Episode 12: Should Thinking

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Should Thinking

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Should Thinking

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

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

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 11: Reverse-Engineering Results

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Reverse-Engineering Results

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Reverse-Engineering Results

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 10: The Self-Coaching Model

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Self-Coaching Model

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Self-Coaching Model

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

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

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

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the Show?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

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

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 8: Defining Enough

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Defining Enough

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Defining Enough

What is enough? In so many different areas of our life, we don’t define what enough really is for us. Instead, we use vague words to describe our goals and standards. We want to be less stressed, make more money, and have enough free time. But what do those really mean? Well, that’s what we’re defining in this episode.

When we keep things vague, it’s easy to feel like we’re missing the mark, which feels terrible. However, when you can define where the mark is in relation to where you are right now, and what you need to do in order to get there, that’s when real change happens.

Tune in this week to discover what enough means for you. I’m sharing how to start defining what you really want to achieve in your life, getting specific in terms of measurable metrics, and I’m showing you how to deal with the discomfort you will inevitably experience when setting truly quantifiable targets.

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why using vague or ambiguous terms to set goals makes them impossible to achieve.
  • The importance of being able to reverse-engineer and track your progress in reaching your goals.
  • Why you might be closer to your desired outcomes than you currently believe you are.
  • How to see where you need to start using measurable metrics to define your version of more, less, and enough.
  • The discomfort so many people experience setting specific goals around money.
  • How to numerically define things like productivity, efficiency, responsiveness, or anything that’s difficult to measure.
  • My tips for setting defined goals and implementing a strategy to get you from where you are now to where you want to be.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 8. We’re talking all about defining enough. 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 are you today?

Things are busy over here, but in the best way. In the last episode, I told you a bit about The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind that I’ve created, and so much has been going on since I last spoke to you.

I’ve been putting the final touches on the incredible in-person event that kicks off the 6-months Mastermind. It is in this beautifully restored fire house in downtown Detroit. It’s truly magical. I love it there. It’s called the Detroit Foundation Hotel.

I couldn’t be more excited to introduce people to the city of Detroit and to spend time with the Masterminders. There are also two dinners: a Welcome dinner and a Farewell dinner. If you know me personally, you know I’m a little over-the-top. Any of my friends who are listening, they’re like, “A little? A little over-the-top, Olivia? A lot over-the-top!” These two dinners are going to be really incredible.

Everything is going to be thought out, really intentional, really beautiful to create a one-of-a-kind experience. I want this to be transformative for people; I know it’s going to be. I can’t wait for people to experience what I’ve planned for them. It’s really fun to see it all come to life.

It’s also been an incredible experience seeing the applications come in for the Mastermind. I’ve been having people fill out questions about what they want to work on throughout the course of this six months: What they’re hoping to get out of it? How excited they are to participate and have this sense of community, and to engage with their peers inside the Mastermind?

Reading their answers has been amazing! To see what their hopes and dreams are, what goals they want to accomplish… I’ve been so inspired by them, seeing what they want for their lives, and what we’re going to work on together to make inevitable for them. That’s been super fun.

If you’re interested in joining the Mastermind, I still have a few spots left. It’s going to be an intimate group, which means you’re going to get the exact support you need inside of the Mastermind to make those results that you want inevitable. To make your success inevitable. Go to www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com/Mastermind. I’m going to have that linked into the show notes for you to make it super accessible. Go to www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com/Mastermind and learn all about it.

You can go there and schedule a call with me so we can talk about the goals you want to accomplish during the six months of the Mastermind. I can answer any questions you have about the program, about joining, about coming to Detroit to meet me, and to workshop and mastermind in person. Any questions you have, we’ll get you the answers you want so you can move forward knowing you’re making the best decision for you.

Without further ado, welcome to Episode 8. Eight actually happens to be my favorite number. It’s my Dad’s favorite number and when I was young, I claimed it as mine, too. Ode to my Dad. I’m especially excited to record this episode because of that little quirky reason. Let’s dive in.

Today we’re talking about “defining enough.” What do I mean by that? In so many different areas of our lives we don’t define what enough is. Instead, we use vague words to describe our goals or our standards. We use words like “less” or “more” or “enough” with respect to a particular goal that we’re striving to meet.

Examples of this look like: I want to work less. I want more free time. I don’t make enough money. I want to make more money. I need to be more productive. I’m not efficient enough. I should be more responsive. I didn’t do a good enough job. I don’t have enough experience. I’m not smart enough. I need to be more organized. I’m not far enough along. I haven’t made enough progress.

You guys can see what I’m starting to say here, right? You get the hang of it? We use “more, less, enough” and it’s hard to understand what it is that you’re aiming for when you use terms like those. Because they’re vague or ambiguous, they’re undefined. Why is this such a problem?

When we keep things vague, by using terms like, “more, less, and enough,” we often feel like we’re missing the mark, which doesn’t feel good. This is because we haven’t defined where the mark is, where it’s at, and what we need to do in order to arrive at it. Our brains tend to do this adorable thing… When I say “adorable” I’m being extremely facetious here. Our brains tend to say, “I don’t know what enough is, but it’s not this.” Then we keep chasing the horizon in search of that “enough.”

We end up feeling pretty terrible, very dissatisfied. We might feel inadequate, perhaps a little confused, or lost. It’s because we don’t know what we’re aiming for. Using vague definitions of “enough” is problematic for that reason. It’s also problematic because we make working towards the goal so much more challenging when we use terms like this. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for it’s hard to reverse-engineer the path to get to where you want to go.

It’s also hard to track your progress. You can end up feeling discouraged; feeling like you haven’t gotten anywhere, haven’t made any progress, like the dial hasn’t moved at all. This is because you don’t know where you started, you don’t know what you’re aiming for, and you don’t know how far along you are in getting to where you trying to go.

Sometimes people will actually be a lot closer to where they want to be than they realize. But, because they haven’t defined where they want to go in concrete terms, they have no idea where they’re at in correlation, or with respect, to that goal and their desired outcome. You want to make sure you don’t do this. You want to be specific about where you are now, where you’re trying to go, and that will help you identify the path to get from point A to point B.

Ultimately, long story short, failing to specifically define “enough, more, or less” is a problem. You want to make sure you don’t do it. You want to be a lot more specific by using measurable metrics. That’s what the solution is, here. You have to change the way you speak about the goals you’re working towards. You have to be much more specific and use measurable metrics, so you know what you’re working towards. How to get there and when you arrive there.

Let’s work through some examples so you can start to get an idea of what I mean. If one of your goals is, “I want to work less,” I want you to actually define what you mean by working less. What’s “enough” work? I’m using air quotes when I say that; what’s “enough” work, in hours? I want you to pick a number and explicitly define that. You want to figure out exactly how much you’re working right now.

Most people don’t have a good answer to that question. They’re like, “Meh, I’m working too much.” I don’t know what that means. One person’s “too much” might not be someone else’s “too much.” One person’s “not enough” might not be another person’s “not enough.” You want to define using specific measurements. Define how much you’re working right now, come up with that number, and then decide how much you want to work.

Once you’ve done that, then you can come up with a plan for how you will get from point A to point B. In this example you’re probably going to be required to set some boundaries. You’re going to have set some boundaries, and then honor them, which will require you to feel uncomfortable.

Specifically, you may have to feel feelings like; anxious, worried, guilt. This is because there’s going to be more work to do when you hit your limit, the limit you’ve defined as “enough.” You’ll need to put your pencils down, so to speak, and go spend your time doing whatever-it-is that what you want to do with your free time.

For most people that I work with, that tends to be uncomfortable, especially in the beginning. The more you do it, the more you honor that boundary… When you hit your limit of “enough,” it will feel more comfortable over time because you’re going to start getting the benefit of having spent the time you want to be spending doing something other than work. But in the beginning, the obstacle you’re going to have to overcome is being willing to feel some of that discomfort.

Another example, when it comes to time, that I frequently hear from clients is they want to spend less time on their phone. Again, we’ve got “enough” or terms like “less” that aren’t specific enough. We want to use the exact same process. How much time do you currently spend on your phone? You want to come up with that measurable metric. Whether it’s number of minutes or, more likely than not, the number of hours you spend on your phone, you want to come up with whatever that number is for you.

You can use one of those screen time measurements apps. Your phone probably has that already available to you. You want to check in, figure out what that number is for you, and then set a specific number that you want to arrive at. Then, come up with your plan on how to get from point A to point B.

What’s important to note here, is that by using specific metrics you can make an assessment when you finally arrive at where you want to be. You might think you want to go from 65-hours of work to fifty. But you might arrive at fifty and find that it still feels like too much. That’s okay. From there, you’re going to set a new specific goal, work towards it, and reassess when you arrive there.

I just did this with a client who wanted more time, in her work-week, for uninterrupted focused work. Instead of more focused time, I had her set a specific goal to work towards because “more focus time” just isn’t specific enough. She’s making those changes now. We came up with a number that she wanted to work towards and once she gets there… Again, the path to getting there became very obvious once we defined it in a measurable metric, now she’s working towards putting that plan in place. When she gets there, we’ll assess to see if that’s enough focus time for her to get that important work done that she’s hoping to accomplish

Another example where defining “enough” is important, is the topic of money. So many people tell themselves they don’t make “enough” money. They want “more” of it. But they don’t define how much they want. If this, is you then you want to start by exploring why you are resistant to setting a specific money goal.

If some money mind-drama comes up for you, you want to know that so you can get to work on working through some of your limiting money beliefs; your resistance to talking about money, having more money, all of that. That’s going to be really important for you to be able to accomplish your goals without your mindset presenting as an obstacle getting in your way.

Money is always a math problem. When you set a specific goal, the math becomes clear. What you need to do to make the math work will also become obvious. Depending on the number you choose, and the date by which you want to achieve that goal, you may need to do things like ask for a raise, or change your compensation structure wherever you work so you’re receiving some of the originations for clients you bring in.

Maybe you need to switch jobs. My cousin, Emily, always says, “It pays to quit.” What she means by that is if you look up studies, you’ll see that the biggest pay increases typically come from when you switch jobs. They’re not going to be your merit raises that you get on an annual basis.

Maybe you’ll find, once you’ve defined your money goal, that the best way for you to accomplish it is to start your own business. That was one of the reasons that drove me to start my own business. I had audacious money goals. I figured the best way for me to be able to accomplish them was to stop exchanging time for money, at a certain point, and create a business that was scalable so I would be able to make more without working more. Maybe that’s you.

You may need to increase your prices or create more clients. Whatever it is, the path forward becomes much more apparent when you pick a specific monetary goal that you’re working towards. This is an area where there tends to be such significant dissatisfaction. People really feel like they’re not where they want to be when it comes to how much money they make.

Defining enough, here, really helps dial down that dissatisfaction. This is, in part, because it forces you to accept what you have when you arrive at where you decided to be. For instance, I am actively towards building a business where I will make 7-figures a year. That’s not going to happen this year, I’m okay with it, because the math doesn’t work out right now.

Based on what I offer, I’m switching to that group model where I’m going to be serving people in a mastermind structure. But most of my coaching practice right now is a one-on-one practice. I only have so many hours in a day. Based on what I charge my clients, it doesn’t lead to a million dollars, right? I’m really okay with where I’m at right now. My business is very successful. I make a lot more than I did last year. Again, because of the way the math works out.

Even though I’m not where I ultimately want to be, I’m able to be satisfied with where I am right now, because I’ve set specific goals; I’m working towards them. I’m able to accomplish the goals that I’ve set. The path to where I want to go is very clear in my mind, so it alleviates any dissatisfaction when it comes to making money.

You’re going to want to do this, too. It’ll help you be very accepting of where you currently are, and you’ll have a lot of clarity about how to get to where you want to go.

Now, for some other work-related terms that I see people talk about all the time. Words like productive, efficient, responsive, and timely. What do those words mean for you? Are your definitions measurable? If they aren’t, you’re going to want to change them.

We’ll start with being “more productive.” How can you measure that? One way to measure that is in the number of assignments you accomplish each day. You’re able to track that, right? Or, you can track the number of hours you work in a given day. That might be the metric you use to measure your productivity.

Do you see how, when you assign a numeric value to the term “productive,” it makes it easier to track and discern whether or not you are actually being productive?

The same thing goes with being “efficient.” How do you define that word? I often teach my clients to track the number of hours they’re at work vs. the number of hours they’re working or billing. If you’re in a billable hour model this will make a ton of sense to you. Perhaps, efficient for you is billing seven or seven-and-a-half hours out of eight, instead of only billing five hours out of eight.

You want to focus on the ratio of hours worked vs. hours at work when it comes to being efficient. That’s been my favorite way to define efficient. But again, you’re welcome to come up with your own definitions here. You just want to make sure they’re measurable.

You can see, when you define these terms in a measurable way, the tweaks you need to make in order to arrive at the metric you’ve chosen as your goal. Those tweaks become much more apparent. You might need to take a shorter lunch. You might need spend less time chit-chatting with colleagues. Maybe you need to make sure your cellphone is put away during the day so you can hit that metric. Whatever it is, the specific action items you need to take become more obvious when you use measurable metrics to define these terms.

Another term we hear all the time is “responsive.” What, on Earth, do you mean by that? I want you to come up with the answer in your head before I give it to you. If you need to, pause this, and spend a few seconds thinking of you currently define that term. Also, a really important question to ask yourself is, does the rest of your team know what you mean by that term? What do you think it means to be responsive and do they agree with you?

Do you mean twenty-four hours is responsive enough? Within eight hours responding is responsive enough? Four hours? One hour? Twenty minutes? Whatever the case may be.

There’s so much confusion here and clearing it up can have a big impact on your work life. You want to make sure your team members share your definition of “responsive enough” so expectations don’t go unmet.

I once had a client who was always frustrated with an associate he worked with. He kept saying to me, “She needed to be more ‘responsive’.” He really believed that she should know what “responsive enough” meant. That it should be intuitive. I explained to him that it likely wasn’t intuitive. Chances were, they had different definitions of what “responsive enough” meant.

Most people are doing what they consider to be a good job at work. They’re not trying to miss the mark. I very, very, very rarely find that people are being lazy. It took a lot of work to get through law school, take the bar exam, and get to the point where you’re practicing. Laziness is probably not the reason for there being an issue. You want to figure out what the reason for an issue is.

Sometimes, it’s because we’re not operating under the same definition of a term like, what it means to be responsive enough. This client of mine, he was a corporate attorney, was working on a deal. If you’re a transactional attorney, this might really resonate with you. During closings, he expected her to respond, essentially within an hour between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., right when they were in the midst of a deal closing.

You may hear that and totally agree it’s reasonable, that during a deal closing that’s what expected. You may hear that and think it sounds crazy. That it’s way too “responsive enough” and that is not required. There’s no right answer, here. All I know, is that the associate didn’t know that was his expectation. So, she was missing the mark, unbeknownst to her.

Had it been explained to her, she could’ve made an informed decision about whether she was willing to meet that expectation, or not. They would’ve been on the same page. The chances are, the expectation wouldn’t have gone unmet. They would’ve been able to have a conversation about it. She would’ve been able to change her behavior and meet the expectation, or they would’ve been able to tweak it a little bit.

That’s a more an extreme example of responsiveness. That doesn’t need to be your standard. But I want you to pick a standard. Is forty-eight hours responsive enough? Is responding within twenty-four hours responsive enough? Pick something concrete for you, and work towards it.

If you expect someone else to respond within a certain time, just like the client I was telling you about, tell them by when you expect a response. You can put that in an email, “Hey, please respond to me by X time, or X date.” Or, you can simply call them. I know, not everyone loves to use the phone for phone calls nowadays, but it is always available to you as an option.

If you’re prone to putting off responses to emails because you want to send a substantive response, that’s something a lot of my clients talk to me about. They’re like, “Uh, should I respond right now? Should I wait and send that substantive response?” But then you keep slipping on sending the substantive response because you’re short on time. Defining enough what “responsive enough” is to you can help a ton, here.

Typically, my clients who come up with a system where they want to respond within twenty-four hours, they start to answer this question and decide to acknowledge receipt. Then, they follow up later with a substantive response. This has the effect, in the long term, of making them more highly responsive and meeting client needs.

If this is something you struggle with pick that time that’s “responsive enough” to you and then, you’ll probably decide you want to start sending those acknowledge receipts emails in order to hit that target.

As far as “timely” is concerned, what’s “timely enough?” This is a little bit different than “responsive.” “Timely,” I think the best way to define that is; are you getting things out the door when you said you were going to get them out the door? Are you hitting your deadlines?

Whatever those deadlines are, you’re setting them. They should be measurable. If you feel like they’re not measurable, again, get more specific there. Make sure you’re using a metric that is measurable. You should be able to measure whether your work is timely by discerning whether you’re hitting those deadlines.

A few other examples of where we have vague or ambiguous definitions of “enough, more, or less” … I mentioned these earlier in the episode, but I’m just going to reiterate them and go through them, so you understand this.

Examples like: I didn’t do a “good enough” job. I don’t have “enough experience.” I need to be “more organized.” I’m not “far enough along.” I haven’t made “enough progress.” Those are all areas where our definitions of “enough, more, or less” are really not clear.

What does enough mean in each of these scenarios? Ask yourself, “What’s enough experience? What do you mean by more organized? What’s far enough along or enough progress?” What do you mean by these terms? Again, make sure your answers are measurable.

Enough experience might be a number of years, or the number of times you’ve done a particular task, maybe argued a motion, or tried a case, closed a deal. Whatever the case may be, you want to define what “enough” experience is, so you know when you hit that mark.

Normally, enough experience comes up when we feel un-ready or inadequate, or unprepared. Spoiler alert, chances are you’re going to set this arbitrary goal, you’ll get to that point, and still not feel experienced enough. It’s good to know that you’re chasing the horizon here when it comes to feeling ready, prepared, adequate, experienced. That’s something that is, normally, elusive to us. But that doesn’t have to be a problem.

When we’re talking about being more organized, what exactly, does organized look like? Does that mean no clutter on your work desk? Does that mean you’ve cleaned out your fridge? Does that mean your closet is color coordinated and organized? That’s how I do mine.

Whatever that means for you, you just want to make sure you’re able to check the box: Does this constitute more organized? What did I mean by that? Same thing as with progress, you want it to be measurable, so you know whether or not you’ve achieved it. Whether you’re at that spot, or not.

Lastly, my favorite. What, on Earth, do you mean by “good enough?” How do you measure that? How will you know when you’ve arrived there? Listen, I’m a recovering perfectionist so one of the things that I actively strive to accomplish is A- or B+ work. My coach, Brooke Castillo, introduced me to the concept of doing B- work, and I was like, “Whoa! That’s way too low. There’s no way I’m ever going to feel comfortable aiming for that.”

Even with my clients, when I introduce them to the concept of doing B+ work, they tend to cringe. If that’s you, you’ll just want to know that you’ve probably got some work to do in this area, when it comes to your perfectionism.

This is still a little vague and unclear. What do we mean by A- or B+ work? How do I know when I get there on a particular project? I identify it in one of two ways.

One question I ask myself to determine whether or not I’ve arrived at A- or B+ work is, “Can I say that I’m proud of the work I’ve done? Can I say that I was thoughtful about it?” If the answer is yes, I’ve done a “good enough” job. It’s not perfect. It could probably be better if I spent more time on it, but can I say, “I’m proud of it?” Can I say, “I was thoughtful in going about how I accomplished it?” If I can answer yes, I’ve done a “good enough” job.

Another way I determine whether I’ve done an A- or B+ work and done a “good enough” job… This is going to sound a little silly, but I ask myself, “How do I think I did?” If I can get to a place where I can say, “Eh, not bad. Pretty good.” For me, that’s that A-/B+ standard.

This is different than if I said, “Eh, this is not very good.” That “Eh” vs. “Eh, not bad,” I know is a very slight distinction but it’s how it feels in my body, right? One feel pretty proud, accomplished. The other one feels like I’m still missing the mark. It feels inadequate. I let the feeling drive whether or not I’ve reached that “good enough” mark. I know it’s a bit less concrete than the other examples we’ve worked through today, but it’s still more specific than just using “good enough,” which is so ambiguous and elusive.

All right! That’s what I’ve got for you for this episode. Go through each of these terms and figure out what each one means to you, in a way that is measurable. If you do this, you’ll feel much more satisfied and accomplished because you’ll be able to work towards and achieve the progress you want to make. The path to get there will become so clear.

Oh, and a reminder. Don’t miss out on the Mastermind, you guys. It’s going to be out of this world. It’s going to be such a transformative experience. Both the in-person event with me, and the 6-months Masterminding together with me and your mastermind peers. Go to www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com. Don’t forget the “The.” www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com/Mastermind to learn all about it.

All right. Have a great week. I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 7: Practicing Constraint

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Practicing Constraint

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Practicing Constraint

If one of your goals is to feel less stressed and overwhelmed, the fastest way to make this a reality is to simplify your life. When it comes to our work, we often want to take on as much as possible. And while this may have served you when you were starting out, it’s not a long-term strategy. So, in this episode, we’re talking all about practicing constraint instead.

So many humans mistakenly believe that the more options we have, the better. We think keeping busy and having numerous tasks on our plate gives us the freedom of choice. However, one of the biggest issues my clients and attorneys in general struggle with is feeling overwhelmed, and the main reason why they’re overwhelmed is they’re not practicing constraint.

If you’re overwhelmed and you’re just over it, tune in this week to discover how practicing constraint allows you to get further, faster. We’re discussing intentionality around the things you consume, the things you create, and how to see exactly what practicing constraint will look like in your professional and personal life.

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why a lack of constraint in any area of our lives leads to overwhelm.
  • How overwhelm shows up and why ignoring or fighting it is never the answer.
  • Why practicing constraint will immediately reduce the overwhelm you experience.
  • Where to look to discover the areas of your life you need to practice more constraint and simplify your life.
  • The importance of being intentional about how you spend your time and pursue your goals.
  • Where I’ve constrained and simplified in my own life, so I can show up with a more powerful presence where it matters.
  • How to identify and start practicing the kind of constraint that moves you forward, reduces stress, and creates freedom.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, episode 7. We’re talking all about practicing constraint today. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hello. Welcome back. How are you all doing?

I just got back from my coaching school’s annual Mastermind event, in Austin, that I mentioned last week. My goodness, was it incredible! I can’t say enough about being surrounded by like-minded people who inspire you, and push you to be the best version of yourself. That was definitely my experience last week. I can’t rave about it enough. It’s such an opportunity to create community, bond with my peers, and up-level myself in so many different ways.

Having so recently experienced my own Mastermind experience, that I was a part of, as a client of a coaching school, it’s made me all the more excited than I even was before, to launch my own group coaching program: The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind.

Enrollment for that just opened up. It’s a six-months-long group coaching program and it’s going to kick-off with an incredible in-person live event. I absolutely love in-person events. That was so important for me to include when I designed this mastermind. I wanted to give people the opportunity to come together, meet their peers, bond with them, create community, inspire one another, learn from one another. All the things I just got to myself in Austin.

I want to give that to my clients. I designed it to be part of the process. I can’t wait for people to experience it for the first time. It’s going to be incredible. Make sure you stick around to the end of this episode. I’m going to give you the specific details that you need to know, so you can learn all about Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind and how to enroll in it.

We’ll put a pin in that for a second. Now, I want to turn to today’s topic. It’s another one of my favorites. Today we’re talking all about practicing constraint.

What is “practicing constraint”? Basically, it’s where you create a limitation or a restriction, that you put on yourself. You do this because it simplifies your life. This may look like eliminating or subtracting things from your life. Or, it may look like constricting the choices you give yourself, or the options that you make available, that you have to choose from. You basically just put-up parameters, in certain areas of your life, and you live within those parameters as a means of making your day-to-day life easier.

Why do we want to practice constraint? Simply stated, because it helps us simplify our lives. One of the biggest issues that my clients and other attorneys, as well… One of the biggest issues they struggle with is feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelm is often caused by a lack of constraint. You see, we mistakenly believe that having options is amazing. Like, the more options we have, the better. We love thinking that we love having options.

That’s actually a thought error. Because having too many options or having too many things to do, leads to overwhelm. Oftentimes, it causes confusion. We don’t know where to get started. We don’t know what to focus on first. Were to turn our attention. It leads to a sense of overwhelm. It’s not as ideal as we tend to think that it is.

When we have a lack of constraint or we fail to practice constraint, we tend to feel overwhelmed. This tends to be a problem. What’s the problem with feeling overwhelmed? Well, first and foremost, it just feels uncomfortable, right? Who likes to feel overwhelmed? Experiencing that feeling is, in and of itself, unpleasant. If one of the reasons you’re tuning in to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast is to feel better on a daily basis, if that’s one of your goals, one of the fastest ways to accomplish that goal is to reduce the extent of the overwhelm that you experience.

Also, take a second and think about how you show up when you feel overwhelmed. You tend to do one of three things: You either resist it, avoid it, or, react to it.

When you resist feeling overwhelmed and you pretend it isn’t there, first of all, it ends up bubbling to the surface later. Because, what we resist, always persists. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s so true. Also, resisting or bracing against negative emotions, like overwhelm, is exhausting. Think about how tired your arms get if you hold a beach ball underwater. You’ve got that resistance coming up. That beach ball wants to pop-up to the surface, so it requires a lot of your effort to keep it pressed down, submerged, under the surface of the water.

Another example of this, imagine carrying an hors d’oeuvres platter around at a party. I did this one time to help a friend out of a jam. She worked for a fine dining establishment. This was when we were a lot younger. She asked me to be a cater waiter at the cocktail reception of a wine tasting event, a wine auction. I had to walk around all night long with an hors d’oeuvres platter. It looks super easy, right? How hard can it be?

But you have your arms extended, sort of at a ninety-degree angle, so that tray can be right in front of you, you can offer it to the guests. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be as heavy as it is, but as twenty minutes, thirty minutes, forty minutes, an hour goes by, it starts to get heavier and heavier. You start to notice it and it becomes really grueling to keep your arms in that position and to continue to hold it upright. You want to drop the platter. Or, at least, I did.

Again, it requires a lot of effort. It ends up being much more exhausting, much more of a strain. In that sense, it was a physical strain. When we resist negative emotions, emotions like overwhelm, it becomes emotionally straining, emotionally taxing. Tiring, so to speak. Resisting negative emotions, like overwhelm, will make us feel emotionally exhausted.

When we avoid overwhelm, what we do, is we either distract ourselves by doing anything else that brings us that instant gratification or that temporary pleasure and we don’t accomplish what matters most. Maybe we procrastinate when we do this. Or we sort of spin in the overwhelm and we don’t take any action. We slip into paralysis and shut down. All of that slows us down. It prevents us from getting further, faster when we avoid.

Sometimes we react to feeling overwhelmed. If you’ve ever felt like you were overwhelmed and you ran around like a chicken with your head cut off, taking a really reactive approach instead of a proactive approach, to whatever it is you want to do… You’re reacting to the overwhelm. You know when you react in that manner, it doesn’t create the desired results. You might hit the low-lying fruit instead of focusing on the thing that really moves the dial. You’re not being intentional with how you spend your time and with the action that you take.

Reacting in that way is not going to help you accomplish the goals that you’ve set out to accomplish. Ultimately, whether you are resisting, avoiding, or reacting to overwhelm, responding to overwhelm in any of these ways, keeps you from doing your most meaningful work. If you’re experiencing overwhelm, and you’re totally over it, you’re going to want to master the art of practicing constraint. Alright? That’s what we’re talking about today.

Just like I’ve done in some of the other episodes, I’m going to give you several examples of what this looks like in practice so you can take inspiration from those examples, and come up with different ways you can practice constraint in your own life, in order to simplify your life.

Before I do that, though, I want to explain one more thing. Practicing constraint is going to look a lot like making decisions ahead of time, which I discussed in Episode 5 of the podcast. Making decisions ahead of time and practicing constraint are two different concepts. They work in tandem, but they aren’t identical.

Constraint focuses on limiting your options. Creating those parameters that you proceed to operate within. You can make a decision ahead of time about the ways you will constrain, how you will constrain, what you will constrain to. Then, you follow through that decision ahead of time, by practicing constraint. Constraint is a little different. Again, it goes back to creating those parameters, setting those limitations for yourself. They’re similar, but they aren’t identical.

With that said, let’s go through some examples on how to practice constraint. In the broadest sense, there are tons of ways that you can practice constraint. You can practice it when it comes to what you do, when you do it, what you give your attention to, what you consume. The options you allow yourself to have. The goals you pursue. There are so many different areas in which you practice this concept.

As far as examples go, I’m going to start with discussing the practice of constraint as it relates to constraining what you consume. I think this is such an important area in which to practice constraint because we spend so much of our time in consumption mode. Ask yourself; what am I consuming right now? I don’t mean “right now” as in the second that you’re listening to this podcast. That’s exactly what you’re consuming right now, right? What I mean is, in this season of your life, what are you consuming?

Do a quick audit, take an inventory. What do you listen to? What do you consume? Where do you get your information? What goes through those ears of yours, or your eyeballs? What goes into that brain of yours? What information are you taking in? Where do you get it? Is that information positive or negative? Do that audit and think about the news that you consume; the TV that you consume; movies; sources of entertainment; podcasts. What do you consume on social media? Who do you listen to; public figures, friends, family members? All of those sources. Who do you have conversations with? Maybe it’s co-workers, colleagues, other people in your industry.

Are these sources positive or negative sources? If you aren’t sure if they’re positive or negative, ask yourself, how do you feel when you interact with these sources of information? When you consume from them or when you engage with them, is it a positive feeling or a negative feeling? Do you feel more discouraged? Do you feel more worried or anxious? Stressed? Overwhelmed? Defeated? Maybe angry? Maybe righteous? Outraged? Emotions like that. If you’re consuming information from sources and you find yourself emotionally worked up, emotionally charged so to speak, you want to take note of that.

If you’re more inclined to experience negative emotions, after you consume information from these sources, it’s going to be a negative input for you. That consumption is going to have a negative effect, a negative impact. You’re going to want to limit that consumption as much as possible. One of the tricks I’ve learned, is that I tend to have a more negative response from watching TV news as supposed to consuming my news in print format. So, I switched to print. I constrain my news choices to print sources.

I also noticed that if I’m watching too much news, I’ll be a little overly negative, more so than I am normally. I’ll constrain with how much news I consume: When I check it, what times of the day I check it, what sources I check. Some don’t cause me to have a significant emotional response as others do. I will also make a decision to counterbalance if I’m consuming news. I’ll want to consume something that’s a little bit more positive because news tends to want to startle you, worry you. So, you continue to consume it; worry tends to beget more worry.

That’s done intentionally by news organizations. I’m really conscious of this. I know it’s not going to be a positive consumption source for me, so I’ll counterbalance it with something that puts me in a better mood. Makes me feel more motivated, more positive, things like that.

You also want to take inventory with who you engage with or converse with. Are those people negative? One of the things that I started to realize, when I found coaching and started to adopt the coaching principles that I’m teaching you through the course of this podcast, is that a lot of people in my life were really negative. They had a negative outlook on the world. They complained a lot. I used to be one of those people.

A lot of the conversations I had were complaintive conversations. I call those “zero-dollar conversations” now because they really don’t get you anywhere. A lot of people dwell, they rehash things, they live in the past, they focus on what they can’t control, and they tend to argue with it. All of that tends to be really negative.

If you’re listening to other people complain… If you’re listening to them sit in their own victimhood, that’s not going to be useful for you. I like to tell people, “You want to focus on solutions, not on problems.” If people in your life are focused on the problems that they’re facing, and they’re not being resourceful, they’re not solutions oriented, you might find that is a negative consumption source for you. You will probably want to practice constraint and reduce, or all together, eliminate your exposure to that source of information or engagement.

This applies even to those sources that are closest to you, the people who are in your inner circle. You might find that they are negative. You might want to constrain how much you interact with them. How you interact with them, what you talk about, things like that.

Even if it’s not inherently negative, you want to ask yourself, “Is what I’m consuming supporting or hindering my long-term goals?” Think about this in terms of consuming educational content versus content that is purely for your own entertainment.

What’s your split like? Is it 50/50? Or do you consume entertainment much more than educational content? If your split is uneven, you’re going to want to get that closer to 50/50 or have the bigger focus be on educational content. That’s going to support your growth and help you uplevel, help you work towards and accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself. As opposed to keeping you stagnant, maintaining that status quo.

When we focus on entertainment versus education, we tend to stay stuck. Ask yourself, “What’s my split like?” You many need to constrain some of the entertainment you consume.

Who do you take your advice from? I’ve got a rule in my life: I only take advice from experts. Only certain experts, at that. I actually have a rule about this. I never take advice from people who haven’t done what I want to do. I highly encourage you to adopt the same rule for yourself. Practice constraint in that way when it comes to receiving other people’s inputs. Stick with the experts, only. Maybe you’ll want to constrain two specific experts, at that. That’s what I do.

I don’t listen to everyone. Sometimes, experts have competing viewpoints. That can lead to a ton of confusion. I constrain the specific experts I listen to, I listen only to them, and I follow through with what they teach, what they advise. And I apply it. It really streamlines my goal accomplishment. I’m able to implement so much faster because I reduce confusion by practicing constraint, in this way.

One of my coaches, Brooke Castillo, also teaches constraining to doing one course at a time. If you are a chronic consumer, and like to buy a lot of different things, invest in a lot of different programs, surround yourself or immerse yourself with a bunch of different resources, but you never seem to complete a program, or follow through to the finish line, you may want to practice constraint in that way. Do one thing at a time until you reach the end. Until you complete the process. Then, you can give yourself permission to move on to the next one.

Another question you can ask yourself, when it comes to practice constraint, is how much do you consume versus create? Again, it’s sort of like the education versus entertainment question; if you’re split is way out of whack, you can practice constraint here, too. You want to make sure your consumption versus creation split is at least 50/50. That you’re in creation mode the same amount of time, preferably more, that you’re in consumption mode.

Consuming will always be more comfortable than creating. That’s really important for you to remember. It’s because consuming requires less of you. The problem here, though, is that it’s not going to get you to where you want to go. Ultimately, the only way for you to get the results you want in your life, is to be in creation mode. The more time you spend in creation mode, the better. You want to constrain how much you consume, and what exactly, you consume.

I’ve done this in my own life. I used to be a chronic consumer when it came to podcasts. I could not listen to enough of them. I just consumed, consumed, consumed, consumed. Finally, I realized I wasn’t taking any action. It was so much safer to keep learning from other people. I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready to take action, yet. I just kept playing it safe.

When I finally became aware that I was engaged in this bad consumption habit, I pumped the brakes on all the consuming. I constrained to what podcasts I would listen to, when I would listen to them, and the rest of my time I then devoted to creating in my own business. I started putting out my own content. I started taking more intentional action to create my desired results. If you have a bad habit of consuming way more than you create, I highly recommend you practice constraint in this way.

When it comes to work, a great way to practice constraint here, is with the type of law you practice or the services you provide. People love to be a jack/jill of all trades. They love casting a wide net because they slip into scarcity mindset when it comes to generating business. They worry they’re going to leave money on the table by constraining. That’s not the case at all.

If you want to build your expertise in a particular area, or build your reputation in a particular area, constraining your offer is a game changer. Think about it this way, if you’re new to practicing criminal defense and you want to gain a ton of experience, rather than focusing on all felonies and misdemeanors, if you constrain to one particular area… maybe drunk driving cases or assaultive crimes or drug possession cases, things like that.

You’re going to get so much experience, in that particular area, so much faster. It will help you increase your self-confidence and self-concept in that area of expertise. You’ll also become known for practicing that type of law faster, by the people in your network. They’ll be able to refer you more business in the area that you’re already an expert in. It makes everything about your practice simpler.

You could also do this with the industries that you serve. If you do transactional work… Focus on constraining to a particular sector, or section of the industry. Maybe you only work with start-up companies, or you only work with cosmetic companies that are start-ups, that’s very specific. Super niche. Constraining in that way, your name is going to become more well-known throughout that industry. You’re going to be seen as an expert in that area. You’re going to get further, faster, when you constrain in that way.

Another way you could constrain is in how you accept payment. I worked for people in the past, when I was still practicing law, where we took payment in any way you wanted to pay us. That might seem intuitive, but it’s really not. It doesn’t support your success. You might be scrambling to accept in-person payments. You go meet clients in person. Your record-keeping system ends up being cumbersome and overly complicated. If you practice constraint, rather than accepting payments in a million different ways, you can just accept them in one way.

Streamline the process. Make it easy on yourself and for your clients. Make it repeatable. It will also make record-keeping a breeze. See how when you practice constraint it simplifies everything? That’s exactly what I’m talking about here. You can only take meetings or calls at certain times of the day. Or, on certain days. That’s another way to practice constraint. You free up your other time for doing your most meaningful, substantive work. The stuff that really requires your full focus, energy, and mental capacity.

You can constrain when it comes to checking your email. I think I mentioned that in the “Making Decisions Ahead of Time” episode. Most people spend their day bouncing back-and-forth between the work that they’re working on and their inbox. When we do that, we slow ourselves down. Multi-tasking is not efficient or productive. You can constrain when it comes to checking your email in order to streamline your work, and be more productive during the hours you’re working.

You can also constrain the hours that you work. If you tell yourself that you will work weekends, if you “need” to, you will end up working them. I promise. Same thing goes with evenings. If you leave that as a stop-gap or an overflow area, you will fill it. I call this “scope-creep.” If you constrain to, “I only work nine-to-five, or ten-to-six, or ten-to-five, or ten-to-four,” whatever it is that you choose. If you constrain to those hours, you’re going to be more efficient and make better use of your time. You will take as long as you give yourself to get the work done. You can constrain in that way, too.

I also love constraining when it comes to my calendar. I only use one calendar. I used to use multiple calendars; one for my personal life, one for work, things like that. Now I just constrain to one. I do this because it simplifies my life so much. Everything syncs. Everything is in one place. I don’t have to check multiple sources in order to figure out whether I have a conflict, or not. Everything is always accurate. It’s all in one place and it’s up to date.

Another awesome area to practice constraint are the social media platforms that you choose to market yourself on. I do this. There are so many different platforms available to us, but when it’s just you, it’s hard to show up everywhere. If you attempt to do that, you dilute your efforts. I’d rather have you be in one place, ubiquitously, versus trying to be everywhere but showing up nowhere because you show up infrequently.

I constrain to two platforms: LinkedIn and Instagram. There are plenty of others. I just constrain to those two so I can show up with a more significant presence. It’s a great way to get faster results on the platforms you do choose to show up on.

Speaking of marketing, I also constrain with the actions that I take as part of my marketing efforts. As you’re working to develop your own book of business this is something you can do, too. Rather than trying to do all the things, and not doing any of them well or consistently, you can constrain to doing a few things and doing them well. For me, in the very beginning, I only posted on social media. Then I added my monthly webinar series. Once I did that consistently, and it felt dialed in, I added a weekly email that I send out on Fridays. That’s a little inspiration right to your inbox.

Finally, once that all felt dialed in, I chose to add the podcast. I’ve wanted to the podcast for a long time, but I was practicing constraint so I could get really good at what I was already doing. I only added a new thing once everything else felt mastered and dialed in. That’s another way you can practice constraint when it comes to business development.

Another important area to practice constraint is when it comes to setting and working towards goals. You want to focus on no more than three goals at a time. You can break this up into two different categories if you want to: three short-term goals and three-long term goals. It does not have to be three, it should just be no more than three. Sometimes, I only like to constrain to one goal at a time because I know that practicing constraint, in that way, I’m going to see more progress in a shorter amount of time.

When you’re working towards fifteen goals, all at the same time, chances are you’re going to get really discouraged because you’re only able to devote so much time and energy to each one. Your progress is going to be slow. You’re not going to see that you’re making much headway, and it’s going to be easy to get impatient, feel discouraged or defeated, and slow down or ultimately quit.

If you want to motivate yourself, you’ll want to constrain and you’ll see success a lot faster. You’ll be more encouraged to take massive action towards accomplishing those goals. Once you accomplish one, you can move on to the next one, and so on and so forth. This is a great area in which to practice constraint

A couple of other areas to practice constraint in your personal life… These are some examples that I’ve come up with that I practice myself. What stores do you shop from? It makes clothing shopping so easy if you constrain, “I only shop in these places. I know that they’re going to have what I like.” You only go there.

Dinner reservations is another great example of this. If friends are trying to make plans, I just constrain; I don’t need to micromanage what it is they are going to choose. I just tell them, “Go to Yelp if it’s; Italian, a steakhouse, tacos, or American prends-nous. If it’s four stars or higher, I’ll love. I don’t need to look at the menu. I trust you implicitly.” When I constrain that way, it makes it so much easier to select.

This is also why you’ll see on interior design shows they’ll give the homeowners three options to choose from. They practice constraint with the options they make available to them, so they’re not overwhelmed with all the different design choices.

I do this when I make dinner plans for friends of mine, too. I will select three, or so, restaurants and I’ll send them those options to choose from. It just makes everything easier. It really reduces the overwhelm and the spinning.

Another area that I practice constraint is the airline I fly. I live in Detroit, and we have a Delta Airlines hub here, so I always fly Delta. I don’t need to go to different websites and compare/contrast rates. I just go straight to my Delta app. It makes making travel arrangements super simple.

I also constrain when it comes to travel websites. When I’m booking hotels. There are so many different options out there available to us. I’m sure plenty of them are great, I just don’t like to spin in the overwhelm and indecision that comes from having too many options. I only use Booking.com, HotelTonight, or I book directly through the hotel website. Those are the three options that I give myself.

Another great way… and I talked about this in “Making Decisions Ahead of Time,” people hate making decisions when it comes to what they’re going to eat. You can constrain, substantially, when it comes to what you eat at specific meals, when you eat them. One of my rules, during the weeknights for dinner, is to keep it simple, protein and a vegetable. I can grill that, I can use my air fryer, I can sauté something, roast it, any of those options. But it’s going to be a vegetable and a protein. That simple. That’s a great way to practice constraint and reduce the overwhelm or decision fatigue.

Those are plenty of examples to get your gears moving. To get you to start thinking of how you can practice constraint, in your own life, in order to overcome the overwhelm that you experience and make your life simpler.

Practicing constraint might sound easy-peasy, but people really struggle with this concept when they go out and try to put it into practice. Let’s discuss the obstacle you encounter when you try to practice constraint.

You guys can’t see me right now because, obviously, this is an audio format; it’s a podcast. But I just said “try” in air quotes. The reason I did that, first and foremost, is I absolutely hate that word. You’ll hear me say that time and time again, and explain why, throughout the course of this podcast. Ultimately, trying just means not doing. That being said, when you go to practice constraint, here are some of the obstacles you may encounter that cause you to simply try and not do, because you abandoned your efforts to constrain, and you don’t follow through with practicing it.

Obstacle number one: The negative thoughts that you have about practicing constraint. When I use the word “constraint” with my clients, I see them cringe. They think that it is the worst. They think thoughts like, “It’s hard.” That they’re being controlled. That they’re limited. That it’s restrictive. They just don’t like the sound of it. They have a negative association with the concept of “constraint.” If you think about constraint in this way, you will not do it because those thoughts are going to make practicing constraint too uncomfortable.

That’s the other obstacle when it comes to practicing constraint. Your discomfort avoidance. You aren’t going to want to feel those negative feelings that come from the negative thoughts that you think about practicing constraint. Negative feelings like; feeling constrained, feeling controlled, restricted, maybe bored, limited, deprived. Or I know this doesn’t sound like an emotion, but I’ve decided that it is one, you’re going to feel that sense of “FOMO,” right, the fear of missing out.

When you think about experiencing any of that discomfort, it sounds too awful, so you don’t practice constraint. That’s your comfort entitlement making an appearance again. I talked about that in Episode 4.

In order to practice constraint and the reap the benefits of practicing it, you’re going to have to do two things. You’re going to have to change the way you think about constraint. And, you’re going to have to allow yourself to feel the negative emotions that come up for you, when you practice it.

I want to offer you… You can choose to think about practicing constraint as; the more you constrain, the more freedom you have in your life. That’s how I think of constraint. I equate constraint with freedom. I think of it as a gift I give myself. It’s the best thing I can do in order to create the life that I want. I know that constraining sets me up for success. If that feels like a stretch for you, I want you… You can re-wind that part of the podcast and go back through to ask yourself, “How might that be true?” “How might Olivia be right about that? That constraint equals freedom. That it leads to success. That it supports the vision I have for my life. How might that be accurate?”

You also must allow yourself to feel negative emotions like; feeling constrained, feeling controlled, restricted, bored, limited, deprived. That sense of FOMO. Yeah, there’s going to be some FOMO, and some deprivation, and maybe, some boredom by constraining your options. That’s okay, you can survive those negative emotions. I’ve talked to you guys about that before.

Allowing yourself to experience those emotions is how you get further, faster. That will always be the case. It might require some sacrifice. You might have to feel uncomfortable, that’s okay.

Also, always be sure to remind yourself that FOMO is actually, a lie. You think you’re missing out on the options that you’ve eliminated. That you’ve set outside of the parameters you’ve set for yourself. That isn’t accurate. The truth is, you miss out either way. You miss out if you constrain and you miss out if you don’t.

If you don’t constrain, you don’t focus on what matters the most to you. You miss out on experiencing those things, the ones that matter the most. You miss out on the progress you would’ve gained had you practice constraint, and focused all your energy and efforts on one thing in particular. You’re missing out either way. I strongly suggest you don’t choose to miss out on the things that matter most because you don’t want to feel deprived or restricted. Practice constraint and make sure you miss out on the unimportant stuff, not on the important stuff.

That’s that, as it relates to practicing constraint. Take a few minutes today and ask yourself, “Where can I practice constraint? Where can I practice constraint when it comes to work? Where can I practice it in my personal life? When it comes to what I do? When I do it? What I consume? What goals I set? How many goals I set? What I focus on?” Where can you practice constraint in your life. And again, if you struggle, just ask yourself, “In what areas would I be able to simplify my life, if I practiced constraint?”

One more thing, nope, two more things. Actually, I lied; three more things. That’s it, I swear. First, I want to say thank you to all of you who have taken time and left me ratings and reviews for the podcast, so far. I appreciate it so, so much. Every so often, I’m going to highlight one of those reviews as a way to say thank you and shout out one of the amazing listeners in the audience.

This week, I want to thank Momof2Ewes. That’s the handle this listener used on the Apple Podcasts app. They wrote, “I am loving this new podcast. I can relate and feel like Olivia talking to me. I’m excited to take action and already starting to see a positive shift in my mindset. I feel like there is reduced stress in knowing there is a goal and action plan. I’ve got a long way to go, but finding myself repeating the first three episodes and hearing something new each time.

Such an awesome review! Thank you so much! Honestly, it absolutely means the world to me. Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, it would be so amazing, if you would take a moment to go rate and review the podcast. I would love to know what you think, and let me know if there’s anything that you want to hear. I’d be happy to cover it in a future episode.

In order to give that rating and review, if you want step-by-step instructions for that, just visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com/podcastlaunch. It will give you all the details to walk you through how follow, rate, and review.

Lastly, like I promised at the beginning of this episode, if you’re interested in taking coaching concepts, like today’s topic and the other topics I’ve talked about in previous episodes, to the next level and learning to master them… If you’re craving community within the legal industry, you’re going to want to join The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. Enrollment just opened.

You’re going to want to make sure you enroll. The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind is the room where big things happen. It’s the room where transformation happens. Where breakthroughs happen. Where inspiration happens. Where community happens. Where support happens. Where bonding happens. Where trust happens. Where belonging happens. And, where thriving happens. It’s also where accomplishing the seemingly impossible, happens. You’re going to want to make sure you’re in that room. You’re in that Mastermind.

How do you secure a seat in that room? Go to www.Mastermind.TheLessStressedLawyer.com and apply now. Make sure you do that. Spots are limited. They’re going on a first-come-first-serve basis. I want to make sure that you make the most of this year and get yourself in that room so you can really thrive in the best way possible.

Alright, my friends, that’s what I got for you this week. I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 6: Unofficial Job Descriptions

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Unofficial Job Descriptions

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Unofficial Job Descriptions

When I talk about unofficial job descriptions, I’m not referring to your responsibilities, what was posted on the listing when you applied, or the title you hold. It’s the unwritten standard you hold yourself to when it comes to your job. Now, I find with my clients that they subconsciously craft these unofficial job descriptions, and then they use these definitions against themselves.

We often hold ourselves to completely unattainable standards. If you go through your day-to-day work life feeling constantly pressured, stressed, overwhelmed, or even inadequate, chances are that you’ve come up with an unofficial job description, and it’s not serving you. So, if this sounds familiar, I want you to listen in and come up with a standard that supports your wellbeing instead of dialing up the stress.

Tune in this week to see where your thoughts about how you should be showing up in your work are stopping you from actually doing a good job. I’m showing you how to rewrite your unofficial job descriptions, so you can hold yourself to a high standard at work without getting in your own way.

 

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why so many people use unofficial job descriptions against themselves.
  • How to gain awareness of your unintentional job description and how you’re using it against yourself.
  • Real-life examples from my clients about their unofficial job descriptions and how they’re negatively impacting their work.
  • Why you are 100% in control of whether you’re doing a sufficient job.
  • How to decide on an unofficial job description that is empowering and supportive of your wellbeing.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

  • I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review
  • Via 313

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, episode 6. We’re talking all about unofficial job descriptions today. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hello, hello, hello. How are you doing today? I am so good. I am in Austin, Texas right now. I got into town a few days ago. And I came in a few days early for this mastermind event through the Life Coach School, which is the coaching school that I’m certified through. And it is just one huge reunion here. It’s so much fun. It’s so good to see everyone after being cooped away the past couple of years.

I’ve actually been dying to get to Austin for a while now. I’m a big foodie and I know that they have a great food scene. I’ve been exploring some restaurants and one place it’s definitely on my list I’m going to tomorrow night is owned by a friend of mine. In a past life I used to be a bartender. And I got my first bartending opportunity from a man named Brandon Hunt.

And a few years later, after he hired me, he moved from Detroit to Austin and started a Detroit pizza company. And it’s become a huge success. He has several locations in the city of Austin, and they’re expanding outside of the state of Texas, him, and his business partner. So I’m going to be taking a ton of my coaching colleagues tomorrow night to dinner at one of his locations.

It’s called Via 313, which is the Detroit area code. And I want to introduce a bunch of my coach friends to Detroit style pizza, which is amazing, and in my opinion, much better than Chicago. I’m sure I’ll offend some of you who might love that. But if you haven’t tried it, definitely try it. And I will report back on my experience at Via 313. I can’t wait.

Anyways, enough about Detroit style pizza and Austin. Let’s dive into today’s topic. We’re talking all about unofficial job descriptions. Now, what do I mean by that term? I’m not talking about what’s on your firm website. I’m also not talking about the title you hold, or the name of your position, or the type of law you practice.

So unofficial job descriptions aren’t about whether you’re an associate, or a partner, or of counsel. Or whether you practice as a criminal defense attorney, or some type of civil litigation, or you do transactional work. Okay? It’s not about that. What I’m talking about is the unwritten standard that you hold yourself to when it comes to your job. I find that with my clients, they unintentionally craft these unofficial job descriptions and then they use these definitions against themselves.

Why does this happen? Normally, it’s because the standard that they set for themselves is completely unattainable. So if you go through your day to day work life with an immense amount of pressure, constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed, or maybe you feel inadequate, as though you’re missing the mark, chances are that you’ve come up with an unofficial job description that you’ve written for yourself unintentionally, and that definition is not serving you.

So what we want to do is gain awareness here as to what that definition is and how you’re using it against yourself. And if it needs to change, you’re going to want to redefine your job description in a way that supports your wellbeing instead.

The best way for me to explain and teach this topic is for me to give you plenty of examples of some of the unofficial job descriptions my clients have come up with that they’ve written for themselves because you’ll probably be able to relate to a few of them. And if you do see yourself in any of these unofficial job descriptions, what you’re going to want to do is get to work on rewriting the job description in a way that serves and supports you instead, okay?

So the first example is a client of mine, she does trademark law and she’s a litigator. And when I asked her a while back what her job description is, how would she define her job? She said to me, well, it depends on whether or not I am representing a plaintiff or a defendant. And as someone who used to practice civil litigation myself, I said, of course, I completely understand that. Run me through both examples.

And she said, okay, well, if I’m representing a plaintiff, then my job is to make sure the plaintiff gets 100% of the requested relief. I said, okay, great. And if it’s a defendant? She said, if I’m representing a defendant, my job is to make sure the plaintiff gets 0% of the requested relief. I said, awesome. How often do either of those outcomes happen? That’s the question that I asked her. And she goes, none of the time, cases always settle. It’s never that all or nothing result.

I said, great, do you see, like of course, you’re super overwhelmed because you’re defining your job in a way that’s completely unattainable. No wonder you feel terrible every day when you go to work. You’re making it impossible for you to do a “good job” by the way that you’re defining what doing a good job is. So you’re constantly going to feel like you’re missing the mark if that’s how you’re thinking of your role in that litigation setting, right?

Another example that comes up for clients of mine all the time is they say that my job is to win. And first and foremost, that’s really vague. What we mean by winning isn’t always clear. But if it’s, again, in the litigation context or maybe you’re doing transactional work and you’re trying to get a specific term negotiated, something like that.

But if you’re defining your job as my job is to win, and a lot of times you don’t win, like I used to do criminal defense work and we would lose frequently because we would have bad facts and there would be a lot of evidence against our clients. So if you are only giving yourself permission to think that you’ve done a good job and to celebrate the work that you do on the moments where you win, you’re going to feel pretty awful most of the time.

The other problem with having an unofficial job description that is focused on winning, is that the result is out of your control, right? Think about judges, we can’t control judges or what opposing counsel says or does in a negotiation process. So we define our jobs in a way that we don’t actually have control over which, again, is going to make us feel really powerless and really discouraged and defeated when we’re not able to control the outcome in a specific scenario.

So instead of defining your job as “it’s my job to win” you’re going to want to rewrite your unofficial job description in a much kinder way. That might look like saying my job is to advocate for my clients, right? That is in your control, you can do that. It doesn’t rely on anyone else, it doesn’t outsource your success to anyone other than you, okay? Which is what we want, we want you being in complete control of whether you’re doing a “good job” or a sufficient job, or that you’re just doing your job, right? We want that to be completely within your control. 

Another example of an unofficial job description that doesn’t serve people, this just came up with a new client of mine. He said that he was really experiencing almost paralyzing stress on a daily basis and that his job feels really overwhelming and heavy. And as we started to flesh this out and I asked him, you know, how do you define your job? What’s your job description? You know, tell me what you think your job is.

And he goes, I know this isn’t possible, but I see myself that it’s my job to be a lifesaver for my clients. And he also referenced like to unscrew up what’s already become a screwed up situation, right? Kind of like trying to put the genie back in the bottle, which, of course we know we can’t do. There are certain things that we have control over, but traveling back in time and preventing a bad situation from occurring isn’t one of them.

So even though he knows that he can’t save lives, and he’s not representing criminal defendants in capital cases. He does civil litigation work, so he really isn’t needing to be a lifesaver, but he’s defining his job that way. So of course he feels immense pressure on a daily basis. So that’s another example of a definition that’s not serving you, right?

Maybe that resonates with you. Maybe you see yourself as being a lifesaver to your clients. And if you do, that probably feels really heavy and stressful.

One of my other clients just answered this question when I asked, how do you define your job? Explain to me what you think your job is, kind of the unofficial definition of it. And her response, which I find to be very common, she told me, my job is to manage other people’s perceptions of me. And so many people that I work with are doing this on a daily basis. They’re so consumed with other people’s opinions, obsessing over micromanaging what everyone else thinks about them.

And, of course, we don’t have that ability, right? Other people get to have whatever opinions that they want to choose to have about us. They’re in control of that, we are not. That’s outside of our control. They get to think whatever they want, they might choose to think really wonderful, marvelous thoughts about us, or they might choose to think negative thoughts about us. But that is their business, we don’t actually control other people’s opinions of us.

So when we try to control other people’s opinions of us, when it’s something that we just lack control over, we’re going to feel really powerless on a daily basis. We’re going to feel very worried all of the time because we are defining our job as controlling other people’s perceptions of us. But we’re also going to feel very out of control because it is something that is out of our control.

So if that’s you, if you think your job is to manage other people’s perceptions of you, maybe it’s the partners that you work for, or a supervisor that you work for, or to manage your clients perceptions of you, you could do an excellent job with the substantive work that you’re doing, and people can still have a negative opinion of you. That’s on them, right?

So if you’re taking that on yourself, and making that your business, your chief concern, you want to check in with yourself there and ask is that serving you? Or is that creating a lot of heaviness that you carry with you on a day to day basis as you attempt to go about completing your job?

Another really ambiguous definition that a lot of my clients have is they say, well, it’s my job to get the best possible outcome for my client. And the problem with this is what in the world do we mean by best? That definition, what constitutes best, is going to be different for everyone.

And I find that best is normally pretty synonymous with a perfect job, getting a perfect outcome. Which when I confront people with that they say, oh, of course, we can’t ever achieve true perfection. But that’s pretty much what we mean when we say best.

Either we haven’t defined it at all so we can’t even figure out if we stumble upon achieving that best outcome. We still will feel like we’re missing the mark because we haven’t defined what best outcome means in a given situation. But oftentimes, the best outcome is sort of like the first example I gave you, that 100% requested relief achieved for the plaintiff or 0% of the requested relief if you’re representing the defendant.

It’s that very polar opposite extreme ends of the spectrum, that’s what we’re normally referring to when we’re using a term like best outcome. And if you are using that, again, you’re going to frequently feel like you’re missing the mark. So you want to check in with yourself there. And if you’re using that, start with defining what do I even mean by best outcome, and is that best outcome attainable here?

Also a similar example or for instance of this is when you say my job is to get my clients the outcome that they want or to make sure my clients are happy. Again, this is sort of similar to example number four as far as managing other people’s perceptions of you. We don’t control whether clients are happy or not. I know that seems counterintuitive to what we’re frequently taught, but you could do an exceptional job and a client could still be dissatisfied. That’s within the realm of possibilities.

So if you’re defining whether you’re doing a good job or not based on someone else’s happiness level, you’re going to feel really out of control. Also, depending on the type of law you practice you probably know this, sometimes the outcomes that clients want, they’re not possible.

So if you are defining your job, the only time that you give yourself permission to think that you’ve done a good job is when you get an outcome that your client wants, that might not be happening in a lot of the cases or matters that you work on. So again, you want to check in with yourself there and see if you’re using that type of unofficial job description against yourself. If you are, you’re going to feel really pressured and really unsuccessful.

I had this come up for me on one of the last civil cases that I handled before I switched to coaching full time. I was representing someone, and I was going to send over a demand letter with a drafted complaint. And I was hoping to settle the case before having to file the complaint and avoid all the discovery and pretrial litigation process.

And in preparing the demand letter and the complaint, I had, of course, talked to my client about the outcome that he was hoping for, how much money he was hoping to receive in a settlement. And we had come up with what we thought was a really fair figure, that he would be pleased with for it to be resolved for that amount.

And, of course, I didn’t have control over opposing counsel, they get to counteroffer at whatever it is that they counteroffer at. And they countered, and they came in really low. And I communicated the offer to my client and much to my surprise, he was actually really okay with it. He wanted the matter to be resolved very quickly. He wanted to avoid any risk of not having a favorable outcome if the case was dismissed.

So he agreed to accept their counteroffer and I noticed myself getting really bunged up about accepting their counteroffer. I felt really dissatisfied, I was feeling like I hadn’t done a good job. And it was because I was using the standard to get the best outcome possible, which certainly wasn’t the counteroffer that we had been presented with. I was also defining my job, or a job well done, as getting him close to, if not exactly the number that we had previously discussed.

And again, whether that was going to happen or not was completely outside of my control because I’m not opposing counsel, so I can’t control what offer they make us. I’m also not the judge, so I can’t control finding in our favor or, you know, jurors if it went to a jury trial instead of a bench trial. I don’t have control over any of that.

And I noticed, here I was I wanted to counteroffer really badly, I almost blew up the negotiation process and ended up going through that pretrial litigation, discovery, all of that because I wanted to achieve this unofficial job description of getting the client the outcome that we had previously discussed.

And I realized, whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s not my job here. What my job actually is, is to communicate my client’s position to opposing counsel. To advocate on his behalf. And then to communicate the counteroffer that we received from opposing counsel to my client. Advise on the risks involved with accepting or with denying, and explaining the process and just presenting my client with those options.

That’s what was required of me in that moment. It wasn’t to get the best outcome. It wasn’t to make my client happy. And it wasn’t to get him the outcome that we had previously discussed because, again, that’s out of my control. My job was simply to communicate information both ways, to opposing counsel and to my client, advise on the different possibilities and the risks associated with all of those, and then to get a decision from my client and communicate that decision back to opposing counsel.

And when we start to change the way we define our jobs and we make them so much more attainable, so much more within our control, we substantially dial down the pressure. We dial down that overwhelm, that stress. And we make it so much easier for us to satisfy a job well done, for us to achieve the standard that we set and feel good about the work that we do.

So if you feel frequently like you’re missing the mark, you’re going to want to check in with yourself here and figure out how are you defining your job? So start there, take a second and ask yourself, how am I defining my job? What exactly is it your job to do? Finish that sentence, my job is to do… Take a minute and see what comes up for you.

Maybe you think your job is to manage other people’s perceptions of you. Maybe you think your job is to win all of the time. Maybe it’s to get that 100% requested relief or to negotiate the best possible agreement for your clients. To get in every term into the contract that you want to get, or that you’ve previously discussed with your client that you think would be the cat’s pajamas, as my dad would say, right, the best case scenario.

Now, once you do that and you’ve come up with what your current unofficial job description is, you want to ask yourself this next question, is it even attainable? Is that standard possible for me to achieve? And if it’s not, you’re going to want to rewrite that unofficial job description that you’ve created for yourself, okay?

Now, even if it is attainable, you might still want to rewrite your unofficial job description. And we can do this, figure out if that’s the case for you by asking yourself this next question. Is my unofficial job description serving me? And if you see, like any of the examples I gave a few moments ago, that it’s creating undue, unnecessary pressure, you’re going to answer that question, no, it’s not serving you. And you’re going to want to bring yourself back to the drawing board here and rewrite that unofficial job description.

Now, when you do this, when you go back to the drawing board and you rewrite your unofficial job description, what you want to focus on is answering the question, what is within my control on a daily basis? What feels attainable for me? What can I accomplish? What’s a definition or an unofficial job description that feels kind to myself? And come up with that answer, define that as doing your job, or define that as doing a “good job.”

A couple examples of this, I have a client, she’s a trial attorney. We worked this through and rather than making the best possible argument in court, we’ve redefined her role as during trial her job is to bring all relevant documents to court and to ask questions that highlight the good facts and minimize the bad facts. She can check the box that she has done those two things. Ask questions that highlight good facts minimize bad facts, and bringing all of the relevant documents to court. That’s totally within her control.

You can define it sort of like I did on that last civil matter that I worked on. Communicating my position to opposing counsel and relaying counter offers to my client. That’s completely within my control, I’d be able to check that box and say, yes, I did that, I have accomplished that. Rather than, again, arguing a motion successfully which is outside of your control because you can’t control the judge.

You might just define it as my job is to argue the motion. My job is to draft agreements or negotiate terms of a contract. My job is to present my client with all of the available options, advise about the risks associated with each option, and allow my client to make a decision, right?

These are really neutral ways that we describe our roles that are completely within your control, which is exactly what we want. We want you to make sure that your unofficial job description is completely within your control, that’s how you’ll go from feeling insecure and inadequate on a daily basis to feeling assured and accomplished.

Which, who doesn’t want to feel that way, right? We, of course, all want to feel assured and accomplished as we go through our professional lives. Feeling that way is totally within your reach, you just have to tweak your unofficial job description, okay?

So go out and identify that unofficial job description that you’re currently using, possibly against yourself. And if you are using it against yourself, rewrite it in a way that supports you and serves you, okay? All right, that’s what I’ve got for you today. I will talk to you in the next episode. In the meantime, have a marvelous week.

Oh, and one more thing. If you enjoyed today’s show and don’t want to worry about missing an episode, be sure to follow the show wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you haven’t already, I’d really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know what you think about The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast.

It doesn’t have to be a five star review, although I really hope you love the show. I really want your honest feedback so I can create an amazing podcast that provides you with a ton of value. Visit thelessstressedlawyer.com/podcastlaunch for step by step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review the podcast. I’ll talk to you guys soon.

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 thelessstressedlawyer.com.

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 5: Making Decisions Ahead of Time

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Making Decisions Ahead of Time

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Making Decisions Ahead of TimeHave you ever heard of the concept of making decisions ahead of time? It’s a relatively simple concept that can absolutely change your life. You make a decision about a specific scenario, and you don’t revisit the decision – you stick to the plan. Every time a scenario comes up, you already know how you’re going to deal with it, so you don’t have to make spur-of-the-moment decisions.

When you’re making decisions in the moment, we’re using the primitive part of our brain, which is designed to keep us safe and nothing more. However, when we make decisions ahead of time, we engage a much higher-functioning part of our brain, so instead of being reactive, we can be proactive, intentional, and logical in making decisions that align with what we really want.

We make an astonishing 35,000 decisions every day, so tune in this week to discover how to cut that down to a manageable level and make the decisions that move you forward in a way that allows you to follow through with them, leaving your brain free to do the important work.

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why making decisions ahead of time makes so much sense.
  • What decision fatigue is and how it shows up in our lives.
  • How your brain processes the decisions you make ahead of time versus reactive decisions.
  • Where we waste time spinning in indecision and second-guessing.
  • Examples from both my life and my clients’ lives of simple decisions made ahead of time, providing structure while saving time and energy.
  • How to start making your own intentional decisions ahead of time step by step.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast, episode 5. We’re talking all about making decisions ahead of time. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hello, my friends. What’s going on with you? I hope you’re having a great week. This is my last week in Detroit before I head to Texas for an event that’s being hosted by coaching school, The Life Coach School. And I’ll actually be there in Austin when this episode is released, so if that’s when you’re hearing this, greetings from Austin.

Anyways, enough about my travel escapades, let’s dive in to today’s topic. I’m actually talking about one of my absolute favorite topics today and it’s something that I bring up in my coaching sessions with my clients all the time. My clients are actually sick of hearing me say this phrase, I say it so often. But we’re talking today about making decisions ahead of time.

What does that even mean? All right, let’s dive in. Making decisions ahead of time is where you make a decision ahead of time once and for all, and you don’t revisit the decision. Every time you encounter the scenario or the fact pattern to which the decision applies, you simply follow your original decision and implement the predetermined course of action that you’ve decided upon, okay?

So you make a decision one time, every time it comes up you follow that decision, you stick to the plan. That’s the long and short of it. Now, here’s some science behind why it makes sense to make decisions ahead of time.

And a quick side note here, if you’re wondering about what is the other option? Making decisions ahead of time versus what? The other alternative is making decisions in the spur of the moment. That split second decision that’s happening in real time, right? So you’re either making decisions ahead of time or you’re making decisions in the moment.

Here’s why it makes sense to make decisions ahead of time, we actually utilize different parts of our brains depending on which type of decision we’re making. When we’re making decisions in the moment, we’re using the primitive part of our brain.

And this is the instinctive part of our brain that is responsible for basic functioning; breathing, blinking, flinching, all that stuff. It’s also in control of our innate and automatic self-preserving behavior patterns that help ensure our survival, keep us safe and ultimately make sure that we don’t die.

I mentioned this in the last episode, that the primitive part of our brain is always trying to do three things; seek pleasure, avoid discomfort, and conserve energy. And it’s doing that as part of that natural instinctive self-preservation process. So when we’re making in the moment decisions, they’re very rarely aligned with achieving our long-term goals. They’re focused on those short-term incentives instead, okay?

Now, when we make decisions ahead of time, we use our prefrontal cortex to make those decisions. And that’s the part of the brain that is responsible for reasoning, problem solving, comprehension, impulse control, creativity and perseverance, all right?

When we make decisions ahead of time, we’ve temporally removed ourselves from the point that we would be required to take action, that the discomfort associated with taking action that would arise in the moment that we’re due to take it, that discomfort is far enough removed, it’s a distant enough threat that we don’t make the decision based on having an eye towards avoiding that discomfort.

We’re not focused on seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, and conserving energy. That self-preservation instinct doesn’t kick in because the discomfort threat is far enough removed. And that means when we’re making decisions ahead of time we aren’t reactive, we’re really proactive and intentional. We’re able to make the decision from a grounded mental space. And again, that’s because the decision is being removed the in the moment action taking when the discomfort avoidance is at its highest.

From that grounded place we’re able to make the most logical decision that is best aligned with achieving our long-term objectives. Now, why is this helpful? First, you make decisions that support your long-term growth and set you up for success. You also eliminate or substantially reduce the amount of decision fatigue that you experience. And if you’re not super familiar with decision fatigue, I’m going to explain that right now.

I want you to think of your brain as a battery. Every decision that you make depletes it little by little throughout the day. And you waste that resource, that battery energy, that battery life, making repetitive decisions when you could be using it on your best work, on the problems that are really complex that you need to tackle, right?

Think about how many decisions you make on a daily basis. Most of the decisions you’re making, you don’t even realize that you’re making them in the moment, but you are in fact making them. I actually just did a quick Google search just to see what the estimated number of daily decisions would be, and even I’m shocked. I figured the number would be high, but I’m pretty stunned.

The answer, and it’s Google so take that for what you will. But the answer that came back when I did the search was that the average person makes 35,000 decisions a day. Think of all of the mental energy that is required to make that many decisions. Think of that battery in your brain, think about how quickly it gets depleted when you’re making that many decisions.

You wake up, what time are you waking up? What time are you getting out of bed? Are you hitting snooze? What are you doing the first thing you get up? Are you getting a drink of water? Are you going to jump straight in the shower? Are you going to check your phone first? All the decisions that come with checking your phone. What are you going to wear today? There’s several decisions there, right? What are you going to eat? That tends to be everyone’s least favorite decision throughout the day.

So many decisions, when are you going to respond to that email? What are you going to say? What’s the word choice going to be? How long should the email be? Should you respond now? Should you respond later? Decision after decision after decision after decision. When are you going to check your email? Should you check it again? Has it been too long? How long are you going to work for the day? What time are you going to stop working? Will you take breaks? Will you not?

What are you going to do after work? What are you going to eat for dinner? Are you going to watch TV? If so what are you going to watch? What time are you going to go to bed? That’s just a smattering of the decisions you make on a daily basis, right?

Making all of those decisions utilizes mental energy. And it takes more energy to make in the moment decisions because you’re essentially deciding anew each time. You keep revisiting it and it’s not like you’re bringing all of the history with you. It might seem like you are, but you’re re-deciding anew every time you make the decision in the moment.

You can save energy by making the decision once, a single time ahead of time and following that plan every time you encounter the fact pattern or situation to which that decision applies. And the energy that you save, you get to apply it to doing your most important work instead of the monotonous stuff that really doesn’t require that brainpower, that heavy lifting, okay?

You also get to get to the end of your day feeling more energized because you haven’t made all of these unnecessary mental energy expenditures on in the moment decision making. And that’s really what not making decisions ahead of time leads to. It leads to you going into everyday situations undecided, your mind isn’t made up.

So one of the problems with being undecided and making decisions in the moment is that it wastes your time. And, man, time is one of your most valuable assets that you have. It’s one of your most valuable resources so we don’t want to be wasting it.

Now, why is it a waste of time? Because if we’re being really honest, most people don’t make empowered decisions confidently and quickly. That’s something that I teach my clients to do, but most people don’t do that inherently on their own, okay?

Instead of making empowered decisions confidently and quickly, people spin in indecision, they hem and they haw, they second guess themselves, which is really just another way of indulging in an action. But they take a ton of time to make a decision, to get to the point where they’re actually decided. So being undecided is a huge waste of time.

Now, you want to become a person who is decided because it gets you results that you want in your life so much faster. Actually, being decided is one of my themes for the year because I know that by being decided, I’ll be able to achieve some of my desired results that I have for myself and my business so much faster.

So I really want you to start thinking of being a person who is decided. And you achieve that by making decisions ahead of time that that’s something that really buys you back your time and makes sure that you’re making the most efficient use of the time that you have.

Now, quick side note here, this doesn’t mean that you can’t ever change your mind. I’m going to talk about this a little bit more towards the end of this episode, but you can change your mind, you just want to be doing that very intentionally.

Not in the way that comes from spinning in indecision and second guessing yourself and saying you decided but then going back on the decision and then spinning some more, okay? Not like that, We want to make really intentional changes to decisions that support the results we’re trying to create. I’ll talk more about that later.

Another problem with making decisions in the moment is that you make your life harder. And none of us want to do that, right? You over complicate your life. You essentially inconvenience yourself when you resort to in the moment decision making. And listen, you don’t need to add insult to injury here by making your life harder than it needs to be. Most of my clients come to me already believing that their lives are hard enough.

So you want to avoid making as many in the moment decisions as you possibly can in order to simplify your life, make it less complicated, make it much more convenient, make it easier. Who doesn’t want things to be a little easier, right?

Okay, now that I’ve explained what making decisions ahead of time is and why it’s better than making decisions in the moment, I want to go through several examples of decisions that you can make ahead of time. And I want to do this, and I mentioned this in that last episode, because that’s how you’re really going to begin to learn, understand, and internalize these concepts, through lots and lots of examples.

A lot of these decisions that I’m going to share with you are decisions that I’ve actually implemented in my own life to simplify my life, make things more convenient, save myself time. Other decisions that I’m going to introduce you to through these examples are some decisions that my clients have actually implemented. And I think they’re great, so I want to offer them to you as inspiration.

The first one I want to start with is one of the ones that I’ve had in place the longest, but it’s a decision that I’ve made ahead of time about where I put my car keys. I put them in the exact same spot every single time I come back into my house after I’ve used my car. And I never ever waver from this.

They go in a particular drawer, I put them there as soon as I enter my house, even when I have the urge to just set them on the coffee table and put them in the drawer later. I remind myself in that moment, we’ve already decided this, we’ve made a decision ahead of time. Go put your car keys in the drawer. And then I go do it.

And how does this make my life more convenient? I’m never scrambling to find my keys. This is a super simple decision ahead of time, but it really does make my life easier. I’m never late because I can’t find my car keys. I always know where they are. I don’t have to dig for them in my purse. I don’t have to look for them in a sofa cushion or underneath my couch or anything like that. I always know exactly where they’re at.

Another decision ahead of time that I’ve made is the decision to plug my cell phone in every night before I go to bed to charge. If you’re a friend of mine, you know that my cell phone used to be perpetually dead. And it’s super inconvenient, right?

I used to have to worry about bringing a charger with me if I would go out for the night because my phone probably wouldn’t be charged. If you’re trying to get ahold of someone and your phone dies, that’s super inconvenient. It just added extra tension and stress to my life. And that extra stress and complication, totally unnecessary.

So I problem solved, I figured out what would make my life easier. And that is to, first and foremost, buy a long enough charger so I could plug my phone in and be in bed with my phone every night, that was one of the reasons that I wasn’t charging it in the evenings to begin with. So I bought a longer charger and now I charge it every single night. I am not allowed to fall asleep until my phone is plugged in. I honor that decision every night when I go to bed.

Another decision ahead of time that I’ve made is regarding my calendar. I use an electronic scheduler to schedule a lot of my calls because I absolutely hate the back and forth of figuring out when people are free to schedule a call. That’s actually another decision ahead of time that I’ve made, that I don’t do the back and forth, I only use my electronic scheduler, I use Calendly.

So because I have Calendly, people have access to my calendar. And if my calendar is not always up to date it’s really easy for me to end up becoming double booked, which I absolutely want to avoid. I don’t like, again, the unnecessary communication of having to resolve a conflict that was completely avoidable.

So I have a rule, as soon as the need for a calendar event arises, I have to create it. I create the calendar event immediately, all of my time is up to date and blocked off and it eliminates all conflicts, which is absolutely life changing and such a headache saver.

Here are a couple other examples, when it comes to scheduling calls I have a rule I never scheduled back-to-back calls. Making this decision ahead of time makes sure that I don’t end up running late for one thing because another thing ran long. And I don’t have to deal with the stress at the end of a meeting if something seems to be running over. So when the opportunity to schedule something back-to-back arises, I remember I have made the decision ahead of time and that’s simply a no for me.

Here are a couple other decisions you can make ahead of time that relate to your calendar and how you spend your time. Any standing meetings that would make sense for you have throughout the week, pick the same day and time and just have them as recurring appointments on your calendar instead of scrambling last minute to try and find a time that works for everyone.

People will be able to plan ahead, it saves the back-and-forth time of the scheduling. And it also allows you to make the most efficient use of that meeting time because everyone was able to prepare for it.

You can also make a decision ahead of time about when you start work and when you end work for the day. If you want to start work every day at nine, then you make that decision and you honor it. You get out of the drama of having to figure out do I start at 9? Am I starting at 8:30? Well, maybe 9:30 is okay. You will eliminate all of that decision fatigue and indecision by just deciding the time you start work and honoring it.

You can make a decision ahead of time about when you enter your billable time if you’re someone who has to do that as part of their job. You can make a decision ahead of time about when you check social media. If you’re a procrastinator and you tend to check it throughout the day and it really messes with your productivity and puts you behind when it comes to your schedule, you can make a decision ahead of time about when you check social media throughout the day.

You can also do this with email rather than being in your inbox all day long, for lack of a better term half pregnant between the work that you’re working on and your inbox. You can decide ahead of time the times of the day when you check email and you just honor that. If it’s not in one of those times, you wait until one of the times to check it.

Making this decision ahead of time makes you so much more focused and efficient when it comes to your work because you don’t waste time reorienting yourself between your inbox and the more substantive task at hand, okay? So that’s a really big game changer if you choose to make that decision ahead of time and implement it.

You can actually make scheduling decisions about when you do anything. Everyone’s least favorite decisions tend to be around food, so you can make decisions ahead of time about when you eat, where you eat, and what you eat.

So think, what decisions can you make ahead of time to simplify the food category for yourself? I’ve made a ton there, especially about what I eat during the week nights in order to make my life a lot easier because I noticed I was wasting a ton of time making decisions around food.

I also make decisions about when I order groceries and go grocery shopping. That’s a weekend activity for me and I normally go to the market on Friday nights because I like to prepare a fresh dinner on Friday. And I make sure my groceries are ordered and delivered on Sundays so I have things for the week.

You can make decisions ahead of time about what time you go to bed. Your whole evening routine will start to become much more structured and reliable if you make a decision like that.

You can make a decision ahead of time about how often you post on social media, if that’s something you’re doing to build your practice, to build a book of business. If you default in the moment decision making, you’re going to let other work take priority over that business development, right?

You can make decisions ahead of time about how many hours you bill each day. This is something that I do with my clients so frequently. We make a decision ahead of time about what the number is going to be each day, and they make sure they hit that number. That way their billables are really consistent and they don’t have to worry or scramble towards the end of the month or the end of the year, any of that. We just have a target; they decide and they set their whole day up to make sure that they reach that.

You can make decisions about how and when you send out invoices. You can make decisions ahead of time that you never discount. That’s something that I teach my clients not to do. You can make decisions about when you respond to email and how you respond.

So many people waste time being undecided between whether they acknowledge receipt or whether they send a comprehensive response later. You can make a decision ahead of time of exactly how you approach that scenario every time you encounter it so you stop wasting all that mental energy re-deciding the same thing over and over.

You can also make decisions ahead of time about where you shop for clothes and what specifically you buy. I made that decision myself, I noticed that I would always buy cream-colored tops and that I would never end up wearing them because I always just thought white looked better than cream with any of the things that I was wearing. So eventually, I decided enough, no more cream. And now it’s just a no for me. I followed that decision that I’ve made ahead of time, every time I shop now.

Okay, those are the examples I have for you. Now listen, I could spend hours and hours and hours talking about all of the decisions ahead of time that you can possibly make in your life. And perhaps at some point I’ll do a part two where I give you more examples of this. But what I really want to encourage you to do is borrow some of these for yourself, that’s why I gave you so many examples in this episode. I know it was kind of a long list, but I wanted to give you ideas that you could borrow.

I also wanted to give you a bunch of examples so you can put on your own thinking cap and use these examples as a source of inspiration to figure out what decisions you can make ahead of time to free up your own mental energy and simplify your own life, okay? You want to pick decisions ahead of time that are bespoke to you and your life, that best support you. This isn’t one size fits all.

I also want to make sure that you don’t use this list against yourself. I gave you a long list, I don’t want you to try and implement all of these decisions ahead of time all at the same time. Pick one decision, make one decision at a time and master it. Put it in place and then add another one. Master the one after that and then keep repeating the process. Okay?

Don’t overwhelm yourself here. If you do, you’re not going to be effective, you won’t follow through. And I’m going to talk about this, specifically it’s the topic of constraint, more in the next episode. But for now I just want you to know you’re not doing yourself any favors if you overwhelm yourself by taking on too much. You’ll get discouraged and then you’ll give up. So don’t do that, take this one decision ahead of time at a time.

Speaking about following through, I want to add one more thing here. People always say to me, okay, I made the decision ahead of time, but now comes the hard part, actually honoring the decision ahead of time and following through with what you’ve decided. Be careful not to conflate ease with comfort. Following the decision you made ahead of time is actually the easier thing to do. It just isn’t always the most comfortable, okay?

With that in mind, let’s talk about the voice in your head that’s telling you not to follow through. That voice may not be there with every decision ahead of time that you make. For a lot of mine I have such a compelling argument for why I made the decision ahead of time in the first place that I have absolutely no mind drama on following through with it.

A couple of my decisions ahead of time though, I do have that voice in the back of my head that’s whispering to me, “Olivia, just break your rule just this once. It’s totally okay. It’ll be fine.” And if that’s you, if that’s happening for you as well, I want you to know that it’s totally normal.

You also have to expect that it’s going to continue to be there though. Because if you make that voice being there a problem, if you make it mean that something’s gone wrong, you’re really going to stumble and struggle when it comes to following through and honoring the decision that you made ahead of time.

For me, I always have a voice when I’m coming into my house with carry out, normally if it’s pizza this is when the voice seems to be the loudest. I always want to walk into my living room and put the pizza down and not put my car keys in the drawer. And every single time I catch that voice in my head, I call it out and I say, “No, no, no, that’s not what we’re doing. The keys go in the drawer before you sit down to eat. That’s where they go, that’s our protocol. That’s the decision we’ve already made.”

Same thing when I crawl into bed at night, and I get all comfy and I forgot to plug my phone in. And I have all my blankets situated, and my pillow situated, and I’m cozy and I don’t want to move. That voice is whispering to me, “It’s okay, you don’t have to plug your phone in. It’ll be fine. It’ll be okay tomorrow. It won’t make a difference.”

And I catch myself and I say, “No, that’s not the decision we already made. That’s not what we do here.” And I make myself get up from under the covers, reach for my phone cord. And it’s not a big deal, obviously, but it does require me to embrace some discomfort in order to honor the decision ahead of time.

Same thing happens with the calendar requirement that I have where I make the calendar event immediately. I schedule the event so I avoid any double-booking conflicts. I always have this urge to just do it later. I know that’s going to happen, so I expect it to come up for me and I just have a conversation with that voice and I say, “No, no, no, that’s not what we’re doing. You know the rule, make the calendar event right now.”

I never make that whisper that’s tempting me to abandon the decision I made ahead of time a problem. I just expect it and then I dismiss it. I just don’t give it a seat at the table. So if you make a decision ahead of time and you experience resistance when it comes to honoring that decision and following through on it, what I want you to do is identify the feeling that you’ll be forced to feel if you just force yourself to honor the decision. Find that one word emotion and then gag and go through that discomfort.

I’m always going to bring you back to that, okay? That’s the process of making decisions ahead of time. Make the decision, go to honor it, if there’s resistance, make sure you’re familiar with the compelling argument you have for making the decision in the first place. Identify the feeling you’ll be forced to feel, and then gag and go through feeling that discomfort.

Now, questions that you can ask yourself in order to help you identify the decisions ahead of time that you want to make that set you up for success. I want you to gather data and make data driven decisions about these decisions ahead of time.

So I want you to think each week about the week before, what worked and what didn’t. And what decisions could you make ahead of time that would remedy what didn’t work? Other questions to ask include what decisions do you make most frequently? Identify those decisions and figure out what decisions you could make ahead of time in that area.

What decisions do you hate making, right? What decisions can you make ahead of time there to really avoid having to remake those decisions that you don’t like making? What decisions can you make that would make your life simpler? Kind of the converse of this is what makes this situation hard? What makes this task hard? That’ll help you start to problem solve and identify areas where you might be able to make decisions ahead of time in order to simplify things. Another question is how can this be easy?

And last but not least, you want to make sure you’re making decisions ahead of time that are in line with your preference, otherwise you won’t honor them. So a good example of this is you can decide ahead of time that you’re going to wake up at six o’clock every day. But if you don’t want to wake up at six o’clock every day, you’re probably not going to stick to that decision.

So ask yourself, what’s my preference here? And be really honest with your answer and come up with a decision ahead of time that takes that preference into account and honors it, okay?

That’s what I’ve got for you this week. Go out, brainstorm, take some of these examples, apply them in your own life, come up with your own decisions ahead of time that you can make. And I would love to hear about some of the decisions ahead of time that you come up with.

I know that you’re going to have amazing ideas so reach out to me, DM me on social media, send me an email at Olivia@thelessstressedlawyer. Tell me what decisions you come up with, I would die to hear them. All right? Have a beautiful week, I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Oh, and one more thing. If you enjoyed today’s show and don’t want to worry about missing an episode, be sure to follow the show wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you haven’t already, I’d really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know what you think about The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast.

It doesn’t have to be a five-star review. Although I really hope you love the show. I really want your honest feedback so I can create an amazing podcast that provides you with a ton of value. Visit thelessstressedlawyer.com/podcastlaunch for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review the podcast. I’ll talk to you guys soon.

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 thelessstressedlawyer.com.

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 4: Comfort Entitlement

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Comfort Entitlement

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Comfort EntitlementIn the last episode, we talked a little about discomfort avoidance. Basically, you identify the actions you need to take to create a desired result, but you don’t take the action because it’s uncomfortable. This is such a common problem, so today we’re taking a deeper dive, and looking at one of the biggest drivers of discomfort avoidance: comfort entitlement.

Comfort entitlement is an expectation that you should be able to take a particular action and that it feels comfortable in the process. When it turns out it isn’t comfortable, you make that discomfort a dealbreaker. But the discomfort isn’t negotiable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it anyway.

Tune in this week to discover what’s going on in your brain when you’re experiencing discomfort, and why we feel entitled to comfort. I’m sharing why our brain thinks discomfort is an existential threat, why it’s not, and how believing it is a threat is keeping you stuck, not safe.

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why comfort entitlement is a problem if you’re trying to create new results in your life.
  • How to see where comfort entitlement is preventing you from taking action.
  • Where comfort entitlement comes from and why our brains can’t distinguish between discomfort and danger.
  • 3 things your brain is focused on and why discomfort feels like a threat.
  • Where comfort entitlement has come up in my own business, and how I overcame it.
  • Why avoiding discomfort doesn’t actually keep us safe, despite what our brain believes.
  • 3 questions to ask yourself to see what would be possible for your life if you weren’t entitled to comfort.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast episode four. We’re talking all about comfort entitlement. 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.

Welcome. How are you doing today? I am recording this episode right before the podcast launches. Literally, it’s the night before the first episodes go live first thing tomorrow morning. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. If you’ve already listened to the first three episodes prior to tuning into this one, first and foremost, I just want to say thank you so much. I hope you loved them. It’s an absolute honor to have the opportunity to speak with you each week through your speakers. I can’t even begin to tell you how humbled and grateful I am that you’ve embarked on this journey with me by choosing to tune in.

All right. Now with all that out of the way, let’s get to today’s topic. It’s a little bit of a natural extension to something I discussed on the last episode. In the last episode, I talked a bit about discomfort avoidance. As a little bit of a refresher, discomfort avoidance is where you identify the action you need to take to produce your desired results, the results you want to create. But then when it comes time to take that action, you don’t take it because it’s uncomfortable.

Instead of moving forward in spite of and despite that discomfort, you will avoid experiencing that discomfort by not taking action at all or doing something else instead that’s more comfortable in the moment. That’s discomfort avoidance. Okay.

Now today I want to talk about a related problem. It’s actually one of the driving forces behind discomfort avoidance. That’s comfort entitlement. What’s that? I’m so glad you asked. Comfort entitlement is an expectation that you have that you should be able to take a particular action and have the experience of taking that action feel comfortable.

The entitlement part comes in when invariably you go to take the action, and it isn’t comfortable. You start to feel that sense of discomfort, and you refuse to take action and move forward because you feel entitled to feeling comfortable while you take that action. You make that discomfort a deal-breaker.

Why is this an issue? First and foremost, it is an issue because it defies the natural human experience. Almost any time you’re learning, doing, or creating something new, whenever you’re changing the status quo or embarking on an intentional action that produces results you want in your life, you’re going to feel some kind of uncomfortable. Some flavor, as I like to call it, some flavor of discomfort.

All right.  Now if you’re feeling entitled to feeling comfortable. So much so that you make experiencing that discomfort a complete non-starter, you’re never going to accomplish anything you want to accomplish.

Now, where does this entitlement come from? There’s a primitive part of your brain that’s actually designed to keep you safe, and it’s always trying to do three things. Seek immediate pleasure, avoid immediate pain, and conserve energy. It perceives any type of discomfort as going against those three goals, those three initiatives, and it perceives it to be a threat.

This primitive part of your brain cannot discern between discomfort and danger. So it sounds the alarms when you start to experience any type of discomfort, and it tells you to abort that action in favor of maintaining the status quo. That’s what it thinks is the safest thing to do.

The problem here is that most of the discomfort we experience when we’re working on accomplishing our goals, when we’re working towards something and taking that intentional action, it’s not an existential threat to our survival, to our safety. So avoiding the discomfort doesn’t keep us safe. It actually keeps us stagnant. Okay.

In addition to this primitive preconditioning that’s always trying to seek immediate pleasure, avoid immediate pain, and conserve energy as a protection mechanism, we also tend to buy into the belief that we should feel comfortable all the time. All right. That if we don’t feel comfortable all the time, something has gone wrong. That there’s a problem, and we need to solve it. The way that we solve this problem is by avoiding the discomfort altogether.

Now, knowing these two things, here’s what you can do. First, when you understand that your brain’s natural instinct is to avoid discomfort in order to keep you safe, you can override this natural response by taking action in spite of and despite the negative feeling you experience.

Second, you can start to actually reconfigure the way that you think about experiencing discomfort in the first place. Instead of thinking that it shouldn’t happen, you can anticipate it and decide it’s not a problem at all. It’s all going exactly as it’s supposed to. It’s just part of the program.

After all, it really isn’t a problem. If you think about it, think back over the course of your life, you’ve survived absolutely every negative emotion you’ve ever experienced. So you can and will survive all of the ones you experience going forward. Experiencing different flavors of discomfort is not an issue. Okay.

Now that you understand what’s driving your comfort entitlement, I want to walk you through several examples of what comfort entitlement looks like. Okay. The reason I want to do this is because I believe that it’s the best way for you to learn and really understand this concept. I’m going to do this all throughout the course of the podcast because we learn when we see how it comes up in our own day-to-day lives.

Hypotheticals and theories are great, but you’ll really start to make meaningful changes in your life when you could identify when you’re indulging in patterns like this. Specifically, in this instance, when you’re indulging in comfort entitlement. When you can spot it in the moment and course-correct, that’s when things are really going to start to shift.

The best way to become skilled at making that identification in the moment is to see a ton of scenarios where this pattern comes up, this habit comes up so you can identify it. You’ll be more familiar with it, and it’s easier to recognize when it happens to you. Okay.

So I’m going to go through a bunch, but let’s start with a super common one. I want to start with saying no. All right. Someone asks you to do something, maybe it’s work-related, maybe it’s not. It could be going on in your personal life. Either you don’t have time to do it, or you simply don’t want to do it. Chances are it could totally be both right? Maybe you don’t have time for it, or you feel like you don’t have time for it, and you don’t want to do it either.

But when you think about saying no or you’re about to say no. Maybe you’ve decided ahead of time, I’m gonna say no, but then it comes time to actually say the words, “No, I’m not going to do that. Or no, that doesn’t work for me.” You start to experience some type of discomfort. It starts to bubble to the surface.

Most oftentimes with saying no, I find that people start to experience guilt or fear. Right? They feel guilty because they think they should say yes, or they feel afraid because they’re worried about what the other person’s going to think, how they’re going to respond, whether or not there’s going to be a negative consequence as a result of them saying no. Okay. Even though they really want to say no, they make that discomfort, that guilt, or that fear a deal-breaker.

Now, consciously or unconsciously, most people think that they should be able to say no and feel comfortable while they do it. They think the guilt or the fear shouldn’t be there. That it should be easy. That it should be comfortable. Because they don’t feel comfortable, they don’t move forward and say no. That’s comfort entitlement.

The next example I want to talk about is sticking to your schedule. I work with so many of my clients on time management. It’s one of the things that I coach on the most. I’ll talk a lot about time management over the course of this podcast. I’ll specifically get into the mindset you need to have when it comes to time management, and the specific strategies that I teach. I’ll dive into great detail about that in future episodes.

Here I just want to talk about the discomfort that comes up when it comes to sticking to your schedule. One of the specific components of time management that I teach is for people to plan their schedules ahead of time, and then go ahead and honor that plan. All right. My clients hate doing this, and I can’t blame them. Years ago when I first started practicing time management, I hated doing this too. It felt super uncomfortable.

Because it felt super uncomfortable, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t stick to the schedule. I see the exact same resistance coming from my clients. I think this, out of anything that I teach, is the thing that they loathe the most is sticking to their schedule.

Here’s why. It forces them to feel super controlled, bothered, restricted, and oftentimes even bored. They think that it should be comfortable to stick to it. So when those negative feelings start to make an appearance, they abandon that plan, that schedule that they set for themselves because they’re entitled to feeling comfortable. Sticking to the plan isn’t comfortable. So they refuse to stick to it. That’s comfort entitlement too.

Now, another example is posting on social media. This is actually something that I struggled with when I first started my coaching business. I knew I wanted to market myself online, but I could not bring myself to post content on social media.

Here’s why. In order to do it, I had to be willing to feel exposed and embarrassed in front of former colleagues. I was really concerned about what other people would think. I thought that they would think life coaching was really silly or stupid, much different than what I assumed people thought about me practicing law, right. That it was practical and responsible and impressive and prestigious and admirable, all of those things.

So I had a ton of mind drama about putting myself out there on social media, and marketing myself as a coach. Now, in the beginning, I made those negative feelings. That feeling of feeling exposed, that feeling of feeling embarrassed. I made those feelings deal breakers. I was completely entitled to feeling comfortable when it came to posting. And because I wasn’t comfortable posting, I didn’t post. That’s comfort entitlement too.

Another great example here is weight loss. This is an area where I see a ton of comfort entitlement. I’ve actually even had this issue myself. I’m giving you guys, you know, full disclosure of all the things I’ve previously struggled with in this episode that I’ve had to work through where I’ve had comfort entitlement come up for me.

So in the past, I wanted to lose weight, but I wanted to feel super comfortable while doing it. I wanted to eat all the foods that I typically enjoyed eating. I’m a huge foodie. So I wanted to be able to eat all of the delicious meals that I love to indulge in and really enjoy. I was really kind of treating food as entertainment, right?

I didn’t want to plan my meals in advance or stick to a restricted diet that actually supported my weight loss goals. I didn’t want to give up cheeseburgers or Reuben sandwiches or certain desserts, or that extra glass of wine that also probably didn’t support my weight loss goals at the time, right? I didn’t want to do any of that. I wanted to be able to eat whatever I wanted and lose weight.

In order to stick to the schedule and plan meals in advance and really constrain what foods I was eating that would support those goals, I would have been forced to feel deprived and honestly probably pretty bored with eating the same thing or eating a limited selection of food choices. So for so long, I didn’t change my eating habits because it wasn’t comfortable for me to change them. I was entitled to feeling comfortable when it came to food. It wasn’t until I dropped my comfort entitlement that I made a change to my diet and began eating in a way that supported my weight loss goals.

I also see comfort entitlement come up a lot when it comes to people applying for new jobs. My clients will come to me, and they’ll want to switch jobs. But when it comes to applying, they only want to have to apply to a few of them. When they start to apply and they don’t get callback interviews, or they get told no and they don’t get that position that they went out for, they have this natural inclination to want to quit applying.

Why? It’s because they’re feeling entitled to feeling comfortable. Continuing to keep applying, despite that rejection that they’ve already faced, would mean that they’d have to keep feeling rejected and discouraged and keep showing up in spite of and despite those feelings. But they think they shouldn’t have to feel those emotions, and as a result of thinking that they shouldn’t have to feel them, they quit. That’s comfort entitlement too.

My last example that I want to talk about is one, it’s probably my favorite one, to be honest. It’s the comfort entitlement that I see when people have a desire to start their own law firm or start their own business that might be outside the practice of law. I see so much comfort entitlement here. People think that they should be able to start their own business, and that they shouldn’t have to feel uncertain or nervous or misunderstood as they do it. They want that experience to be comfortable.

But when you’re doing something new, you’re not going to have everything figured out. You’re not going to know all of the answers in advance. You’re not going to have that crystal ball that’s going to tell you exactly how it’s going to go. So you’re gonna have to feel uncertain. You’re probably going to have to feel nervous, like, “Oh, what if it doesn’t work out? What if it takes longer than I’m expecting, right?” Those nerves are going to be there.

A ton of people want other people in their lives to support their decision to make a big shift. I know that’s something I had to work through. Really allowing myself to feel misunderstood when I made the shift to start my own business because other people are concerned, and they might be not as risk-tolerant as you. Or they might think that you’re pursuing a route that isn’t as safe or secure as maybe what they think you should do or what’s right for you. So you’re going to have to feel uncertain. You’re going to have to feel nervous. You’re going to have to feel misunderstood by those people that are in your lives.

When it’s not comfortable, when those feelings come up, people make them a deal-breaker. They refuse to move forward. They just spin. They indulge in an action. They quit before they ever get started all because they’re entitled to that process feeling comfortable.

Listen, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to feel negative emotions, right? It’d be all rainbows, daisies, and sunshine every day. We’d get to take action and feel totally comfortable while we do it. But unfortunately, and I am fine really emphasizing the unfortunately here, you guys. I would love to be able to do all the new things and take all of this action to produce the desired results in my own life and get to feel comfortable while I do it. All right. But unfortunately, that’s just not the way the world that we live in works. We’re going to have to take action and feel uncomfortable while we take it.

Now, there’s one caveat here that I do want to emphasize. Can you just adjust your thinking and reduce the discomfort that you experience? Yes, 1,000%. Absolutely. Your thoughts cause your feelings. I’m going to dive into that in a lot more detail in future episodes to really explain how that causal connection works.

But since your thoughts cause your feelings, if you want to feel differently and you want to drastically dial down the discomfort that you experience, all you need to do is change your thoughts. That discomforts coming up because you’re thinking negative thoughts about taking that action that you intend to take. All right.

But here’s the thing. What I found with my clients, and also I found this to be true with myself, is that no matter how much you practice believing new thoughts, positive thoughts that really fuel you to move forward, some of the discomfort caused by those original negative thoughts, that negative line of thinking, it’s going to continue to linger. All right. Because part of you is just still going to hold a little bit of belief in that previous negative thinking.

If you’re entitled to feeling comfortable, you’re going to make that lingering discomfort a deal breaker. Whether you do that, though, is totally optional. It’s completely up to you. You can choose to continue to be entitled to feeling comfortable, or you can choose to drop your entitlement to comfort at any time. Totally up to you.

Now, why is it so important for you to drop your entitlement to comfort? Here’s the thing. As long as you hold on to it, you’re never going to create the life you want to live. A life you’re obsessed with. After all, one of the things you hear me say time and time again. If there’s no feeling you’re unwilling to feel, there’s absolutely no results you cannot create, okay?

But in order to create a life you’re obsessed with, you’re gonna have to gag and go through that discomfort. That discomfort is just going to come with the program. It comes with the territory. You’re going to have to feel it and take action in spite of and despite it.

Now with this in mind, if you’re hearing me explain all of this and you’re realizing that you’ve come down with a case of comfort entitlement and have been avoiding taking the actions that you need to take in order to produce the results you want in your life because you’re feeling entitled to feel uncomfortable while you take those actions. I want you to ask yourself these questions, and really let these questions marinate the rest of the week, okay? Let them sink in, really mull them over, give them some deep thought.

Here they are. There’s three of them. They kind of all go together. Who would you get to be? What would you get to create? What kind of life would you be able to build for yourself if you weren’t entitled to feeling comfortable? I really want to urge you here to come up with as specific and detailed answers as you possibly can. Really give those three questions some deep thought. Who would you get to be? What would you get to create? And what kind of life would you be able to build if you weren’t entitled to feeling comfortable? Okay.

Let me say this. I don’t want to manipulate your answers or kind of do a spoiler alert here. I really want you to come up with your own original responses to those questions. But I will say this. Chances are if you dropped your entitlement to feeling comfortable while you take intentional action, everything about your life would likely be different.

More specifically, everything about your life would likely be better than it is right now. Okay, let that sink in. Again, go through those three questions. Really mull them over. Let them marinate and be detailed and specific with your responses to them. Okay.

Then lastly, I want to let you in on a little secret. I really think that this is so important to remember. The truth of the matter is there’s always discomfort both ways. That primitive part of our brain really loves to play tricks on us here. It’s only focused on avoiding the most immediate discomfort when you’re entitled to feeling comfortable.

So it’s identifying the most immediate uncomfortable feeling in that moment. It’s telling you that you need to avoid it, abort the mission, stop taking action, all right. It’s not thinking further down the road and being logical and comparing these two different kinds of discomfort. All right? But the truth of the matter is that there’s always discomfort both ways in taking the intentional action and in not taking it. All right.

I’m going to go and walk through those examples that I gave you earlier and show you how this is true. When it comes to saying no, there’s the guilt and worry that comes from saying no, or there’s the resentment and overwhelm that comes from saying yes, right. When it comes to sticking to your schedule, there’s feelings like restricted and bothered and constrained and maybe bored that come from sticking to it. But then there’s anxious, behind, and overwhelmed that come when you don’t. So there’s discomfort both ways there too.

When it comes to posting on social media. If you are going to post like me, you might be forced to feel exposed and embarrassed. That’s what comes up when you put yourself out there publicly in front of other people for them to have opinions about whatever it is that you’re doing. So that’s the discomfort that comes from taking action.

But on the flip side, when you avoid feeling exposed and embarrassed, there’s also discomfort there too. You’ll probably have to feel disappointed or frustrated or maybe stuck that you’re not developing the business that you want to be developing. You’re not building a book. You’re not creating leverage for yourself in the future of your legal career, right. Discomfort both ways.

When it comes to weight loss, there’s feelings like deprived and bored that come from sticking to that meal plan and eating only certain foods that really support those goals that you have. Or on the flip side, you can eat whatever you want, but there’s discomfort associated with that too. You might have to feel dissatisfied or insecure with how you look when you don’t feel comfortable in your body. Right, discomfort both ways.

When it comes to applying for jobs. Yeah, you might have to feel rejected and discouraged if you don’t get that callback or you get told no. They don’t consider you for the position. They give it to someone else. But if you don’t continue to apply for jobs and you stay in your current position that you really can’t stand, you probably are going to have to feel uninspired, stuck, and maybe even hopeless, right? Discomfort both ways.

When it comes to starting your own firm, yeah. There’s going to be that uncertainty, that feeling of nervousness. Maybe some fear or worry about the future. What’s going to happen? That’s going to come up. It’s just part of the program. We like to tell ourselves that that’s the only type of discomfort, but that’s not true.

If you keep doing something that you don’t want to be doing instead, maybe you continue to stay working for other people. You might have to feel dejected, dispassionate, may be undervalued. So if you’re going to be a truth-teller, you want to make sure you’re telling yourself that there’s discomfort both ways there as well.

Now, if the truth of the matter is there’s always going to be discomfort both ways. The question I really want you to give some thought to is why not choose to experience the type of discomfort that also comes with your desired results?

If on one hand you’ve got taking action while feeling uncomfortable, and at the finish line of taking that intentional action, you get the results you want. That’s on one side. The other type of discomfort is the discomfort that comes from maintaining the status quo and not making a change where you don’t get the results you want. If there’s discomfort both ways, why wouldn’t you choose to experience the type of discomfort that produces the results you want?

I really want you to think about that as you contemplate whether you’re willing to give up your entitlement to comfort. I promise you if you do, the results will be more than worth it. Okay. All right. That’s our show. I hope you have a beautiful week. I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Oh, and one more thing. If you enjoyed today’s show and don’t want to worry about missing an episode, be sure to follow the show wherever you listen to podcasts. If you haven’t already, I’d really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know what you think about The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. It doesn’t have to be a five star review. Although I really hope you love the show. I really want your honest feedback so I can create an amazing podcast that provides you with a ton of value. Visit thelesstressedlawyer.com/podcastlaunch for step by step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review the podcast. I’ll talk to you guys soon.

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 thelesstressedlawyer.com.

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 3: Creating a Life You’re Obsessed With: Taking Action

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Creating a Life You’re Obsessed With: Taking Action

In the last episode, I gave you the steps for figuring out exactly what you want for your life, and how to create a roadmap for reverse-engineering your results. Now, all that’s left to do is to start taking action towards these goals. However, I’m sure you realize by now, that’s easier said than done.

When you find yourself not taking action when, intellectually, you know what you need to do but you just can’t seem to get out of your own way, there’s only ever two things in your way: a negative thought, or a negative feeling you’re avoiding. This is keeping you stuck, but I’m here to get you moving in the right direction.

Tune in this week to discover how to start taking action toward creating a life you’re obsessed with. I’m sharing the next three steps in the process, so you can create more positive thought and emotion where possible, and I’m showing you how to cultivate the ability to take action regardless of the discomfort involved when these feelings persist.

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:

  • How the only thing stopping you from taking action is a negative thought or an uncomfortable feeling.
  • Why waiting for discomfort and fear to pass over will never allow you to move forward.
  • 3 questions to ask yourself to help identify your problem thoughts and limiting beliefs.
  • Why negative emotions aren’t anything to be afraid of, and where to find evidence that this is true.
  • How to start bridging the gap toward more positive thoughts that can guide you in creating a life you’re obsessed with.
  • Why you can’t swap your negative thoughts and emotions for positive ones overnight.
  • How to take action in spite of challenging thoughts and emotions.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

ou’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast episode three. We’re diving into the next three steps to creating a life you’re obsessed with. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hello, hello, hello. I am tempted to say good evening right now because I’m recording this episode in the evening. When I was in law school, I had this Torts  professor, and I haven’t mentioned it yet. I was an evening student in law school. I went to school at night. So, all of my classes were at night. And my professor, my Torts professor, used to start every single lecture with the phrase good evening. Usually, he would give us a double good evening.

So, he would say good evening, good evening, and then kick off into his lecture. I highly doubt he’s listening right now, but if he is Professor Long, hello to you. I don’t know if you guys have a professor that stands out to you more than others, but he was definitely one of them for me. He was the best at the Socratic method ahead of my first semester.

Anyway, good evening if that’s when you’re tuning into this episode. If it’s not good, insert whatever part of the day it happens to be where you are while you’re listening. Alright. And speaking of evenings and location, actually, I’m in Detroit. It’s finally the part of the year where you start to notice that the sunset is happening later and later in the evening and that winter is almost over.

And my friends, all I can say is good riddance. I am ready for it to be warm again. If you’re lucky and it’s warm wherever you’re listening from, I am envious, and I can’t wait for that warm weather to come to Detroit. Anyway, enough about evenings, law professors, and the weather. Let’s dive into today’s topic. In episode one, I gave you the foundation that you need to create a life you’re obsessed with.

I taught you to identify and own the choices you’ve previously made and are currently making that have created your current results. I talked about how to find your reasons for making those choices and decide whether or not you like them. If you don’t like those reasons if you don’t like your choices. If you don’t like the results you currently have, I gave you the first three steps to making the necessary changes to create a life you’re obsessed with.

I gave those to you in episode two. Specifically, I taught you to figure out what exactly you want. I went through figuring out why you want those things, and then I taught you how to reverse engineer those results. Alright. Once those results are reverse engineered, and you have that roadmap for how to create them, all that’s left to do is start taking action, but as you may find or maybe you’ve already found to be true, that tends to be easier said than done.

So, that’s going to be the focus of this episode. When you find yourself not taking action when intellectually you know what you need to do, but you just can’t seem to bring yourself to do it, that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. I’m going to teach you the last three things you need to do in order to overcome those obstacles. In order to get out of your own way so you can go on to create the life, you’re obsessed with.

Before I dive in and specifically discuss each of those last three steps, I need to explain something to you. As a rule of thumb, here’s what I need you to know the only two problems that are ever preventing you from creating those desired results are number one, a negative thought you’re currently thinking, or number two a negative feeling you’re unwilling to feel, and I’m going to give you a couple examples of this to further evidence this point, okay?

First one, let’s say you want to quit your job and start your own law firm? You figured out what you wanted. That’s step one. You’ve gone through it and identified your reasons. You’ve figured out your why, and you’ve decided that you know those reasons and you like them. And you’ve gone through, and you’ve reverse engineered that result by identifying all the things you need to do in order to create it.

You’ve created that roadmap to those desired results, but now you find that you’re not taking action. Okay? It’s either because of a thought you were thinking or because of a feeling that you’re unwilling to feel. You might be thinking something along the lines of I might not be able to do it on my own. When you’re thinking that way, you’re going to feel extremely uncertain, maybe worried too. When you feel uncertain and worried, your natural reaction is going to be to shut down, kind of abort the mission, to not take action, maybe to spin in decision and freeze, or you’re going to go and distract yourself with something else. Do something else in the interim.

More than anything, most likely, what you don’t do is move forward in spite of and despite that uncertainty. Despite and in spite of that worry, right? You don’t move forward. And that’s a problem, right? Because if you don’t move forward, you’ll never create that desired result. You’ll never start your own firm. You’ll never leave that job.

So, what’s the solution here? It’s one of two things or a combination of both of them. You’ve got to either change your thinking so you can reduce that negative emotion, you can eliminate that uncertainty or reduce that uncertainty, eliminate that worry or reduce that worry, and what this looks like would be perhaps instead of thinking that you might not be able to do it on your own, you choose to think the thought no matter what comes my way I’ll be able to figure it out.

And if you were thinking that way, you’re going to feel really determined. You’re going to feel really motivated. You’re going to feel really confident in your own abilities in your own resourcefulness. That’s going to put you in such a different mindset and drive you to take much different action than that uncertainty and that worry. Okay? Or what you need to do, and like I said, this is either an or, or an and, you either need to do this instead of changing your thought or in conjunction with changing your thought.

You need to allow yourself to feel uncertain and worried and move forward regardless, in spite of and despite that discomfort. I’ll give you one more example here. Perhaps, you want to take time off of work, and that would help you create the desired result of having more time for yourself, more time for travel, more time for family and friends, more time for hobbies, maybe you want to volunteer? Right? Whatever it is.

Even though you have the desire to take time off, your default way of thinking is, I shouldn’t take time off with everything I have on my plate. When you’re thinking that way, you feel super guilty, right? So many of my clients struggle with feeling guilty very often, and when you start to feel guilty, you run for the hills, right? You abort.

Again, you don’t take the time off. You don’t follow through with that roadmap to those desired results. You do what you’ve always done. You just work more. So, what’s the solution here? Well, you’ve either got to change the thought to reduce or eliminate the guilt. Perhaps, instead of thinking that you shouldn’t take time off, instead, you think, you know it’s okay for me to take time off. There’s always going to be more work for me to do, so now is as good of a time as any.

Instead of then feeling guilty, you’re going to start to feel maybe compassionate with yourself? Maybe loving toward yourself? Maybe understanding and that compassion, self-love, and understanding will drive you to take that time off, right? You’ve dialed down the guilt then, but maybe some of that should thinking is still lying under the surface. You can’t quite get rid of it completely.

So, what you’re also going to need to do is allow yourself to feel a little guilty and take the time off anyway, in spite of and despite the guilt. Those are two examples, and I wanted to give those to you so you can start to see this pattern. There are only ever two obstacles to creating a life you’re obsessed with, negative thoughts you’re thinking and negative feelings that you’re unwilling to feel.

That takes me to the next three steps of creating that life. When you find yourself not producing your desired results, not taking action, not following that road map, here’s what I want you to do. First things first, you’ve got to find your problem thoughts, and we’re going to go about this finding them in a few different ways. First, you want to identify your limiting beliefs. I want you to return to the eight sections of the life wheel that we discussed in episodes one and two, alright?

Those eight sections; are career, finances, health, friends and family, romance, personal growth, fun and recreation, and physical environment, right? You went through and identified what would make each of those sections a 10 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest. Now you’ve gone through and created that reverse engineered road map that you would need to follow to create those 10s in each of those categories, right? You’ve gone and done that.

So, now I want you to identify your limiting beliefs about those results in each of those categories, and we start by asking yourself one simple question. Do you believe these results are possible? And I want you to just for a second separate yourself from the equation, alright. Do you think anyone can create these results, not you specifically, but just anyone in the world? If you think it isn’t possible to achieve these results, I hate to break it to you, but you will not take action to create them. That lack of belief is going to impact how you proceed. There’s no way around that, alright?

So, that’s going to be a problem thought that shuts you down before you ever get started if you believe that it’s not possible. And I’m going to teach you in an upcoming episode how to go from believing something is impossible to believing it’s inevitable. I’m going to walk you through how to build belief, but for now, we just want to become aware as to whether or not you think your desired results are possible. Whether they’re obtainable or they’re not, and if you think they aren’t, here’s what’s going to happen, you’re going to feel really defeated and discouraged. You’re going to give up before you ever get going.

So, if you think it’s impossible for your desired results to be created if you think they’re unattainable, I want you to write down why you think that’s true, start to make a list. Okay? Now, if you think it’s possible, I just want you to put a pin in that for a second. We want to turn the focus on to you specifically and identify any limiting beliefs you have about yourself and your ability to create these results.

So, ask yourself, do you think you’re capable of creating these results? If the answer is no, I want you to examine why not? Write down all of those reasons. Maybe you think you’re not smart enough to do something, and if that’s the case, you’re not going to pursue it. If you’re feeling inadequate, you won’t take action when you’re feeling that way.

So, just like with the last question, I want you to write down all of the limiting beliefs you might have about your own ability to create these desired results, to create 10s in each of these categories, okay? Write that down, and then set that list aside for a second, and we’re going to ask one more question. We will do one more inquiry.

Last, but not least, I want you to identify any other negative thoughts that you have about pursuing these goals and working toward these results, write them all down. They might look something like this is going to be so hard, or it’s going to take me way too much time. If you’re thinking those thoughts, you’re going to feel exhausted ahead of time and you’re going to feel really overwhelmed. When you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed again, you’re not going to take action. You’re going to shut yourself down before you ever get started.

So, you want to find all of these problem thoughts, right the limiting beliefs about what is possible, generally about what is possible for you and what you’re capable of, and any other negative thoughts that come up for you when you think about pursuing these goals and you want to identify them and you want to write them all down. All of those thoughts are the thoughts that are going to get in your way and keep you stuck.

They’re going to prevent you from creating that life you’re obsessed with, okay. Now, next to each of those thoughts, you’ve got a really long comprehensive list now. I want you to identify the one-word emotion you feel when you think each thought, okay? Our thoughts cause our feelings, and we’ll talk about this at nausea throughout the podcast, I promise you. I just want you for this exercise to go through and identify the one-word emotion you feel when you think each one of these negative thoughts.

And remember, if you’re thinking a negative thought, you’re going to feel a negative feeling. So, these feelings that you start to write down are going to be negative emotions. So, again just next to each thought, write down the negative emotion that comes up for you when you think about each one. Now, for this step which we’re still on, step four you’re going to go through and ask yourself for each one of these thoughts, these negative thoughts, what’s one positive thought I could choose to think instead? Alright?

Make that list, swap them out. Use those thoughts to fuel you. Use them to drive you to take action. If you think you can’t do it, you need to believe that you can. If you’re thinking that it’s going to be hard, you can think that you can figure it out instead. If you think it’s going to take too much time, you can choose to think I might as well get started now, and eventually I’ll get there, right?

If you think you’re not smart enough, you can choose to think that you will learn. If you think that you’re incapable, right? What do you need to think instead of that? You want to swap those thoughts out, and here’s why. If you’re thinking a positive thought, you’re going to feel a positive feeling. Then from there, you’ll start taking positive actions, and you’ll go on to produce positive results. So, I want you to come up with those positive thoughts and feelings and use them to motivate you into moving forward, alright?

So, give yourself some time to do that exercise, you can either pick one of the eight categories on the life wheel and walk all the way through it, or you can go through all eight, totally up to you. Now, an important caveat here, this work is twofold. Yes, changing your thinking is absolutely a game-changer when it comes to creating a life you’re obsessed with, 1000%. Okay?

But, that’s only half the equation because chances are even when you swap out some of those limiting beliefs and other negative thoughts with positive thoughts that will fuel you to take action, you’re still a human, and some of that negative thinking is going to linger, right? You’re not going to change it and swap it out overnight. Some of it’s going to remain.

So, it’s going to be hard for you to shake that, and if those thoughts linger, so will the negative emotions that you’ve experienced when you think them, the negative emotions that correspond to negative thoughts, and those negative emotions they’re a huge obstacle in your way to creating your desired results. Why? Because you avoid them like the plague, right? You don’t take action when you feel them, and the reason you don’t take action is, so you don’t have to feel them.

So, you get to avoid them, right? Now, that’s totally normal. That’s 1000% natural, but that natural reaction isn’t going to get you where you want to go, which brings me to step five. For step five of creating a life you’re obsessed with, you’ve got to identify the particular kind of discomfort you’re currently avoiding. Instead of avoiding it, you’ve got to allow it to be there. You’ve got to take action in spite of, and despite it, or as I the catchphrase that I use with my clients, you’ve got to gag and go through the discomfort. That’s what I always tell them.

As humans, we basically do backhand springs to avoid feeling uncomfortable, right? It’s actually an extinctual survival mechanism that’s hardwired into us. When you’re making changes or even thinking about making changes to create a life, you’re obsessed with your brain registers that change and perceives it as a threat. It perceives it as a danger because you’re changing or thinking about changing the status quo, and it knows the status quo to be safe.

Anything else isn’t; anything else that’s not the status quo is not safe. It’s just like the old adage the devil you know is the better than the devil you don’t, right? That’s your brain’s default way of thinking. Here’s the thing, though, the discomfort you’re avoiding it can’t actually hurt you. Sure, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s not a real threat. You’re not going to die if you experience a negative emotion, right?

You’ve survived. Think back throughout the course of your life. You’ve survived every negative emotion you’ve ever felt. You’ve survived every time you felt guilty, embarrassed, scared, worried, anxious, overwhelmed, confused, uncertain, inadequate, discouraged, disappointed, defeated, frustrated, annoyed, sad, regretful, doubtful, all of them, right? You’ve survived every single one of those every single time you’ve ever experienced them. Here’s the thing that past history goes to show those feelings can’t actually hurt you.

You’ll survive them, I promise. I like to tell my clients, yeah, it’s uncomfortable. You can do discomfort, so instead of avoiding them with inaction, here’s what you can choose to do. You can choose to feel them on purpose and take action in spite of and despite them. Will it be uncomfortable? Sure. You’ll probably want to vomit right, but that’s okay. Just gag and go through the discomfort. You’ll be just fine.

So, what does this look like if you’re feeling confused? Work through the confusion instead of giving up. If you’re feeling discouraged, press on despite feeling discouraged and take action anyway. If you’re feeling unsure of yourself, keep moving forward, right? If you’re feeling nervous about what the outcome will be, or maybe you feel scared, let the fear be there and keep going. It is okay to let it drive around in the passenger seat of the car next to you. You don’t have to let your discomfort drive that car.

You don’t have to let that discomfort determine where you end up, which is what most of us are doing when we operate on default. You can strap it into the passenger seat and go about your business, driving intentionally toward your desired results. Right, toward that life you’re obsessed with. It’s fine if that discomfort has to come along for the ride in the perfect world. It wouldn’t be there, but that’s just not the human experience you guys.

So, the discomfort is going to come along. We’re going to strap it in the passenger seat. Tell it to buckle up, and we’re going to go intentionally about creating our desired results. We’re going to drive to that desired destination. Okay?

Now, once you’ve done steps four and five, you’ve identified the problem thoughts. You’ve swapped them out with positive thoughts that are going to fuel you to take action. Then, for step five, you’ve identified those negative emotions that are getting in your way, and you decided to take intentional action that you identified in your reverse-engineered results road map.

You’re going to take intentional action in spite of and despite that discomfort. You might think you’re off to the races, okay? But there’s one more step left, so after you’ve gone through. You’ve taken the actions that you identified in step three, which I talked about in the last episode. You want to make sure you do this final crucial step. It’s what will ensure your success. It’s what will make that success inevitable, and that final step it’s to evaluate.

You’ve got to evaluate what you’ve been doing, and this is a really simple process. It’s not cumbersome. It’s not overwhelming. It’s really straightforward and simple. All you have to do is ask yourself three questions and answer them. What worked, what didn’t work, and what would you do differently? Now, we start with what works because our brain tends to default to the negative automatically.

So, we always want to start with what worked. We want to be truth-tellers and not just focus on what didn’t. So, we want to get equal airtime for both. We start with what works because that sets us up with a positive mindset before we move to what didn’t work, alright.

Now, when we move on to what didn’t work, we’re going to do a couple of things here. First and foremost, we’re going to operate from curiosity, not from judgment. If you’re judging yourself, you’re going to shut yourself down. You’re going to miss so much of this really beneficial intel you get when you operate from pure curiosity.

So, we’re not going to judge ourselves. We’re not going to beat ourselves up. We’re just going to get really curious about what didn’t work. Okay? Now, you’re going to look at your actions first. Identify all of the actions you took, which ones didn’t work, what tweaks might you want to make. Test your hypothesis here. Right?

I also want you to look at your thoughts. What thoughts were you thinking while you were taking the actions that didn’t work? How were you feeling when you were taking the action? If you’re thinking negative thoughts and feeling negative feelings and taking action, it’s going to impact the action you take. It’s going to taint it. Think of it like bad perfume or cologne. That negativity will infect what you’re doing, and it will impact how you’re showing up.

So, we want to find that too. We want to identify those problem thoughts and feelings and note them. We also want to note maybe there were some extra emotions that you didn’t identify in step five that you avoided instead of allowed. So, you want to make a note of that too. You’re going to put all of that under the what didn’t work section, alright?

So, identify all the actions that didn’t work, all the problem thoughts that didn’t work that weren’t serving you, and any feelings that you are unwilling to feel that you resisted and avoided instead of allowed. Then, from there, you’re going to move to the third part of the evaluation process. You’re going to figure out what you’ll do differently moving forward in order to fix what didn’t work, alright? And you want to be really specific here. The more specific, the better because again, just like in step three, you’re going to create a road map to move forward, right.

Follow the yellow brick road, so to speak. Then, what do you do from there after you’ve gone through what worked, what didn’t work, and what will you do differently? You just repeat that process by taking more action. Alright, act, audit, adapt, act, audit, adapt, you take action, you audit the action that you took by evaluating that three-step process I just taught you. Then you adapt, and once you’ve adapted through figuring out what you’d do differently, you go back to taking more action. Act, audit, adapt, alright?

So, those are the six steps. So, you have them all comprehensively here; the six steps you need to create a life you’re obsessed with are number one figure out what it is you want. Number two, figure out why you want it, know and like those reasons. Number three, reverse engineer your desired results and start taking action. And if you don’t start taking action, you want to turn to steps four, five, and six, okay?

Now, before jumping to steps four, five, and six, you want to remember there are only ever two problems, a thought you’re thinking or feelings you’re unwilling to feel. So, step four, you start by identifying your problem thoughts and replace those thoughts with thoughts that serve you. Then, if some of those negative feelings caused by those problem thoughts are still lingering, identify the specific flavors of discomfort, those specific feelings, and step five take intentional action in spite of and despite them, AKA gag and go.

And finally, evaluate what worked, what didn’t work, and what you’ll do differently moving forward, okay? Those are the six steps now you’ve got everything you need to go out into the world and create a life you’re obsessed with. Alright, have a marvelous week, my friends. I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Oh, one more thing, if you enjoyed today’s show and don’t want to worry about missing an episode, be sure to follow the show wherever you listen to podcasts. If you haven’t already, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a rating and review to let me know what you think about The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast.

It doesn’t have to be a five-star review. Although, I really hope you love the show. I really want your honest feedback, so I can create an amazing podcast that provides you with a ton of value. Visit thelessstressedlawyer.com/podcastlaunch for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review the podcast. I’ll talk to you guys soon.

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

 

Enjoy the Show?