and the addition of this new commitment, the wheels have been a little wobbly, as far as following through goes. So, I know that just signals to me, it is not time to add anything new, until everything else that I’m already doing, feels dialed in.

I’ve missed a couple Friday emails because my time allocation is still a little wobbly. So, I’m working through those growing pains. That’s not a reason for me to quit doing emails on Friday, or to quit doing this podcast, I just need to work out the clunky parts, and figure out a system that works for me.

There’s going to be some trial and error, but I will not move on until it feels dialed in. I want that to be the standard for you. Alright, those are the steps to practice becoming a person who follows through. Practice being someone that shows up consistently.

I have some other tips, I want to talk about common obstacles that you may encounter, when it comes to building the skill set of following through and being consistent. But I’m going to do that in the next episode. I’m going to make this a two-part series.

So, this is part one. I want you to tune in next week and we’ll cover those other tips; The Common Obstacles and How To Overcome Them. Just because it’s a little in-depth, and I want to make sure I get into the nitty-gritty, we really unpack all of it together, rather than rushing through it for the sake of time.

Okay. So, pick your one thing. Create that reward system. Build the mindset that I talked about in the beginning. Make sure you commit to being committed. And then, start practicing. You can start today. Pick one thing, have it be small. Make that frequency pretty frequent, so you get those reps in. Make sure it’s a light lift, as far as energy, time, commitment, all of that. If you need to set a minimum baseline, go ahead and do that. But pick your one thing and start practicing following through.

If it doesn’t go perfectly, the next episode will talk about the common obstacles you might face, and how to overcome them, and any other tips that I have to help you become a master at following through and being consistent.

All right, I’ll 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 14: The Labels You Assign

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Labels You Assign

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Labels You Assign


Did you know that you assign labels to everything that happens to you? More specifically, there are three types of labels: the ones you assign yourself, labels for other people, and the ones you have for things that go on in the world. We tend to be pretty sloppy and make statements about these three things as if they’re just facts. But the truth is, we’re just reporting our thoughts.

Very rarely do we assign labels in a way that is beneficial or positive. However, there are labels you can assign to situations that make you feel confident, motivated, proud, calm, or anything else you want to feel about yourself, others, or the world at large. So today, I’m showing you how to assign labels that have a positive influence on your feelings, and your life as a whole.

Whether you think you’re a hot mess, unqualified, a dreadful parent, that the world is horrible, or anything else that you don’t really want to be thinking, I’m showing you how to see the labels you’re assigning, see why they’re not necessarily true, and I’m sharing how to replace those statements with something way more helpful and empowering.

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 the labels we assign ourselves eventually become the cornerstones of our self-concept.
  • Why we tend to assign negative labels to the things we experience in our lives, and how this taints our view of the world.
  • How to catch yourself assigning negative or unhelpful labels to yourself, other people, or the world in general.
  • The most common labels I see my clients assigning to themselves, and why they’re so disempowering.
  • Why it’s impossible to shame yourself into self-improvement.
  • The power of thinking something positive about other people and the world around you.
  • How to start assigning yourself labels that are more accurate and can actually have a positive impact on your self-concept.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 14. We’re talking all about The Labels You Assign. 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.

Hi, how are you? I’m going to check on you for a second actually. A lot has been going on in the world, and I just want to do a wellness check, and have you ask yourself, “How are you feeling right now?” It’s okay, if you aren’t feeling really okay, that’s fine. But I want you to take an emotional inventory and just spend a second, check in with yourself. Ask yourself, how are you feeling?

You know, it’s been a heavy week or two with the news lately. And sometimes we can get so caught up in our lives that we forget to tune in and take a temperature check, to see if we need to make adjustments to take care of ourselves. So, before we dive into today’s topic, I just want you to do that for a second.

I know that in the past week, week, and a half, I’ve had a lot of extra emotion to contend with, as well, a lot of sadness, a lot of grief, a lot of frustration. And by checking in with myself, and identifying those emotions, I was able to process those emotions, and hold space for them to be there without allowing them or letting them take over my day-to-day life, without having them really interrupt the flow of anything.

So, I want you to take a second. Name, how you’re feeling right now; if it’s a negative emotion, nothing’s gone wrong. Sometimes part of the human experience is feeling some negative feelings, some of the time. So, you can just acknowledge them, place them in your body, you can describe them to yourselves, and I’ll record a whole episode on how to process a negative emotion. But in the meantime, just name it, notice how it feels. Identify the vibration, get really specific about it, and just acknowledge that it can’t hurt you. It’s allowed to just be there, and you can go about your day.

Alright. Once you’ve done that, I also want you to ask yourself, is there anything you can do to take care of yourself during a time of heightened negative emotion? This past weekend, I made time for leisure in order to lighten my emotional load.

I just got back from an amazing weekend up in northern Michigan with friends of mine. They’ve got a beautiful place on a quaint inland lake up north, and we just cooked and relaxed and had a lot of wholesome fun. We did a puzzle. My friend doesn’t love puzzles, but she indulges me. We played board games like Farkle™ and Yahtzee™. I guess those are dice games, not technically board games, but you get what I’m talking about.

We read, we cooked, it was really awesome. And it was a trip that I had planned ahead of time, but it came at just the right moment. I want to offer to you, that you can have that happen to you, as well. If you decide ahead of time, and make plans, and plan those breaks in your schedule to take time out for yourself. Sometimes you plan them. And even though you made the decision ahead of time and set everything up beforehand, it hits a just the right time.

So, that’s definitely how it felt for me this past weekend to get out of town, have a respite from the daily grind, and just really relax and replenish myself after an emotionally trying week. I hope you had a really great, long weekend too, if it was a long weekend for you, wherever you’re listening from.

And, if the news has been heavy lately, take some time and create an opportunity for you to rest and enjoy something that makes you feel good. If you did that last weekend, I’m so glad for you. If you want to do it this coming weekend, be intentional and make that plan and ask yourself, when was the last time you did something wholesome? I highly recommend it.

If it’s been a while, and you’re having a hard time remembering the last time you did something wholesome, maybe make a plan to do something wholesome this weekend. Play a card game, do a puzzle, go for a bike ride, go get ice cream, go play Putt-Putt Golf™. I haven’t done that, I don’t know, in like a decade and a half at least, but it’s an idea.

So, give yourself that gift of something wholesome. It’ll just really lighten your emotional burden. Give you something to feel good about. Bring some joy into your day-to-day life. It’d be great.

Alright. Now, let’s dive into today’s topic. We’re talking about the labels you assign. I’ve been on a roll, the past couple of episodes, talking about the importance of the thoughts you think. In episode 10 I taught you all about the self-coaching model and how your thoughts because your feelings, your feelings drive your actions, your actions create your results.

So ultimately, what I’m saying by all of that, is that your thoughts are everything, because your thoughts create your results. So, in that episode, we talked about the importance of becoming aware of what you’re currently thinking, because of the impact it has on all of these other areas of your life.

It also helps you create a ton of awareness. And normally when we become aware, we can start to make positive changes. We also start to feel better, because we’re not confused anymore, we have an understanding of what’s going on under the hood of the car.

In Episode 11, we talked about reverse engineering your results. By working backwards, from the result you want, to the actions you need to take to create it, to the feelings you need to cultivate to drive you to take that action, and then the thoughts you need to choose to think intentionally in order to generate those emotions that you need to feel.

In Episode 12, we talked all about “should” thinking and how harmful it can be, the different types of should-thoughts that you think, and how to eliminate them in order to feel better on a daily basis.

And then, in the last episode, Episode 13, I reiterated the truth about your thoughts, which is that your thoughts aren’t true. So, now I feel like I’ve laid the perfect foundation to talk about today’s topic, going through episodes 10 through 13, will really set you up to understand what I’m going to talk about today.

Today we’re talking about the labels you assign. To be even more specific, there’s three types of labels you assign, similar to “should” thinking, the categories break down into the labels that you assign yourself, the labels you assign other people, and the labels you assign to things that go on in the world.

Now, generally speaking, people tend to be pretty sloppy with how they speak about themselves, and other people, and what goes on in the world. We tend to make statements. And it’ll sound like we’re speaking facts, like we’re reporting the news, we’re just speaking in truthful sentences, when in fact, we’re not, we’re simply reporting our thoughts.

One of the ways that we do this is by assigning labels to ourselves, to other people, and to the situations and events we encounter and experience. Very rarely do we do this in a way that’s beneficial to us. If you are assigning labels in a way that’s beneficial to you, in a way that makes you feel competent, and motivated, and proud, and content, and grounded, and calm, all of those things, about yourself, about other people, about what goes on in the world, then by all means, I encourage you to keep assigning labels in that way.

But generally, that’s not what people are doing when they’re assigning labels to themselves, other people, or the things that they encounter in the world. Today, I want to highlight people’s tendency to assign labels in a negative way. I’m going to explain to you exactly what that looks like and why it’s a problem so you can catch yourself when you do it, and course correct.

Let’s start with the labels you assign yourself. I’m going to use some examples that have come up during sessions with my coaching clients. I’ve had clients, during our sessions, talk about themselves in the following ways. They’ll say, “I’m a loser. I’m a failure. I’m a fuck-up. I’m a hot mess. I’m unqualified. I’m stupid. I’m selfish. I’m a terrible parent.” The list can go on and on and on. But those are pretty common examples that I hear from clients when I’m working with them in a coaching session.

They have very strong judgment of themselves. And they’re using these terms as labels that they assign themselves, that become part of their self-concept, that become part of their identity. Now, the examples that I just gave you, they’re pretty negative. Right? Those are painful thoughts to think about yourselves. And even if they feel true for you, I assure you, they’re not true. They’re just thoughts. And I’m going to talk a little bit more about that in a minute.

But I want you to start to see the impact of assigning these labels to yourself. How are you going to feel about yourself when you think those thoughts? When you assign those types of labels, those really negative painful labels?

People also will do this about themselves in, maybe, a slightly less negative way, but still a harmful way. So, they’ll make judgments, and they’ll assign labels to themselves about their character traits, and they’ll be really broad sweeping statements. Statements like, “I’m a procrastinator. I’m a people pleaser. I’m always late. I’m an introvert. I’m a perfectionist. I don’t follow through. I’m flaky. I’m irresponsible. I’m shy. I’m timid,” or, this one comes up a lot for people, “I’m not creative.”

I’ll also hear labels like, “I’m not good at math. I’m not good at technology. I’m not good at social media,” things like that. These are labels that we assign ourselves. Some are more negative than others. But they all tend to be pretty problematic.

Now, I want to talk about why. First and foremost, how you talk to yourself matters. It’s probably the most important thing that you do on a daily basis. You’re in a conversation with yourself, about yourself. And the sentences that you allow to run through your brain, the way you speak to yourself, has such a massive impact on what you do and what you’re able to create in your life, the quality of the life that you live.

Why is that? It’s because your thoughts cause your feelings, your feelings drive your actions, and your actions determine your results. So, if you’re thinking a negative thought about yourself, you’re going to feel a negative feeling, then you’re going to take a negative action or no action at all, and then you’re going to produce a negative result.

It’s so common for people to mistakenly believe that they need to beat themselves up in order to do better. They mistakenly believe that if they’re thinking negatively about themselves, and they’re talking negatively to themselves, they’ll course correct.

That doesn’t happen though. That’s called a mixed model. And it’s not something that happens. Negative thoughts will produce negative feelings, produce negative actions, produce negative results. Positive thoughts cause positive feelings, drive positive actions, produce positive results. That’s always the case.

It’s really common for people to think and believe that they need to light a fire under their own asses in order to do better. We think that if we act like drill sergeants we’ll improve, we’ll progress. But I promise you, that is not the case. You cannot shame yourself into self-improvement.

If you temporarily course correct, when you’re shaming yourself, the improvement will be just, that it will be temporary. Over time, the heaviness of the negative emotion that you create for yourself, when you assign these negative labels, it will become too much for you to bear, and you’ll start to shut down and withdraw. You’ll resist and avoid, or negatively react to all of that negative emotion.

So, in the long run, beating yourself up will not work. Instead, you will just create more of the same. Whatever the label you’ve assigned yourself, when you tell it to yourself, you’re going to create more of that. And this is because, and I will never stop reminding you of this, your thoughts create your results.

So, let’s take a look at the impact of assigning these types of labels to yourself. Let’s take the label of, “I’m a loser.” How do you feel about yourself when you think that thought? What’s the one-word emotion that comes up for you? Or, maybe you don’t think that thought, but maybe you think that you’re a failure. Or that you’re a hot mess.

I once had a client, one of the most practiced thoughts she thought about herself was, “I’m a fuck-up.” And, when you think thoughts like this about yourself, you’re probably going to feel really ashamed, or inadequate, or insecure, or defeated, or hopeless or helpless. Right? Those might be some of the really common emotions that come up for you when you think these thoughts.

Then ask yourself, if these are some of the thoughts that you think about yourself, and you feel those feelings, how do you show up when you feel them? What do you do? What don’t you do? Do you buffer? And by buffering, I mean, do you take an action that provides you with temporary comfort and lets you escape some of that discomfort?

You grab a snack, you grab a cocktail, you scroll through social media, you turn on Netflix, you shop on Amazon, maybe you text someone, maybe you sleep. That’s a really easy way that people buffer to avoid a lot of this negative emotion. So, ask yourself, what do you do, if you’re thinking, “I’m a failure,” and you’re feeling really inadequate, and ashamed?

You’re not going to take any positive action from that, from those feelings. And, then you’re just going to create more failing. You’re not going to work towards your goals. You’re not going to make progress. You’re not going to course correct. You’re not going to take incremental steps to creating the results that you want.

Think about how you feel, if you think and assign the label to yourself that you’re stupid, or unqualified, right? Again, you’re going to feel really unsure of yourself, really inadequate, really incapable. And then what do you do? What’s the action that you take? Or, not take?

When you feel those feelings, you’re certainly not going to figure anything out. You’re not going to work towards gaining new skills, becoming more practiced, or more qualified at something. And then you’re just creating the result that you still haven’t figured it out. So, you still feel unqualified or stupid.

Think about when you… Think about yourself as a terrible parent. How do you feel? Ashamed, maybe guilty. Then what do you do? You’re going to react, or avoid, or resist those negative emotions. And it’s going to have you showing up in a manner, as a parent, that you’re probably not going to be very proud of. Maybe you withdraw, you don’t lean in, you don’t spend more quality time, you don’t show up in the way that you would want to show up.

So, you really want to think about, does it serve you to use these labels? Same thing goes with some of those less judgmental, but still not productive labels. If you think to yourself, “I’m a procrastinator. I’m a people pleaser. I’m a perfectionist. I’m an introvert,” things like that…Those character traits, that you assigned yourself with these labels, you’re probably going to feel pretty resigned, or out of control over that character trait, over that behavior.

And when you feel resigned, or out of control, or helpless, what happens is you don’t change your behavior. The action you take, is to act in conformity with that label.

So, when you’re thinking, “I’m a procrastinator,” you’re going to procrastinate more. If you’re thinking, “I’m a people pleaser,” and you’re feeling resigned to that being the case about you, you’re going to people please more. And then you create more evidence that you’re a people pleaser. So, the thought proves the result true, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Same thing with thinking that you’re an introvert. You’re going to feel resigned, and then you’re going to act in conformity with how an introvert would act. And then you’re going to create more evidence for being an introvert.

Same thing goes, if you assign the label to yourself of, “I’m a person who doesn’t follow through. I’m flaky, I’m irresponsible.” You’re going to feel resigned to these labels, and then you’re going to act in conformity with them, and create more evidence to support your belief that that is true.

I have a good friend who constantly tells herself, she’s terrible with technology, even though she uses technology to run her business, every single day. The belief, the label that she’s assigning to herself, simply isn’t true. But she hyper-focuses on finding evidence to confirm that she’s bad at technology. So, when she struggles with something, it’s like, “Oops, here I go, again; bad at technology.” And she keeps believing that about herself and feeling incompetent and inadequate, when it comes to technology, as a result.

Same thing goes for believing that you’re not creative. You’ll feel resigned, and then you won’t engage in creative activities. So, you create the result of still thinking that you’re not creative, by not being creative at all.

So, these labels are so important. You want to be really conscious of the labels that you assign to yourself, and the impact that those labels have over your results that you create in your life. Okay?

If you have a habit of assigning negative labels to yourself, I want you to examine this for a minute. Ask yourself, where did I learn this habit? Maybe it’s from a parent. I know a lot of people pick this up from coaches, over the course of their lives, especially their childhood. Because a lot of coaches tend to be negative and speak to people negatively, in a way to inspire or motivate.

Parents also do this really frequently. Parents will also talk to themselves this way. They’ll use negative labels towards themselves, or they’ll assign negative labels to other people. And then we pick this up, along the way, when we’re kids. So, I want you to check in with yourself. If you beat yourself up, if you assign super negative labels to yourself, where did you learn this? And do you want to continue doing it? Does it serve you?

I want you to consciously decide if your answer is no, and it probably will be no, that this doesn’t serve you. Because negative thoughts create negative results. So, I want you to consciously decide to stop speaking to yourself this way.

I just did this with a client of mine. She’s a relatively new client. And she constantly says that she’s a loser and a failure. I told her that I’m putting her on a self-criticism diet, that she’s not allowed to use either of those words, the F-word, or the L-word. And it’s probably going to be hard work for her, at first. Especially, I told her that I want her to operate as if there’s a foghorn or an alarm bell that goes off every time she uses those words towards herself. To course correct and say, “I’m not going to speak to myself that way.”

That’s what I want you to do. I want you to interrupt this habit of assigning these negative labels to yourself, and find different ways to speak to yourself.

Now, we also assign labels to other people or to events that we encounter in our everyday lives. So, we will describe people, we’ll give them labels like, “This person is selfish. She’s very difficult. He’s super unprofessional. She’s really condescending. They’re very rude. He’s unreliable. She isn’t thoughtful. He’s very arrogant. She’s a narcissist. He doesn’t care.”

Or, we’ll use labels about things that go on in the world. Like, “My job is horrible. This place is toxic. This event is boring. Doing this is a complete waste of time. This is pointless. This is unfair.” Again, both about people or about the events that we encounter, these are really emotionally charged labels. They’re very negative. But we assign these labels to behavior patterns that we experience, situations that we encounter, and it impacts how we feel.

So again, why is this a problem? If we’re thinking these thoughts and assigning these labels to other people’s behavior, or the experiences that we encounter, we’re going to feel very negative.

If you’re thinking that someone is arrogant, you’re going to feel a very negative feeling; maybe disrespected, or frustrated or disappointed or annoyed. If you’re thinking someone’s unreliable, you might be irritated. If you’re thinking someone’s rude, you’ll feel offended. If you’re thinking someone’s unprofessional, again, annoyed, frustrated, disappointed, any of these negative emotions.

And then from there, what you tend to do, when we’re encountering and assigning labels to other people’s behavior, or to the situations that we encounter, we tend to, A: Complain a ton. That’s one of the actions that we’ll take. We’ll dwell in the negativity of it. We will feel sorry for ourselves, that’s another action that we take.

All of that doesn’t serve us. It’s really unproductive, it doesn’t produce anything positive. We will also go on a hunt and look for more evidence to prove this true. So, if we assigned someone or a situation a label, then we keep searching for confirmation that, that label is accurate. So, if you’re thinking this person is irresponsible, every time you encounter them, you’re going to bring that lens with you to their behavior, to look for more evidence that the person’s irresponsible.

If you’re thinking that someone is rude, you’re going to bring that lens to all of their behavior and examine it through that. I like to think of it like going through a carwash, where you’re getting that rain coating on your windshield, so the water beads repel off. You’re going through and getting that coating. All of their behavior comes through that lens and gets coated with that negative label, that you’ve assigned to them.

If you’re thinking someone doesn’t care, you’re going to look for evidence to confirm every time you encounter their behavior. “Oh, here they go, again. They don’t care. They never care. They’re always difficult. They’re always condescending. They’re always thoughtless,” things like that.

So, you just create more evidence to support your initial belief, rather than doing the opposite, looking for evidence that contradicts your assumption, contradicts the label that you’ve assigned to them. Same thing if you’re thinking about how this is a waste of time. You’re going to keep searching for how that situation is a waste of time, or how it’s horrible or how it’s toxic. You’re going to keep confirming your initial assumption, that label you initially assigned.

Again, all of these actions; the complaining, the dwelling, the looking for additional evidence to confirm your initial assumption, that initial label assignment that you’ve made, none of it serves you. It doesn’t produce any results that’s positive in your life.

Now, I want you to remember, both with the labels that you assign to yourself, to other people, to situations that you experience and encounter in the world, remember that these labels are merely thoughts. And remember, what’s true about your thoughts? That your thoughts aren’t true. So, all of the labels that you assign are optional.

You can choose to keep thinking them. But the better question here is, do you want to keep choosing to think them? Does it serve you to keep assigning these labels? Like I said earlier, the answer is probably no.

I want you to think about this for yourself, for a second. What labels are you assigning to yourself, that you’re using against yourself, right now? What labels are you assigning to other people that you know? If there’s a person in your life, that is a really difficult person for you to appreciate, or you to think positive thoughts about, I want you to think about the labels that you assigned to them.

Or if there’s a situation that’s causing you a lot of strife, I want you to think about the labels that you’re assigning to that situation. Come up with two or three labels that you’ve assigned for each category: about yourself, about another person, and about a situation you’re encountering.

And for each of those labels, I want you to ask yourself; is this thought true? Is this label true? And you may be tempted to say yes, but I’ve already told you this once before, in previous episodes. I’m going to reiterate it here again, the answer is always, no. Your thoughts aren’t true. The label you’ve assigned isn’t true. It’s an opinion statement. That’s optional.

Let me prove this to you. Force yourself, whatever the label is that you’ve identified that you’re now thinking about, force yourself to tell the opposite story. So, I’ll use an example. Let’s take the label that you’ve assigned if you’re a parent, and you think that you’re a terrible parent, or you’re a failure as a parent. It’s a super painful label to give yourself.

Now make the opposite argument. How are you a great parent? How is the opposite true? How is this label not true? Make the argument; have it be compelling. Same thing with thinking that you’re unqualified? How are you qualified? How is the opposite true? Make an argument that you are qualified. Go and list the ways that you are.

How are you smart enough? What is smart enough? Start by defining that, I’ve talked to you about that before. But how are you smart? What do you know? What skills do you have? Go through and list that. If you give yourself the label that you’re a procrastinator, what don’t you procrastinate with? There’s something there, I assure you. There’s evidence to support the counter argument. Go find it.

Same thing with the labels that you give other people. If you think someone’s irresponsible, make a counter argument. How are they responsible? What do they do a good job at? How are they professional? You’ll be able to tell two different stories, depending on the evidence you focus on and highlight, and evidence that you downplay.

Now, as you do this, you’re going to start to notice that one of the reasons that assigning labels is so unhelpful, is that when we assign them, we tend to do it in a very all-or-nothing manner. Right? When you talk about yourself, and you assign the label that you’re a procrastinator, or that you’re a failure, or that you’re a fuck-up, or that you’re a loser, or that you’re a perfectionist, or that you’re an introvert or that you’re not creative, you’re doing so in a manner, where it sounds, like it’s true 100% of the time. That it’s always the case. And that is really never accurate, right?

I had a former boss, and when he would conduct voir dire, he would always talk about truth tellers, and ask potential jurors, how they’d be able to spot truth tellers in the witness stand. Because an alarm bell doesn’t go off and announce that someone’s lying, just because they’re on the witness stand. So, you need to be able to identify a truth teller.

When I teach this concept about assigning labels, I always think about that phrase, about being a truth teller, because in these moments where we’re assigning these all-or-nothing labels, we aren’t being truth tellers. Think about it.

Normally, when we assign labels, we’re speaking in absolutes. The way we speak, the label that we assign, assumes that the labels are accurate 100% of the time; that you fail at everything, that you fuck up everything, that you’re a hot mess 100% of the time, that you always procrastinate, that you don’t have any skills, that you know absolutely nothing, that you’re always a terrible parent. It’s very all-or-nothing.

The same thing happens when we do this with other people. When we think people are unprofessional, it assumes that they’re always unprofessional. When we think that they’re selfish or rude, it assumes that they always are that way. Again, it’s just us being sloppy with the way that we speak. It’s an overgeneralization. But it does not serve us. We want to be really careful to not do this.

And what happens here, is that when we think in this all-or-nothing manner, we end up feeling awful, and we feel awful even though, we’re not even telling the whole truth, we aren’t being a truth teller. So, I highly encourage you to be more accurate in the way that you describe what’s happening.

You can do this by using numbers, use more factual statements. Instead of saying that you’re a terrible parent, describe what you actually did. Your daughter did something or your son did something, and you yelled at them. That’s more accurate than saying categorically, you’re a terrible parent.

Instead of saying that you are a fuck-up, can you transition to just thinking you screw things up sometimes? Can you think that there are some things you know how to do, and some things you don’t know how to do? That you’ve sometimes procrastinate. That sometimes you’re late. That sometimes you people please. Can you make it more accurate?

Again, some of the thoughts that I just offered you, that are dialed back from that all-or-nothing thinking, that are more accurate, that are more aligned with truth telling, they’re not super positive thoughts. I’m not asking you to go from, “I’m a failure,” to “I’m an absolute success. I’m the best at everything I do.” That’s going to be too big of a thought-leap, at least initially.

But I want you to not underestimate the power of choosing to think a slightly more positive thought. It can completely transform your life. I had a client go from, “I’m a complete fuck-up,” to “Sometimes I fucked things up.” Pardon all of the language in this episode, but I wanted to use a specific example that I’ve had come up with a client before. And as I’ve told that to other clients, a lot of people relate with this type of thinking.

The value and switching to that thought of, “Sometimes I fucked things up,” is huge. Instead of feeling completely hopeless and ashamed, you feel more self-loving, more understanding, more compassionate, maybe a little hopeful. That’s going to be a wild difference in how you feel on a day-to-day basis, and how you show up as a result of that emotion. Because again, feelings drive actions, actions create results.

So, a slightly more positive thought, is super impactful. “Sometimes I procrastinate. Sometimes I don’t procrastinate,” is going to decrease the amount you procrastinate, than choosing to assign the label, “I am a procrastinator,” which assumes that that’s true 100% of the time.

Thinking that you’re unqualified, 100% unqualified, that you don’t have any skills, super painful thought. If you can replace it with a slightly more positive thought of, “There are some things I know how to do. There are some things I don’t know how to do,” you’re going to feel slightly more confident. And the ripple effect of feeling slightly more positive, can be monumental.

Another way you can catch yourself, if you’re assigning very negative labels, especially to yourself, is to ask yourself, “Would I say this to a friend? If I were talking to a friend who said this about themselves, what would I say to them?” You’d probably walk them back from that very strong statement. You’d be like, “That’s not true. What about this time? What about this time? What about this time?”

Again, you’re going to that reasoning of, how is the opposite true? How is this label false? How is it inaccurate? Coming up with evidence to support the contrary. I also want to offer you the question, what would be more helpful for me to think here, both about myself, if you’ve assigned yourself a negative label. Or, about someone else, if you’ve assigned them or a situation a negative label.

How can you be more of a truth teller? What’s a more accurate way to describe what’s happening? What would be more helpful for you to think here? Those are very powerful questions for you to ask yourself.

So, spend some time this week and start to pay attention and be mindful; what labels are you assigning to yourself, to other people, to the situations you encounter? Are you being a truth teller? Probably not. You’re probably thinking in absolutes, very all-or-nothing. What would it look like for you to paint a more accurate picture? What does truth telling look like here? What’s a slightly more positive thought you can think? What’s a slightly less negative label you can assign yourself? How is the opposite true? What would you say to a friend if they were talking about themselves this way? What would be more helpful to think here?

Go out. Stop assigning negative labels to yourself, start assigning some positive ones. That’s such a fun question for you to ask yourself, what are some positive labels I can assign myself? Make a long list and reach out to me on social media.

I’d love to hear about some of the positive labels that you can assign to yourself. Some of the positive labels that you can use to replace some of the negative ones, you may have been using, that you’ve assigned to yourself in the past. The good news is, you get to stop assigning them, right now. Right this second. Today.

Alright, my friends. That’s what I’ve got for you. 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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