Episode 28: Thoughts About Time & Your To-Do List (Time Management Series)

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Thoughts About Time & Your To-Do List (Time Management Series)

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Thoughts About Time & Your To-Do List (Time Management Series)

We’re picking up where we left off with our conversation about procrastination, and this week, we’re taking a deep dive into time management. We previously discussed time management styles, but we’re taking things a step further over the next few episodes, talking about specific problem-solving tactics that will work for you, whatever your time management style is.

You can’t solve a problem when you’re not clear on what’s causing it in the first place. So, we’re getting clear on the thoughts you currently think about your time, how you manage it, your to-do list, and how they’re not serving you in this moment.

Tune in this week to discover what you’re really thinking about how much time you have and all the things you need to do with your time. I’m sharing why the thoughts you’re thinking can have you feeling either helpless and confused or empowered and motivated, and how to get clear on which thoughts are leading to a result you don’t want to create.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. 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. You can get all the information and apply by clicking here

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why there are only ever two causes for any problem, and what they are.
  • How your thoughts about your time and your to-do lists are impacting how you spend your valuable time.
  • Some of the most common disempowering thoughts about time I see coming up for the clients I work with, and what they create as a result of these thoughts.
  • What you can do to get super clear on all of the specific individual thoughts you’re thinking about time and the way they’re making you feel.
  • How to pick up on the specific thoughts that aren’t serving you right now and how they’re impacting the way you show up in your life.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, episode 28. Today, we’re talking all about your thoughts about time and to-do lists. 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.

Well, hello there, how you doing? I am great. I’m back from Mexico City. And I’ve got a short break in between bits of travel that I’m doing. I’ve got another big trip coming up towards the end of the month. But I’m back home in Michigan for a little while, and getting settled back into the swing of things.

Now, we’re picking up where we left off. We’ve been talking about the three P’s; people-pleasing, perfectionism, and procrastination. And now, we’re focused on the last P, that procrastination part. So, we’re really going to do a deep dive in to time management.

And in the last episode, I talked to you about the two different time management styles, right; you can either be a firefighter or a procrastinator. Sometimes you’re a combination of both. Normally, not at the exact same time. But you might flip back and forth between one or the other.

As we’ve talked about that, now I want to start to go into more specific problem solving. And once we gain awareness, then we’re going to go into the specific tactics that you need to apply and implement, in order to solve your time management problem.

So today, I want to focus on gaining some more awareness. You’ve probably heard me talk about this already. But it’s so important to start with gaining awareness, because it’s really impossible to solve any problem if you aren’t clear on what’s causing it in the first place. Right. So, we want to create some awareness around what’s causing your time management problems.

Now, normally, when I talk about gaining awareness, I always want to address two specific problems. I’ve told you guys before, there’s always only two problems, or two causes to any problem; the negative thoughts that you’re thinking, that don’t serve you.  And negative feelings that you’re unwilling to feel, that you react to or avoid. All right.

So normally, I will approach gaining awareness with this two-prong focus. We’ll focus first on the thoughts that don’t serve you, and then on the feelings that you’re unwilling to feel. But I’m going to do this a little differently this time. Because I’m going to address all the feelings that you resist or avoid when I walk you through step three of my three step time management process. So, that’s going to be in a couple of episodes from now.

In the meantime, we’re just going to focus, especially for the purposes of this episode, on the thoughts that you think about time, time management, and your to-do list, that don’t serve you. Okay, we’re going to focus specifically on the thoughts.

Now, a little bit of a refresher here, right? Why are our thoughts so important? It’s because the thoughts that we think create all of the results that we have or don’t have, right. We encounter a circumstance, a task on our to-do list, time, time management, sticking to a schedule, any of those facts; circumstances are always just facts. And then, our brain serves us up thoughts about them.

And our thoughts cause our feelings. Feelings are just one-word emotions that we experience. And then all of the action that we take, is driven and caused by the feelings that we feel. And it’s that action that we take or don’t take, that ultimately produces our results. So, our thoughts cause our feelings, our feelings drive our actions, and our actions produce our results. Which ultimately means, if you’re following the flowchart, that your thoughts create your results, always.

So, our thoughts are so important here, right. They’re going to determine how we manage our time, the result we have when it relates to time management. Now, before I talk about the common thoughts my clients think about time, I want you…

You can pause this episode and just take a second, and write down, do a quick thought download. And all that means is, you’re going to write down the most common thoughts you think about a particular topic. In this instance, use the topic, time. What are all the thoughts you think about time, right? Take a second and list them all out.

Either make a list in your head, you can write them down, but make sure you flush this out really specifically. What happens when we don’t take the time to get clear on the specific individual thoughts that we’re thinking, is that they end up being all tangled and jumbled together in that head of ours, right?

And it makes it really hard to make any change when you aren’t clear on the specific thoughts, the sentences that are running through your head, about a particular circumstance. So, you want to parse these out. Go one by one, get really clear on the individual thoughts you think about the circumstance.

All right, now that you’ve had a second to think about what are your most common, most practiced thoughts about time, I want to clue you in on what some of the really common ones that I see in the coaching work that I do with my clients are. And you should start to see, when you do a thought download, you’re going to be able to pick up on the thoughts that don’t serve you.

A way to flesh this out a little bit further, next to each thought that you write down, in parentheses put the one-word emotion, the one word feeling, that you feel when you think that thought, all right. And you’ll identify pretty quickly whether it’s a feeling that serves you, or whether it’s one that doesn’t. If it’s a negative emotion, that’s probably going to drive you to take negative action, or no action at all. All right, that can help you get a better sense of what’s causing your time management problems.

So, some thoughts that are really common for my clients. First and foremost is the thought, “I don’t have enough of it,” when we’re thinking about time. I don’t have enough of it. And when they think that thought, I don’t have enough time, they end up feeling scarce, or pressured, or helpless.

And when they’re feeling those emotions, they tend to do one of two things; either they react in a really unintentional manner, they try and multitask, they reshuffle, they’re jumping from one thing to the next, constantly interrupting themselves, being really inefficient and unproductive, as far as how they use their time, right?

Or, they avoid these emotions by doing something that brings them temporary pleasure and instant gratification, instead. So, this is what it looks like when you’re procrastinating right? You do something else that brings you more entertainment or more pleasure, instead of sticking with your game plan, and doing what would really benefit you in the long run.

Now, when you’re thinking, I don’t have enough time, and you’re feeling these negative feelings, and you’re either reacting unintentionally, or avoiding these emotions altogether, you create the result of still not having enough of it. You need more time to get done what you need to get done.

Now, I’m going to introduce you, a couple episodes from now, to all of the thoughts that you’re going to want to practice about time and time management. So, you can really cultivate the time management mindset you need, to be able to manage your time effectively and efficiently. Like I said, I’m going to talk about that a couple episodes from now.

But right now, I just want to offer you that whenever you’re thinking the thought, I don’t have enough time, I want a little alarm bell to go off in your head. That’s really, for coaching purposes, an incomplete thought. All right, instead of thinking I don’t have enough of it, I want you to complete the sentence. So, you’re going to do that by answering two questions. I don’t have enough time. Question number one; to do what? Question number two; in what timeframe or by when?

Our brain likes to just throw spaghetti at the wall with some of these thoughts, to see if they’ll stick. Telling yourself that you don’t have enough time is a surefire way to react and distract yourself or avoid, which is always what your brain is going to try and get you to do. Because it’s easier to do that than to do some of the heavy lifting, and stay patient, and focused on one task. All right.

So, you want to be on to that brain of yours. You want to know that it’s going to try and serve you up the thought, I don’t have enough time, to get you to hit the escape button, and do these activities that feel better in that moment, in that instant. You want to be able to interrupt this thought pattern and say no, no, no, that’s an incomplete thought.

Let me provide context, let me get more specific: I don’t have enough time to do what, by when. And when you get more specific, you’re going to find out one of two things is true; either that’s an accurate statement, you literally do not have enough time to complete a specific task, by a certain deadline; like the math just doesn’t work out.

Or, you actually do have enough time, and your brain’s just lying to you because it wants you to slip into one of those reactive, avoidant patterns. So, you want to create context, so you can get clear on whether or not you even have a time management problem.

All right. Another thought that people think about time, is that they need more of it. And if you’re thinking the thought, “I need more time,” you’ll probably feel something like desperate, right? And when you’re feeling desperate, again, you’ll react, or you’ll avoid. And however you do that, whatever reacting or avoiding looks like for you, you’ll still end up creating the result of needing more time.

So, you can see how your thoughts start to mirror or match your results; thoughts create results, right? So, if you’re thinking that you need more of it, you’re probably going to squander time. And then, you’ll end up still needing more of it to get your work done.

Another super common thought that my clients tend to think when they come to me, is that they don’t have control over their time. When they’re thinking about time, one of their most practiced thoughts is, “I don’t have control over it.” And when they think that thought, they end up feeling really out of control, really helpless.

And guess what they do when they feel out of control and helpless? The action that they take is, that they relinquish or cede control over their calendars, over their schedule. They take a lot of unscheduled calls, they let emails “interrupt” them, even though nothing ever interrupts us, we allow ourselves to be interrupted.

That’s definitely a radical ownership concept, when you really start to look at time in that way. Where you’re always the one distracting yourself or interrupting yourself; it’s not happening to you, it’s something that you do. Alright. So, when you’re thinking, I don’t have control over my time, and you’re feeling out of control or helpless, and you relinquish control, you create the result of not controlling your time, right? You still don’t have control over it.

If this is a thought you think, I want you to start to identify how are you relinquishing control over your time, over your calendar, over your schedule? Who do you give control to? Maybe to your supervisors, maybe to your subordinates, maybe to your clients, maybe to friends and family members, maybe it’s outside of work.

I really want you to start to identify the patterns where you relinquish and cede control. Gaining that awareness is really going to help you course-correct here, you’ll be able to stop yourself and interrupt yourself when you’re in that relinquishing pattern.

Another really common thought that people will think about time, is simply that they waste it, and that thought is probably going to feel very true for you. It might feel like a fact. But waste is something that’s going to be subjective. What you consider a waste of time or wasting time might not be what I consider a waste of time or wasting time. So, that’s always going to be an opinion, that you’ve wasted time.

Now, if it’s an opinion, it’s optional to think. I have unsubscribed from the concept of wasted time. I don’t really think that it serves us to think that we’re wasting it. I think we can always benefit and learn from how we spend time, how we deposit our time allowance, so to speak.

And maybe you don’t love the result, the ROI (Return on Investment) that you got from how you made a time expenditure in the past. That’s fine. Just learn from it. You don’t have to think that you’ve wasted it. You just gained some intel and you do better next time.

But if you’re thinking the thought, “I waste time,” you’ll probably feel guilty, or ashamed, or disappointed in yourself. Maybe you’ll feel inadequate, right? And when you’re feeling guilty, ashamed, disappointed, or inadequate, you’ll again, slip into a really avoidant pattern. Because those emotions are so uncomfortable, you want to throw them away like a game of hot potato and get out of them.

 So, you’ll slip into an avoidant pattern. You’ll seek that temporary pleasure, that instant gratification, so you can feel better in the moment. And, what do you end up doing when you’re in that avoidant action? You’ll end up wasting more time. So, this creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. You think the thought about time, that you waste it, and then you end up wasting more of it.

Another common thought that people choose to think about time, is that time flies. And, that might seem like a really innocent thought, but ask yourself, if that’s a thought that’s really common for you; how do you feel when you think it? Maybe you feel hurried or rushed? It’s never going to feel good.

And when you feel hurried or rushed, you’re going to do one of two things again; you’re either going to react to feeling hurried and rushed, and take a lot of unintentional action. Or, you’re going to avoid altogether, you’re just going to try and get out of that discomfort.

And then, what result do you create? Time ends up flying by without you accomplishing much. So, you create more evidence that time flies, that you don’t have enough of it, that it’s precious, right? But not precious in a good way where you’re cherishing it, precious in a way where you feel scarce again, you don’t have enough of it.

You can also feel really overwhelmed when you’re thinking, “I don’t have enough time.” I know I mentioned that thought earlier, I haven’t mentioned the feeling of overwhelmed, yet. But I want you to ask yourself if you feel overwhelmed often, ask yourself; what thoughts do you think about time that make you feel overwhelmed? Maybe it’s the thought, “I have too much to do,” right.

And when you’re thinking about time, I have too much to do, in a given amount of time, you’ll feel overwhelmed. And then again, you’ll react or avoid to feeling overwhelmed, in the ways that I’ve described already. And then, what happens when you react or avoid to feeling overwhelmed?

You still don’t have enough time, to get done what you need to get done. You still have too much to do. Because you haven’t gotten through those big-ticket items, you haven’t made enough progress on your to-do list. So, that thought still feels true for you.

Another very common thought that my clients come to me thinking, is the thought that they’re always behind. Oh, what a painful thought that is to think, right? When you think, “I’m always behind,” you’re going to end up feeling overwhelmed, and probably discouraged, or defeated. And when you’re feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and defeated, again, you’re going to react and avoid.

And what happens when you’re reacting or avoiding? You end up staying behind. Either because you’re constantly reshuffling your schedule, you’re procrastinating. And then, the third reason people are behind, is that they just plan inaccurately; they plan 10 hours of work in a 5-hour period. And if you do that, if you get the math of time management wrong, you will always feel behind.

That’s one of the things that we’re going to work on in this time management series, is learning how to plan accurately. Okay, so you can start to see how your thoughts about time create your results, that you experience in your life, as far as time is concerned. Now, let’s talk about your thoughts about time management.

Again, take a second, if you need to pause this episode, and just do a quick thought download. What are your most common, your most practiced thoughts, about time management? Start to think about how you think about time management, is what’s creating your results with time management.

So, if you don’t have results, as far as time management goes, that you like, if you have negative results in the time management department, it’s because you think negative thoughts about time management. What are those thoughts? All right, take a second, write them down, list out those thoughts one by one. And again, to gain extra clarity on whether these thoughts serve you or not, you can put in parentheses next to the thought, what’s the one-word emotion that you feel when you think it.

Or, you can run a complete model, and that’s what I’ve been walking you through in this episode. As I go through the thoughts, feelings, actions, and results that get created when you think these thoughts, about whatever the circumstance is, time, time management, or your to-do list. Okay?

So, you can run a model, and that just means filling in each of these lines. So, you’ve got the circumstance, I’m giving that part to you, time, time management, your to-do list. That’s the C; the circumstance. And then, you’re going to identify these individual thoughts, that you think about that circumstance.

And then, you’re going to identify the one-word emotion you feel, when you think that thoughts; put that in the F line. And then ask yourself; what do you do? Or, what don’t you do, when you feel that feeling? Put all of that on your A line? And then ask yourself; what result do you produce when you take that action, or when you indulge in that inaction? You put that in your results line, in your R line.

And, it looks like an acronym. It’s just stacked on top of each other: C-T-F-A-R (Circumstances-Thoughts-Feelings-Actions-Results). That’s the model. I have a whole episode on the self-coaching model. I believe it’s Episode 10 of the podcast. So, if you haven’t listened to that yet, go give it a listen. And, you will have just greater context for what I’m talking about in this episode. But do that after, let’s finish this one first. And then, you can go listen to that.

Now, conduct a thought download, list out those thoughts, or run some models on your thoughts about time management, to see how your thoughts are creating your current time management results. Some common thoughts my clients tend to think about time management, are something like this:

They’ll think, “I’ve always been bad at time management.” And when they think that thought, they’ll feel discouraged or ashamed or maybe even embarrassed. And when they’re feeling those emotions, again, they’ll avoid the work that they need to do.

They’ll avoid managing their time. They might quit and give up. They may start attempting to manage their time, but they’ll give up pretty quickly, they’ll stop. They’ll also judge themselves, really beat themselves up, instead of getting curious of valuating how they’re managing their time, and how they’re spending their time, and making consistent improvements over time. They won’t be patient; they’ll be really impatient, and get frustrated easily.

So, when they’re thinking the thought that they’re always bad at it, they’ve always been bad at it, they’ll continue being bad at it, that’s the result that they’ll create.

The same thing goes if you think thoughts like, “I suck at time management.” If that’s the thought that you think, you’ll probably, again, feel defeated, exasperated, maybe even resigned. Like I suck at it, it is what it is, there’s no changing that. It’ll feel very out of your control. And when you’re feeling defeated, exasperated, or resigned, you’ll probably just accept the status quo.

You won’t do anything to fix the problem, you’re going to give up, maybe you start and stop again, maybe you don’t even get started in the first place. You just accept it as being, it is what it is. And the result that you create, when you think I suck at it, is that you continue to suck at it. You don’t get any better.

You might also think that, “It’s so hard to manage my time.” And if you think that thought about time management, you’re probably going to feel discouraged, exhausted, tired, maybe frustrated. And when you’re feeling those feelings, again, you’re going to avoid; quit give up, you’re not going to get curious, you’re not going to stick with this.

And you’re not going to get better at managing your time. It’s going to stay hard, you’re going to make it harder on yourself, right? You’re not going to learn, you’re not operating from curiosity, you’re not figuring out what’s working and what’s not, and making changes and improvements moving forward. So, it will always be as hard as it is right now. We’ve got to change your mindset if we want it to get easier.

You also might think the thought, about time management, that you don’t know how to do it. Right? That’s a super common thought that my clients think. They think, “I don’t know how to manage my time.” And when they think that thought, they feel super confused.

And when we feel confused, you know what we tend to do? We tend to indulge in confusion, we indulge in ‘I don’t know’ thinking, we don’t get resourceful, we don’t figure it out. We don’t search for solutions. We don’t evaluate, figure out what’s not working and make a plan to change it, to adapt.

We don’t do any of those things, we just spin in confusion. And we create the result of, still not knowing how to do whatever it is that we’re trying to do. In this case, it’s managing your time, right? If you think, I don’t know how to do it, you’re not going to know how to do it.

It’s just going to create more of that loop, more of that cycle. Instead, you need to think, “I can figure out how to do this. I can learn. I am learning.” Those are thoughts that are going to serve you a lot more.

Another thought you might think about time management is that, “Nothing I do seems to make a difference.” And if you think that thought, what a painful thought, first and foremost. Second, if you think it, you’re probably going to feel defeated, or really discouraged, or maybe just dejected altogether.

And you’re going to, again, avoid, quit, give up, not figure it out, and not stick with it, not evaluate. And, nothing you do is going to make a difference. Because you’re not doing anything, you’re just going to create more of that result.

You also might think the thought, “I should be better at managing my time.” That’s a really common thought my clients think. It’s like; if I’m so smart, why can’t I just manage my time, right? We get all through law school, we take the bar exam, we know a thing or two about a thing or two. So, we think that this should come easily to us.

And I always counsel my clients, to get them to see like, that’s not true. We’ve never learned how to manage our time. No one’s ever taught us how to do this. So, it makes perfect sense that we’re not great at it. We’ve never learned, we’ve never been taught.

But if you’re thinking that you should be better at it, even though that thought doesn’t make any sense to me, there’s no reason you should be better at it if you’ve never learned how to do something. It’s like; I should be better at riding a unicycle, even though I’ve never ridden one, right? That doesn’t make any sense.

But regardless, people still choose to think this thought, that they should be better at time management. And when they think it, they end up feeling really ashamed or inadequate. And when they’re feeling ashamed or inadequate, what do they do? Avoid, Avoid, Avoid, right? Give up, avoid, buffer with all the things that bring us temporary pleasure instead.

They don’t stick with this. They don’t get curious. They don’t evaluate. They don’t practice to make progress, and make incremental improvements over time. Which means, that they don’t get better at it, and then they just keep feeding into this belief that they should be better at it. Right.

You also might think about time management that, you don’t want to do it or that you hate it. “I hate managing my time. I hate sticking to a schedule. I don’t want to manage my time. I don’t want to stick to a schedule.” If you’re thinking any of those thoughts, you’re probably going to feel controlled, forced, stifled, constrained, a lot of very uncomfortable emotions.

And what are you going to do when you feel those feelings? You are going to rebel. You’re going to resist these feelings. You’re going to avoid them at all costs, by doing anything else that gets you to feel like you have agency, like you have control, like you have freedom, right. We create a resistance rebellion cycle. It’s very reactionary.

Now, what happens when you do that? When you avoid managing your time, and you don’t do it well, or you don’t practice it, you never create the results, the positive results, of having managed your time effectively. So, you never find out what it’s like to be someone who manages their time well. It might be awesome; you might actually not hate it.

I think the process that we hate, is attempting to do it but not doing it in an informed way. And then, we feel awful as we’re going through the process, we think we’re doing it badly. And, all of that feels pretty awful. Right?

If you’re doing it well, and you create all of this freedom in your life, as a result of managing your time effectively and efficiently. And you create space to do the things that you enjoy most in your life, managing your time, if you do it that way, becomes really awesome. It creates all this freedom, and you really get to enjoy your life as a result of doing it.

But if you never try it, if you never stick with it, if you’re always starting, stopping, and giving up, you never actually experience the result of excellent time management. So, you never really know. You just keep believing that it sucks, that you don’t like doing it, based on, really, no evidence at all. And you keep not managing your time well, as a result.

So, that might be you. Check-in with yourself; do you think that it sucks sticking to a schedule? That you don’t like it? That managing your time is awful, that you hate doing it? If you do, I promise you, you’re never going to do something that you hate, it takes so much discipline. So, we really want to clean up that thinking if that’s a thought that you’re commonly thinking about managing your time.

All right, I also want you to do a thought download about your workload, about your to-do list. What are the thoughts you think most frequently, most commonly about your workload and your to-do list? It might be thoughts like, “Oh, my to-do list is so long, it’s never ending.” And when you think about that, in that way, you’re going to feel really overwhelmed, really pressured, really stressed. And you’re going to react and avoid, right?

So, you’re never going to get to the end of it, because you’re working unintentionally, or you’re not working at all. It’s just going to feed into that thought, and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Same thing goes if you think your workload or your to-do list is really unmanageable, right? You’ll probably feel out of control, helpless, or hopeless, defeated, maybe.

And from there, you’re going to react or avoid. And then, you’re not going to manage your workload. You’re not going to make your way intentionally, through your to-do list. So, you’re going to keep feeding and creating evidence for this thought, that your workload is very unmanageable; that thoughts not going to serve you.

You might also think the thought, about your to-do list or your workload, that you don’t know where to start. And if you’re thinking, “I don’t know,” I talked about this a moment ago, you’re going to feel confused or overwhelmed. And then, you’re going to spin out, and indulge in ‘I don’t know’, and stay confused. And then, you’re not going to figure it out.

So, you still won’t know where to start, you don’t actually get started. Instead of just deciding you do know where to start, picking a starting point and getting started. Right. That’s a much more intentional way to go about working.

You might think the thought, “I should be further along,” when it comes to your to-do list. And if you’re thinking that, you’re going to feel really guilty. And when we’re feeling guilty, what do we do? We tend to avoid, we tend to buffer, we seek that temporary pleasure, that instant gratification. And as a result, this is what you create.

You don’t get further along; you stay right where you are. So, it’s super easy to keep thinking, I should be further along. I always challenge people to think; should you actually be further along? And what I mean by this, is not do you want to be further along. Of course, you probably do want to be further along, but should you be further along?

And if you look at the actions that you’ve been taking, you probably should be exactly where you are. That’s a little bit of an uncomfortable truth, I understand that. But the more honest you are with yourself about how you manage your time, the faster you’re going to be able to make improvements in this department.

So, you probably should be exactly where you are. Ask yourself; how is that true? Look at the actions that you’ve been taking. And ask yourself; does it make sense that I’m here? Does it make sense that I haven’t gotten more done? The answer will probably be, yes. If you’ve either been avoiding or constantly reshuffling, it will make perfect sense that you’ve accomplished exactly what you’ve accomplished.

All right, those are a few thoughts that you might be thinking about your workload or your to-do list. I want to encourage you to spend a few more minutes with this, and think through and identify; are there any other thoughts that you think about your to-do list or your workload, that really aren’t serving you? Write them down, find those feelings.

Ask yourself; what do I do, or what don’t I do, when I feel this way? And then ask yourself; what result does it produce? As it relates to my to-do list? As it relates to how I treat time? What I accomplish? How I tackle my to-do list? What results do you create when you think those thoughts about your to-do list?

And last but not least, I want you to do a quick thought download and run a couple models about particular tasks that you have on your to-do list. So, identify a few tasks that maybe you’ve been avoiding. Tasks that are outstanding that you haven’t completed yet. What are the thoughts that you’re thinking about each of these tasks? Go task by task.

Sometimes when we bundle all of the tasks together, and we’re just thinking about our to-do list, we don’t identify other thoughts that aren’t serving us. So, if you go task by task, you’re going to get much more specific thoughts, and you’re going to see how those thoughts are presenting as roadblocks, for you completing that particular task.

You might think that a particular task is time consuming. And if you’re thinking that thought about it, you might feel exasperated, or exhausted, or tired ahead of time. And what will you do when you’re feeling those feelings? You’ll avoid, or you’ll do something that’s less time consuming, because you’ve decided that time consuming is a problem. Right?

Now, when we do that, we create the result of not completing that particular task. Also, I always want to turn people on to the truth, that literally everything we do is time consuming. So, you can decide right now, that something being time consuming actually isn’t a problem. If you stop making something being time consuming a problem, you’re going to dial down your resistance and your avoidant behavior so significantly.

You might also, think a particular task is hard, or difficult, or complicated, or tedious. And if you think those thoughts, you’re going to feel a negative emotion as a result; maybe challenged, maybe annoyed, or frustrated. And if you’re thinking that thought and feeling those feelings, you’re going to avoid and do something else instead. And you’ll still have the hard thing to do, you don’t complete the task, you just avoid it.

You might also think about a particular task, that you shouldn’t have to do it. If you’re thinking that thought you’ll probably feel entitled, righteous, maybe slighted, or cheated. You might think that it’s really unfair that you have to do this, right? Those thoughts aren’t going to serve you. They’re going to conjure up these negative emotions, and what are you going to do when you feel them?

You’re going to avoid; you’re going to do something else. You also might react by way of complaining, that happens all the time. And what happens when we avoid, or we complain? We don’t complete the task, right? We still have to do it.

Another thought you might think about the tasks on your to-do list, like the individual, specific tasks is the thought, “I don’t want to do this.” Right? It might not sound like a good time to you; it might not sound like fun. So, when you’re thinking about a particular task, I don’t want to do this, you’re going to feel; maybe bored, bothered, annoyed, frustrated, irritated.

And when you’re feeling those feelings, you’re totally going to avoid, you’re going to do something else that brings you more pleasure. You might complain, right? And you’re still not going to want to do it. You’re probably actually going to want to do it less after you’ve done those things. Because now you’ve taken more time, and just allowed more resistance to grow, rather than gagging and going through the discomfort and just getting it done.

But I promise you, every time you think, I don’t want to do this, you’re going to make it so much harder on yourself, for you to do the task. So, that thought’s not going to serve you.

Neither is the thought, “I’ll do it later.” If you’re thinking, I’ll do it later, you might feel detached or relieved. And even though relief sounds like an emotion that might feel good, oftentimes it doesn’t serve us. So, I’ll do it later, it also might make you feel hopeful. Or, like encouraged, that you’ll do it later.

And those are tricky emotions, hope normally doesn’t serve us. So, I’ll do it later, is going to create an emotion that’s going to drive you to take your foot off the gas, take a break, and you’re not going to complete it, you’re still going to have to do it later. Right. So, that thought might not serve you either.

Neither will the thought, “I deserve a break.” That’s a super common thought that my clients think. They’ll complete one task, and then their brain will serve up to them the thought, “You deserve a break. I deserve a break.” And they’ll feel entitled to take a break, and then they’ll take one. So, they don’t complete the other tasks on their to-do list.

Now, I’m not advocating for working all the time. I’m not trying to celebrate hustle culture here. But you want to make sure your breaks are intentional. I’m all for taking breaks, you just don’t want them to be unplanned. Normally, that’s a way of avoiding work in a very unintentional manner. Rather than being kind to yourself, and engaging in self-care activities, and giving yourself an opportunity to rest.

So, if you’re thinking, I deserve a break, and you’re feeling entitled and you’re taking a break, you’re probably self-sabotaging a bit and not setting yourself up for success, as it relates to managing your time and completing the items on your to-do list.

You might also, be thinking the thought, “I’d rather be doing something else, than completing this task.” And if you’re thinking that, you might feel deprived over whatever that something else is. You want to be doing that, you’d rather be doing that, and it conjures up an emotional experience of deprivation.

And what do we do when we feel deprived? We either react to it or avoid it, and we go do the activity that we’d rather be doing. So, if you think that, it’s not going to serve you, it’s going to lead to you avoiding the task that you want to tackle.

And lastly, you might be thinking thoughts like, “I should have done this already,” about a task on your to-do list. And if you’re thinking that, you’ll feel guilty or disappointed with yourself, and man, do you create resistance to completing the task, when you’re feeling guilty and disappointed. You’re going to want to avoid it and beat yourself up, instead. And then, do something else that distracts you from that guilt or disappointment, and brings you some temporary pleasure.

And guess what? As a result of thinking, I should have done this already, you’re still going to create the result of not having done it. So, that thought’s not going to serve you either.

Maybe, about particular tasks, you think the thought, “I’m terrible at doing what I say I’m going to do, when I say I’m going to do it.” And if that’s you, I recorded a two-part podcast episode about the skill set, developing the skill set, of following through and being consistent.

If you haven’t listened to that yet, make sure you go give that a listen. But right now, I just want you to realize, if you think that way about yourself and about a particular task, you’re going to create more of that result. You aren’t going to follow through, you aren’t going to complete the task. You aren’t going to do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it.

So, you want to be on to yourself. Do you think that way, about yourself, about your habits, when it comes to time management and tackling to do list items? If you do, we’ve got to course-correct, those thoughts aren’t going to serve you. Okay?

All right, we’ve just created so much awareness in this episode, about how you think about time, time management, your workload, your to-do list, and particular tasks on your to-do list. So, you should be able to start to see how your current thinking is creating your current results, in each of these areas.

However you’re thinking, it’s going to cause your emotional experience, it’s going to cause how you’re feeling. And your feelings drive the action you take or don’t take, and that action is what produces your results. So, curating the right thoughts is so important here when it comes to managing your time effectively and efficiently.

All right, the first step, like I mentioned earlier, to cultivating the mindset that you need to have to manage your time well, is by gaining awareness as to what you’re currently thinking. So, we just did that. Now we know what’s causing your problems. We’re on to yourself about where you have room for improvement, when it comes to your mindset. We’re going to talk about that a couple of episodes from now.

And in the next episode, we’re going to do an exercise together to create some more awareness. I can’t wait to get into that. We’ll talk about that in the next episode. In the meantime, have a beautiful week. Talk to you 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 www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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Episode 27: Firefighters & Procrastinators

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Firefighters & Procrastinators

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Firefighters & Procrastinators

Today, I want to introduce you to two different time-management styles: firefighters and procrastinators. Most of us fit into one of these categories, and both of them are problematic in their own ways. Of course, the third time-management style is being very intentional with planning your time well, but that is way less common. 

I’m showing you these two problem-methodologies of time management because I’m sure you’ll be able to see yourself in one of them. Then, once you know the problem you’re addressing and you’ve created awareness around it, we can begin to lay the foundations for getting you into a more effective habit with how you manage your time.

Tune in this week to discover whether you’re ineffectively managing your time by firefighting or procrastinating. I’m sharing why both of these problematic time-management styles come from the same place, and I’m showing you how to use your thoughts to start solving for the desires that lead to poor time management. And be sure to come back next week because we’re diving deep into some time management strategies.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. 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. You can get all the information and apply by clicking here

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why firefighters show up with the best of intentions but often find themselves overwhelmed.
  • What procrastination looks like in practice as it relates to time management.
  • Why it’s possible for a person to be both a firefighter and a procrastinator in different situations.
  • How to see where you’re showing up in your professional life as either a firefighter or a procrastinator.
  • The surprisingly similar mindsets firefighters and procrastinators both have in common.
  • How to get clear on your thoughts so you can start moving away from your firefighting or procrastinating tendencies.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

 

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 27. Today, we’re talking all about two different management styles: Firefighters & Procrastinators. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hi, my friends, how we doing today? Greetings from Mexico City. I feel like I’m turning into Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? One of my clients just called me that. I am traveling a ton, lately. I was just in Florida, I told you guys that, for work and for a little bit of pleasure. Now, I’m in Mexico City. It’s my first time here; I am loving it. So, I am recording this episode live from the Four Seasons™, in Mexico City.

And I’ve been bopping around town here, it’s so green and so beautiful. And I love authentic Mexican foods. So, I’m eating tons of that. I had churros this afternoon, they were just delightful. And you know, it’s really neat to be able to take you guys with me when I record these episodes, and speak to you from all different parts of the world. I love that I get to bring my microphone and record from the comfort of my hotel room. It’s just starting to become like this really fun thing that I get to do.

I’ve got a lot of travel coming up over the course of the next few months. So, I’m going to be in New York, and then Italy, and then Nashville to speak at Clio® Con. Which, if you are going to Clio Con and you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, head on over to my Instagram™, I have a link in my bio that gets you a discount to Clio Con. So, make sure you take advantage of that.

And then, I am going to Charleston to scope out locations for The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind event; the live event that’s coming up in February. So, I’m hopping all over. And then, I’m going to be in Phoenix for a Life Coach School event. So, got a lot of travel and I plan to take you guys with me. So, I’ll be coming to you, not necessarily live, because I know this is recorded and it comes out on Tuesdays. But I will be coming to you from around the world.

And if you have any recommendations about any of the places that I just mentioned, reach out to me on social media. I would love to hear about them. I’m such a foodie. I love to explore. So, give me all your suggestions.

All right, now that I’ve told you about my Carmen Sandiego adventures, it’s time to talk about today’s podcast episode topic. I want to introduce you to two different types of time management styles. Both of them end up being pretty problematic.

First, we have firefighters. And then, we have procrastinators. And obviously, there’s of course the third time management style, which is to be very intentional with your time and to manage it well. Which I’m going to teach you over the course of the next several episodes.

We’ve been going through, as I like to call them, the three P’s: people-pleasing, perfectionism, now we’re on to procrastination and time management. And I wanted to introduce you to these two different problem styles or problem methodologies of managing your time, to see if you can see yourself in them.

Because we always want to address the problem first, create awareness around it. So, then we make it so much easier on ourselves to make changes going forward. If we know what to be on the lookout for and where our problems are and what causes them, we can create change so much faster.

So, that’s a little bit about what this episode is going to focus in on. Identifying these two ways that are problematic, that we manage our time or ineffectively manage our time, is probably a better way to refer to it. But I want to introduce you to them and then we’ll get into the nitty gritty, over the course of the next several episodes, on the mindset and then the tactics, the actions that you need to take, in order to manage your time really well.

All right. So, let’s start by talking about these two time management methods: being a firefighter or being a procrastinator. Being a firefighter looks like trying, with your best intentions, to get all the things done, but multitasking, jumping from one thing to the next, hitting those low-hanging fruit items instead of tackling the big project. Constantly reshuffling your schedule, triaging everything that comes your way, right?

It’s a very reactive way to work, rather than being proactive. And it’s different from procrastinating, because procrastinating is just putting something off because you’re avoiding it. You don’t want to do it. This is different. You’re well intentioned. You want to do all of the things and you wish you could do them all right now, but obviously you can’t. You can only ever do really, one thing at a time, which is a firefighter’s worst nightmare, admitting that truth, right?

So, you’re trying to do all the things. You’re not really able to do anything well. You’re not bringing intentionality with you into any of the activities that you are engaging in. Everything just feels like a scramble. You’re running around, playing Whack a Mole™, and spinning plates; you know, on the sticks where you run around and one plate gets wobbly, and then you give it a spin, and you run to the next wobbly plate, and you give that one a spin, and you’re just in that pattern constantly, right? That’s what it looks like to be a firefighter.

Now, the second version of managing your time ineffectively, is being a procrastinator. Where you’re constantly putting things off. You’re doing what we call in coaching, “buffering”, where you’re taking some action that isn’t normally work related and you’re doing that instead. So, you might be scrolling Instagram, watching Netflix®, you can buffer with sleep, you’re just really in an avoidant pattern.

Some people even procrastinate just by staring at their computer screen but not doing anything. So, it might look like “they’re working”, but they’re actually not completing anything. They’re really just spinning out.

Alright, so normally people are either one or the other. Every once in a while, I have someone ask me, they’re like, “Olivia, can you be both?” And yes, you can absolutely be both a firefighter and a procrastinator. Normally, it will depend on what people are working on, that determines which methodology they’re acting from. What kind of person they show up as; are they being a firefighter, or are they being a procrastinator?

If there’s a really big project at work, normally, anytime someone uses that verbiage to talk about an assignment, they’re going to slip into procrastination mode. When people are feeling really overwhelmed and behind, and they’re trying to do all of the things and do them all right now, which of course isn’t possible, they might be in that firefighting mode.

Especially my people-pleasers, probably see themselves firefighting a lot. Because they’ll be in the middle of something, and then someone asks them to do something else and they drop what they’re doing. And they switch to that something else, in order to people-please whoever asked them. So, you can start to see how all of these things interrelate with one another; the three P’s.

Same thing goes with procrastination. My procrastinators, if they’re indulging in perfectionism, and I discussed that in the perfectionism series that I just did, that’s a reason that we procrastinate. Because we don’t want to do something imperfectly, so we think to ourselves; why ever get started? Better to not do it at all, instead of do it imperfectly, right.

So, you can be both; you’ll normally only be one at a time. But you can see both of those patterns show up in your day-to-day work life. Now, they may look pretty different, right, one’s kind of like overworking, hustling, really reactive, very unintentional, that scramble, that rat race. And the other, is just that total avoidant pattern as far as work goes. Where you’re just not doing any of the things that you’re supposed to be doing. Nothing productive, not even the low hanging fruit, you’re just really avoiding work altogether.

So, on the surface, these two behaviors look pretty different. But what I want to offer you today, is that they’re actually not. They’re actually a lot more similar than you may think. Ultimately, these two different time management methodologies are caused by the same three things.

So, they’re caused by thoughts that don’t serve you, feelings you don’t want to feel, and a desire for instant gratification. Okay, so when it comes to firefighting, now remember, we have a think-feel-act cycle here, right? That’s the model at play. So, whatever work is coming your way, you’re going to have a thought about it. And then, it’s going to cause a feeling, and then it’s going to drive an action.

So, with firefighting, the thoughts that drive you to firefight and to play that game of Whack a Mole, so to speak, our thoughts, like; I have to do this, I need to do this right now, I can’t say no, I can’t put this off, they’ll be mad at me if I don’t do this right now.

A lot of my clients also think thoughts like; just this one more thing, just one more email, just one more quick phone call, just one more whatever. Or, they’ll think to themselves; I can do this really fast. So, they want to just triage it, take care of it right now, rather than being intentional with their time, sticking to the schedule that they have for the day, and staying on course. So, just one more I can do this faster, I can do this really fast right now, this won’t take me that long.

All of those thoughts drive us to firefight, when it comes to our schedule. The other thing that will happen with people, is that they get in their heads about other people waiting on them. I have a lot of clients who struggle with the game of tennis or volleyball, that they perceive is going on with the work that they do. So, they’re really concerned with; I don’t want anyone waiting on me.

And when something comes back to them, it gets lobbed and volleyed back over the net into their side of the court. Right, the ball’s no longer in the other person’s court, it’s now in theirs. They get really anxious. They don’t want anyone waiting on them. So, all of these thoughts drive us to firefight. So, these thoughts don’t serve us, they’re not going to lead us to intentionally working and managing our time.

The second part of a firefighting problem is the feelings that someone who’s firefighting is unwilling to feel. So, firefighting is a reaction to a negative emotion that we don’t want to sit with. So, feelings that we want to jump out of.

Our feelings like; worry, or guilt, or pressured, or overwhelmed, right. Other feelings that will let us give up control, or leave us to give up control, our feelings like; resigned, out of control, obligated, all of these feelings are feelings that we react to in one way or another. And we don’t take intentional action, in spite of them.

So, you’ve got the negative thoughts that you’re thinking, that don’t serve you, that drive you to firefight. These negative emotions that you’re unwilling to sit with. You’re letting these negative emotions drive the wheel, so to speak.

And then, there’s also the third component here; your desire for instant gratification. So, when you’re in firefighting mode, you get instant gratification from putting out the fires, from triaging whatever it is that you’re working on, from playing that game of Whack a Mole.

It gives you a sense of accomplishment. It makes you feel satisfied, useful, productive, even though it’s not the most intentional use of your time, and it leaves you in that scramble, it feels good while you’re doing it. So, in order to not firefight, you have to be willing to give up that sense of instant gratification.

Now, procrastination is basically the same exact patterns. It looks differently in your action line, of how you spend your time, right, but it’s being caused by the exact same thing. So, my procrastinators, they think thoughts like; I don’t feel like doing this, I don’t want to do this, I shouldn’t have to do this, this is going to be hard, I don’t know where to start. All of those negative thoughts.

So, those thoughts aren’t serving them, and they drive them to procrastinate. Again, that’s the first issue that’s causing a problem. The second, is that there are feelings you don’t want to feel when you’re procrastinating. So, it might be feelings like; overwhelm, pressure, confusion, fear that you’re going to do something wrong, maybe some shame because you’ve already put something off for quite a while and you’re behind.

And instead of powering through these emotions, you let them dictate how you show up, what you do, what you don’t do, right. So again, there’s thoughts that don’t serve you, and then feelings that you don’t want to feel, driving this behavior. There’s also the desire for instant gratification, right? Unlike firefighting, where you’re doing something else work related, normally, with procrastination, you’re not.

You’re getting that instant gratification from something that you find more entertaining. So maybe, you’re texting a friend, or scrolling on Instagram, or LinkedIn®, or Facebook®, or binge watching a Netflix special or series, or shopping on Amazon®, right?

The list goes on and on, all the different things that you can do. Maybe you clean, when you procrastinate. Like, that’ll give you a different sense of accomplishment. It allows you to get out of work, but do something seemingly “productive”, even though you’re in that procrastination pattern. Right.

And when we think about not procrastinating, what you’d have to be willing to do is you’d have to be willing to feel deprived. So, that’s normally another emotion that people aren’t willing to experience, that drive them to procrastinate. They don’t want to feel deprived; to do what they want to do.

They also feel a little entitled or deserving. And those emotions drive them to do the thing that causes them to procrastinate, the procrastination activity. So again, just like with firefighting, it’s caused by thoughts that don’t serve you. Feelings you’re unwilling to feel, and a desire for instant gratification.

Now, just like these two time management methodologies are caused by the same three issues, they’re also solved by the same process or protocol. And what that looks like is, you need to change your thoughts. That’s always where we’re going to start, right. We need to pick thoughts that serve us. Second, you need to embrace discomfort. And third, you need to avoid the temptation to indulge in instant gratification; you have to say no to it.

So, when it comes to thoughts, instead of thinking, if you’re a firefighter; I have to, I need to, I can’t, that is typically never true. I’ve talked about that on the podcast before, that there are only four things you ever have to do; sleep, drink, water, breathe and eat sometimes, that’s it.

If you’re listing anything else and telling yourself I have to do it, I promise you, you don’t actually, “have to”. There may be plenty of reasons why you want to, because you don’t want to suffer the consequences that come along with not doing that task. But you never have to do it, you’re always exercising agency, you’re always making a choice.

So, in order to get yourself out of firefighter mode, you may want to remind yourself that you’re making a choice and that you get to choose. That’ll help you dial down that pressure, dial down that sense of feeling out of control or obligated. Right? You might want to talk to yourself and tell yourself it’s better for you to focus on one thing; I can only do one thing at a time. If I constrain to completing this task, instead of multitasking, I’ll get further faster.

I like to tell myself that multitasking is a lie. It’s not a benefit. It doesn’t serve us. It doesn’t help us accomplish more; it slows us down. I once had a court officer tell me, “Slow is smooth, smooth is steady, steady is fast,” or some variant of that. Maybe it was, “slow is steady, steady is smooth, smooth is fast,” right. And that always sticks in my head, I love to practice constraint. And I love to methodically go one thing at a time, I get so much more done that way.

So, I teach that to my clients, as well, for them to slow themselves down. I also teach my clients to stick to a plan. So, when they’ve planned something, and they’re in that just one more thought pattern of like, I’m not going to follow the plan, I’m just going to stick with this. Or, I can jump to one thing and then jump back. Right?

I teach them that they want to become someone who follows through, that sticks to a plan. Simply for the sake of sticking to a plan because it’s such a vital skill set. So, that may be a way that you want to talk to yourself. When that temptation to firefight comes to you, you want to remind yourself that it doesn’t serve you in the long run, it makes you really inefficient and unintentional. And that’s not what you want when it comes to how you manage your time, and how you approach work.

You’re also going to have to make a deal with yourself that you’re going to feel some of these negative emotions and not let them be in the driver’s seat, when it comes to how you approach your to-do list, right? You’re going to have to feel worried, or guilty, or pressured, or overwhelmed, and methodically approach work regardless, rather than playing that game of Whack a Mole.

You may feel guilty about not answering an unscheduled phone call, or someone emails you and you just want to respond to it, because it’s only going to take a second. And you’re going to remind yourself to sit in that pressure, sit in that guilt, sit in that worry, and stick to your game plan anyways. You can get to that task later in the day, once you’ve gotten through the work that you planned.

I teach my clients, and we’ll get into this in a future episode, but I teach my clients to build in flex time into their schedule, and also specific time where you’re checking emails and responding to them. So, you’re able to be intentional with whatever task is in front of you. You don’t have to be half pregnant and jump back and forth between all of these different to-do list items.

You want to make sure that you’re planning, in line, with how you actually spend your time. If you plan differently, you’re going to set yourself up for failure, which we don’t want to have that happen. So, you need to change your firefighter thought and you need to be willing to feel these negative emotions, and be willing to resist the urge to indulge in instant gratification that comes from firefighting.

If you’re a procrastinator, same process that you need to follow. So, you need to change your thoughts, right? Instead of telling yourself that you don’t want to do something, or that it’s going to be hard, or that it’s going to be so time consuming, you want to switch to thoughts that drive you to feel motivated, right?

That might look like, I am not going to put future me in a worse position. That’s one of my favorite thoughts to think. I’m following through because I’m someone who does what they say they’re going to do. It’s not going to take me that long. It’s okay that it’s going to consume a little bit of time. I tell myself all the time, everything is time consuming, right?

Our brain always offers us up that thought as if it’s a problem that something’s time consuming. It’s never a problem that something’s time consuming. Everything we do consumes time, right? So, if you catch yourself thinking that, oh, it’s going to take me a lot of time, or that’s a really time-consuming task. Just catch yourself, remind yourself that everything consumes time, that doesn’t have to be a problem, and then get to work. Follow through with doing that task.

I also like to look at why I think something’s going to be hard. Or, if I’m telling myself, I don’t know where to start, I solve for that stuff, right? If you can narrow in on what you actually think is hard, chances are, you’ll figure out how to work through it a lot faster. Our brain loves to throw that thought up to us, like it’s throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it’ll stick or not.

And if you get really specific, you might find out oh, it’s actually not that hard. That’s just a lie, my brain serving up to me to get me to procrastinate. And then same thing with, I don’t know where to start? If you sit with that question for a second, your brain will actually solve for it. You will know where to start. Just pick one place, take a little bit of action, and then go from there.

So, I like to remind myself, it won’t be this hard. I’ve done stuff like this before. I’m really competent, I know what I’m doing. I can get through this one step at a time. That’s the mental rehearsal that I engage in, instead of the procrastination thoughts of; I don’t want to do this, this sucks, I hate this stuff, I deserve a break. All of that, right?

Now, same thing, like with firefighting, we need to allow ourselves to feel negative feelings. So, we’ve got to embrace the discomfort. With procrastination, we have to be willing to feel bothered, bored, frustrated, annoyed, pressured, overwhelmed. Those are typically the emotions that pop up for people. And they are hard to stomach, at first. But I promise you, it’s just like a little bit of a speed bump when you’re entering a parking lot. It gets easier once you get started.

One of the things that I do myself is, I just tell myself, do something for five minutes, and then see what happens. See how you feel. Normally, we just avoid getting started. That’s the hardest part. So, if you can get yourself past that part of it, you’ll be off to the races. But you’re going to have to embrace a little bit of discomfort in the beginning, to override that primitive, protectionistic part of your brain that just wants to seek pleasure, avoid discomfort, and conserve energy, right?

That’s what’s driving you to procrastinate. It’s what’s serving you up those negative procrastination thoughts. And it’s what’s telling you to avoid all of these negative emotions that you associate with doing the task. You get to decide that you’re just going to feel them on purpose.

So, you got to change your thoughts, feel your feelings, and then again, avoid the desire to indulge in instant gratification, that comes from buffering and doing whatever other fun, entertaining activity you’d prefer to be doing, other than the work that’s in front of you.

All right, we’re going to dive in, over the course of the next several episodes, about specific time management strategies. But they’re going to be in one way or another, a breakdown, or a more specific solution or protocol, of this general overview that I just gave you.

Three problems, three solutions: Thoughts that don’t serve you. Feelings you don’t want to feel. A desire for instant gratification; that’s what’s causing your time management problems. And then, the solution is to change your thoughts, embrace discomfort, and avoid instant gratification. All right.

What I want to challenge you to do, as we lead into this time management series that I’m going to walk you through, is I want to encourage you to identify when am I firefighting? When am I procrastinating? Maybe you do one or the other. Or, maybe you’re like some of my clients, and you see yourself in both of those time management models.

But I want you to start to identify when you’re in either one of those patterns, and then ask yourself, get more specific: What thoughts am I thinking that are driving me to take this action, right now? This action that doesn’t serve me. What are the feelings that I’m unwilling to feel?

One of the ways that you can identify the feelings that you’re unwilling to feel, is to ask yourself; if I were managing my time with intention, sticking to my plan, planning accurately, not reshuffling, not playing Whack a Mole, how would I be forced to feel, if I just did this thing right now? If you’re procrastinating. Or, if you just stuck to the schedule and didn’t interrupt yourself, what’s the emotion that you would be forced to feel in that moment?

That’ll help you identify the feelings that you’re unwilling to feel, that are driving this time management problem, okay? And then, it’ll be easy for you to spot the instant gratification that you get from firefighting or from procrastinating, you just want to be on the lookout for that.

So, go out there, identify this week; what are the thoughts that you’re thinking that are causing your firefighting or you’re procrastinating? What are those feelings? And then once you’ve got that information, you’re going to be in a really good position for us to take this work even deeper, over the course of the next several episodes, all right?

Okay, I will talk to you next week. I can’t wait to dive in to this really intense series. Giving you all my best nuggets, tips, tricks, and tactics for you to become a master at time management.

Until then, have a beautiful week, my friends, 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 26: Overcoming Perfectionism

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Overcoming Perfectionism

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Overcoming Perfectionism

We’ve gone deep on the topic of perfectionism the past couple of episodes. First we discussed what it is, how it shows up in practice in the form of worth dysmorphia, and how to spot it happening in real time. But today, I’m giving you all the tactics you need to really solidify this work and overcome perfectionism for good.

When it comes to dealing with our perfectionism, we have to start by addressing our thoughts. Awareness is key here, so you can decide what you want to change. You might currently believe it isn’t safe to be imperfect, or that making a mistake means you’re not good enough. Whatever you’re struggling with, this episode is here to change what you make it mean about yourself.

Tune in this week to discover how your perfectionist thoughts are getting in your way. I’m sharing how to identify the emotions you’re trying to avoid by being perfect, and instead decide you’re going to feel all of it, the good and the bad, and move forward loving the process, the successes and the failures.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. 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. 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, if you’re a perfectionist, your thoughts likely aren’t serving you.
  • How to use mirror judgments to get clear on your thoughts around your perfectionist behavior.
  • The importance of sitting in and truly experiencing the emotions you have around imperfection.
  • How to see the emotions you’re trying to avoid by always working to attain perfection.
  • What you can do to define what enough is for you and get clear on what you’re really aiming for.
  • The power of small, attainable goals as you reestablish the sense of self-trust that your perfectionism has eroded over the years.
  • How to make peace with and learn to love the trial-and-error, the mistakes, and learning in the process.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 26. Today, we’re talking all about overcoming perfectionism. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hi, my friends. How are you doing today? I hope you are awesome. I just got back from ten days in Florida, some for pleasure with friends, and some for work. Lots of work, actually. I met with my business coach, and I think I’m going to do a whole episode, just talking about the power of being in a mastermind, and the connection, and the growth, and the learning.

I think that would probably be really valuable to people because I also host a mastermind. I just want to get into the nitty gritty, but it’s a lot to talk about, so I don’t want to spend a bunch of this episode talking about it. I think I can say that it’s for its whole own separate episode. So, that’s what I’m going to do.

With that being said, we are continuing to talk about the three P’s: people-pleasing, perfectionism, and procrastination. In the past two episodes, we’ve talked about perfectionism. I have gone through what it looks like in practice, so you’re able to spot it. We talked about worth dysmorphia, and really working on your self-concept, your idea that you’re good enough, that you’re worthy enough, that you are enough, in order to work to overcome your perfectionism.

But today, I’m going to get into some tactics. Because as much as thinking that you’re worthy is important and so required to overcome perfectionism, there are some tips and tricks that you can also implement to make a difference here. All right, let’s dive in. 

Actually, before we dive in, I’m going to digress for just a second. I do a pretty good job, I know I’ve mentioned it on the podcast before, I do a pretty good job of keeping my two panthers out of my room while I record this. So, you don’t have to listen to them be disruptive. But I’ve just been gone for ten days, and one of my cats, Bear, is absolutely glued to my side. So, you might hear him.

If you do, just bear with me this time, we’re going to give him some grace because he has a mild case of separation anxiety. If you hear some purrs, it’s just because he’s happy that his mom was home. Okay? I also tend to think of it as like the best ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) … Hold on one second. (Sound of cat purring) I’m sorry, but that is just like the cutest noise on the face of the earth. Okay, I digress.

Let’s get started. All right, when it comes to overcoming perfectionism, we have to start with addressing our thoughts. I always want you to gain awareness first, to figure out what you’re currently thinking, and then we want to see if those thoughts serve us and change them, if necessary. If you’re a perfectionist, chances are your thoughts aren’t serving you.

You want to start by just examining what your thoughts are about perfectionism. Do you think it’s a good thing? If you do, if you think it’s beneficial to be a perfectionist, if you think it’s helpful, you’re going to keep engaging in that behavior because you think it’s beneficial. You think it’s good. So, you want to check in with yourself there.

Do you think it’s good to be a perfectionist? If you do, what do you want to choose to think instead? Maybe you want to think the exact opposite; that it’s bad to be a perfectionist, that it’s not helpful, that it doesn’t serve you, that it’s safe or okay to be imperfect. Those are thoughts that are going to help you start to move the dial with your perfectionist tendencies, to become someone who doesn’t indulge in perfectionism, like you have in the past.

You also want to examine your thoughts about making mistakes. Do you think it’s the worst thing ever, if you make one? Do you think that you’re not good enough, if you make mistakes? Do you think that people won’t respect you, or hire you, or want to work with you, if you make them? You want to start to explore; what do you think about making mistakes?

Then from there, ask yourself again; do those thoughts serve me? They probably don’t, if you’re indulging in perfectionism. What do you need to think instead, about making mistakes? One of the things that I always have clients do, I’m going to do a whole podcast on this, I call them “mirror judgments”. But you can always check in with yourself to see how you approach or judge another person when they make mistakes.

Oftentimes, my clients will think that they’re accepting of themselves when they make mistakes, but they’ll indulge in a lot of drama and worry ahead of time, that other people won’t be receptive or understanding if they make them. I’ll always check in with them on how they judge other people, when other people make mistakes.

If it turns out that they tend to be really judgmental of other people, chances are you’re going to think other people will think exactly the same thoughts that you think about other people when they make mistakes. Whatever you think about other people is what you think other people will think about you. I know that’s kind of a tongue twister, but work with me here, okay?

You want to address and change your judgments, that you have of other people making mistakes, so you can be more gracious and kinder to yourself when you make them. You want to check in there with those mirror judgments.

Take a few seconds to think about what thoughts you’d like to practice instead? Do you want to think that it’s safe to make mistakes? Do you want to think that it’s normal to make mistakes? Do you want to think that mistakes are just a part of learning, and that you’re always winning and learning?

Or, rather, winning or learning? Do you want to think that you can still make mistakes and be exceptional? That’s a fun thought. Right? Give some time and think about the thoughts you want to think about making mistakes? Can you be more gracious and kind to yourself in that area?

I also want you to examine your thoughts about what you make imperfection mean about you. Normally, when we do something imperfectly, we add extra meaning to it. Do you make it mean that you’re not worthy enough, that you’re not good enough, that you’re never going to get to where you want to go, you’re never going to be successful?

That’s so much pressure that we put on ourselves, when we think those kinds of thoughts. Ask yourself; what do I make it mean about me when I do something imperfectly? If you need to pause the podcast, just to let that question sink in, go ahead for a second. What do I make it mean about me when I do something imperfectly?

If your answer doesn’t serve you, if it’s super negative, you want to ask yourself; what do I want to make it mean instead?  I always want to offer you that you can choose to make it mean absolutely nothing. But you’re probably, definitely, going to want to course correct.

You’re going to see that the way you’re thinking about being flawed, about being imperfect, about making mistakes, about having things be a little bumpy, you’re probably giving it some really significant meaning. And, that meaning is probably not positive. If that’s the case, can you course correct?

Now, that’s a little purview into the thought arena, when it comes to overcoming perfectionism. You’ve got to figure out what you’re currently thinking, and you want to see; do I need to change my thoughts? To come up with thoughts that serve me instead, and help me get out of my perfectionistic patterns?

You also want to focus on your feelings. There are a lot of feelings that people experience when it comes to being imperfect. You need to learn how to sit with those emotions. I always describe this as letting them ride shotgun with you as you go about your business, right? You’re in the driver’s seat of your life, but some of these negative emotions, unfortunately, have to come along for the ride. Because part of the human experience is feeling negative some of the time.

But a lot of us, when we go through our lives, we let these negative emotions drive, we give them so much power and control over what we do or what we don’t do, and how we feel, and how we go through our lives.  Instead of doing that, those negative emotions are just going to come along for the ride and you’re going to take really intentional action to avoid perfectionism while feeling a little uncomfortable.

You’re going to have to practice feeling emotions like; incomplete, imperfect, unprepared, judged, exposed, maybe a little embarrassed or worried. If those emotions jump out at you, and you tend to have a really hard time feeling them, again, pause this podcast episode and take a second, and find where you experience those feelings in your body.

Where do you feel unprepared? Where do you feel exposed? Where do you feel embarrassed, or imperfect or anxious? The worst that can ever happen to you is that you experience that emotion in your body, you’ll experience it as a vibration. I know that sounds kind of silly, but that’s all emotions are they’re vibrations in our body, and you want to practice feeling them on purpose, with intentionality.

We work so hard, I always say we do back handsprings essentially, to get out of these negative emotions. But nothing really happens when we feel them. You want to just practice feeling them on purpose. Okay? What happens to you when you feel imperfect, or incomplete, or exposed, or vulnerable, or embarrassed? Nothing actually happens. Yes, it’s uncomfortable physically, in your body, but that’s all. You don’t die. You’ve survived every negative emotion you’ve ever felt.

You want to make a deal with yourself. You want to identify what emotions you avoid when you indulge in perfectionism? If you’re constantly focused on being perfect, you never have to feel imperfect. You never have to feel flawed; you never have to feel incomplete, or judged. If you attain perfectionism, that land of being in the ideal, you won’t have to feel those feelings.

So, you want to see and be on to yourself; how do you use perfectionism to avoid feeling your feelings? Once you get clear on that, you can ask yourself and make a deal with yourself; what would be so bad if I just felt these on purpose? Would I be okay? Spoiler alert, the answer is yes; you will be okay.

You can also just decide that you’re willing to feel them. I made that deal with myself a really long time ago, when I decided to start building this business. I said, “Hey, this is going to be uncomfortable. We’re going to have to feel a lot of negative emotion as we embark on this venture. That’s all right. What if we just promise to feel your feelings and move forward anyways?” That’s what I did.

It’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Man, does it pay dividends? See if you can get into that deal, that arrangement, with yourself? Can you make the agreement to feel all of these feelings, that you feel when you’re imperfect, when you’re not indulging in perfectionist behavior?

All right, you also have to separate your self-worth from the action you’re taking, from what it is that you’re doing in your life. Because if your self-worth is so wrapped up with your progress that you’re making, with what you’re doing in the world, you’re constantly going to pressure yourself into doing it perfectly.

Because if your self-worth is tied to how well you do things, and you don’t do them perfectly, you aren’t going to allow yourself to feel worthy, to feel good enough. All right? I told you in the last episode, you can just decide that you’re good enough. That’s completely available to you.

But you want to make sure; are you associating your worth as a human being, with what you’re doing as a human in this world? You’re a human being not a human doing, always remember that. But if they’re tied together, you want to separate them.

The way that you do that, is just by constantly reminding yourself, and really mentally rehearsing the belief that you are not what you do. That you’re whole, worthy, and good, and enough, all on your own. Regardless of how productive you are. Regardless of what you produce in this world. Regardless of what you do. Regardless of what you accomplish, and how you go about accomplishing it. All right? Those two things are separate.

Now, when we’re goal setting, you want to do a couple things. Number one, you always want to define ‘enough’; you want to make sure it’s objective and attainable, it’s measurable, and you’ve got metrics to track your progress. I did a whole episode about this earlier, in the podcast. So, go listen to Defining Enough, if you haven’t listened to that yet. But you want to make sure you define whatever it is that you’re striving for.

Perfectionists like to use words like; better, best, more, less. enough. Those words are really ambiguous, and then we end up just chasing the horizon. Being really unclear about what we’re aiming for, not knowing how to recognize it when we arrive there.

We end up feeling so discontented during the process, because we never know what we’re working towards.  You want to make sure you define ‘enough’ and get really clear on what you’re aiming for, and how you’ll work, following the yellow brick road, to get to the end result. It’s going to help you feel so satisfied. It will also help you feel accomplished when you get there, which is such a beautiful gift that you can give yourself.

Now, once you’ve defined enough, you can also apply that in tandem, with the concept of the ‘minimum baseline’. The minimum baseline is a goal setting tool. I talked about it in the two-part episode about Following Through, that I did a couple of episodes ago. If you haven’t listened to that, I really dive into detail on how to become someone who follows through, how to build that as a skill set.

If you’re a perfectionist, you’re probably not one who has a history of following through. You probably do what I talked about two episodes ago, where you start and stop, and you quit ahead of time, and you fail ahead of time, you never really get going. You don’t have a good relationship with following through, you don’t identify as that kind of person. And, it’s because you put so much pressure on yourself, that it’s really hard to get started.

Then, when you do something imperfectly, if you’re really engaged in all-or-nothing thinking, where it has to be completely perfect or it’s not worth it, you quit, right? If you do something imperfectly, you might as well not continue to do it. You want to make sure that you’re setting very realistic goals that are attainable, you’re not indulging in perfectionist fantasy goal setting. With that, you want to work it as a minimum baseline goal.

What that means is you pick a really obvious, “Of course 1,000%, I’ll achieve this result,” you pick that as the goal. You make the smallest commitment possible, and you promise yourself that you will stick to it, no matter what. You work, and work, and work, to become someone who follows through, no matter what. It may not be super comfortable, that’s okay, I talk all about that in that two-part episode.

But you can do that, you can survive the discomfort of following through. But picking small, attainable goals is going to help you reestablish that sense of self-trust, that indulging in perfectionism has really eroded for you, right? Most perfectionists have a terrible relationship with themselves when it comes to self-trust.

They don’t trust themselves at all, because they have a history of bailing on the promises that they’ve made to themselves. Because their promises are unrealistic, so of course, they’re not going to be able to stick to them. 

You really want to work on reestablishing that sense of self-trust and becoming someone who follows through. The best way to do that is to set minimum baseline goals and accomplish them, little by little. It may seem, if you’re a perfectionist, that the little-by-little progress isn’t sexy, isn’t enough progress, isn’t enough accomplishment.

But I promise you, a little goes a long way. And, you get so much further, faster when you set and achieve goals this way. Small, simple progress is sexy as hell, I just want you to remember that.

I also want to encourage you to fall in love with the process of achieving your goals. Most people aren’t in love with the process of achieving their goals. In fact, they think to themselves, “If I could just skip the process of goal achieving, and just get right to the end result of having the achievement of having the accomplishment,” they would pick that.

The problem with that, is you set yourself up to operate in a world where you’re only giving yourself permission to celebrate success when you get there. You only celebrate the trophies in your life, and candidly, the trophies come pretty infrequently. You end up feeling dissatisfied, and discontented, and underwhelmed most of the time, right?

You can even go so far as to feel really frustrated most of the time while you’re working towards achieving a goal, if you’ve set yourself up to be the kind of person who only celebrates the end results. You don’t want to do that. Instead, you want to become a person who doesn’t just celebrate trophies. You want to become a person who celebrates the process.

I want to encourage you to fall in love with the process. The everyday, nitty-gritty work of achieving your goals. It can be so sexy, but you have to think of it that way, and you have to practice thinking of it that way. That it’s sexy to be someone who’s committed. That it’s sexy to be someone who follows through. That it is sexy to be someone who is consistent as hell, right?

That small incremental progress that you make day after day after day. The small incremental commitments that you stick to every single day. You want to fall in love with the process.

It’s going to feel like a struggle some of the time, but you can fall in love with that part, too. Fall in love with the challenge of accomplishing your goals. If you start to love that part, start to love the imperfection of it, the challenge of it, the trial-and-error aspect of it, the always winning or learning mistakes part of it. That you’re going to fumble and that that’s not a problem, it’s part of the process of learning.

If you learn to make peace with that part of the process, if you learn to fall in love with that part of the process, you will be able to stop indulging in perfectionism, and you will have so much fun along the way.

I had a feeling… This is a total digression. I had a feeling that you could hear Bear in the background, and I just went back and listened to the recording, and you definitely can. I promise I’m not torturing him; he is just still sad and happy, and overwhelmed with all of his own feelings that I’m home.

I’m just going to leave that in this episode, as an example of what’s possible of not indulging in perfectionism. Indulging in perfectionism would be me re-recording that section of this episode. I’m just going to leave it in, to serve as a little example to you, of what it looks like to not indulge in perfectionism.

That’s going to be my A- B+ work for the day, and it’s going to be okay. I’m just going to choose to believe that you will find, Bear endearing and me endearing, and that you will choose to accept us both for our flaws and imperfections.

All right. You want to fall in love with the process of accomplishing your goals, even the messy parts. If this is a new concept for you, I get so excited to introduce people to this concept. Maybe no one ever told you that you could fall in love and celebrate the process, you’ve probably only seen people celebrate end results.

One of my favorite mentors is Gary Vaynerchuk. One of his big, audacious goals is to buy the New York Jets®. He’s a serial entrepreneur, he’s a public speaker, he’s kind of a motivational speaker, I think he would hate being described that way. But I think it is what he does. He’s very motivating to me, at least. He talks all the time about this big, audacious goal of buying the New York Jets. 

I know that’s a little contrary to what I just told you, to set a minimum baseline goal or really small, achievable, simple goal, but you can do both. You want to work on setting minimum baseline goals to start, in order to establish that self-trust with yourself. But then, once you’ve done that, and you’ve become someone who follows through on doing what they say they’re going to do, you can set some really big and audacious goals. 

That’s what Gary’s done; he has set this big, audacious goal of buying the New York Jets. He’s not anywhere close to amassing the wealth needed to do that yet, even though he’s worth several hundred million dollars. It takes more than that to buy the Jets, apparently. He always talks about that people really get him wrong, they’re mistaken.

They misunderstand him, when he says that he wants to buy the New York Jets. Yes, he’d love to have the New York Jets, he’d love to own the team. But it’s not about that. It’s about the process that he has to engage in to become someone who’s capable of buying the New York Jets.

What businesses does he have to start? How does he have to grow them? What success does he have to amass along the way? What does he have to learn along the way? What’s that process like, right? And, he has fallen in love with the process of getting to that endpoint. He likes the day-to-day aspect of it, the constant growth, the constant learning, the constant missteps, and course correcting, that comes with achieving an audacious goal like that.

I have wild money goals. The reason that I picked them, isn’t necessarily for the money; I love money. I think it’s beautiful. It’s great. I love what it allows you to experience in this world. But part of it is just setting such an audacious, impossible goal for myself, because I’m in love with the process of getting there. It challenges me to think in such a bigger, bolder way. To think outside of the box, about how will I get there? It’s like solving the greatest puzzle imaginable.

Ask yourself; can I fall in love with the process? What would it look like if I were to do that? How would my experience be different if I was in love with the process, rather than just the endpoint? How would I feel, what would my experience be like, if I was able to celebrate the way “there”, instead of just arriving “there”?

Whatever that final destination is for you, if you can become someone that can celebrate the process, just as much if not more than they celebrate the trophies, your entire life experience will be different, okay?

Also, this is sort of related. But I recently heard someone say this and I thought it was so brilliant, and very relevant for the topic of overcoming perfectionism. But we’re often told, when we’re younger, that practice makes perfect. Right? Ick! I totally used to buy into that concept of practice makes perfect, practice makes perfect. Yes, I do think there are some skills or tasks where that is probably true; that practice does make perfect.

But I do think, as a general rule of thumb, that’s a pretty harmful way to think about things, right? Again, it really has you focused on perfection being the end goal. It tricks you into believing that perfection is something that is attainable, which, as I’ve explained time and time again in these past few episodes, it’s not. There’s no such thing as perfect; perfect doesn’t exist.

Even though we tend to know that, or are willing to admit that, at least intellectually, when we buy into concepts like, practice makes perfect, we’re subtly telling ourselves that it does exist, that it is achievable, it is attainable. That subtle reinforcement is really dangerous. We don’t want to engage in that.

So, instead of thinking practice makes perfect, I want you to change that thought to, practice makes progress, because that’s much more realistic, and then it gets you to fall in love, it reinforces and supports this concept of falling in love with the process, not falling in love with the endpoint. Okay?  Practice makes progress. Not, practice makes perfect. Such a lighter way to go through life, and to approach your goals, and how you achieve them.

All right. Last point, when it comes to overcoming perfectionism. What I want you to do, is get really good at spotting when you’re indulging in perfectionism. I want you to become a master at fighting your perfectionistic patterns and interrupting them. You want to be on to yourself.

I teach my clients to do a weekly self-evaluation. It’s called a weekly self-audit, or a Sunday self-audit. We just ask three questions: What worked? What didn’t work? What would you do differently?

If you really want to work on overcoming perfectionism, if you know that this is a weakness of yours, and it causes you a lot of strife in your life, I highly encourage you to build in, just a sub-question under the ‘what didn’t work’ section. Asking yourself each week; where did I indulge in perfectionism?

If you get better at spotting your perfectionistic tendencies, your perfectionistic patterns… I just love a good alliteration; I can’t resist that one. If you get better at spotting your perfectionistic patterns, you will get better at interrupting them. Highlight them, for yourself each week. Get better at spotting them, and then make a plan each week.

What will you do differently next time? What is your game plan when you cut yourself in the midst of a perfectionistic pattern? You catch yourself doing it in real time? How will you interrupt it? How will you course correct? What will you do instead?

I want you to game plan for that, I want you to strategize, so you have an arsenal available to you for what you do to get yourself out of a perfectionistic pattern. The better you get at doing this, the easier it will be when that perfectionist tendency comes up for you. You’ll be able to get yourself out of it faster, which will get you feeling better faster, too.

Come up with a game plan. Ask yourself; how am I going to spot my perfectionistic patterns? What will I do, when I catch myself indulging in them? You can make a game plan to course correct in the middle of it, and also after. What will you do differently next time, to avoid perfectionism all together?

Those are my tips for you on how to overcome perfectionism. I hope you find them valuable. I hope you start putting them into play immediately. You can see huge, monumental changes in your life, if you stop indulging in perfectionism. Let yourself be human and work on making that attainable, objective progress to get you to where you want to go.

That’s what I’ve got for you today. I will talk to you in the next episode. I can’t wait. We’re going to start talking all about time management. It’s going to be so fun. It’s such an area where people struggle, and I’m going to help you tackle it, once and for all.

I will talk to you in the next episode. In the meantime, 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 25: Worth Dysmorphia

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Worth Dysmorphia

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Worth Dysmorphia

Today’s episode follows on from our recent episode about perfectionism. We discussed what perfectionism is, and how to recognize it and interrupt it while it’s happening. But the next couple of episodes are all about the solutions to overcoming perfectionism, and we start this week by discussing something I call worth dysmorphia.

We’re familiar with the idea of body dysmorphia, where one has an obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in their appearance, despite it being minor or imagined. Well, I see the same thing occurring when it comes to self-worth, and more often than not, people turn to perfectionism to try to fix the perceived flaws that lead to worth dysmorphia.

Tune in this week to see if you might be struggling with worth dysmorphia. I’m sharing how this might be showing up in your life, how it relates to perfectionism, and I’m giving you three amazing ways to deal with worth dysmorphia, so you can intentionally decide you are good enough, whatever that looks like for you.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. 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. You can get all the information and apply by clicking here

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What worth dysmorphia is and why so many people struggle with it.
  • Why we turn toward perfectionism to address our lack of self-worth.
  • How to get clear on your own self-worth and where you might be struggling with worth dysmorphia.
  • What changes when you intentionally build belief in your worthiness.
  • Why worthiness and enoughness are 100% subjective and arbitrary.
  • How to define what enough or worthiness actually means to you.
  • 3 ways to establish self-worth and belief in your enoughness, so you can start to overcome worth dysmorphia.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 25. Today, we’re talking all about worth dysmorphia. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hi, my friends. How are we doing today? Greetings from Miami. I just got down to Florida, I’m going to be here for about 10 days, and I’m having some fun in the sun before I head to my mastermind with my business coach.  Myself and some of my best coach friends are down here soaking up the sun in South Beach having a great time. 

I hope you’re enjoying the last bits of summer before we kick into fall. I know I am. I’m super excited for the next couple of days to just relax with some of my peers. Then I’m going to go soak up all the goodness with my business coach, learn all the things and work on scaling my business. Which also gets me super excited for the next round of my mastermind, The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. Doors to that, are going to be opening up in November, and I cannot wait. I’m so excited for the next live event with that mastermind. 

Just like the mastermind I’m in with my business coach, Stacey Boehman, I also host an in-person live event every six months. Which is, so amazing because it really creates this sense of community among the members, you get to meet everyone in person. You’re in an immersive environment, which I love. I think you either are a conference person or you’re not a conference person, and I definitely am.

I have gone to Tony Robbins events before. I love being in person with my coaches, Brooke Castillo, and Stacey. It’s just so neat to be able to be there. You’re really all in. You’re learning hours and hours a day. And then, there’s all the amazing side conversations in the morning, at lunch, at night. I can’t wait for mine.

Then I can’t wait for The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind event, in a couple months. Doors open to that in November, and the next live event is going to be in the very beginning of February. If you are interested in joining, make sure you mark your calendars so you can apply when doors open up.

All right let’s dive into today’s topic. We’re continuing along with the topic of perfectionism. It’s one of the three P’s; people-pleasing, perfectionism, and procrastination. I talked in the last episode about what perfectionism looks like in your life.

What does it appear to be in practice? How do you spot it? How can you recognize when you’re in a perfectionistic pattern, in order to interrupt it? So, I gave you lots of intel, for you to be able to spot that when you’re indulging in perfectionism yourself.

But now we want to talk about the solutions to overcoming perfectionism. I decided to break this up into two separate episodes. I’m going to give you some more tactics to apply, in the next episode. Today, I wanted to talk to you about “worth dysmorphia”, which is a term that I coined, and it’s inspired by body dysmorphia.

Now, this isn’t to make light of that, at all. Body dysmorphia is considered a mental illness. It’s where you have an obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in your appearance. Oftentimes, it is either minor or imagined; you think that you look different than you are. You think that you’re less attractive than what you actually appear to be.

I was thinking of that concept. I see that come up all the time, when it comes to self-worth, as well. People have a perception that they are less worthy, or that they are not good enough. Again, this can be obsessive, where we’re constantly indulging in perfectionism, in order to fix this perceived flaw, even though it’s not really there. I was thinking about this, and oftentimes, when I ask clients about how they perceive themselves and their self-worth, they tell me, “I just don’t feel good enough.”

I recently had a conversation with a client of mine, she’s actually a member of the mastermind. We were talking about self-worth, and she said that exact thing to me. She said, “Olivia, you know, I just constantly feel like I’m not enough. Like, I’m not good enough. Like, I’m not worthy enough.”  I asked her, “Hey, you know, what is that based on?” She said, “Really, honestly, I don’t know, kind of nothing.”

I tend to find that this is very common. People have this perception that they’re not good enough. It’s really based on absolutely nothing. There’s no substance there. I always like to say, “There’s no there, there.” Just like body dysmorphia, where someone can be very physically attractive, they just don’t see it themselves when they look in the mirror. They perceive their body to be different than it is. They perceive their self-worth to be different than it is.

Before we talk about how to overcome worth dysmorphia, and to establish self-worth and belief in your worthiness, in your enoughness, I just want to do a quick check in with you. Do you think that you are enough? When was the last time you asked yourself that question? Do you think you’re good enough? Do you think you’re worthy enough?

Maybe you’re struggling to answer that in a yes or no capacity. If that’s the case, if it’s kind of a question mark for you, use a 1-10 scale. You guys know I love a good 1-10 scale; it helps flush out where our beliefs lie, a little bit more. On a scale of 1-10, do you think that you are enough? On a scale of 1-10, do you think you’re good enough? Do you think you’re worthy enough? You can break it down into those three questions. 

There are a lot of other ‘enoughs’ that we talk about. I did a whole episode on this, on defining enough. Do you think you’re smart enough? Do you think you’re capable enough? Do you think you’re productive enough? Efficient enough? Those are a little bit more specific, though, and contextualized.

I really want to focus, for the purposes of this episode, on do you just think you are categorically “enough?” You guys can’t see me, but I’m using air quotes. Do you think you are enough? See what answer you come up with. Maybe you’re a five, maybe you’re a two, maybe you’re an eight, maybe you’re a ten? If you’re a ten, amazing? I love that. But you want to check in with yourself and see where you’re at. 

Then, whenever you come up with your rating, you want to ask yourself; what are your reasons for it being the number that you chose? And come up with all of those, list them out so you know what it’s based on. If your numbers, for each of these ratings, are kind of low and then you find that, like my client, it’s based on nothing, you just want to take note of that.

If that’s the case, you may be suffering from worth dysmorphia; where your sense of yourself isn’t based on reality, it’s just an altered perception. It’s a perceived flaw based on nothing; just this human phenomenon where we perceive ourselves to be less worthy than we actually are.

The good news there, is that when it’s based on nothing, you can just believe the opposite. I know that sounds kind of pie-in-the-sky, but it brings me to the three categories that I want to talk to you about today. These are the three ways that you can work through worth dysmorphia, and establish a self-worth practice where you’re building, actively, belief in your worthiness.

You get three options, when it comes to self-worth. Technically four, but I absolutely hate the fourth one. I’m going to give that one to you at the end, and it’s what you’re already engaged in. I’ll explain it in a second. But the first option, when it comes to your self-worth, is that you can just opt out of this concept altogether. You can do what I call, ‘unsubscribing from it’.

There are a lot of concepts in my life that I have unsubscribed from; I have unsubscribed from feeling shameful about myself. I don’t think there’s any purpose; I don’t think shame ever serves us in any way. You can just opt out of that entirely. If you don’t think the thoughts that cause you to feel shame, you won’t experience shame.

I’ve also opted out of regret, I’m just not here for it. I always think that you learn from your experiences, and you probably made the decisions that you made based on a reason. If you course correct afterwards, you realize that it didn’t serve you or you didn’t like the outcome, that’s fine. But there really is no purpose in indulging in the concept of regret; that you chose wrong. You chose whatever you chose for a reason.

I’ve also unsubscribed from failure. It’s just not something that I believe you can do anymore. I really believe that you’re always just winning or learning.  If you don’t quit, you can’t ever fail. That’s another concept that I’ve unsubscribed from. There are quite a few of them, those are just like my top hits. 

Self-worth is another one that I’m adding to my own list. I’ve really thought a lot about this, since having this conversation with my client, where she raised this issue of self-worth. Saying, “I really don’t believe that I’m enough.” I asked her what is it based on, and she said, “Nothing.” 

I got off our call, and this just kept running through my mind over and over and over again. This concept that so many people are going through their lives believing that they’re not enough, based on nothing. The next question that entered my mind was enough to whom? Because not everyone’s going to agree on what good enough is, what worthy enough is, what enoughness constitutes. We’re all going to have our own definitions.

Moreover, we really don’t even have definitions for these words. We just use them very ambiguously, very loosely, very amorphously. When we do that, we’re constantly chasing a horizon of enoughness. Feeling like we’re missing the mark, feeling like we’re not there, that we haven’t arrived yet. But we don’t even know where we’re trying to go, because we don’t have definitions for these terms.

If that’s you, which it likely is, because it’s most people, I just want to turn you on to the concept that enoughness is kind of bullshit. It’s really arbitrary. It’s completely subjective, no one’s going to agree on what it means; no one ever really takes the time to define it anyways. This whole thing that we’re striving for to begin with, we’re so eager to reach this destination, to reach this endpoint, this enoughness, it really doesn’t exist.

You get to buy into this concept with me. By buying into it, I don’t mean the concept of enoughness, I mean, buying into the concept that there is no such thing as enoughness. That it’s arbitrary, it’s totally subjective, it’s just, ultimately, BS, utter BS.  That’s what I’ve chosen to opt into. That’s what I’ve chosen to subscribe to.

That’s the first option when it comes to worth dysmorphia, and deciding what you want to do about your own self-worth. I’m just like, this whole concept is garbage. It’s not a thing, it really doesn’t exist. It’s totally arbitrary. Unsubscribed.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can take option number two, when it comes to self-worth. Which is, you can just decide that you are worthy. That you are enough, right now. You don’t have to do anything differently. You are currently enough. People might be tempted to be like, “Olivia, that is so pie in the sky. What are you talking about? You can’t just decide.”

Honestly, you’re already doing this, but you’re just doing it in the negative, right? You are believing that you’re not enough, that you’re not worthy, that you’re not good enough, also based on nothing. So, just do the opposite. Also, based on nothing. If you want, you can sit here and come up with a long list of reasons why you currently are good enough, make the argument. You’re an attorney, put that attorney hat on and argue your point that you are enough.

If you do that, if you tell your brain what evidence to look for, it’ll go out and find it. When you tell yourself that you’re not good enough, it also goes out and finds evidence of that. You want to make sure you are directing your brain here, and telling it what evidence to search for. But with this being said, you literally just get to decide that you are currently enough.

I was thinking about this. It’s kind of like when we’re kids, and we think adults have it all figured out. We think that they really have their shit together. Then we become them, and we realize how mistaken we were. We realized that; oh, everyone’s kind of just figuring this out as they go along. No one really has it dialed in and figured out, in the way that we may have thought.

Because of that, sometimes we find ourselves a little underwhelmed at what the adult experience is like, or by what the adult experiences like. We’re like, “Oh, I thought it was going to be a little bit more majestic than this. I thought it was going to be a little bit more grandiose.” And, it’s not. We’re just figuring it out as we go along. We may have thought that it was going to be a little bit more put together, a little bit more perfect than it is. 

The same thing can be true for ourselves. We may have thought that ‘good enough’ was going to be a little bit more grandiose than it is. We may have thought it was going to look different, just like you thought adult life was going to look a little bit different than it is in practice. But that doesn’t mean that you’re not an adult, just like it doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough.

You can decide that you are good enough, that you are currently living in the land of enoughness, and it’s just a little underwhelming. It’s just a little less grandiose than you expected it to be, but nothing’s gone wrong. You can just decide that this is what it is. It looks a little bit different than you thought it was going to look like, but this is what it is. This is enough. You currently are it. Nothing needs to change; you don’t need to do anything different. You’ve already arrived, you’ve reached the destination.

So, that’s the second option. First one, is you can just totally unsubscribe, opt out of enoughness altogether. It’s total BS. Second, is you can decide that you already are enough. That this is what it looks like; you’ve arrived. You’re here, this is what it is. The third option, which I think is my least favorite, among the three. It’s not my least favorite of the four, which we’ll talk about in a second. But it’s my least favorite of the three.

If you really want to subscribe to this concept of enoughness, and you’re also really beholden to continue believing that you are currently not enough, then here’s what I want you to do. I want you to define “enough”, very concretely. I want you to define it in an objective manner, where I’d be able to come into your life with a clipboard, and decide whether you’ve reached your definition, your standard of enoughness. I’d be able to check the boxes to see if you qualify or not.

So, you want to make sure your enoughness standard is objective. And then also, attainable. Those are the two qualities you want your definition to meet: objective and attainable. Then when you have this objective, attainable standard, you’ll then have a clear path for how to qualify for that enoughness. For you to eventually become enough, for you to arrive there.  You can begin to work towards that.

Now, this may be hard for you, because enoughness tends to be so amorphous, it’s hard to articulate. But I really want to encourage you to try. Try to articulate it. Try to come up with that objective, attainable standard, and then begin working towards it. So, you can get to the destination of enoughness. So, you can feel that you’re good enough, worthy enough, just all around enough.

Now, those are the three options, that I like, when it comes to enoughness and self-worth. The fourth option is to keep doing what you’re currently doing. Which is, believing that you’re not good enough, not worthy enough, that you’re not enough generally.

And to have a really amorphous, ambiguous standard, that you don’t really understand, so you have no idea how to work towards it.  And, you just keep indulging in this worth dysmorphia. Thinking that you’re not enough, not worthy enough and feeling inadequate as a result, but having no clear path on how to get out of that shitty situation.

That’s option number four. If that’s what you’re doing right now, I want you to, you know, establish some grace with yourself and don’t beat yourself up. I think a lot of people are out in the world doing exactly the same thing, indulging in this worth dysmorphia. But you get to stop anytime you want. You get to choose one of the other three options, that I’ve laid out for you today.

Now, why is this so important in the context of perfectionism? When you indulge in perfectionism, you’re doing it because you think you need to be different than you are, in order to be worthy, in order to be enough. So, you keep chasing that horizon. The chase is your perfectionism in practice. You keep striving for more, because you believe that when you’re just better, when you’re just more perfect, then you’ll finally be good enough.

In order to put down the perfectionism, in order to put a pin in it, once and for all, you have to believe that you’re already enough. Otherwise, you’re constantly just going to be striving for that perfect, for that better, for that best, you’ll keep chasing. That chase is really exhausting, and it also doesn’t feel good, right?

You feel unworthy, you feel insufficient and inadequate in the process, as you’re chasing that standard, that elusive standard of enoughness. These two things go hand-in-hand: We have to solve for the self-worth issue, in order to solve for the perfectionism issue. When you believe that you’re good enough, you’re worthy enough, you’re just good, old fashioned enough, you get to stop indulging in perfectionism.

That’s the goal, for all the reasons I discussed in the last episode. Perfectionism is really a drain emotionally, mentally, taxing on your time, all of the above. It really does not serve you, and it keeps you from accomplishing those big lofty, amazing goals that you set for yourself because we quit.

We give up, we start and then stop, we don’t follow through, we don’t stick with things, we procrastinate. Because of perfectionism. There are all of these problems that our perfectionism causes, so we want to solve for it. Okay, my friends. That is what I have for you today.

I want you to check in with yourself. Are you suffering from worth dysmorphia? If you are, ask yourself why? You’re probably not going to have a good reason, just like most of my clients don’t have a good reason. Then, I want you to make a decision: Pick one of the three options that I laid out for you.

Choose them, in order to work on your self-concept, your worthiness, your self-worth. And then from there, it’ll put you in a better position to implement the tactics, that I’m going to talk about in the next episode, on how to overcome your perfectionism. The daily little tips and tricks that you can utilize in order to get out of this habit.

All right, my friends. 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 24: Perfectionism

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Perfectionism

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Perfectionism

Perfectionism is the second of the three P’s I’m covering in this three-part series, and it’s a big one. Some people don’t even realize they’re perfectionists, which makes it impossible to see how their perfectionist tendencies are negatively impacting their lives. They think that because they aren’t perfect, they aren’t a perfectionist.

Newsflash: no one is perfect. But even knowing this intellectually doesn’t stop people from striving for perfection. You might also think all perfectionists are very Type-A, organized, punctual, orderly, and obsessive. But that’s another common thought error. So, if you’re ready to unlearn everything you thought you knew about perfectionism, this episode is for you.

Tune in this week to discover why perfectionism isn’t all that it seems. I’m sharing how perfectionism might be showing up in your life, personally and professionally, and how you can get clear on the reasons why you struggle in this area, so you can start doing the work of overcoming your perfectionism.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. 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. 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 you might be a perfectionist, even if you don’t see how right now.
  • The common threads I see running through my clients who struggle with perfectionism.
  • Some of the myths I come across people believing about perfectionism.
  • The different forms perfectionism takes and how to see where perfectionism is having a negative impact in your life.
  • Why addressing your perfectionism doesn’t mean you start settling for less and stop up-levelling.
  • How to spot perfectionism showing up in real-time, so you can start addressing it in the moment.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 24. We’re talking all about perfectionism. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hi, my friends, how are we doing today? I hope all is going well in your neck of the woods. Things are pretty exciting over here. I am getting ready to go on a pretty lengthy trip, some for pleasure, some for work, down to Florida.

I’m going to be in Miami with some friends. And then, I’m going to Orlando for my mastermind with my business coach. I’ll be there, at the Four Seasons, for about a week. So, I’m super excited. That’s right around the bend. I’m getting ready for that trip over the course of the next couple of days, and it’ll be hot down there. But I like summer. So, I am looking forward to it. I hope you have something that you’re looking forward to.

Another thing that I’m looking forward to is the topic that I’m going to be talking to you about today, and that is perfectionism. This is the second segment of this essentially three-part series on the three P’s, the main problems that my clients struggle with: people-pleasing, perfectionism, and procrastination.

So, in the past few episodes, I talked about the essential qualities or skills you need to have, that you want to have as a foundation as we go into covering these topics. Which was, to make sure that you’re resourceful, patient, and coachable.

And once we covered that, I started to dive in to the first P, which was people-pleasing. And I went through why you do it, why it’s a problem, and how to stop. We also talked about how to set and honor boundaries, as a way to get around people-pleasing and guard yourself against doing it.

Now we’re going to move into talking about perfectionism. And specifically in this episode, I’m going to cover this in two parts, sort of like I did with people pleasing. In this episode, we’re going to talk about what it is, why you struggle with it, what it looks like in practice. So, you can get clear on whether or not you are a perfectionist, and how your perfectionism may be negatively impacting your life.

Then in the next episode, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about how to overcome it. All right, so let’s dive in. What is perfectionism? And, do you struggle with it? Perfectionism is one of the most common characteristics I see with my clients. Which is why it’s one of the three P’s that I’m talking about in this series.

Now, people often think they aren’t perfectionists because they aren’t perfect. And newsflash, you guys, no one is perfect. So, being imperfect doesn’t mean that you’re not a perfectionist. And I’m going to repeat this one more time, because I really want you to hear me on this. Absolutely no one is perfect. And I think people can say that they understand this on an intellectual level.

And I have a good friend, she’s also a life coach, her name’s Jenn Deal. She always says that if you say you get something intellectually, you don’t actually get it. Because you’re essentially saying, “No, no, no, I get it intellectually. But in practice, in application, it doesn’t really make sense to me.”

We see that all the time with things like; we’re not responsible for other people’s feelings. People will say to me, “Olivia, I get that intellectually, but like in this specific instance, I really feel like I’m the cause of their disappointment.” Which really just means that you don’t believe the concept, and you don’t get it.

All right. So, the same thing is true with perfectionism. People will often say to me, “No, no, I understand. There’s really no such thing as being perfect,” and yet, in practice, they’re constantly striving for it. Now, if you find yourself constantly striving to be perfect, I just want to offer you this reminder. It’s not attainable; there is no such thing as it. No one is perfect.

All right, so all perfectionists are imperfect. Even the ones who might think that they’re perfect; but I haven’t met anyone who thinks that they are. But all perfectionists are imperfect, yet they’re striving for perfection. So, if you think; oh, I’m not a perfectionist, because I’m imperfect. Guess what? That means that you can still be a perfectionist, right? Every perfectionist is imperfect because no one’s perfect.

Now, a lot of people think that perfectionism looks like being someone who’s type A; very organized, does everything ahead of time in a very orderly manner, and obsesses over something, and is generally error-free, with a lot of the stuff that they do. Again, no one is perfect. So, it’s just a perception that someone is error-free because no one is error-free all the time.

But a lot of people think that that is what perfectionism looks like, or is. That it’s being very type A. And yes, perfectionism can look like that. It can look like those type A tendencies, control freaks, people that obsess over things, and put a ton of extra thought, maybe more than is necessary, into whatever it is that they’re doing. That is perfectionism.

But it’s not the only kind. There are other options. So, a lot of people, in fact, I’ll go as far to say most people who are perfectionist aren’t type A. Instead, they look like the opposite. They’re procrastinators. They’re messy. They’re disorganized. They have a lot of clutter.

They tend to start and stop things. They have a lot of unfinished projects. They struggle with following through. They tend to not be someone who follows through. They quit the things that they start, and they engage in a lot of avoidant behavior and ignore things. All right.

Those are all symptoms of perfectionism, too. And I’m going to explain why that is in a second. But first, I want to get even more clear on what perfectionism is. It’s generally described as an extreme and obsessive striving for perfection. And I hate a definition that uses the word in the definition. So, I’m going to flesh this out a little bit more.

Perfectionists are often people who hold themselves to impossibly high standards. And, “impossible” is really the key word there. They often think that what they do is never good enough. They have this belief that things can always be better. And in addition to that, because I’m someone who also believes that things can always be better. All right? But perfectionists, more than anything, think things should be better. All right?

And that’s the difference here, the use of the word “should’. It’s one thing to believe that things could always be better, because there probably always is room for improvement. That’s part of the human condition, I believe.

But that being said, there’s a difference if you think things should be better. That there’s a problem right now because they aren’t as good as they could be. So, perfectionists fall into that camp; they think things should be better, and that things aren’t good right now, because they aren’t as good as they could be.

If you’re like me, you will have the belief that things can always be better. But you work hard to find sufficiency in the present moment, in the status quo, as well. So, both things get to be true. Right now, can be good enough and there can be room for improvement. There can be sufficiency in what you have right now and your current results, and things can be a little bit better. Rather than, things not being better in the moment being a problem. All right?

So again, this perfectionist tendency is different than having a simple desire to improve and up-level. You’re sort of interested in up-leveling, not because you feel badly now, but just because it’s a fun process; always improving, always pursuing something new, something greater than what you’re doing.

You’re doing it to have more fun. And really see what’s possible for your life, versus believing that you’re currently inadequate and unworthy as you are right now. And believing that you have to improve and be better, in order to be enough. Right? The status quo is insufficient, simply because there’s room for improvement.

Now, another caveat here about people that may not identify as perfectionists, a lot of people may not use the word perfect to describe what they are striving for. And I think that’s a workaround because a lot of us, like I said earlier, have this general understanding that perfection isn’t attainable, so they swap out the word perfect and use something else.

They’ll oftentimes use terms like, I just want to do the best job. And if you can explain to me the difference between best and perfect, I challenge you to. Every time my clients use that standard, what they tend to mean is this unachievable standard of perfection, right? It’s not possible to ever get there, but they’re constantly striving for the best.

Best, then becomes synonymous with perfect. If you don’t use best, you may use better, but not be able to articulate a clearly defined standard for what you mean by better. Or, you want to be more of something or less of something, but you really don’t have a clearly articulated standard for what that looks like in practice.

So, this may be you. You may be using terms like best, better, more, or less, without any understanding of how you would actually get to those finish lines, and really no clear understanding of what that would even look like, once you’re there. Right? And I talked about that in a previous episode when I talked about defining “enough”.

So, if this is you, you want to be on the lookout for it, how it shows up in your life, and what it feels like when you’re striving for something that you haven’t defined, that is really ambiguous, and oftentimes unattainable.

Now, a lot of perfectionists like to tell themselves that they’re only perfectionistic in one area, or a select few areas of their lives. And that tends to be really unlikely and very uncommon. Instead, what I find is that if it shows up in one area, it probably shows up in most, if not all areas of your life.

 And this is because how we do one thing tends to be how we do everything. So, if you’re a perfectionist with things at work, you’re probably a perfectionist when it comes to things in your personal life; your personal space, how you show up in your roles as a friend, as a spouse, as a sister, as a parent, in addition to in your work roles.

You also probably have really high standards for the people in your lives. It’s really likely that you impute your perfectionism, onto the relationships that you have in your life.

So again, if you’re someone who tells yourself, “Oh, I’m only a perfectionist in this one limited area,” I just want to challenge you, be on the lookout for how perfectionism may be showing up in other areas of your life. You just may not be very aware of it, but we want to create that awareness.

Now, I want to give you some examples of what perfectionism looks like in practice, so you can spot it yourself, in the event that you aren’t quite convinced that you are a perfectionist. And I’ve said this a million times, but I’m going to say it again, it’s so important to know what to look for and become aware of your habits.

Because awareness, you guys, is really everything. It is necessary to creating any change; you can’t change what you don’t understand. So, I’m going to give you some examples. So, you’re more easily able to spot perfectionism coming up in your life, so you can change it.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Wait a second, Olivia. Why would I want to not be a perfectionist? Being a perfectionist is a good thing.” And, you might be thinking that sounds crazy. But believe it or not, some people still see being a perfectionist as a positive attribute versus an albatross. Alright?

And if this is you, I just want to offer you, being a perfectionist is not a good character trait. And you’re going to see why, as I go through the list of ways, perfectionism may be coming up for you, what it looks like in practice, all right? But I assure you, it’s not something that you want to strive for.

So, let’s create some awareness so we can spot it, and then you can change it. Alright, first things first: If you often believe that nothing is ever good enough, that’s going to be perfectionism. All right? You are never satisfied with any success that you amass. There’s always more room for improvement. And, you feel really awful because of that.

You’re rarely content with the status quo, and you just want to keep constantly getting better at things. So, when you’re doing this, when success is never enough and you’re constantly moving the goalposts, you end up being constantly dissatisfied.

You also tend to engage in quite a bit of compare and despair. You may feel jealous or envious, when you’re comparing yourself against other people and the results that they have. You may feel really inadequate or discontent with your current results. Nothing is ever good enough, right?

You also might feel ashamed and embarrassed about the current results that you have, because you believe that they’re not good enough. If you’re a perfectionist, you’re also probably very concerned with the end result of what you do. You care very little about what happens in between, any of the wins you have along the way, any progress you make that doesn’t involve getting the end desired result, that you set out to create. All right?

So, you really minimize any small wins or incremental progress along the way, you’re only concerned with that ultimate end goal, that end outcome. And you’ll feel really annoyed or devastated, or disgusted or disappointed, if you don’t achieve that end result. Even if you made some really great progress along the way.

You often become depressed when you don’t achieve your goals. So, you really dwell and indulge in maybe self-pity, or self-punishment, right? You’ll constantly spin over what went wrong. And ask yourself questions like; if I had done something differently, could it have come out a different way? And you’ll really engage in this spin cycle, right? Feeling like; If only I had done something different, it would have come out perfectly. Which is just a really inefficient use of your time. All right?

If you’re a perfectionist, you probably also feel like you’re under a constant state of pressure. There’s no room for mistakes. Mistakes are going to be the worst-case scenario for you. And when you see an error, on the front end, you’re going to be the first person to jump in, fix it, correct it, because you want to make sure there are no mistakes.

And you probably, in the event that you do incur a mistake, you probably feel extremely embarrassed or ashamed when you do something imperfectly, especially when other people see it. So, mistakes are really the worst-case scenario for you.

Not only, as a perfectionist, do not tolerate mistakes, you typically also tend to be pretty intolerant of things being done in a manner that’s different from how you think they should be done. So, you’ll be very critical of yourself and other people, if anything gets accomplished in a way different from how you think it should have been accomplished.

This normally impacts your ability to effectively delegate and productively work with other people, because you’re really controlling over the ‘how’. Even though you’re concerned with the end result, you’re also concerned with the process, not in the positive way to celebrate any progress or small incremental wins. But in a negative way, where you’re hypercritical and really controlling and micromanaging, believing that it has to be done a specific certain way, otherwise it’s unacceptable.

And because of this, people probably don’t love working with you, right? Because you’re really hyper concerned with how things are done, rather than just getting an outcome that is sufficient and acceptable. So, a lot of people may find it hard to work with you, hard to be supervised by you, any of those things. And obviously, that’s not good for your long-term success, right? Long-term success normally relies on teamwork, and being able to delegate, and being able to supervise in an effective and efficient manner.

Being a perfectionist normally really encumbers your ability to do that. Speaking of mistakes, you probably, as a perfectionist, constantly spot mistakes, even when other people don’t see any. And, this is going to come out in a couple different ways. When you spot them, if they’re your mistakes, you’re going to really bully yourself and beat yourself up when you see them.

You’re also constantly going to be concerned about other people’s opinions of you; you’re going to be worried about their opinions. And, do they think that you made a mistake? Do they think you did something perfectly or imperfectly? You’re going to be really hyper concerned with that.

You’re also likely to be hypercritical of other people. So, other people might not see any issue with what they’ve done, but you’re taking issue with it. And again, it’s really going to erode your relationships with people; it’s not going to lead to anything good.

You probably also can’t take a compliment if you’re a perfectionist because you’re always finding flaws in your work. It’s never quite good enough, you always think that it could be better. So, you’re not able to accept a compliment when it’s given to you, and you can’t celebrate your successes.

Whether other people are celebrating you, you often downplay it, and you really never give yourself permission to celebrate yourself. All right? Because again, because there’s room for improvement, it means what you’ve currently done is inadequate, insufficient, and just not good enough.

Now, if you’re a perfectionist, you probably also struggle with completing things. And, that’s going to show up in a couple of different ways. Number one, you probably spend way too much time trying to get something to be perfect. It’s not uncommon for you to sacrifice sleep, personal time, and your well-being just to bring your work to an even higher level, even if it’s not necessary.

And you often will probably do this, despite there being a diminishing return on your investment of time. So, even if something only gets 1% better, you’re willing to invest a lot of time into achieving that 1% increase, right? Even though it may be nonsensical; it might not make sense based on everything you have to do on your to-do list. And this may put you further behind.

You will also struggle to complete things because you will feel unmotivated to even get started, and procrastinate on the front end. And normally, this is because on the front end, you’re telling yourself the work you do isn’t going to be good enough, it’s going to be inadequate.

And, that is really an unmotivated thought pattern, right? You’re going to feel discouraged, and defeated, and inadequate on the front end. And that’s not going to drive you to take massive action. You’re likely going to slip into really avoidant patterns.

If you do get started, you also may struggle to complete things because you interrupt yourself along the way. Because when you’re thinking what you’re doing isn’t good enough and that it could be better, and feeling inadequate because you’re thinking about your work product in this way, or whatever you’re doing, not just work. This could go for completing a project within your house, that has nothing to do with work.

Whatever it is that you’re working on, you may start and stop a bunch of times, constantly interrupting yourself because you’re feeling like it’s not good enough. So, it’s really hard to maintain momentum. It’s like why bother, or you’re afraid of being judged on the work that you do. So, you keep stopping; it’s really hard for you to get to the finish line.

There’s also a really insidious way that procrastination and perfectionism are tied together here. Not only do you avoid getting started and finishing something because you’re afraid of doing it badly, but your procrastination also gives you an escape hatch from ever being judged on your best work.

So, what this looks like in practice is, you’ll wait to the last minute because you’re worried that you’re not going to do something good enough. And then, finally, when the fear of not doing the thing starts to outweigh your fear of doing it poorly, you get started.

And again, this is tied with procrastination and perfectionism, because then you create an escape hatch where you’re never being judged on your best work. Something might not be that great, it might be imperfect, but it’s not because you weren’t capable of doing a perfect job or a “good enough” job. It’s simply because you didn’t give yourself enough time.

So, procrastination is a scapegoat here, it helps you avoid ever being judged on your best work product. If you had all the time in the world, of course, it could have been way better. That’s never actually happening.

You’re never being judged on work that you had all the time in the world to complete, because you purposely, even if it’s happening subconsciously or unconsciously, you waited to the last minute and then created a scenario where you put out B+ or maybe B- or A- work.

And of course, people aren’t happy with it, but it’s not because you do poor work, in and of itself. It’s just because you waited to the last minute, because you’re bad with time management, and you didn’t give yourself enough time. Had you had enough time, it would have been way better, because you’re really capable. You’re not imperfect; you’re not flawed, right?

That’s the narrative that people will tell themselves. And, that’s how procrastination helps people avoid feeling inadequate and avoid feeling imperfect. So, the two are tied together. It’s really insidious, and it’s a little circular, but they really work together to protect you. Even though they ultimately lead to a lot of self-sabotage, overwhelm, stress, feelings of inadequacy anyways, and really don’t create anything good, as far as your goals are concerned. But that being said, it is still protectionist.

Alright, other examples of perfectionism. If you’re a perfectionist, you probably don’t like to do new things. I used to have that self-concept. I used to tell myself all the time, that I hated doing things that I wasn’t good at. And, I kind of was proud of that for a really long time. Like, oh, I only like doing things I’m good at. I only like doing things I’m good at. And yeah, does it feel great do things that you’re already good at? Of course, it does.

But what I realized in my late 20’s, was that if I was always going to identify as that person, who only liked doing things they were already good at, that the rest of my life was probably going to be pretty boring. Because that means from my late 20’s, on, I wasn’t going to try anything new.

Because if you try something new, you have to risk not being good at it in the beginning. And the chances are, you likely won’t be good at it in the beginning. You’re probably going to have to learn how to do new things. And there’s so many benefits to learning how to do new things; the personal growth, you get new skills, you get new hobbies, you have a more dynamic, robust life. So many good reasons why you want to get outside of your comfort zone and try new things, right.

But if you’re a perfectionist, that’s going to be really uncomfortable for you. Because in the beginning, you have to do something imperfectly. So, that may be something that you encounter in your life; you don’t like to do new things, because you’re not inherently good at them.

If you’re a perfectionist, you probably also have a habit of creating unrealistic goals. All right? Really elaborate plans that are totally undoable, super unrealistic, and then you never complete them; you never keep them, you don’t stick to them, you don’t implement them, you don’t get to the finish line.

Sometimes these elaborate plans look like trying to do everything all at once, when clearly, that is just not possible. We see this oftentimes, around New Year’s resolution time, when people set all these lofty plans, all these unrealistic goals, and they try and do everything all at once, experience all this change, all this transformation, and it’s just too heavy of a lift. So, they fail, right?

Or, people will make really elaborate plans and unrealistic goals, and just never get started. Because they’re so heavy, and they’re so unrealistic. And they would take so much effort to achieve, that it’s really hard to get yourself in the position, in the mindset, to even start to take action.

It’s like, why would I get started? Because deep down, I know that this isn’t going to be achievable. It’s not going to be possible for me to accomplish this end result. So, people will create these unrealistic plans and goals and never get started.

Or, you’ll start, and you’ll have one setback, one hiccup, things don’t go smoothly, and then you give up very quickly. All right? These are hallmarks of perfectionism. You engage in really fanciful fantasy planning and goal setting, and you really never have any intention of following through with it.

It sounds great, but if you had to rate on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely you are to actually complete this “unrealistic, lofty” goal, you’re going to rate that very low. Probably like a one or two, even a five. I like to say, if you can’t rate your goal, or plan an eight or higher, that you’re likely to complete it, follow through and accomplish it, you’re probably engaging in a little bit of perfectionist fantasies, okay.

I also see this as being super common with perfectionist; they have a lot of “tomorrow” thinking. And, “perfectionist fantasies” and “tomorrow thinking” were two terms coined by another life coach I know. Also, a former lawyer, her name is Kara Loewentheil. And I love those terms, they’re so perfect at describing, no pun intended there, but they’re really great at describing what this phenomenon looks like in practice, right?

You come up with a complete fantasy goal, that you’re never going to follow through on. And then you tell yourself, “I’m going to get started tomorrow.” And we normally do this because we love the idea of a fresh, perfect start. Can’t start today because today’s already imperfect. We’re already in the middle of things. And we want that clean, fresh start.

So, we’re constantly putting off getting started, in order to start perfectly. You’ll also see this if you think that there’s a right moment to do something. You’re constantly waiting for that right moment to work on your goals. So, you’ve got to start on Monday.

I used to do this with time management, I’d procrastinate because I would want to start at the beginning of the hour. I’ll get started in five minutes, at 10 o’clock. And then, it would be 10:01, and I’d need to wait to 10:30 or 11:00. That’s total perfectionism coming up, you’re waiting for the right time. You think that there’s a best time to get started.

And you only want to start when you’re “ready”, so you can deliver your best quality of work. So, if you’re really obsessed with starting when you feel ready, you’re probably indulging in perfectionism. Because the state of readiness really never seems to come. Right?

Readiness is just a figment of your imagination. I tend to think that we’re never ready. We just have to get started, even while we feel unready. And if you’re obsessed with starting at the right moment, or starting when you feel ready, you end up just perpetually waiting. And, you never accomplish what you set out to accomplish.

Over time, what planning in these really elaborate, unrealistic ways, that are really just indulgences and fantasy planning, what this ends up doing is it really erodes trust with yourself. And planning and goal setting for you, ultimately, just becomes a futile exercise.

You’ll make a plan knowing you have no intention of sticking with it, because it’s really lofty and unrealistic. And then, you never get started. Maybe you tell yourself, you’re going to start tomorrow. But then, tomorrow never comes; you never do. And, you never go about actually taking action and working towards your goals.

So, you really fall out of integrity with yourself, and erode your self-trust. That’s so detrimental to accomplishing the things in your life that you want to accomplish. You tend to not believe yourself when you say you’re ever going to do something.

When you don’t trust yourself, you really have a low opinion of yourself, and that seeps its way in and further substantiates your sense of inadequacy. And it ultimately leads to, again, a ton of inaction a ton of avoidant behavior, more procrastination, it doesn’t lead to anything good.

Also, with perfectionists, you tend to quit pretty easily when you err. Alright? So, if you quit a lot in your life, it’s probably coming from perfectionism. And you’ll tend to be very all-or-nothing, there is no in between. So, you’ll either do something and stop, if it wasn’t perfect, because it’s not worth it at that point.

Or, if you don’t think you can do it perfectly, you won’t even bother doing it at all. I see this all the time with cleaning, right? You’ll be cluttered or messy because you can’t clean everything all at once, so why bother doing it? Or, people won’t plan their time at all, because if they can’t stick to a schedule perfectly, it’s not worth planning even a little bit. So, it’s very all-or-nothing thinking; everything in between is a no-go.

If you are a perfectionist, you also probably have a really significant fear of failure. Failure is a crippling concept for you. It’s your worst-case scenario. If you’re not a perfectionist, you either are like me, and don’t believe that you can fail.

Because I like to choose to believe you’re always either winning or learning. But if you err or falter or make mistakes along the way, it’s not a problem. It doesn’t mean anything about you. You’re still totally sufficient, adequate, and worthy. It’s just a learning opportunity.

Or, you believe that failure’s no big deal, and it’s just part of the self-improvement process; you’re going to fail, you’re going to win, you’re going to have everything in between, and that it isn’t an issue. You just keep trucking along. All right?

But if you’re a perfectionist, you don’t think in either of those two ways. You have a really significant fear of failure, and you think it’s the worst-case scenario. All right, you can see from these examples, that being a perfectionist really isn’t a good thing. It causes a lot of problems, and a really unpleasant emotional experience.

Not only does it impact your results, at the end of the day, and have you indulging in a lot of procrastination, a lot of inaction, a lot of quitting, a lot of failure ahead of time, because you never get started. But also, it feels really terrible because you’re constantly measuring yourself up against the standard that you can’t meet.

So, it’s a really painful process that you get to totally opt out of if you want to. Now, why do we indulge in perfectionism? I just want to let you know that perfectionist typically strive to be perfect, in part out of fear that they will be judged or exposed or rejected, if they’re not perfect. And they also have a desire to fit in and be accepted.

So, it’s kind of like two different sides of the same coin. And, this is very similar to why we people-please. We want to be accepted by the people in our lives. We want to be part of the group, and perfectionists tend to believe that if they are perfect, they will be accepted. And, if they are imperfect, they will be rejected.

And, this is just a remnant of our primitive conditioning. It’s a survival mechanism. Back in the day, when we were hunters and gatherers, and we survived based on being part of a herd, being part of a group, a tribe, we needed to fit in, we needed to be accepted.

If we were rejected by the group, we wouldn’t make it on our own. And we just haven’t evolved enough to have gotten rid of this primitive conditioning. So nowadays, we still strive to be accepted, we still strive to fit in. And we think that if we’re perfect, that’s a way to accomplish avoiding ever being rejected.

Now, like with most things, nowadays we don’t need to do this to survive, right? But we still use this against ourselves. So, you just want to know your brain indulges in this because it thinks it’s protecting you. But you get to tell yourself; hey, brain, that’s not actually the case. This isn’t serving us any longer. And, you get to put a pin in it. All right?

I have just one more thing that I want to add, before I wrap up this episode. And I’m going to do a whole ‘nother episode, a part two, essentially, on how to overcome perfectionism. So, like I said, this is essentially a two-part episode. But before I leave you today, I just want to say this. I don’t want to leave any confusion.

Perfection is complete and utter bullshit. And I learned this from my one-on-one coach, she specifically asked me this question, when I was talking about perfectionism, she said, “Perfect to who?” And that really was life changing for me because I realized that perfect is completely subjective.

It’s a totally arbitrary standard; no one’s going to agree on what perfect means, what it looks like in practice, how we define it. Everyone’s going to have their own different definition for perfection, which means it’s bullshit; there is no such thing.

So, I just want you to keep that in the back of your mind. If you’ve been someone who strives for perfection, and is constantly trying to get to that unattainable endpoint, I want to turn you on and give you a little time to marinate on the truth of the matter, which is that perfect, and perfection are utter bullshit concepts, right? They’re subjective and arbitrary. There is no such thing.

Now, if you were still on the fence about whether or not you’re a perfectionist, even after me going through giving you all of those examples, here are a couple questions for you to run essentially, your own litmus test on yourself: Do you believe that if you were perfect, you would be happy? And, if maybe you don’t use that word “perfect”, if you were better, that you would be happier, right? Or, you would be more worthy? Or, that you would be enough? Your answer to that question, if you’re a perfectionist, is likely, ‘yes’.

Another question: Do you believe you’re good enough right now? As you are, without needing to change a single thing? If you are a perfectionist, your answer is likely ‘no’. Now, if your answer to that question is ‘no’, I also want you to ask yourself; do you even know what it would look like to be good enough? do you know what that standard is for yourself? The answer to that is probably ‘no’.

And if you can enumerate that standard, which is probably pretty rare, most perfectionist can’t enumerate it, they haven’t defined it; it’s just this really ambiguous concept. But if you have enumerated a standard, is that standard of ‘good enough’ attainable? Again, if you’re a perfectionist, the answer is likely ‘no’.

Now, a couple other ways to identify whether or not you’re a perfectionist. When you make plans, I mentioned this earlier, but when you make plans, if you were to rate the plan, is it highly likely that you will follow through with it or that you will be able to achieve it? If your answer is ‘no’, if you’d normally say that it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll follow through with it or be able to achieve and complete your plan, you’re probably a perfectionist.

I often tell my clients that they want to, instead of striving for perfection, the standard that they want to strive for is like A-, B+ work. One of my coaches often says that you want to be striving for B minus work. And, as a perfectionist who is now in recovery, that still makes me a little queasy.

So, I want you to check-in with yourself, when I tell you that you should be striving for A-, B+ work. If that makes you kind of want to vom, if it makes you a little nauseous, you’re probably a perfectionist.

And, last but not least, if you see small, consistent action as really boring, underwhelming, and pointless, you’re probably a perfectionist who likes to indulge in those elaborate fantasy plans that you’re never going to follow through on. You want it to be all-or-nothing. You want to do all the things at once. And, you’re really underwhelmed by the idea of small baby steps, even though, the truth of the matter, is that is the way you get the furthest the fastest.

All right, my friends, those are some questions for you to marinate on, over the next week. In the next episode, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about how to overcome your perfectionist tendencies. I can’t wait to dive in to that part of this topic.

And until then, I hope you have a marvelous week. I will talk to you in the next episode.

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

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Episode 23: How to Set & Honor Boundaries

The Less Stressed Lawyer | How To Set & Honor Boundaries

The Less Stressed Lawyer | How To Set & Honor Boundaries

In last week’s episode, I discussed the first of the three P’s: people-pleasing. Now, I was all ready to jump into the other P’s: procrastination and perfectionism, but I realized there was a missing piece to help you understand all of this. None of this work is possible if you can’t set and honor boundaries.

So, what is a boundary and how do they relate to people-pleasing? Boundaries are essentially limits or rules that we set within our relationships to protect or care for ourselves, whether at work or in our personal lives. When you have boundaries, you are clear on what you will and won’t stand for, and what you’re willing to expose yourself to, and we’re diving into all of it today.

Tune in this week to discover how to set and honor boundaries. I’m sharing why boundaries are decisions you make for yourself, rather than manipulating or threatening other people, and I’m showing you how to decide on and uphold the consequences in the event that your boundaries are violated.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. 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. 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 boundaries are always something you set for yourself, not a way of controlling other people’s behavior.
  • Some examples of boundaries and how to structure them.
  • How to communicate your boundaries to other people, while accepting their free will as human beings.
  • The difference between a boundary and a threat.
  • Why you don’t need to explain yourself or communicate your boundaries to anyone else in order to uphold them.
  • How to decide on the consequences you will take if your boundaries are violated.
  • The importance of following through on the consequences you’ve decided to enforce around your boundaries.
  • My step-by-step process for setting boundaries and honoring them every day.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 23. We’re talking all about how to set and honor boundaries. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hey there, how’s it going this week? I hope you are doing so well. I am marvelous over here. I actually have a little bit of a course correction for this episode. I got to thinking, after I recorded the last episode, and I was ready to dive in to one of the next two P’s out of the three P’s, I was going to talk about perfectionism or procrastination.

But then it dawned on me, I was like; whoa, need to slow down. After talking about people-pleasing, and how to stop people-pleasing, I realized now is a perfect time to teach you how to set and honor boundaries, so that’s what I want to talk about today.

What is a boundary, and how do boundaries relate to people-pleasing? Boundaries are essentially limits or rules that we set for ourselves, within our relationships with other people. If you’re thinking about a boundary being an imaginary line, it’s between you and the other person. It delineates where you end, and the other person begins.

Now, boundaries are something that we create, to care for and protect ourselves. The proper way to phrase a boundary, they should always be formatted in the following way; if you do blank, so if another person does a particular action, I will do blank. If you do blank, I will do blank.

If you come over unannounced, I will not answer the door. If you email me after 8pm, I will not respond till the following morning. If you bring up politics, I will end the conversation. Notice the format here; it’s always about what you do, the action you take, after another person does something. It’s not about controlling that person’s behavior.

You always want to make sure that your boundaries take into account the truth, and the reality that other people have free will and they get to exercise it at their leisure. When you have boundaries, you’re clear on what you will and what you won’t stand for, and what you will and what you will not expose yourself to.

Boundaries are always something that you do for you. Again, it’s a way that you take care of yourself. They’re not against anyone else. It’s a manual that you follow yourself; the actions that you take, so you know that when something happens, when a particular set of facts occur, this is what you do to take care of yourself. The consequence of a boundary violation is always an action that you take, it’s not what someone else does.

Now, here are a few things that boundaries can be. A boundary can include a request that you make of someone else to change their behavior. But it doesn’t have to include that request, it just simply can. For instance, if you don’t want to talk politics with a member of your family, you can ask them to not bring up politics when you guys speak.

But again, you want to remember that a boundary always takes into account someone’s free will. Your family members, no matter how many times you ask them not to talk about politics, they get to bring up politics over and over and over again. Your boundary can be that you will not have a conversation with them, that you end the conversation, that you walk away.

Now, you don’t have to make the request, you can simply tell yourself, in your head, that under no uncertain terms will you talk politics with family members. When it happens, you can just change the subject or end of the conversation and walk away. You don’t have to ask them to be any different.

You also don’t have to communicate a boundary. You can communicate it, you can tell the person, to whom it applies, that you’re setting the boundary, but you don’t have to, it’s not required. If you decide to set a boundary at work that you don’t answer emails on the weekend, you don’t need to send an office wide email letting everyone know about your boundary. You can simply just not respond to emails on the weekend.

It may go more smoothly if you’re instituting an abrupt change in your own behavior, because you’re setting a boundary, to communicate it to other people just so everyone’s on the same page. But it’s absolutely not required.

A lot of times also, it doesn’t even make sense for you to communicate it. You know those memes where it’s like: Nobody, and then colon, and then it’s blank? And then, it’s like your behavior, what you’ve been doing. So, it’s like; nobody asks you something, or nobody does anything, and then you do something anyways. That’s kind of what it looks like to communicate a boundary, when maybe the situation doesn’t call for it.

I just want you to notice that you might have a tendency to want to be overly communicative, as far as your boundaries go. Normally, we do that, because we want other people to understand our behavior, to be accepting of it, and to not judge what we do.

If you are okay, feeling misunderstood, which I really think is a superpower for us to practice; allowing other people to misunderstand us, or to not get why we’re doing something and for us to be okay with that. If it doesn’t make sense for you to communicate the boundary, because there hasn’t even been a boundary violation, you don’t have to communicate it. You can, it’s just not required.

Speaking of boundary violations, you can also inform someone when they’ve violated one of your boundaries. But again, you don’t have to. You don’t have to tell people that they violated it, you can simply do whatever the consequence is, which is always the action that you will take when someone violates your boundary. You don’t have to explain yourself, that part is optional.

Now, what is required when you’re setting boundaries? All of your boundaries are going to be about the action that you take when there’s a violation of a boundary that you’ve set. It really is about the consequence that you’re going to enact and follow through with. When you’re setting a boundary, that is required. You want to make sure that you’re following through on what you’ve decided the consequences will be, that you will enforce.

If you set a consequence, and then the boundary violation occurs, and you don’t enforce the consequence, you don’t follow through, you haven’t actually set a boundary. What you’ve simply done is made an idle threat.

And, you make it a lot less likely that people are going to honor your boundaries going forward, because they’ve learned that there’s no consequence that they’re going to suffer if they don’t honor your boundary. So, you make it much less likely that people will honor and respect your boundaries, if you don’t enforce them and stick to the ones that you’ve set.

Now, let’s flesh this out a little bit more: What’s the difference between a boundary and a threat? A threat is always about what you want that person to do, it’s about controlling their behavior. And then, you threaten some negative consequence, in hopes that they’ll change their behavior. Threats and ultimatums are very similar this way.

A boundary isn’t an effort to control someone else’s behavior. It’s just simply always about what you will do for yourself, to care for yourself. If you make a boundary request of someone and they violate your boundary, and you do not follow through on instituting that consequence that you previously decided upon, all you’ve done is make that idle threat.

I want you to remember, that isn’t a boundary. Boundaries aren’t about manipulating someone else’s behavior. Boundaries are not about expecting someone else to change for your sake, to make your life easier, to make your life more comfortable. That’s not what they’re about. Other people don’t have to do anything that you want them to do. They certainly can, and you’re welcome to ask them. But that’s not the point of setting a boundary. Boundaries aren’t intended to control other people’s behavior.

Why are they not intended to control other people’s behavior? Because you simply can’t control other people’s behavior. People, and we can go back and forth on this, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but people have free will. We just have to acknowledge and accept that that is the way the world works; that people have free will and they get to do with it what they want.

You also have free will and you get to do with it what you want. If what you want to do is set an honor a boundary, you’re more than welcome to do it. But we don’t set and honor boundaries, in order to control or manipulate another person. We do it to protect ourselves and to keep ourselves from people-pleasing and doing things we don’t want to do, or putting ourselves in situations we don’t want to be in. It’s always about the action we take to take care of ourselves.

Now, another huge misconception I see when people are setting and honoring boundaries, is that they mistakenly believe that it’s another person’s job to respect their boundaries. People will set a boundary, and then they will think that other people need to respect their boundaries.

That is false. The only person who ever has to respect your boundaries, is you. Why is that? Well, it has the misfortune of being true, because honestly, you’re the only person within your control. If it was someone else’s job to respect your boundaries, and they get to have free will and do whatever they want, chances are, they may not respect your boundaries. It just doesn’t work that way.

The only person who ever needs to respect your boundaries is you, because boundaries are truly about what you will do when someone else takes a certain action, or engages in a certain behavior. Okay? Boundaries are not ultimatums. It’s not about manipulating someone or controlling what they do or don’t do.

They’re also not opportunities to blame other people for your behavior. I see this a lot. People will say, “Well, this person did this. And they’re just forcing me to act this way because of what they did.” No, no, no, that’s not how it works. No one ever forces you to act a certain way.

If you’re saying no to something, or you’re refusing to do something, or you’re taking a particular action, it is not because of another person’s behavior. You’re always exercising a choice. You never have to do anything, you’ve heard me say this before, except eat, breathe, drink some water and sleep sometimes.

No one’s forcing you to do anything. You really want to make sure that you step into emotional adulthood here, and you honor your choice that you’re making. No one’s forcing you to take a particular action. You’re always making a decision and exercising your own free will.

Boundaries also aren’t escape routes. Oftentimes, people will say, “You know what? I’m done with this person. I don’t want to have anything to do with them. I’m cutting them off. I want them out of my life.”  They’re doing this, A, not from a clean space. What I mean by that, is they’re doing it from a highly emotional space, they’re really worked up. And, they’re being a little reactionary, in making that decision to cut someone out of their life.

But they do that rather than going through the trouble of actually creating proper boundaries, and learning how to navigate what may feel like a triggering relationship in their lives. Learning how to set a boundary and honor it and how to take care of themselves, rather than having to go to the extreme end of the spectrum, and just eliminate people entirely.

So, you want to check in with yourself. Are you doing that to avoid having to do the heavier lifting that comes from setting and honoring a boundary? Are you going to that drastic extreme, where you just say, “Absolutely not; I don’t want to deal with this at all?”

Can you cut people out of your life? Sure, you can. That can be a more draconian boundary that you set. But you want to make sure that you like your reasons for doing that, and that maybe you’ve tried a more subtle approach before you get to that extreme outcome.

Maybe that you’ve learned how to set and honor boundaries that make the relationship work. Where you make yourself clear about what you’re looking for in the relationship. You might ask them to do certain things for you. And then, you get to decide what you will do if they don’t follow suit, if they don’t make space and accommodate your request.

But people that trigger us can often be our best teachers. I want you to be careful with how you set boundaries. Ask yourself; have I put in the work yet to make this relationship work for me, in my life? Have I figured out what my own limitations are in this relationship? What would it look like if I believed that we could have a healthy productive relationship, rather than needing to go to this extreme?

Let’s talk about some examples of boundaries. I mentioned this earlier, but I’m just gonna reiterate it. If someone comes over to your house unannounced, and I don’t know if you grew up in a family like I did, but I did not grow up in a ‘drop over whenever you want, without letting anyone know, or without being invited’ kind of family. That was a big no-no, growing up for me.

But I know not everyone is like that. Some people think; oh, it’s no big deal. We’re friends, I’ll drop by whenever. But if you grew up like I did, and that’s not normal, and you don’t really enjoy it, a proper boundary would be; if someone comes over unannounced, I will not answer the door. A boundary is not you telling everyone in your life; do not come over unannounced.

The reason that’s not a boundary is because it doesn’t provide for people to exercise free will. People get to come over unannounced as often as they want, simply because they can come over whenever they choose to. A proper boundary here, is you deciding what you will do if they do it.

This is how boundaries and people-pleasing relate to one another. People-pleasing might be someone coming over unannounced and you answering the door, even though you really don’t want to, because you think that it would be rude if you didn’t, and you’d feel guilty not answering the door. So, you choose to answer it, even though you’d really prefer not to. A proper boundary is how you take care of yourself, if someone doesn’t listen to your request, for them to call before they come over.

Another example of a boundary would be choosing to end a conversation if someone brings up a topic you’re not comfortable talking about. Now, you can communicate this boundary and ask them not to discuss a certain topic ahead of time. But you don’t have to, that part’s optional. But if they bring it up, which they’re able to because again, they have the free will, it’s about what you will do in the event they do bring it up.

I used to date someone, and he always liked to talk to me about politics. Now, we didn’t agree on our political ideologies. It was really a source of tension in our relationship. Finally, one day, I decided to set a boundary in this area; if you bring it up, I will not respond. It wasn’t always easy, but I did start to honor that boundary.

Lo and behold, if you stop talking to someone and you refuse to engage in a conversation, guess what they stop doing? They stop bringing up conversations that you don’t want to talk about. Same thing, if you don’t answer the door every time someone comes over unannounced, chances are they will stop wasting their own time, and coming over unannounced. Because they don’t get what they want, when they do it.

Another really good example, and this is kind of just an everyday example, but this has come up in my personal life, too, boundaries with food. If you have certain things that you’d like to eat, and certain things that you would like to not eat, a proper boundary is what you will do if someone serves something that you will not eat.

You can certainly ask other people to take your dietary preferences into account, but they get to ignore your preferences, and they get to prepare whatever it is that they want to prepare. You can have a boundary that looks like; if you serve pasta, and I’m not eating gluten, or I’m not eating carbs, I will just not eat it.

If you consistently serve something that I’m not eating, I will stop coming over for dinner. If you invite me over for dinner, rather than me trying to control everything you serve, I will bring something that I can eat myself. And, I won’t worry about offending you, or you being upset by that, or feeling disrespected. I’m just going to take care of me.

An example of something that isn’t a boundary; is telling people what they need to serve and then getting mad at them if they don’t. That’s just trying to control other people’s actions, which you don’t want to do. You’ll be very upset if you do because they get to act in accordance with what they want to do. Not with what you want them to do.

Another example of a great boundary; is to not work on weekends. People will often say, “You know, I told people I don’t want to work on weekends. And clients keep calling me, or they send me emails, or my colleagues keep sending me emails. And, I told them to stop sending me emails.” That is not a boundary. That’s trying to control other people’s behavior. A proper boundary is; if you email me on the weekend, I will not respond until Monday, because I don’t work weekends.

Same thing with unscheduled calls. You can ask people to only call you at certain times, but guess what? They get to not listen. A proper boundary is; if you call me, and we don’t have a call that’s been scheduled ahead of time, I will not answer. That’s proper boundary there.

Another great example: is people speaking to you in a certain manner. If someone yells at you, a lot of times people think, “Well, I’m not going to let him talk to me like that. I’m not going to let her talk to me that way.” We’ll try and control someone else’s behavior, and how they act towards us. That is not a proper boundary.

A proper boundary is; if you yell at me, or if you swear at me, I will end the conversation and walk out of the room. That you’re just not going to be here to tolerate that kind of behavior.

Another great boundary example, this happens to people all the time is interacting with people who are perpetually late. This tends to be a source of great frustration for people. If you’re dealing with someone who’s late, you might think that setting a boundary is; well, I’m going to tell them that they need to be on time. That is not a proper boundary. That is, again, trying to control other people’s behavior.

What a boundary would look like, in this instance, a proper boundary would be; if you show up more than 15 minutes late, I will not wait for you. Either I will leave, or I’ll order without you. But it’s always about what you will do, in the event someone does that thing, in the event that they’re late.

My cousin once set a great boundary with friends who had wedding showers and bachelorette parties. My cousin lived out of town and a lot of her friend group lives back here in Detroit. She decided that between bachelorette parties and bridal showers and weddings, it was just too much travel for her.

So, she decided that she would only attend bachelorette parties and the wedding, that she would skip bridal showers. Her boundary was; if you invite me to a bridal shower, I will politely decline. She didn’t make people cancel their bridal showers on her account. Or, think that they shouldn’t have them just because she didn’t want to travel home for them. She simply decided that she wouldn’t attend them. It was about what she would do if a certain factual scenario arose.

Here are a couple more examples of what boundaries aren’t: Telling people that they can’t ask you for money. People get to ask you for money as frequently as they want to. And, you get to have a boundary that says; if you ask me for money, I will tell you no.

If someone asks you to take on more work. I coach people on this all the time. They’re like, “I’ve told my boss a million times, I’m too busy. I can’t take on more. He needs to stop giving me work. She needs to stop assigning cases to me.” Yet, their supervisors still assign them more work. Then, they take it and then they’re resentful because they end up people-pleasing, instead of honoring their boundary.

A boundary does not look like; you can’t ask me to take on one more case. Of course, they can keep asking you. A proper boundary would be, when they ask you to take on one more case when you’re already overwhelmed and behind, you say no; no matter how uncomfortable it is.

Another famous example of an ultimatum is when you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a long time, and you say, “We’ve been dating for X number of years or months, or whatever the case may be, by this point in time, you have to marry me.” Of course, they don’t have to marry you. Of course, they don’t have to propose.

A proper boundary wouldn’t be about controlling them and dictating what they have to do. A proper boundary would be; if you don’t propose, I don’t know, let’s say within the next six months, then I will leave. Then I will go date someone else. That would be a proper boundary, not the ultimatum of telling them what they have to do.

Those are some examples of boundaries that come up for a lot of the people that I work with. They are just different random examples, but I hope they inspired you to start thinking about the boundaries that maybe you’ve set in the past. Maybe you didn’t actually set proper boundaries, you set boundaries that weren’t boundaries; they were threats or ultimatums, or attempts to manipulate other people’s behavior.

If that’s the case, you just want to go back to the drawing board and really rethink those boundaries. Think about what you would need to change, in order to set a proper boundary. If a particular set of events or facts takes place and you encounter them, what do you want to do? How are you going to follow through? How will you react? Boundaries are always about what you will do when a particular factual scenario arises.

Now, I want to give you a framework for setting boundaries; a process that you can always walk yourself through. Step number one is to decide on the boundary that you want to set. And, you want to make sure that it fits follows ‘that if you blank, I will blank’ format. So, it is a proper boundary, and it’s not an effort to control someone else’s behavior.

From there, you want to ask yourself; what are my reasons for setting this boundary? Do I like them? If you don’t like your reasons, you want to go back to the drawing board and decide; do I want to actually set this? Do I want to not set this?

Then, I want you, if you decide that you like the boundary and you like your reasons for setting it, you want to decide on the consequence that you will enact if there’s a boundary violation. Okay? So, get really clear on that.

Now, I want you to be honest with yourself; are you willing to implement that consequence, in the event you encounter a boundary violation? Someone violates your boundary. If the answer’s no, then it’s just going to be an idle threat.

You want to decide; is this really a boundary that I want to institute? Chances are, it’s probably not. If you are unwilling to follow through with the consequences that you identified, then you probably want to give up the boundary in the first place.

If you decide that you are willing to follow through and implement the consequence, for the boundary violation, then all you have to do is wait. Again, you can communicate the boundary ahead of time if you want to, but it’s not necessary. You just need to wait and do nothing.

In the event a boundary violation occurs, then you get to decide what are you going to do? Are you going to communicate the boundary? If you are, ask yourself how? Go ahead and do that, communicate it, and then you get to wait again, for there to be another boundary violation. In the event there is another boundary violation, you get to follow through with the consequence.

Decide on the boundary, identify your reasons, and make sure you like them. Decide on the consequence for the boundary violation. Wait for there to be a boundary violation, you don’t have to do anything, unless there is one. If there is one, you get to decide; do you want to communicate the boundary and the fact that there was a violation to the person and wait to see if they violated again? Or, do you just want to institute the consequence, immediately?

Whatever you choose is fine, you get to decide. And then, in the event that there is another violation, you get to institute and implement that consequence, follow through with it, over and over and over again. Okay? that’s just the process; it’s as simple as that.

Now, the second part. That first part is the process of setting boundaries. The process of honoring boundaries is a little different and much simpler. Most people think the hardest part of having boundaries is honoring them. That makes sense. Normally, it’s going to be requiring you to change your behavior, and do something different than what you’ve done in the past.

That’s not always going to be comfortable. That’s okay, the discomfort doesn’t have to be a problem. You just want to anticipate it. If you expect setting an honoring your boundaries to be comfortable, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Normally, it’s uncomfortable.

You might have to feel afraid; you might have to feel guilty, or emotions like that. You might have to feel worried. You might have to feel judged or misunderstood. Because chances are, some people won’t like that you’re setting and honoring your own boundaries, that you’re enforcing them. A lot of people benefit when we people-please them instead of setting and enforcing boundaries.

I just want you to know that it’s okay, if going to work and setting and honoring your boundaries is uncomfortable, especially at first. You just want to identify the specific flavor of discomfort that you’re experiencing, or that you anticipate that you’ll experience, and make a deal with yourself that you’re going to allow yourself to feel that negative feeling. It can’t actually hurt you; you’ll be able to survive it, I promise you. You’ve survived every negative emotion you’ve ever felt.

I also like to remind my clients that, the truth of the matter is, that there’s discomfort both ways, in setting boundaries and in not setting them. I highly recommend people choose the route that gets them the results they want.

If you people-please and you don’t set and enforce a boundary, chances are you’re going to feel really resentful, and frustrated and disappointed in yourself with how you spend your time. Maybe you’ll feel angry with people, or very annoyed.

On the flip side, if you put a boundary in place and honor it, you might have to feel guilty or afraid, or worried or exposed, or misunderstood or judged; any of those negative emotions. If there’s discomfort either way, there’s no way to avoid it ultimately, I’d like you to decide; which discomfort would you prefer to choose? Which discomfort would you rather experience?

My hope for you is that you choose the one that has you spending your time in the way you want to spend it. To have you choose the option that feels most loving and caring to yourself. Okay? I promise on the other side of setting and honoring your own boundaries, you get to live the life you want to live.

If you’re a chronic people-pleaser, and you’re ready to put an end to it, because you really want to live a life that is in integrity and in alignment with your preferences and what you value, and how you want to spend your time, think about the boundaries you want to set and honor. Decide ahead of time, that you’re willing to feel the discomfort that comes from setting and honoring them. And, get to work curating the type of life you want to live.

That’s what I’ve got for you this week. Get out there, identify the boundaries you want to set. Remember, it’s always; if you do blank, I will do blank. It’s always about what you will do. Boundaries always take into account that other people have free will, and get to do whatever it is that they want. You don’t have to like that they do whatever it is that they want, but you do have to acknowledge that they get to.

Alright, have a beautiful week, my friends. I will talk to you in the next episode.

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

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Episode 22: How to Stop People-Pleasing

The Less Stressed Lawyer | How to Stop People-Pleasing

The Less Stressed Lawyer | How to Stop People-Pleasing

Are you someone that’s always self-sacrificing and putting everyone else’s needs before your own? If this resonates with you, you’re a people-pleaser, and you’re not the only one. It’s okay to be thoughtful, helpful, and altruistic, but if you’re altering what you say and do because of guilt or fear of another person’s reaction, that’s where we run into trouble.

In my past life, I used to be a huge people-pleaser. However, since I found coaching, all that has changed, and I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned about how to stop people-pleasing, so you can break this habit in your own life. And if you don’t think you’re a people-pleaser, I invite you to listen closely because what I’m giving you this week might just surprise you.

Tune in this week to discover how to stop people-pleasing. I’m showing you how to identify your own people-pleasing behaviors, see the areas where you’re sacrificing yourself for the sake of others, and most importantly, how to decide what your life would look like if you stopped people-pleasing.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. 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. You can get all the information and apply by clicking here

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What people-pleasing is and how it might be showing up in your professional life.
  • How people-pleasing used to show up in my life before I discovered the world of coaching.
  • The justifications we try to use to show cause for our people-pleasing behavior.
  • How to question yourself and decide whether your kind, thoughtful, helpful behavior is actually people-pleasing.
  • The small ways we ignore our own preferences or desires in our personal lives.
  • Why we people-please and why it actually feels good… in the moment.
  • How to handle the discomfort of saying no and break the people-pleasing cycle in every area of your life.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 22. Today I’m going to teach you how to stop people-pleasing. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hi, how’s it going? I am so excited for this episode; this is one of my absolute favorite topics to talk about. A big reason that I love it so much is that I used to be such a horrific people-pleaser in my past life, before I found coaching. I have made so much progress in my own life in this area. I’m excited to talk to you about people-pleasing, and to teach you how to stop doing it, so you can make that same kind of progress yourself.

When I learned the concepts and the tools that I’ve been teaching you throughout all these podcast episodes, I really transformed my behavior. It allowed me to break this habit that I had of people-pleasing. Hopefully, by listening to this and applying what I teach you in this episode, you’re able to start doing that for yourself, too.

Now, before we dive in, I’m going to ask a favor of you. Chances are, you may know a people-pleaser. It’s probably pretty likely that you know someone that’s always putting themselves last, self-sacrificing, putting other people’s needs before their own. If you do know that person, someone like that, if that sounds familiar, I want you to do me a favor and just send this podcast episode to them.

Send it to someone who you think would really benefit from listening to today’s content, just go give it a share. Honestly, I just want to tell you, a podcast episode changed my life. I’ve told you guys that before. So, you sharing this episode with someone could totally transform someone else’s life just by you doing that. You can shoot it to them in a text or an email. Or, if you really want to share the wealth, share it on one of your social media channels and help lots of people not just one person.

I really want to get this podcast into the hands and ears, I suppose, of as many people as possible. I just love thinking about the ripple effect of the work that I do when people share the content that I produce with the people closest to them, the people that are really important to them in their lives. It’s just so incredible for me to think about. Please, and thank you very much, in advance, for turning someone you know on to this episode.

Now, let’s get down to business. Last time we talked, I laid the foundation for the next several episodes that I’m going to release. Right now, we’re talking about the three P’s: People-pleasing, Perfectionism, and Procrastination.

I told you in the last episode that before I dove deep into each one of these topics, I wanted to talk and tell you all about the three qualities that you want to make sure that you exhibit, as you approach each one of these topics. You want to make sure that you are resourceful, patient, and coachable.

Now, if you haven’t listened to that episode, yet, I want you to make sure that you go back and tune into it. You don’t have to drop what you’re doing right this second, finish this episode first. But that episode really is helpful. It might be actually one of my favorite episodes to date, that I’ve done so far.

I want to make sure that you get that foundation, and you’re able to check in with yourself, make sure you have those three qualities: Resourcefulness, Patience, and Coachability. So that you’re able to apply those skill sets, those qualities to the topics that we’re about to cover.

Now that I’ve laid that foundation, it’s time to dive in to the first P: People-pleasing, which I suppose it’s technically two Ps, but work with me here, we’re talking about people-pleasing. What is people-pleasing? People-pleasing is when you say or do something at your own expense, in order to gain favor or approval from the person on the receiving end of your words or actions.

Normally, you’re engaging in whatever behavior that you’re engaging in, out of guilt or fear. You feel guilty, you think that you should be doing what you’re doing. Or, you feel afraid that if you don’t people-please the person there’s going to be some negative outcome.

Ultimately, when you do this, when you’re operating out of fear and trying to avoid the guilt by doing what you’d rather do, and you people-please instead, you ultimately put that other person’s needs and desires above your own.

Now, when you hear me say that people-pleasing is putting another person’s needs or desires before your own, it may sound kind of altruistic to do that. People-pleasing might not sound all that bad. After all, what’s wrong with being nice to people and trying to help them out or make them happy? Right? It sounds like a pretty good thing that you might want to do.

But people-pleasing generally goes beyond being thoughtful, helpful, or kind. Instead, it involves editing or altering what you say and what you do for the sake of another person’s feelings or reactions. You’re doing it at your own expense, making yourself more uncomfortable in order to make someone comfortable.

You know, I used to do this constantly, prior to me finding coaching. But I don’t know that I always had a term for this behavior before I found coaching. I don’t think I would have identified myself as being a people-pleaser, I just thought that I was being dutiful, dedicated, a really caring employee and a caring friend. I would have kind of chalked it all up to that.

But that wasn’t what was going on. Instead, I was people-pleasing. I was constantly sacrificing myself and my own well-being, for the sake of others. That’s a really great way to figure out if what you’re doing constitutes people-pleasing or not. I want you to check in with yourself and see, how does what you’re doing feel to you? Does it feel like love? Like you’re being helpful? Like you’re doing a great thing? Or, does it feel like self-sacrifice? Does it feel like self-abandonment?

That’s a really good way to identify whether what you’re doing is intentional, and serving you, and a great thing. Or, if it really is people-pleasing, and it’s not setting you up for success. It’s not you exhibiting self-care towards yourself.

Another really good litmus test here is for you to ask yourself; does doing what I’m doing feel like a lie? That’s what people-pleasing ultimately is, it’s lying. You’d prefer to be saying or doing something else entirely. And, if it was solely up to you, and you weren’t exposed to someone else’s reaction or judgment, you’d behave differently.

But because you have a perception of how someone else will think or how they’ll feel and what they’ll do as a result of that, you do what they asked you to do. Or maybe, they didn’t even ask you, so you just do what you think that they would want you to do, if they haven’t asked. You’re doing it, again you’re lying, in your words or actions instead of saying or doing what you would if no one else had an opinion about it.

Now, you may be listening to this episode and as soon as you saw the title of it, you knew this one was for you. You’re like raising your hand, “Olivia, I’m a people-pleaser,” and if that’s the case, that’s awesome. You’re in the right place, and I’m going to teach you how to stop.

But maybe that’s not you. I have quite a few clients who don’t realize that they’re people-pleasers; they don’t identify with that label. They were kind of like I was before I found coaching, they just thought that they were being a good employee, or a good friend, or a good spouse, or a good sibling, or a good daughter or son, right? They don’t identify as people-pleasing.

But during the course of our work together, they really do learn that they are a people-pleaser, and they start to gain some awareness that they may not have had prior to our coaching relationship. If that’s you, if you’re like, “I don’t think I’m a people-pleaser. I’m not totally positive. Maybe I am,” I have a couple questions for you that I want you to answer, that may help you identify some of your people-pleasing tendencies.

Here are the questions: When do you have a difficult time saying no? When do you say yes, when you want to say no? Where do you martyr yourself? Where do you ignore your own needs?

Where are you sacrificing yourself for someone else’s sake? Where aren’t you doing what you want to be doing in your life? What do you keep doing because you feel guilty? Where do you fear that by turning people down, you’ll make them think that you’re mean or selfish?

When was the last time you agreed to do something that you don’t like to do? Or, that you didn’t want to do? Where in your life are you doing things to earn other people’s approval? Where’s your behavior apologetic?

Where are you taking the blame even when the problem isn’t your fault? What are you doing that’s causing you to neglect yourself? Where in your life are you pretending to agree with people even though you feel differently?

What conversations are you not having right now, that you know you probably need to have? Where in your life are you avoiding conflict? Were in your life would you do things differently, if no one had an opinion about what you did?

It’s kind of a long list of questions, but I really wanted it to be a comprehensive list that allows you to see certain scenarios in your life from a different angle, a different perspective.

A lot of those questions seem pretty similar to one another, but they’re just ever so slightly different to introduce some nuance. and allow you to identify some more subtle people-pleasing in areas where you may not have otherwise spotted it.

Now, if you came up with some answers that you think might be examples of instances of people-pleasing, that are coming up for you in your life, I just want to offer one small caveat; it may not be people-pleasing. Like I said earlier, people-pleasing is always a lie.

And, it’s always going to feel like a lie. It’s always going to feel like self-abandonment and self-sacrifice. Where you’re putting yourself at a detriment for the sake of benefiting someone else.

You want to start there, check in: Does it feel like love, or does it feel like a lie? Does it feel like love, or does it feel like self-abandonment and self-sacrifice? Now, if you have a hard time discerning whether what you’re doing feels like that or not, here’s one more question you can ask yourself.

When you catch yourself saying or doing something, and you think you might be engaging in some people-pleasing, ask yourself; what are your reasons for doing whatever it is that you’re doing? Or, saying whatever it is that you’re saying?

Identify your reasons for why you’re taking that particular action, or why you’re refraining from taking a particular action, and then ask yourself; do I like my reasons? If the answer’s yes, you like your reasons for taking whatever action you’re taking, then it may not be people-pleasing.

If you don’t like your reasons, it probably is people-pleasing. So, that’s another hard and fast way to check if what you’re doing constitutes people-pleasing or not.

Now, let’s talk about some common examples of people-pleasing. I think the most popular example of people-pleasing is when you do stuff that you hate, in order to avoid other people feeling uncomfortable. Whether you think they’re gonna feel disappointed, or angry, or frustrated, or annoyed, or hurt, whatever the case may be, you say yes to stuff when you really want to say no.

Maybe someone asks you to go to their two-year old’s birthday party, and you’d rather not. I’m putting it nicely, right? Instead of saying no, and not going because you really don’t want to go, you go anyways. Or, you go home during the holidays to see family, even though you really don’t want to because you don’t get along with your family, or whatever your reasons are. You do things that you don’t like to do.

Maybe you’re involved in your kid’s school organizations because you feel like you should do those things to be a good parent, but you really don’t enjoy it, and it just takes away from the quality of your life. So, you’re doing some stuff that you hate.

This is also going to come up for you at work. Maybe you take on tasks or assignments because a client asks you to or a supervisor asks you to, and you hate working on those types of projects, but you keep taking them and you keep saying yes, because you’re afraid of how the other person will respond. That is textbook people-pleasing.

Another example of this is where you overcommit yourself when you don’t have the bandwidth to take something on. This can happen at work. If you say yes to an assignment that you really don’t have time to tackle, people will also come to you and maybe they seek out your help, and you feel guilty telling them that you don’t have the bandwidth.

So, you drop what you’re doing, and you help them instead of helping yourself. You overcommit yourself and say, “Sure, I can help you,” even though you really don’t have the capacity to do that.

Maybe you volunteer, when someone asks you to host Christmas or Thanksgiving, and you really don’t have the capacity to do that either, but you overcommit yourself and agree to do it. Or, you just pack too much into a weekend; maybe you get three different invitations, and you agree to do all three activities even though it’s a little bit of a stretch, and you don’t quite have the capacity to fit all three things in.

Speaking of volunteering for things, a lot of times my clients will people-please by volunteering themselves to help with something, even when they haven’t been asked. They do it because they’re telling themselves the story that the person wants them to volunteer or that if they were a good employee, or a good friend, or a good family member, they would volunteer, they’d help out.

They think just because I could it means I should pitch in and lend a helping hand. Even though, if no one had an opinion about it, you’d probably say no; they wouldn’t do it, they wouldn’t volunteer, they wouldn’t offer up their time. That’s a little bit sneakier type of people-pleasing, there.

Another example of people-pleasing is lying about what you want, or you’re like, “Sure that sounds great. Absolutely.” But in the back of your mind, you’re like, “Oh, my goodness, this sounds terrible. I don’t want to do this at all.” But you’re not willing to be honest about what you want, because you fear the repercussions of your honesty. Right? That’s people-pleasing, too.

This came up for me when I decided to take a job in big law. I really had no genuine interest of going and being a commercial litigator. That wasn’t why I went to law school. I never had any interest in working for a big firm. I’d always just wanted to do criminal defense.

But I started to get in my own head about the opportunities that were available to me, and that I was going to miss the boat on OCI’s and summer associate positions, and all that good stuff. And then finally, when I got an offer for both a summer associate position and a full-time offer, after I took the bar exam, I said yes.

Even though I was kind of lying to myself about wanting that job. I didn’t want to go there; I wanted to do something else. I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney. But I had strong opinions about other people’s opinions. I really didn’t want to disappoint some people that were really close to me, family members, friends of mine, who thought it’d be really foolish of me to turn that job down.

So, instead of being really honest with myself and the other people in my life about what I wanted to do, I just people-pleased them. I cared more about not making them uncomfortable, and what their opinions of my decisions were, than I did trusting my own gut.

Maybe you’ve done that yourself. A lot of my clients actually went to law school because they were people-pleasing parents who told them, “Hey, you got to pick between being a doctor or a lawyer. You get to pick, but you got to choose one of those two.”

Maybe they wanted to do something completely different, but they ultimately people-pleased because they were afraid to disappoint their parents, or they were worried that there would be some other negative repercussion. They lied about what they actually wanted.

Another instance where people-pleasing comes up is when you don’t advocate for a preference. You have a clear preference in your head, but you don’t speak up about it, you don’t advocate for yourself. This can be on a grand scale, or it can also be on a really small scale.

A small example of this is when you have a preference about where you go to dinner, or what you eat for dinner. Instead of speaking up about it, you just act like you don’t have a preference, and you keep the peace, so to speak. You just say, “I’ll have whatever you’re having. I’m fine with whatever you choose,” even though you’re really not fine.

You just want to be agreeable. You don’t want to be “difficult” because you think people will judge your being difficult, and that they’ll be uncomfortable or put out by it. That’s another example of people-pleasing.

A few less obvious examples of people-pleasing: One includes going back on a commitment that you’ve made to yourself, because you’re prioritizing someone else’s needs or desires, and you want to make them more comfortable. You minimize what you’ve already committed yourself to.

A great example of this would be like, deciding not to drink or you’re on a diet. Instead of sticking to your plan to not drink at an event, or to stick to the food that you decided earlier that day you were going to eat, you deviate from your plan. You go back on that commitment that you made to yourself, in order to prioritize someone else’s comfort.

Maybe you committed to yourself that you would go work out at the gym, and someone asks you to do something, and you drop that commitment that you made to yourself, in order to attend to their needs instead. So, that’s another example of what that might look like.

Ask yourself: Do you do that? Does that come up in your life? Do you pack out on commitments you make to yourself, in order to prioritize other people’s needs? If so, do you want to keep doing that?

Other small examples of people-pleasing: Not voicing your opinion when you disagree with someone. Or, avoiding conflict. Or, avoiding “difficult” conversations you know that would probably be really beneficial, if you were direct and had a conversation with someone, about something that you have some tension around.

But instead of speaking up and clearing the air, and having the disagreement and flushing all of that out, you just keep quiet; you avoid the conflict, you try and maintain the peace, you just want to be agreeable, and you never have the discussion.

Some other really specific examples of people-pleasing, just so you can see some of the micro ways that we people-please: Not taking a vacation because you’re worried that someone else is going to be angry if you do, or disappointed. Or, they’re going to feel overwhelmed because you’re not around to do the work. That’s an example.

Not asking for help is another example of people-pleasing. If you’re doing it because you feel guilty or afraid that there’s going to be a negative repercussion if you ask for help.

Underbilling and undercharging are two more great examples of the micro ways we people-please. We feel guilty, we’re worried about what we’re billing so we underbill or undercharge. And not marketing yourself, so you don’t make other people uncomfortable is another big one.

I hear from clients all the time, when I’m working with them on developing their books of business, that they don’t want to post on their social media feeds, maybe on LinkedIn™, like I do, because they don’t want other people to be annoyed with their content and to clutter someone’s feed.

They don’t want to just make anyone else uncomfortable by their marketing efforts, with their marketing efforts. So, they choose to not show up, they choose to not do it because they want to avoid that other person’s discomfort. Meanwhile, they’re ignoring the fact that there may be other people who are desperately waiting for them to show up and talk about what they do. Because there are people that need their services.

Those are a bunch of examples. I wanted to give them to you so you could start spotting your own people-pleasing behavior. That is not an exhaustive list of people-pleasing. We do this in so many different ways.

Now that you know what it looks like, I want to talk about why we do it. Why do we people-please. Here’s the big picture: Ultimately, you’re people-pleasing because you’re trying to control how other people feel. You might be trying to keep the peace, to make sure that everyone stays comfortable. You want people to like you. You also want to avoid conflict. Those are the main reasons that we people-please.

I also want to highlight for you, people-pleasing is a bit of a survival mechanism. Now, it’s a dated one; it served us when we were hunters and gatherers. It was a way to make sure that we were well-liked, and we got to stay in the circle of trust, so to speak, with our tribes. It kept us safe. It was a way that we didn’t get ousted from our groups, and it kept us in everyone’s good favor.

We just haven’t evolved past the point of having this be ingrained within us, for that survival mechanism. It also serves us a lot when we’re younger. When we’re growing up, with our parents and other authority figures, people-pleasing normally serves us really well. We get rewarded for it; we get praised for it. Again, it’s feeding in to people-pleasing being that survival mechanism, or having that survival instinct that we’re acting from.

It’s also really important to note that people-pleasing feels good. Just temporarily, usually, but it does feel good temporarily. That’s important to pay attention to, as well. People-pleasing really does feel amazing in the moment, because you get to tell people what they want to hear or what you think they want to hear, and then you get the response that you want to get from them. So, you get that praise, you get that reward.

Your brain releases just a little bit of dopamine, a little bit of adrenaline; it feels good to you. You get to feel needed, and significant, and helpful, and accomplish, and all of those positive emotions that we really crave as human beings. You’re trying to control how other people feel. You want people to like you, part of that is a survival instinct, but good news is we get to override it. It does temporarily feel good when we people-please. Those are the big picture reasons why we do it.

At a more granular level, though, this is what’s actually going on. You’ve heard me say this a bunch of times already, but the reason that we do anything that we do, that doesn’t serve us, the reason that we’re ever engaged in a negative behavior, is always because of one of two problems: A thought that we’re thinking that doesn’t serve us, or a feeling that we’re unwilling to feel, and so we resist, avoid, or react to it. Instead of, just allowing it to be with us and come along for the ride.

When it comes to people-pleasing, the problem thoughts that come up for people look something like the thought; I could help so I should help. If you’re thinking that thought you might feel obligated, and then you will help, you’ll offer to help. You might think thoughts about what a good blank does; what a good employee does, what a good lawyer does, what a good supervisor does, what a good friend does, what a good spouse does.

You might have a lot of rules for yourself, or manuals about what a “good” fill in whatever role you’re identifying with in that moment; what good versions of those roles do. So, a good friend would say yes, when someone asks them to go to a birthday party, or go to dinner, or come over and help them move.

You also might be thinking ‘have to,’ ‘need to,’ or ‘I can’t’ thoughts; I have to do this, I need to do this, I can’t say no. Those thoughts are always going to drive you to say yes and people-please, because you feel really constricted, like you don’t have any say in the matter. Now, I’ve mentioned this before, those thoughts are never true.

There are only four things you ever have to, or need to do; Eat sometimes, drink some water, breathe, and sleep infrequently. I’m all for the more sleep, the better. I’ve really pushed the limits on sleep in a past life, and I don’t recommend doing that. But those are really the four things you ever have to do.

Everything else is optional, but we’ll tell ourselves; I have to do this, I need to do this, I can’t say no, I don’t have another option. Then we feel really limited and we act in accordance with that limiting thought. Even though it’s a lie; you do have agency, you’re just blinding yourself to it. Those might be the thoughts that you’re thinking, there might be other ones.

What I want you to do is start to mind your brain when you’re people-pleasing, or right after you people-please, and you catch yourself and say, “Oh no, I just people-pleased. I see what I was doing there.” I want you to track it back and find the problem thoughts that drove you to take that people-pleasing action.

Were you thinking: I could help, so I should help? I can help, so I should? Were you thinking a good blank would say yes to this? A good blank would do X, Y and Z? Were you thinking; I have to do this, I need to do this, I can’t say no?

If you were, we’re going to need to change those thoughts, in order to get you to not people-please. You can just flip some of those thoughts around. You can choose to think instead; just because I can help, doesn’t mean I should help.

I also like to think about it this way; I like to think that you’re in the best position, the most appropriate position, to decide whether or not you should do something. Oftentimes, we’d like to outsource this to other people. But really, it’s your job. You’re the person who’s well positioned to decide whether you should say yes, or say no to something. I like thinking about this as; it’s my job to decide whether I should do this or not, no one else’s.

I also love believing that you can be both; you can be a good friend, a good employee, a good lawyer, a good spouse, a good sister, daughter, brother, son, whatever, good parents, you can be a good whatever and say no, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. Both can be true.

I love reminding myself that I don’t ever have to or need to do anything. I absolutely can say no. I have all the agency in the world; I always get to choose. Those are some really impactful powerful thoughts that helped me not people-please.

I want you to think what would you need to think, in any given scenario, in order to not people-please? In order to do what you want to do, instead of doing what you don’t want to do for the sake of other people’s comfort?

Sometimes I just choose to tell myself that it’s not my job to make other people comfortable. That’s their job. My job is to make myself comfortable. It’s other people’s jobs to make other people comfortable. I’m supposed to worry about myself, they’re supposed to worry about themselves. Nothing has gone wrong if I choose to do that, it’s totally okay.

Now, there’s always problem thoughts that you’re thinking, or the second part, negative feelings that you’re unwilling to feel. With people-pleasing, we definitely see discomfort avoidance come up here. Right? You start to feel a negative emotion when you think about not people-pleasing, when you think about saying no, when you think about doing what you want to do, instead of doing what you think the other person wants you to do.

And, feelings like, feeling guilty, or worried, or selfish, or irresponsible might come up. Your natural tendency, your natural inclination is to run for the hills, and avoid those emotions. We avoid feeling guilty, we avoid feeling afraid or worried, we avoid feeling selfish and irresponsible, by people-pleasing.

We take those people-pleasing actions and engage in that behavior, instead of just feeling our negative emotions, and taking the intentional non-people-pleasing action that we want to take. Right? So, what’s the solution there?

You’ve got to gag-and-go through the discomfort. I know I’m always bringing it back to that concept, but it really is so ubiquitous in our lives, that the answer is you just got to feel your feelings. You’ve got to feel guilty, at least at first, and say no, anyways. You’ve got to feel a little worried, scared, apprehensive that there might be some consequence from you pushing back and saying no, and that that’s okay.

You want to just take intentional action and feel these feelings, anyways. Now, if you’re a horrific people-pleaser, I really want you to just take a second and think about your answer to this question. What would be different or better about your life if you were willing to feel guilty, worried, afraid, selfish, or irresponsible, and not people-please, anyways? If you were willing to feel that discomfort, and do what you wanted to do, regardless of how it feels?

If you’re anything like me, your life would probably be completely different. Now that I’m on the other side of this, and I’ve learned how to feel my negative feelings and take intentional action in spite of them, which means I don’t people-please, I just feel uncomfortable, and I do what I want to do anyways, everything has changed significantly for me.

Now, I also want to add, the discomfort is just temporary. When you stop people-pleasing, and you start living your life the way you want to be living, it instead of living it how you think other people think you should be living it, you get the reward of living a life that you actually like. The guilt, the worry, the fear, feelings of selfishness or irresponsibility, they tend to dissipate pretty quickly.

Because instead of doing shit you hate, you get to do what you want to be doing. The guilt comes on the front end, the worry comes on the front end, but then you get the reward of spending your time how you want to spend it; being in integrity with yourself. And that, feels really good. It’s just a little discomfort in the beginning, that you have to gag-and-go your way through. Once you do that you get the reward of living in alignment with how you want to live.

Now, again, we’ve got problem thoughts and negative emotions we’re unwilling to feel, you want to take some time and just look for and become aware of the thoughts that you’re thinking that caused you to people-please, and the feelings that you’re unwilling to feel that also drives you to people-please.

With that awareness, you get to decide if you want to keep maintaining the status quo. Do you want to keep being a people-pleaser? Or instead, do you want to change those thoughts and think something else? Do you want to allow yourself to experience those negative emotions, and not people-please in spite of and despite them? Once you have that awareness, you get to decide if you want to change.

If you do want to change and you want to stop people-pleasing, let’s talk about some best practices for you to go about doing that. First and foremost, you’ve got to change your thoughts and feel your feelings. That’s always the foundational answer.

But you also have to get rid of the mistaken belief that you control how other people feel. That is the primary reason we people-please; because we give ourselves a little too much credit, and we think that we control other people’s emotions.

This is a big breaking news flash for you, if you believe that you control how other people feel. I want to be the one to tell you, that’s not true. You actually don’t control how other people feel. Now, this was absolutely transformational for me when I learned it.

I really believe that thought work, which is the kind of work that I’m teaching you throughout the course of this podcasts, the coaching work that I do with people. We identify the thoughts and how they create your results, and what we need to think instead, and how they impact our feelings and all the action we take. We call that thought work.

I believe that there are layers to thought work. The entry level layer is learning that circumstances are neutral, and that our brain serves us up thoughts about them. And, that our thoughts are what cause our emotions, all of the feelings that we feel. And then, they drive our actions and produce our results. Thoughts create results.

When you learn that, you become so empowered because, the best news ever, you get to control what you think, you get to curate what you think. That’s the entry level to thought work: You become aware that circumstances don’t cause your feelings, you cause your feelings with your thoughts.

Now, the next layer of thought work is when you start to realize that if that’s true for you, you are not a unicorn; that is also true for every other person on the face of the earth. That circumstances don’t cause their feelings; their thoughts about circumstances are what caused their emotional experience.

Your actions, what you say or do, is just a circumstance in their model. Your actions, your behavior, what you do or don’t do, doesn’t cause that other person’s emotional experience. It’s their thoughts about your actions that cause their emotional experience. And, it’s their responsibility to manage their thoughts, to manage their emotional experience in this world; that is not your job.

We know this is true because if you’ve ever tried to cheer someone up, and you haven’t been able to do it effectively, it’s not because you weren’t well intentioned, it’s because the other person didn’t change their thoughts. When you took whatever action you did, in order to try and cheer them up.

So, they still felt the exact same way, despite your best efforts to change how they feel.

This was mind blowing for me. This, when I learned it; that other people’s feelings are not caused by my actions, that it’s their thoughts that cause their feelings. It was as if someone came down and wrote me a permission slip, to go live my life the way that I wanted to live it.

Because I finally got to put down the fear that I felt that I was going to disappoint people. That my actions, that certain behavior I was going to engage in by not people-pleasing, was going to disappoint others. When I learned that their thoughts are what caused their feelings, I realized, it very well may be true that they feel disappointed, but not because of my behavior.

They feel disappointed because of their thoughts about my behavior. Because they have some expectation that I act a certain way. It’s their expectation that causes their disappointment. It’s their expectation, that causes their frustration. But for that expectation, they wouldn’t feel whatever negative emotion they feel.

It’s their job to curate their expectations of other people. It’s not my job to live up to their expectations. Once I started to really internalize that message, everything started to shift for me. I started to give myself permission to stop people-pleasing, be honest about what I wanted in my life, and to start acting in accordance with that.

If this seems very striking to you, if you’re like, “What in the world is she talking about? We don’t cause other people’s feelings of disappointment?” I promise you, that’s true.

I just want you to take a second and think about a time where you were recently feeling disappointed. Identify the circumstance; what were the facts? Strictly, the facts that everyone would agree upon in that scenario? Maybe someone said they would do something with you, and then they canceled. And, you felt disappointed. It’s only because you were thinking a thought that made you feel disappointed.

What’s another thought you could think about that exact same set of facts? Maybe something happened in the world. A scenario that you encountered, and you felt disappointed about that situation, because you were thinking a thought that it should have happened differently, or it shouldn’t have happened to that way. Again, it’s your thought, it’s the expectation that you had, that it go one way when it went the other, that causes you to feel disappointed.

I want you to think about friends of yours or family members, or colleagues that you encounter; think about a time where one of them felt disappointed, and they communicated that to you. I want you to identify the facts; what’s the circumstance that they were encountering? And, what were their thoughts about it?

You want to get good at separating the facts from the story that you’re telling about them, so you can see how you create your own disappointment, how you create your own anger, or frustration, or annoyance. Then, you can start to see how other people do the exact same thing. Their emotional experience in the world, is on them, it’s not on you.

Now, not everyone is going to do a great job of curating their emotional experience. They might be blaming their circumstances. They’re allowed to blame their circumstances. Regardless of whether they blame them or not, does not mean that their circumstances are what are causing their feelings. That’s not the case. It’s always their thoughts causing their feelings.

But they’re allowed to blame their circumstances, and you’re allowed to let them and not people-please, even when they do that. I want you to think about those thoughts that cause disappointment, and really embrace this concept that; you don’t cause other people’s disappointment, ever

From there, here’s what you need to do: Once you’ve embraced that truth, that your thoughts cause your feelings, and their thoughts cause their feelings, and that your actions don’t cause anyone’s emotional experience. Once you’ve embraced that, from there, I want you to always acknowledge, when you’re presented with a situation where you’re tempted to people-please, that you always have a choice.

I want you to acknowledge your agency, and then identify all the choices that you have, list them all out. What do you want to do in that moment? Identify your choices, and then identify why you want to choose any of those particular choices.

You want to get really clear on your reasons for taking any particular course of action. Then ask yourself; do I like those reasons? If you do like your reasons, amazing. Sounds like you’re not people-pleasing. Go ahead and act in accordance with that decision, with those reasons, follow through on that.

But if you answer no, you don’t like your reasons for taking whatever action you’re inclined to take, it’s because you’re probably people-pleasing. You want to go back to the drawing board, and identify what you actually want to choose, authentically.

If you’re being really honest with yourself, then choose that, and identify the feelings that you would have to be willing to feel, in order to take that action and not people-please. And then, do that. Take that action. Don’t people-please; follow through, feel your negative feelings, allow the discomfort, and do what you want to do regardless.

Couple other things that you can do if you’re really prone to people-pleasing. This is a great area to practice making decisions ahead of time, and to practice constraint. You can also, if you’re prone to a knee-jerk yes, when someone asks you to do something, memorize a phrase or a response that you can say every time someone asks something of you, to buy yourself a little bit of a time buffer.

Instead of a knee-jerk yes, say, “You know what? I probably can, or I might be able to, but I need to check my schedule. Just let me get back to you. I’ll call you right back.” Just say whatever you need to say to buy yourself a little bit of time, in order to make a decision, without all of the pressure that comes from being in the moment, as soon as you get that request.

I also want you to redefine the meaning of “good,” when it comes to those roles that you have, those identities that you have. So, what does it mean to be a good lawyer, a good friend, a good family member, a good spouse, son, daughter, a good partner, a good associate, any of those things?

Can you redefine “good” to be more inclusive of what you want to do, so that you don’t have to people-please, in order to qualify as a good insert, whatever the blank is.

Make sure and catch yourself that you’re not conflating ‘could’ with ‘should.’ That’s another easy hack. If you think, “I could do it,” that doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it. You want to make sure you interrupt yourself if you tend to conflate the two.

Last but not least, I want you to remember there’s always discomfort both ways when we’re people-pleasing. There’s the discomfort that we feel from saying no and not people-pleasing; that guilt, worry, fear, selfishness, irresponsibility that we experience.

Then, there’s also the discomfort that comes from people-pleasing. Normally regret, resentment, frustration, annoyance, anger, all of that. FOMO: missing out on what you actually want to do.

Remember, there’s discomfort both ways. I highly recommend, if you have to experience discomfort either way, you choose the route that gets you spending the time how you want to spend it. Do what makes you happy in the long run, if either way, you’re going to be required to feel some discomfort involved.

Now, final note for you; I want to just turn you on to this: If you want to become someone who does not people-please, I want you to ask yourself; when the roles are reversed, how do you respond? Do you like it when people, people-please you?

If you answered, “Yes, I do like it. I appreciate when people, people-please me.” I, myself, used to be a little bit of a pusher if someone would tell me no and I really wanted them to do something with me, like go to dinner, or go on vacation, or help me out with a project at work, or stay late. I used to expect them to people-please me, and I would be pushy, in order to get them to cave.

I would try and attempt to guilt them into doing something. People can’t ever guilt us; we guilt ourselves. And, that’s why we people-please. But I would make every best effort to guilt other people. Sometimes they would cave, and I would love it.

If that’s you, you’ve got to be really honest with yourself here. If you want to become someone who does not people-please, you need to be willing to accept when people, don’t people-please you. It’s how you operate from a place of integrity.

If you’re more accepting and nicer when people don’t people-please you, you’ll be kinder to yourself when you want to resist the urge to people-please, and follow through with what you ultimately want to do. Instead of what you “think” you should do.

Make sure you’re willing to be on the receiving end of someone’s no, if you want to get better at communicating no’s yourself.

I hope this was helpful. That’s what I’ve got for you this week. We will continue talking about the three Ps in the next episode. Have a beautiful week.

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

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Episode 21: Being Resourceful, Patient, and Coachable

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Being Resourceful, Patient, and Coachable

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Being Resourceful, Patient, and Coachable

Today’s episode is all about the three essential qualities you need to possess in order to solve the problems you’re facing and create the success you crave. We’re talking about being resourceful, patient, and coachable, and it’s going to put so much into perspective for you.

I’m going through each of these qualities individually, and how they all come together to make problem-solving and achieving new results faster and easier. By the end of this episode, you’ll be able to see where you’re embodying these qualities, and where you might need to focus and work on these things if you’re not being resourceful, patient, and coachable.

Tune in this week to discover the three essential qualities for solving problems and being successful. I’m sharing why taking action without looking at your mindset is never the answer, and I’m showing you how resourcefulness, patience, and being coachable allow you to think of solutions faster and implement them more effectively.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. 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. 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 resourceful is always the most powerful thing you can be as you try to problem-solve.
  • What it looks like to be resourceful, patient, and coachable.
  • Why being resourceful doesn’t mean never asking for help.
  • The opposites of these three essential qualities and how being stuck there is holding you back.
  • How to see the areas you already display these qualities, and where you still have some work to do.
  • Why taking action without first working on your mindset won’t take you where you want to go.
  • What you can do to start being more resourceful, patient, and coachable right now.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 21. We’re talking all about being resourceful, patient, and coachable. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hi, my friends. How’s it going? Is it just me, or can you hardly believe that it’s almost the end of July? That is just blowing my mind right now. Two of my friends and I have this inside joke that every year, when it hits August, they both always tell me that the year is over. They’re like, “Olivia, the year’s come to an end, it’s all done.” They don’t even bother saying that it’s practically over. They just tell me that it’s completely over.

I always strenuously object when they say that. If you’re wondering if that is a hat tip to A Few Good Men, yes, it absolutely is. I always say that, I strenuously object. Anyways, I always argue with them and tell them that the year better not be over, because I’ve got a lot more I want to accomplish before the end of the year. Then, we kind of all have a little giggle about it, and we agree to disagree.

So, even though we’ve got lots of time left till the end of the year, which means we’ve got lots of time left to accomplish our 2022 goals, I still can’t believe how fast this year is flying by. You know, maybe that’s because most things have gone back to normal now, since COVID.

The months seems to pass just a little bit faster than they did during quarantines. It’s either that, or I’m just getting older and that’s just how it works, now. The months go by a little bit faster, but they seem to be flying by. It’s hard to say why that is, but they definitely are.

Hope you’ve got a game plan for the rest of your 2022, in order to get you where you want to go. If your year isn’t quite going as you planned for it to go, and you don’t feel like you’re making the most of your year, I’ve got something big in store for you. In the upcoming episodes, I’m going to cover some really meaty topics.

They’re the issues that absolutely plague my clients the most, I always refer to these issues as the three P’s: procrastination, people pleasing and perfectionism. Over the next several episodes, we’re going to cover them in depth. I’m going to explain exactly why you do each one of those bad habits, and how to stop.

If you really make strides in each of the three key areas, you’re really going to transform yourself and ultimately transform your year. You’ll be able to get out of your own way, and stop letting procrastination, people pleasing, or perfectionism present as obstacles or roadblocks that keep you from creating the results you want in your life, accomplishing the goals that you want to accomplish. So, we’re going to tackle those.

If you struggle with them, I don’t want you to beat yourself up. So many of my clients struggle with these issues. They’re super common issues, in the legal industry. And, if we’re being really honest, no one’s ever taught us how to not procrastinate, how to not people please, how to not indulge in perfectionism.

In fact, we’ve kind of been taught the opposite. All throughout growing up, from our parents through our educators, and in a lot of the work relationships that we’ve been in, we get rewarded for people pleasing. We get rewarded for our perfectionism, maybe not for procrastination.

That’s just a normal human tendency that we need to learn, to work, to untangle, and unravel, and unpack, so you can move forward and solve for it. But these habits are really normal. They’re just part of the human experience for most people. We’re going to unlearn these bad habits. There’s a lot to unlearn. And, it’s no wonder we struggle with them if we’ve never learned how to stop engaging in them.

That’s what I’m going to teach you over the course of the next several episodes. It’s why I’m here. It’s why you’re tuning into this podcast; I’ve got you. With that being said, I’m going to give you some advanced warning to gear up. There’s a lot to cover for each of those topics. Like I said, we’re really going to dive into some very meaty content.

I’m super excited to do that, to dive into those discussions. I hope you are, too. But with that being said, what I need to do, because those are meaty topics, I need to lay a foundation for you. That’s what this episode is for. I want to talk about the three essential qualities you need to possess, in order to solve the problems you’re facing and create the success you crave.

Okay, what are those three essential qualities? They’re being resourceful, patient, and coachable. Now it took about absolutely everything in me to put those in that order, because I really wanted to make this list alphabetical. But I gave some thought to doing that, and I truly believe it’s more important, and it serves you more, for me to list them in order of importance.

Even though I think all three of these qualities are essential to problem solving and to being successful, I do think being resourceful is probably the most important item on this list of three qualities. That’s why I wanted to start with that. If you approach any problem you have, by exercising these three characteristics, you’re going to make so much more progress than you would otherwise. You will really wow yourself.

With that being said, I want to dive in and just go over these three qualities, one by one. Give you an understanding of what they look like in practice. So, you can identify; are you already doing these things? Or, maybe you’re not? What improvements can you make?

I’m also going to talk about what the opposite of these attributes looks like in your day-to-day life. So, you can identify that as well, if you’re not being resourceful, patient, and coachable. Okay, let’s go.

All right, the first of the three essential qualities to solving problems and being successful, is being resourceful. Now, what does that look like in practice? This is where you approach problems head-on. You figure out exactly what you don’t know, then you solve for it. You don’t spin. You’re taking action. You evaluate.

I’ve talked quite a bit throughout the podcast about evaluating the action you take and the results you create. Taking that action, auditing and adapting, right? When you’re resourceful, you’re problem solving, you’re doing that adapting. You don’t wait around for someone to hand you the answers. You don’t act helpless or lost. You refuse to stay stuck. You approach every challenge within, “I can figure this out,” mindset. You stay really curious. You’re determined, and you’re searching for solutions.

When you’re searching for solutions, and tapping into your own resourcefulness, and mining your own brain for the answers, rather than staying stuck, you find solutions. You’re able to come up with them. Then, you’re able to implement them and you’re able to get yourself the results that you want.

Being resourceful is so powerful, right? What are some signs that you’re not being resourceful? You might frequently say or think things like I can’t do this. Nothing’s working. I’ve tried everything. It’s never going to work. I don’t know how to fix this problem. I don’t know the answer. I’m stuck.

Alright, if that’s what your mental chatter looks like, it is laden with victimhood, you guys. We’ve got to clean that up. If that’s what’s on your thought playlist most days, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but that line of thinking is remarkably negative. It’s really helpless and very defeatist. I know those are strong opinion statements, but this is the work I do with clients every single day.

I know that, that line of thinking produces absolutely nothing positive. We can’t always spot it when we’re in it. I recently pointed this out to a client of mine. I was like, “Do you know how negative your thoughts are?”  I think they weren’t able to see it themselves. But once I pointed it out, they were able to start creating awareness around how negative their thinking was.

Why does that matter? Remember, I told you this before, your thoughts create your results. So, these thoughts, the ones that I just went through with you, they’re going to just create more of the same. You’re going to find yourself caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you can’t do it, you won’t do it.

There’s that famous quote about whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. That’s exactly right. If you think you can’t do it, you’re going to feel helpless, or hopeless, or defeated, and not figure it out. Then, you’re going to prove that true. You’re going to create the result of not doing it and it’s just further evidence that you can’t.

If you’re telling yourself nothing is working, you’re going to create more of that result; that nothing is working, telling yourself you tried everything. Such a bad thought to think. It is never true. There’s always something else that you could try.

You want to get curious and resourceful, and figure out what those things are. What else haven’t you tried? What might you be able to do differently? When you think you truly have taken every possible action under the sun, I want to challenge you that you probably haven’t taken it with the right mindset; you want to make sure you’re taking belief fueled action.

So, if you think you can’t do something and it’s not going to work, but you’re following the action steps moving forward, like Eeyore; you’re doing something, but not with the motivated, determined mindset that you want to have. You’re not going to create good results, or positive results, because the negative thoughts are what create your results.

Even if the action looks good, if you’re not bringing the right mindset to the action that you’re taking, it’s not going to get you where you want to go. Don’t think the thought I’ve tried everything; there’s always something else you can try. When you tap into your resourcefulness, you’re able to find out what those things are.

Same thing with; it’s never going to work. If you think that, I promise you, it’s never going to work. So, you want to clean up that thinking. I did a whole episode on indulging. If you missed that, make sure you go back and listen to that episode, it’s so helpful.

This is such a common mindset problem that I see with my clients. But if you’re thinking: I don’t know how to fix this problem, and I don’t know the answer, and you’re just staying confused and continuing to indulge in ‘I don’t know,’ you’re just going to create more not knowing.

Again, that’s a lot of helplessness, that’s not resourcefulness. So, you want to change that to; I can figure this out. Focus on what you do know. Be very specific about what you don’t know, then tap into that resourcefulness and solve for it. If you’re thinking, I’m stuck, you’re going to stay stuck. So, you want to be really careful about all of these negative thoughts. They’re red flags, that you are not being resourceful.

If this is what your mental chatter looks like, you just want to catch yourself, put a pin in that, and ask yourself; what do I need to think, to feel resourceful? What do I need to think and feel in order to be resourceful? Really tap into your resourcefulness.

Another key indicator that you aren’t being resourceful is that you find yourself really hungry for the ‘how.’ One of my coaches calls this indulging in ‘how’ greed, and I love that term of art, because that’s exactly what this shows up like. We’re really greedy and desperate for someone else to give us the ‘how;’ for them to tell us how to proceed, to give us the roadmap moving forward. We don’t want to figure it out ourselves. We just want someone to hand it to us on a silver platter.

A lot of times what I see with clients is that even when they get the ‘how,’ they still keep asking for more ‘hows.’ Like, they get the answer; they don’t love it. They don’t want to implement it. They just want to keep asking, “Yeah, but how? Yeah, but how? Yeah, but how?” over and over and over again.

If you find yourself struggling with ‘how’ greed or being hungry for the ‘how’ you’re going to find yourself in a place where you’re constantly wanting someone else to give you the ‘how,’ instead of being willing to tap into your own resourcefulness and figure things out for yourself.

You may do this because you think that it’s easier this way. I promise you, it’s not. When you’re hungry for the ‘how’ and you’re indulging in ‘how’ greed, and you constantly keep going outside of yourself for all of the answers that you need to solve, the problems that you’re encountering, you keep having to rely on other people for those answers.

When you tap into your own resourcefulness and you start to become someone who figures things out for themselves, you can rely on your own wisdom moving forward. You come up with your own answers. That’s so helpful. It’s so useful to be someone who’s able to do that. You become so much less reliant on other people, which will make you feel more confident as a result. So, you really want to make sure you’re doing this.

Now I just want to add one side note here, when I say that you need to be resourceful in order to problem solve effectively and become successful, this doesn’t mean that you can’t ever ask for help, you can. Sometimes being resourceful is identifying the people around you that may have the answers that you don’t have, and utilizing them to the best of your ability.

But what I want to make sure that you aren’t doing, is showing up and being, what one of my coaches called an ‘ask hole.’ Where you keep asking someone for advice, guidance, the ‘how’ answers to the problems that you’re facing. And when they give you that guidance, then you don’t implement it. You either keep asking, like I just described, or you ask them for guidance, they give it to you, and then you just do absolutely nothing with it.

If you’re going to ask for guidance… And this ties in with being coachable, as well, we’ll talk about in a second. But if you ask for guidance, go implement it. Then, evaluate the action that you took and adapt as needed. If you need to make changes, go for it. But make sure you’re implementing the guidance that you asked for and receive.

Now, being resourceful is truly one of the most important skills you can develop. There is absolutely nothing you cannot accomplish, if you are resourceful. I want you to ask yourself right now, just do a quick check in, where are you not being resourceful in your life right now? Where are you indulging in ‘how’ greed or being hungry for the ‘how’? Where are you indulging in a little bit of helplessness and victimhood, with that defeatist mindset I talked about a little while ago? Where are you not being resourceful?

Then, I want you to ask yourself, what would you do differently, as it relates to that area of your life, as it relates to that problem? If you tapped into your own resourcefulness, whatever answer you came up with, I highly recommend you implement it, take that action. It will get you so much further towards the success you want to achieve.

Now, the next essential quality that you want to have, in order to solve problems and be successful, is being patient. Now, what does this look like in practice? It’s kind of self-explanatory, right? We’re all familiar with patience. But I do want to flesh it out just a little bit. Because there are some aspects, as far as having a patient mindset is concerned, that I think would be helpful for me to highlight.

So, what does it look like to be patient when you are working to solve a problem and create success? It looks like not rushing. It looks like not beating yourself up for the progress that you’ve made, or for the progress that you haven’t made. It’s approaching the process calmly, in a grounded space, being kind to yourself in the process, and not going to war with how it’s going.

Here’s what it doesn’t look like. Being impatient and giving up. So, let’s talk a little bit about the mindset that signifies you’re being impatient and you’re contemplating giving up. Giving up mindset is really evident, it’s just thinking thoughts like I should quit, this is pointless. This won’t work. Being impatient might also look like thinking thoughts like I should be further along. I don’t know why this is taking so long. This shouldn’t be taking so long. Why haven’t I figured this out by now? I should have figured this out by now.

It may seem helpful for you to think those thoughts, like it’s going to speed up the process, but I promise you it will not. It’s only going to slow you down, because you’re going to feel frustrated, and discouraged, and pressured, and rushed, and impatient as a result of thinking those thoughts. And, that’s not going to lead to creating anything good.

You’re going to take less action, withdraw, and not pursue solving the problems. You’re going to create more negative results. So, you want to make sure if you’ve got an impatient mindset, you want to clean that up.

Listen, change absolutely can happen overnight; but it doesn’t always. I teach my clients that. Change can take time; it doesn’t always have to. It doesn’t have to take a long time. But sometimes it might. Especially when you’re undoing years and years and years of conditioning, and programming, and habit forming, that lead you to do things like the three P’s; indulge in perfectionism, procrastinate, people please.

It might take some time to undo all of those habits, that doesn’t have to be a problem. The only reason it ever is a problem, is because you’ve come up with some expectation for yourself, that you figure it out faster. If you adjust your expectation, and you approach yourself with a little bit more grace and kindness, you won’t have that same urgency, you won’t have that same impatience.

Now, what kind of mindset do you want to cultivate instead, in order to be patient? I love approaching problem solving with the mindset of I will not quit this, no matter what. I will figure this out, no matter how long it takes me.

One of my other favorite thoughts; I’m willing to be bad at this, for as long as it takes me to learn how to do this. Remember, you’re learning a new skill, and learning new skills doesn’t always happen overnight. That doesn’t mean anything’s gone wrong. Thinking: this is going to take me as long as it takes. And, that’s okay.

I also love thinking: I’m exactly where I should be in this process. It’s totally fine for me to be right where I am, nothing’s gone wrong. You want to make sure you’re practicing patience with yourself for the progress you’re making. Maybe for the progress you haven’t made yet, all of it is fine. You will eventually get there, so long as you show up in a patient headspace and you don’t allow yourself to entertain the option of quitting. Take quitting right off the table, and be patient, stick with it.

The third and final essential quality that you want to make sure you possess, in order to solve your problems and be successful, is being coachable. This is one of the skills that I really teach my clients to develop, as we work on all of the items that they want to work on during the course of our coaching work together: All the problems that we want to solve. All the habits that they want to remedy. All of the goals that they want to work towards and accomplish.

You want to make sure you’re coachable. Now, what is being coachable look like? How do you do it? When you’re encountering and dealing with a problem that you’re facing, being coachable looks like, first and foremost, humbling yourself that you don’t have all of the answers.

After you’ve tapped into your own resourcefulness, and you’ve tried some things on your own, you may be coming up short, that’s okay. You want to humble yourself and admit that you don’t have all the answers. And, that you might not be able to see your blind spots. You might not know what you’re doing wrong. And, you want to ask for coaching.

But before you ask for coaching, you want to make sure that you’re not coming into being coached, and into receiving feedback or guidance, with an arrogant attitude. Thinking that you know better than the person who’s giving you the guidance.

You want to make sure you come in with some humility, in a grounded place, not thinking that you’ve got this all figured out. So, you want to humble yourself.

Now, I’m going to speak from experience here. When I learned how to develop business and market myself, I didn’t do this, at first. I didn’t humble myself. I thought that I could figure it out on my own. That I had all the answers in this head of mine.

When I first hired my business coach, I joined her entry-level program. I watched a lot of the module videos in her program and I didn’t apply them. And very candidly, I told myself, this is silly. It’s stupid. It won’t work.

I really came with an arrogant, know-it-all energy. I thought I was too good to do it her way. I thought she probably didn’t know what she was talking about. I just didn’t want to like her methodology. It felt foreign to me. It felt awkward. I didn’t want to do it. So, instead of humbling myself, I judged it and didn’t implement it.

All I ended up doing was prolonging my success by doing this, because I didn’t show up in that program very coachable in the beginning. Now, as months went by, and I watched a bunch of other people start getting results and making a lot of money, I finally got to the point where I was willing to humble myself, admit that I didn’t know how to market myself or sell coaching.

I submitted to the process. I opened my mind. I humbled myself. I started implementing what she taught and everything started to shift. So, you want to make sure that you’re coming to problem solve, and you’re coming to work through these issues, like the three P’s that we’re going to talk about, from a humble perspective. Rather than coming in like you know the answers, you’ve got it all figured out.

That might not be easy for a lot of people, especially attorneys that are usually used to presenting like they do have the answers, because clients turn to us to have answers, right? Or, at least we tell ourselves that, and then put a lot of pressure on ourselves as a result.

But this is going to be different. You’re not the teacher, you’re not the expert. In this moment, you’re the student. So, you want to make sure you show up in that student energy; a little humble and open to receiving.

Once you’ve got yourself in that humble mindset and you’re going to approach it with humility, you want to ask for coaching. You don’t want to be stubborn, and just try and figure it out all on your own. Again, sounds a little bit counterintuitive to being resourceful, I get that, but these two things can really beautifully coincide.

You want to ask for coaching. Figure out what you need coaching on, where you’re struggling, what specifically the problem is. Do that work yourself, that’s how you can be resourceful. Then ask for, specifically, what you’re struggling with, get help with that. Then, being coachable looks like submitting yourself to the process.

When you’re getting coached, whether it’s by a coach, by me on a webinar that I do, or in my group program, or if we’re working together one-on-one, for my clients that are listening, or even for you listening to the podcast episodes, I’m going to give you a lot of questions for you to ask yourself and answer.

Be really honest with your answers, to the questions that I asked you. Really submit yourself to the process; don’t hold back, be really open, really give it your all. If you don’t, you’re not going to get the progress that you want to get out of it. You’re not going to get the growth that you want to get out of it. So, make sure you really submit yourself to the process.

Being coachable also looks like trusting the person that you’re seeking guidance from. This may be a coach, this might be a mentor, or a supervisor, if you’re asking them for some guidance or some feedback in any of the areas that you’re struggling with. It’s really easy to not trust, and to get combative, and to take issue with some of the things that you are told, some of the coaching that you receive.

It’s easy to slip into the ‘me versus them’ mindset with this and thinking that you guys are on opposite sides of an issue, and that you aren’t aligned, as far as your best interests go. I promise you; especially working with a coach. But even the people that you talk to and seek guidance from, tell yourself, and really work on establishing trust, that that person is on your side; that they have your best interests at heart, that they want the same things that you want, they want to see you be successful.

I want all of my clients to be successful. I want you to be successful, if you’re listening to this podcast. I want you to take what I’m going to teach you and apply it in your own life. If I say something that feels triggering, or jarring, or challenging, and it’s a little uncomfortable for you, I want to promise you, I’m doing it to serve you. I am on your side; I’m trying to point something out to you that you may not see.

Show you a blind spot that you may not have known was there. Get you to look at something a little bit differently. I’m doing it because I am on your side. It may be a little uncomfortable, that’s okay. I just want you to resist the urge to react negatively to it.

Instead, a great thing that you can do is ask yourself; how might what Olivia is saying and suggesting, be true? How might it be spot on? How might it be accurate? Find what can resonate with you, rather than tearing it apart and picking it apart. Come to it being really open minded.

Then, once you receive the coaching or the guidance that you asked for, make sure you apply it. If you end up wanting more coaching or guidance, only ask for it after you’ve applied what you’ve already received. Okay?

Those are the steps that you want to follow to be coachable. What’s the opposite of being coachable? It’s going to look like being really withdrawn; really resistant, really combative, and not applying any of the coaching or guidance you receive.

The mindset of being un-coachable might look something like: This person’s wrong. They don’t understand. They don’t know what they’re talking about. This doesn’t apply to me.

Instead of that thought pattern, you really want to switch to: Maybe this does apply to me. How might that be true? What if this person knows something I don’t know? Maybe they’re onto something? What if they’re right?

Maybe they could be right. Maybe I should find out for myself, whether or not they’re right, by applying it. Rather than making a preconceived judgment and determination before you’ve applied the coaching and guidance you received.

All right. Those are the three attributes, the three qualities that you want to possess in order to solve the problems that you’re encountering, in order to be successful. I asked you this, with the first attribute, with being resourceful, for you to ask yourself, where are you not being resourceful right now? What would it look like for you to be more resourceful in that area?

I want you to do the same thing with the other two attributes. Where are you not being patient? Where in your life could you be more patient right now? What would be different about your life, if you showed up with a little bit more patience?

Where in your life are you not really being coachable, and going through the steps that I just outlined, to be coachable? What would be different, how would you approach your problems differently, if you showed up being coachable? I want you to give some thought to those questions.

All right, these are the three attributes or skills that I want to make sure you have, as we go into these meatier subjects in the upcoming episodes. Listen to this episode as many times as you need to, in order to really get those ingrained, drill them into your head. You want to be resourceful, you want to be patient, and you want to be coachable.

I just want to tell you; these are three skills that I have mastered over the past several years. So, I assure you, I really do walk the walk when it comes to implementing and living these three skills in practice. I really do practice what I’m preaching.

What I want to tell you is this: Number one, being resourceful, patient, and coachable really pays off. This may sound arrogant, and I really don’t mean it that way. I’m trying not to apology vomit or over-explain myself here, but I have learned how to do so many things, because I’m resourceful patient and coachable.

I’ve learned how to manage my time, I used to be terrible with that. I’ve learned how to follow through, I used to be terrible at that too. I’ve learned how to set boundaries and put myself first, and accomplish really lofty goals. Because I am resourceful, patient, and coachable.

I’ve also learned a lot of hard skills. A lot of people in my life will find out that I know how to do particular things. I always tell people, I’m kind of a Jill-of-all-trades. There’s so many different skill-sets that I possess, that I’ve really taught myself, over the course of my lifetime. They’ll often say to me, “Wow, I can’t believe you know how to do that? You know how to do everything.”

I used to kind of downplay that that is true. Of course, I don’t know how to do everything, right? No one does. But I do know how to do a lot of things. And, I do know how to do a lot of things very well. Here’s why, this is what I often explain to them. I explain; the reason I know how to do so many things is because I’m resourceful, patient, and coachable.

When I encounter a problem and I want to learn how to do something, or I want to find a solution to it, I am relentless. I seek out whatever resources I can, whatever resources I need, to learn how to do something, to learn how to solve the problem. I never give up. I keep sticking with it.

I’m also patient as hell. I try and I fail, and I evaluate, and I don’t get discouraged, and I don’t get frustrated. I don’t think that it should take less time than it does. I just keep learning and adapting, and I learn some more until I master something. I don’t quit. I don’t give up. I stick with it, no matter what. I show up really patient.

I also don’t indulge in confusion. I commit to something and I figure things out, no matter what. If something doesn’t work, I stay curious. I ask questions. I do more research, and then I give it another go. I’ve taught myself how to do graphic design. How to design websites. How to build a membership platform for the mastermind, I just did that.

I know so much about marketing, and business development, and social media platforms, and algorithms, all of this stuff. I know how to fix things around my house. There’s just so much I know how to do, because I take the time, I’m patient, and resourceful. I figure out how to troubleshoot basically every problem I encounter, because I possess those qualities.

I’m also super coachable. Which means when I don’t know something, like I explained earlier, I humble myself. I seek out someone that has greater knowledge than I do, and I ask them for guidance, I get coached. I have my blind spots pointed out to me by an expert, and instead of being combative when I receive the coaching, and oftentimes I get coaching that I don’t like, but it’s usually the coaching I need to hear.

So, when I receive the coaching, instead of being combative, I follow the being coachable steps I outlined for you. I ask myself; how might this apply? How might it be true? I find that, I keep an open mind, and then I go out and implement it. I apply the coaching that I received.

Sometimes, like I said, when I get coached, and I didn’t particularly want to receive that coaching, I have to push myself to see how it’s the coaching I needed. And how it’s right, and how it might be appropriate, and how I might benefit from applying it.

Then, once I figure it out… That’s my work; I figure out how it applies to the situation I’m dealing with, even if it doesn’t seem like it should apply. From there, I go out, and I implement it. When I do that, I basically always find the wisdom that I was meant to receive.

Then, once I’m clear on what that wisdom is, I’m able to go take action and put that coaching into practice. That’s how I grow, right? When I’ve done that, I go back for more. I go back for more coaching. I tap into my resourcefulness. I mine my own brain. I stay patient.

I keep operating from those three qualities, from those three attributes. I bring them with me to every goal that I set for myself, and every problem that I aim to solve. Developing these three skill sets has been absolutely essential to my problem solving and growth.

And I promise you, they’re going to be essential to yours, as well. They’re the exact same skill-sets that you’re going to need to take with you as you approach problem-solving for the three P’s; for fixing your procrastination habit, for dialing down your people pleasing, and learning how to no longer indulge in perfectionism.

They’re the skill-sets that you’re going to need to grow into the next version of yourself. So, if you’re ready to practice what I’m preaching and apply these qualities to tackling the three P’s, let’s go. We’re going to cover it in the next several episodes. I can’t wait until then.

Have a beautiful week and 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 20: Giving Feedback (That’s Well Received)

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Giving Feedback (That's Well Received)

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Giving Feedback (That's Well Received)

Last week, we discussed how to accept feedback without getting defensive. But today, we’re talking about the flipside: giving feedback that’s well received. As we spoke about in the previous episode, the feedback you receive is entirely neutral, until you think something about it. So, if all feedback is neutral, why do we need to make an effort to ensure it’s well-received? Surely it’s the other person’s job to manage their mind around your feedback, right?

Well, while I do believe it’s everyone’s individual responsibility to manage their emotional experience, not everyone is going to do that because most people don’t even know their thoughts create their feelings. So, in light of human brains operating the way they always do on default, how can you give feedback that’s going to be well received? Listen closely to find out.

Tune in this week to discover the best practices for giving feedback and doing everything in your power to make sure it’s welcomed by the other person, even if it’s negative. I’m sharing the importance of getting clear on your thoughts, feelings, biases, and your desired results as you prepare your feedback, so you can deliver it in a way that’s well received.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. 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. 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, no matter how hard we try, we cannot control another person’s reaction to our feedback.
  • My best practices for giving feedback while being mindful of the other person’s reaction.
  • The importance of offering feedback from a neutral or positive perspective.
  • How to make sure your own thoughts and feelings aren’t negatively affecting the delivery of your feedback.
  • The biases that can taint the feedback we give to others, and how to get clear on those biases.
  • My step-by-step process for crafting and delivering feedback that doesn’t make the other person defensive while still clearly communicating what you need from them.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 20. Today I’m teaching you all about how to give feedback that’s well received. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hey there, how’s it going? I hope you’re doing so well. I’m so excited that this is Episode 20. I can’t believe that I’ve been talking to you guys for 20 different episodes. That’s just so neat to me. I know that we’ll be at 52, a whole year’s worth of podcast episodes, before we even know it.

Before we dive into Episode 20’s topic, I want to talk about two things really quick. First, we’re going to take a minute for a gratitude practice, because I have a lot to be grateful for right now. Over this past weekend, my mom had emergency pacemaker surgery, it totally came out of nowhere.

She went to a routine doctor’s appointment, and lo and behold, they sent her right to the ER. They were able to do the procedure that she ended up really needing, kind of out of nowhere. As I went through that whole process, which was pretty scary on the front end, I was really enamored and in awe of how incredible science is.

So, this week, I am practicing gratitude, for science and the advancements that we have, that make procedures like that kind of routine, even though they’re certainly not routine in my life or my mom’s life. Of course, they are routine, and they happen every single day. Those advancements really make so many incredible things possible. I’m grateful that they caught it. I’m grateful that she was able to have that done. And, I’m grateful that she is making a really incredible, impressive recovery.

So, that’s what I’m grateful for this week. I want you to take a second and pick something that you’re deeply grateful for. I don’t think we take enough time to stop ourselves and acknowledge what it is that we’re grateful for. My one-on-one coach, Jess Johnson, she makes me do this each time we meet. So, I’m going to ask you to do this right now. Because it’s something that I’ve really come to love when I see her every week, that I’m forced to pick something that I’m grateful for and to celebrate it.

I want you to pick something that you’re truly grateful for and celebrate it. Say it out loud; say, “I’m so grateful for…,” insert whatever it is you’re grateful for. Say it slowly. Really drop into that thought. Sit with it until you can place it in your body, until you feel that gratitude within you. Let that gratitude just warm you up. And then, just sit with that for a minute.

Why are you grateful for this thing? How does it impact your life? How does it improve your life? How does it benefit your life? Answer those questions, and just sit and enjoy that feeling. Sit with it, enjoy it, let it flood you. Really find that gratitude in your body. It’s so good.

I love just thinking about what you guys are grateful for. You know, I don’t get to hear what you’re saying out loud. But I’m sure it’s so many different things. And I just think that’s really neat. Alright, that’s the first thing. Just a little moment of gratitude. You can pause the podcast if you want to take a second to sit with it. And then, keep going.

Alright, number two, I want to highlight another amazing listener review. I absolutely love it when you guys leave me reviews letting me know what you think of the podcast. It’s just so awesome to read them. This week’s is from the Legal Guru, and he’s also a friend of mine. Maybe this seems like cheating, but I loved his review and I wanted to give him a shout out.

His name’s Beilal. He said, “How lucky was I to attend law school with Olivia and to be a part of her study group. For a decade now, Olivia has been a wealth of knowledge and guidance to those around her, contributing to and enriching the lives of several attorneys I know personally. I cannot understate how important this podcast is not only for attorneys, but for everyone.” So good. I love it. Beilal, thank you for such an amazing review.

I was the flowchart girl all through law school. For those of you who didn’t know me back then, I was the flowchart girl. We had the best study groups. I was in the evening program in law school and we just had a really tight knit group. We were really supportive of one another. We didn’t have any gunners. We were just really collaborative. It was so much fun. So, thank you to Beilal for the amazing review.

If you’re loving the podcast, I want you to do me a favor. Number one, if you haven’t subscribed already, go do that right now. Number two, please leave me a rating and review, and let me know what you think. Let me know what you’re loving. Let me know what you want to hear. I would love to hear from you. Maybe I will shout you out on a future podcast, as well.

And number three, share this episode with a friend. If you know a lawyer that you think might benefit from listening to this content, shoot it to ‘em, send it on over a text or an email. But don’t hoard the knowledge, share the wealth.

Okay, now that those two business items are out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. This is sort of a two-part episode. In the last episode, I talked about accepting feedback without getting defensive. I taught you the exact steps to follow to do that. Today we’re talking about the flip side, we’re talking about giving feedback. And then in parentheses, I want you to think about giving feedback that’s well received.

Now, based on the discussion that I had with you in that last episode, where I explained that the feedback that you receive is entirely neutral, in and of itself. It’s just a circumstance, it’s just words, they don’t cause your feelings until you think thoughts about them. I also explained that it’s our jobs, to control and curate our thoughts about the feedback that we receive.

Based on all of that, you might think that I would be telling you not to worry about how you give feedback, and that it’s just the other person’s obligation to manage their minds around whatever you say, and however you say it. And, while I do believe that it’s everyone’s individual responsibility to manage their emotional experience, that they have around whatever circumstances they encounter, let’s be honest, for just a second, not everyone’s actually going to do that. Right?

Not everyone is doing that. Not everyone that you know, is managing their minds and listening to podcasts like this. They’re probably not all aware that their thoughts are what caused their feelings. They probably blame the circumstances, most people going through the world operate that way. They think the circumstances they encounter, so the words that you say to them, are what directly cause how they feel.

In light of that, in light of human brains operating the way human brains always do; blaming circumstances for feelings, in light of those truths, it probably behooves you to give some thought to how your feedback is going to be received. And, to implement some of the best practices that I’m about to teach you in this episode, so that you can really increase the likelihood that the feedback that you give other people is received as well as it can be.

Again, it’s everyone’s own individual obligation and responsibility to control their emotional experience. I am not wavering on that at all. But what I am saying, is that when we get down to brass tacks, chances are not everyone’s doing that effectively.

We want to make sure we do everything in our ability to give feedback in, I don’t love this word, but the most constructive way possible. And, make sure that we do everything we can so that our feedback is well received, so it can be implemented and utilized in the most effective manner.

Now, there’s a caveat here, no matter how hard you try, and this might seem a little contradictory to what I just said, no matter how hard you try, you ultimately cannot control another person’s reaction to your actions, to what you say, or what you do. They’re in complete control of the reaction.

You can make the best attempt and undergo the best efforts to ensure that your feedback is well received, and they can still choose not to receive it. Well, that’s in their control, that’s in their power, that’s in their freewill. They still get to control their emotional response and how they act in response to receiving feedback.

These are some best practices that you can follow to make it more likely that the feedback is received well. Okay, step one, or best practice number one, is that you need to check in with yourself before you give the feedback. Ask yourself; how am I feeling in this moment? You want to make sure you find the one-word emotion that you’re experiencing.

If it’s negative, you don’t want to communicate feedback from that place. So, if you’re feeling frustrated, or annoyed, or exasperated, or disappointed, you’re not going to give feedback in the most productive, constructive way. So, you want to find the feeling.

And then, you want to find the thought that you’re thinking, that’s causing you to feel that emotion; what’s the thought? Identify it. It’s probably going to be a judgment of the other person, of what they did, of maybe what they didn’t do. Find that thought.

Chances are, it might even be a ‘should’ thought, which I’ve talked about in previous episodes. if it’s a ‘should’ thought, or another negative thought, I want you to ask yourself; can I change it? Can I replace this negative thought that’s causing this negative feeling, with a more productive thought? With maybe, a little bit more of a neutral thought? I love to think thoughts like: I wonder. I wonder why this person did it this way? I wonder what happened that got us to this current situation?

I also love to think ‘of course’ thoughts. I mentioned both of these tactics in the last episode. “Of course, this happened.” Maybe someone acted on brand and in conformity with how they always act. If they did, you really shouldn’t be all that surprised that you’re being confronted with the situation that you’re being confronted with, in that moment. So, can you get to an ‘I wonder’ thought? Can you get to an ‘of course’ thought?

I also just love to think that people are generally doing the best that they can, under the given circumstances. Maybe that gets you to a place where you feel a little bit of compassion, instead of those more negative emotions that I mentioned a moment ago.

Whatever the case is, you want to find the thought and find that feeling. And then, see if you can switch it out to get to a place where you’re thinking something a little bit more neutral, and feeling more neutral. You want to feel, maybe, understanding, or accepting, or curious, or motivated, or committed, any of those emotions will really serve you as you go about giving feedback.

Alright, step number two, you want to ask yourself some questions. First question I want you to ask yourself is what biases are you bringing with you into this situation? I’ve talked in the podcast before, about the labels that we assign other people and the judgments we make, and how those labels and judgments taint all of our encounters with the people in our lives.

So, if you have a really negative story that you’re telling yourself about the person that you’re about to give feedback to, it’s probably tainting the situation. What are your judgments of them? What do you think of them? Find the bias that you may be bringing with you into that situation. And, can you put a pin in it? Can you table it?

Ask yourself; how would you show up in this moment? How would you deliver the feedback? Or, would you even deliver the feedback, if you didn’t have that negative judgment about them? I also want you to ask yourself; do I have enough information here? Am I making any assumptions, maybe about what their motives are? What drove them to take whatever action they did or to not take a certain action? What information might you need?

Identify questions that you may want to ask to fill in the blanks. Maybe, before you go give the feedback. You also want to ask yourself; what result do I want to create in this encounter, in this exchange? Think about both the short-term and the long-term result that you want to create. And that’s going to inform both how you give the feedback, maybe what feedback you give, it’s going to be really instructive here.

Now, once you get clear on the result that you want to create, we’re going to work backwards. That’s the next step. Let’s call it step number three. I want you to decide on what you want to say when you communicate the feedback. Get really clear on exactly what you want to communicate.

Then once you’ve figured out the words that you want to say, I want you to find your ‘why’. Ask yourself; why do I want to say this? I want you to be brutally honest here. And then decide, do you like that reason? Does that reason, and does what you want to say, support your desired result? Or, are these things in conflict? Is what you want to say to the person really unlikely to lead you to creating the desired result?

Now this next step, step four, is pretty nuanced, but it’s really important. I want you to think about how the feedback, that you’ve decided upon in the previous step, I want you to think about how it’s likely to be received. And listen, I get it, we’re not mind reader’s. We don’t know for certain. But you are a human being, and you know what it’s like to operate in the world.

I’ve also talked to you a great deal about people’s likely response patterns. I want you to think about how is the person likely to feel when they receive that feedback? And, what will that feeling, that they’re feeling, drive them to do? What action will drive them to take? What results will it ultimately produce? I want you to remember; negative feelings drive people to take negative action, or no action. And negative action, or no action, is going to produce a negative result.

We can’t shame someone into improving; it just doesn’t work like that. So, if you ask yourself, you’ve decided upon saying whatever you’re going to say, and when you ask yourself; how is this person likely to receive this message?

If you think they’re going to receive it negatively, and they’re going to feel really negative emotions as a result, because they’re thinking really negatively about the feedback, or they’re thinking really negatively about themselves, they’re probably going to take a negative action, or no action. And, it’s not going to create the desired result that you want to create.

I get that this is really contrary to what a lot of us were taught, right? We were taught that you just need to light a fire under someone’s ass. And normally what we mean by that is, say something negative to them, kind of give them a talking to, a lecture, give them some “constructive criticism”, which really is just negative feedback. And they’ll course correct, they’ll do better.

But that’s not how human beings work. Right? A negative feeling’s going to drive negative action or no action. So, you want to think about; how do you want the person to feel? Maybe you want them to feel encouraged or motivated. What would they need to think about the feedback they receive, in order to feel motivated and encouraged? What would the feedback need to look like, for it to be easy for them to think those types of thoughts about the feedback they’re receiving? Really work through that.

They need to, maybe, think that this person has my back. This person is looking out for me. They’ve got my best interests at heart. They want to help me improve. They’re in this with me. They’re committed. Thoughts like that. They might need to think; it’s okay that I made a mistake. I’m learning. It’s okay for me to fumble sometimes. This isn’t the end of the world.

Think about how would you have to structure the feedback, to make it easy for people to think those types of thoughts? Instead of, really negative thoughts, like I’m a failure. I’m dropping the ball. Why can’t I figure this out? I should be further along. I shouldn’t be struggling with this. I’m pathetic. I’m inadequate.

If they’re likely to think those thoughts, based on the feedback that they receive from you, it’s not going to go well from there. They might shut down, they might procrastinate, they might withdraw, they might get defensive, that doesn’t lead to anything good. It’s definitely not the result you’re probably hoping to create by giving them that feedback.

Once you’ve identified what you want to say to them, go through it: Ask yourself; how are they likely to receive this? What are they most likely to think when they hear this from me, or read this from me? How ever you communicate the feedback. How are they most likely to feel as a result of thinking those thoughts? And then, based on that feeling, what are they most likely to do or not do? And, what result is that going to produce?

If you don’t like your answers to those questions, you want to go back to the drawing board and come up with a different way to communicate that feedback, or a different way to phrase that feedback altogether.

Once you’ve gone through all of that, then you’re going to finally start the conversation, with the person that you’re giving feedback to, whether that is an in-person conversation, over the phone, via email, whatever; you’re going to start the conversation. And if we’re being really honest, I work with a ton of people who have a lot of mind drama about emails.

I will probably do a whole episode on how emails have no tone, they’re neutral. And, we just think thoughts about them. But with that being said, it’s one of the points that I make that people argue with me about the most. So, maybe email’s not the best for giving negative feedback, right? Maybe we want to have that conversation in person or over the phone, that might help you out.

So, start the conversation. You’re going to start, and keep in mind those questions that you identified earlier that you may want to ask. Do you need more information? Do you want to know more about what happened, how you got to this point? Go ahead and ask all of those questions that you identified, and gather that additional information that may be relevant to the situation.

Once you’ve gathered that additional information, I want you to then decide if feedback still makes sense. Okay, maybe it will, maybe it won’t. You might have learned something new, and it put it in a completely different context, and you’re like, “I totally understand what happened,” and there’s no need to deliver that negative feedback.

But if you still feel as though it’s necessary to deliver that feedback, here’s what I want you to do next, this part is vital. I want you to get consent. Giving feedback that wasn’t consented to, that a person didn’t have an opportunity to opt into receiving, is a recipe for disaster; it’s going to feel like a punch to the gut, probably.

They weren’t expecting it, they didn’t have an opportunity to prepare themselves. You want to make sure you get consent and give people an opportunity to opt in to receiving whatever your comments are.

Also, they may not want the feedback. Sometimes, that happens. So, if they tell you ‘no’; they don’t want the feedback, they don’t want to hear your opinion, they don’t want to hear what you have to say, I want you to take a deep breath and just accept and honor their answer. Not everyone wants to know your two cents, even if you’re trying to be helpful.

You know, I work with a lot of people on self-confidence issues. And even though you may have really great intentions, you’re trying to help them, the negative feedback that they receive may be so harmful to their self-concept and to their self-confidence, that it may not do them any good.

It may cause them to have more self-doubt, to second guess themselves, to really feel embarrassed or insecure, unqualified. So, let people be the best judges of whether or not they are in a best position to receive feedback in the first place.

Now, if you get consent, you ask the person, “Hey, you know, are you interested in my thoughts?” Or, “I have some feedback for you, are you open to getting it?” And they opt in, make sure you don’t give the feedback before you actually get an answer from them. Don’t ask and then just go ahead and give it, that’s still consensual. It’s uninvited behavior until the person gives you an affirmative ‘yes’, and opts in.

Once you get consent from the person, to give them your two cents, then you can go ahead and give them the feedback. Again, step number one was check-in with yourself. Make sure you’re feeling a feeling that’s going to drive you to give that feedback in a way that serves you, and supports the result that you want to create.

Once you’re taking action from that emotion, you’ve cultivated it, go ahead and give that feedback. You’re in that positive energy, that positive feeling, take action and deliver the feedback from that space. And then, what I want you to do, I want you to get curious.

That’s one of my favorite emotions and one of my favorite activities; operating from curiosity instead of from judgment. Get curious with the person, and ask questions to understand how you or they reached the current result. Figure out the actual problem, you have to be curious with this.

You actually have to care what the underlying problem is. If you don’t care, it’s going to come across… If you’re like, “I don’t want to deal with this, I just want you to do better,” you’re probably not going to actually solve anything. So, you do, probably want to care and make it your business to find out what the actual underlying problem is.

Identify that problem, and I want you to be as specific as possible. If you were giving feedback to someone about their timeliness or their ability to follow through and hit an internal deadline, maybe someone you’re working with is struggling with that.

A lot of people will just turn around and say, “You know this isn’t working. You’re not measuring up. You’re not hitting internal deadlines, do better.” That’s not the best way to go about giving feedback here. Number one, it’s probably quite likely that the person who is hearing that is going to think really negative thoughts about themselves, once they hear that.

They’re going to feel discouraged and maybe embarrassed; probably isn’t going to lead to anything good. They’re not going to speak up. They’re not going to explain why they’re struggling with whatever it is they’re struggling with. They might withdraw. They might procrastinate some more. Again, none of that is going to produce the result you want to create.

So, instead of giving feedback like that, you might want to get into a place where you feel curious, or understanding, or accepting. And then, from there, ask questions. Deliver the feedback that you want them to improve, and they’re missing the mark. But then, get curious and figure out why they’re missing the mark. What’s the underlying problem here? Why are they struggling with hitting internal deadlines? Ask them to explain it to you.

If they struggle, try brainstorming with them: Is it because they’re underestimating how long assignments are going to take them? Why are they not communicating? How are they feeling? Are they uncomfortable communicating that they might miss an internal deadline? Are they just underestimating how long everything’s going to take?

Or, are they people pleasing and taking things on, or reshuffling their schedule, and the thing that they’re late on just keeps getting pushed to the back of their to-do list? Maybe that’s what’s going on because they’re unwilling to say ‘no’ and unwilling to feel guilty. You want to figure out whatever the underlying problem is because there’s going to be a different solution, depending on which specific problem you’re encountering.

Once you’ve identified that problem, the last step here, for giving feedback is to get a game plan with the person. I want you and them to decide what specifically, will change, what you guys will do differently in order to remedy the situation going forward. Everyone should be clear on exactly what you’ll do differently, in order to create the result you ultimately want to create, instead of the result that you’re currently dealing with.

Get that game plan; make sure everyone’s on the same page. And that way, your feedback is really useful and productive. You’ve given it, it was consensual, it came from a really good place energetically, and it’s specific enough and solution oriented to actually remedy the underlying issue, to course correct and get you where you ultimately want to go.

If you follow these steps, again, it’s not going to guarantee that every time you give negative feedback, it’s going to be well-received, but it is much more likely to be taken that way, if you follow these best practices. I wish you the best of luck in communicating any negative feedback, you have to communicate.

That’s what I have for you this week. I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Have a beautiful week.

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

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Episode 19: Accepting Feedback (Without Getting Defensive)

The Less Stressed Lawyer | How to Accept Feedback Without Getting Defensive

The Less Stressed Lawyer | How to Accept Feedback Without Getting Defensive

Most humans struggle with accepting feedback. We frequently receive feedback from supervisors, clients, colleagues, friends, and family. It’s always coming our way and it’s unavoidable, so we need to learn to accept feedback without getting our feathers ruffled.

I came up against this feeling numerous times during my tenure in Big Law. I’d have an idea and be told “no” by one of my supervisors, and I found myself making it mean so many negative things about myself, which immediately put me on the defensive. But of course, these negative thoughts weren’t true, and he was just trying to steer me in the right direction. So, if you feel yourself tense up, immediately getting defensive when someone starts giving you feedback, this episode is for you. 

Receiving feedback can be a nerve-wracking experience, so tune in this week to discover how to stop thinking the worst of the comments and critiques you receive from your superiors. I’m sharing why getting defensive is never going to feel good, and what you can do instead when you get some feedback you don’t immediately love.

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, get on the waitlist for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. 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. 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:

  • Where I’ve experienced serious defensiveness during my career in law.
  • How you make yourself feel when you get defensive and assign negative meaning to a reviewer’s feedback.
  • Why your idea not being accepted doesn’t mean you’re not smart or that your suggestion was bad.
  • The importance of working towards a neutral, drama-free space around receiving feedback.
  • Why you don’t need to get defensive and explain yourself, and the learning opportunity that is always available to you in these moments.
  • How to control the narrative in your brain when receiving feedback.
  • 6 steps to getting the outcome you want in feedback situations.

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!
  • Get on my email list!

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 19. Today I’m teaching you all about how to accept feedback without getting defensive. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hi, how are you? I hope you’re excited for today’s topic.

We’re talking all about accepting feedback without getting defensive. We have a ton to cover so I’m going to dive right in. I’m really excited to talk about this. I know how much people struggle with accepting feedback, and also with giving feedback, for that matter.

I’m going to talk about giving feedback in the next episode. I’m going to give some guidance on my top tips and suggestions, and how you want to approach it so it’s received as well as it possibly can be. Of course, we can’t control people’s responses, but we can undergo our best efforts and follow some best practices in order to make sure it’s well received.

But today, we’re not talking about giving feedback; we’re talking about accepting it. The reason I want to start here, is because we frequently receive feedback from clients, from supervisors, from colleagues, from friends, from family members, it feels like it’s always coming our way. So, we need to know how to receive feedback without getting our feathers ruffled.

Before we get started, I want you to think to yourself for a minute: On a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest, how would you rate your own ability to receive feedback without getting defensive? Would you rate it higher on the scale? You think you’re really good at it? Do you struggle with this? Do you tend to get those feathers ruffled?

If you do, this is the episode for you. Before I guide you through the steps that I have for you today, I want to give you a little backstory, because as you know, by now, I love a good backstory.

On day three of my tenure in big law, I walked into a partner’s office, he had called me down, and he wanted me to conduct some research for him. So, he gives me the assignment, tells me to go in a bunch of different directions with the legal issue that I was researching, and just come up with any theories that I could think of.

I went back to my office, and spent a couple of days researching, and then I met with him again. I came up with eight different theories or directions to go in. I sat down in his office, in the chair in front of him, I gave him the printout of the email that I had sent with my different ideas. He started going through them one by one by one.

So, as he made his way through the list, I think the first one, he was like, “Yeah, pretty good idea.” Second one, he said ‘no’ and kind of drew an X through it. Third one, he was like, “I like that, let’s research that some more.” The fourth one was like, “That’s pretty good.”

Then, he got to number five, on my list of eight different ideas. I was particularly beholden to number five, I thought it was really smart. I thought it was a great argument to make for what I knew of the case. And again, day three in big law here, so it wasn’t like I was an expert in anything, but I thought it was a good idea. He very quickly just simply said ‘no,’ crossed it out, and moved on to the next one.

A few seconds passed, and before he had a chance to say anything about item number six on my list, I started to explain myself. I started to explain my thought process, explain why I included number five on the list, why I thought it was a good idea. I just started to explain, explain, explain. And that’s when he said it; he just looked up from the sheet of paper that he was going through, with the list of my research ideas, and very calmly he said, “You don’t need to get defensive.”

I remember hearing that and, in the moment, it felt like such a punch to the gut. That because I had such a negative connotation with getting defensive. My immediate thought was, “Defensive feels so weak,” and weak was the last thing I wanted to be, especially in front of this partner, right?

He went through the rest of the list, but all I could think about is, “You don’t need to be so defensive. You don’t need to be so defensive.” I went back to my office and that was still replaying in my mind, “Was I defensive? I don’t think I was defensive. I might have been defensive.” I was just really questioning myself, and I decided to just sit with it for a second once I got back to my office.

When I gave myself that opportunity to just take a deep breath, decompress and examine the exchange that had just taken place, here’s what I settled on: The partner was right. I was defensive in that moment. He got to number five, he dismissed it, for whatever reason, and I started to get defensive and explain why I included that, why I thought my reasoning was right. Why it was a good idea.

I asked myself, “Why did I get defensive?” And this is what I realized, I was explaining myself, and my thought process, and my reasoning because I want wanted him to think that I was smart. I took his comment, just the ‘no,’ that’s all he said, I took it to mean that my suggestion was a bad idea. I made it mean that he thought the idea was stupid. He didn’t say that. Right? He simply said, “No.”

My adorable brain gave meaning to the ‘no,’ and I made a logical leap. I took it a step too far. I read facts into the record that really weren’t there. I made his ‘no’ mean that he thought the suggestion was stupid. When I thought that, I felt really insecure and inadequate, and a little embarrassed, probably. And then, I started to explain myself to get out of that emotion, in order to convince him that I wasn’t stupid, and that my idea was intelligent.

As I reflected on this exchange, I started to ask myself; why would I make it mean, just a simple ‘no,’ why would I make it mean that he thinks my idea’s stupid? There are so many other things that I could choose to think instead of that very negative thought, that I also don’t have evidence to support.

Now, had he told me that he thought my idea was actually stupid, then it might be reasonable for me to think that he thinks my idea is stupid. But he didn’t say that, he simply told me ‘no,’ about a particular suggestion I had made. And then, he moved on to considering the other ones that I presented to him, in my little email memo.

There were so many other thoughts that were available to me, other than; he thinks my idea is stupid, or he thinks I’m stupid, or that I’m not smart, right? Why not choose one of those thoughts instead? So, this became such a valuable learning moment for me. I learned not to give meaning, that isn’t there, to any feedback that I receive. Take the feedback very literally. Don’t assign extra meaning to it, with my adorable thoughts that my primitive brain serves up to me.

And, instead of thinking that there’s anything wrong with receiving feedback, can I switch to an alternate thought? Something along the lines of: Of course, he’s giving me feedback, he’s my supervisor. I’m here to learn and he’s here to teach me. He has a lot more experience than I do at this, so of course, he’s going to steer me and guide me in the right direction. And not all of my ideas are going to be accepted. That doesn’t mean I’m not smart. That doesn’t mean a suggestion was stupid. It just means he’s imparting some of his expertise on to me, this is how I learn.

Now, ever since that happened, I’ve carried that thought with me. Every time I get feedback now, I don’t make it mean anything other than what the person actually said. I don’t explain or defend myself; I just learn.

I’ve also learned to ask better questions, because every time I tell this story about the ‘no,’ and the feedback and the meaning that I gave it, people always say, “Well, the partner should have given you more information about why he didn’t think that item number five on the list was a great idea.” And I tend to agree with that, but here’s the thing, I also could have asked, right?

So, we’ll get into that in a second, about the specific steps to follow with getting feedback. Ultimately, the takeaway here, is that you don’t need to get defensive, and you don’t need to explain yourself. There’s always a learning opportunity available to you.

If you struggle with receiving feedback, I get it. I’ve been there and have done that. But you don’t need to get defensive. I just want to state that for the record. I’ve put together a step-by-step guide to teach you exactly how to accept feedback without getting defensive.

Before we walk through the specific steps, I just want to take a second and really highlight why this is so important. Why you really want to make sure you master the skill. Listen, receiving feedback from a partner or a fellow lawyer can really be a nerve-racking experience.

Oftentimes, when our work’s critiqued, we tend to think the worst of whatever our reviewers are saying. We love to jump to conclusions, just like I did in the story that I just told you. We take their critiques as the referenda on our work.

Now, reacting this way is problematic for several reasons. First, when we assign such negative meaning to a reviewer’s feedback, we make ourselves feel terrible, just like I did. The meaning that I gave the feedback, just the simple ‘no,’ I assigned it that extra meaning, and then I made myself feel insecure, and inadequate, and a little embarrassed with my thoughts about the feedback.

You might be doing the exact same thing. You might be making yourself feel insecure or inadequate, misunderstood, or embarrassed, unsupported, or ashamed, based on how you think about the feedback you’re receiving. Remember, it’s not the feedback that’s causing you to feel that way, it’s your thoughts about the feedback.

Moreover, when we experience this kind of negative emotional response, in any given feedback situation, we tend to not respond well. Because remember, I told you this before, if you’re thinking a negative thought about the feedback, you’re going to feel a negative feeling. And you’re going to take a negative action, or no action.

Oftentimes, people will get defensive or beat themselves up and miss the opportunity to grow and learn. In other instances, a negative experience receiving feedback on one assignment will impact other work. Instead of negatively reacting and getting defensive and explaining yourself, like I did, it might lead you to start to shut down and just resist and avoid those negative feelings that you start to experience through procrastination, self-sabotage, and other avoidant behavior.

Whether you’re negatively reacting in an impulsive manner, explaining yourself, getting defensive, or you’re starting to withdraw, avoid and shut down, none of that’s good. Luckily, with the right strategy, you can control how you respond to receiving feedback.

So, to put your best foot forward and to continue to develop the skills you need for a thriving legal practice, the next time you receive feedback, you want to follow these steps.

Step one, first thing’s first, you want to make up your own mind. Before you submit any assignment or work product, on which you’re likely to receive feedback, I want you to decide for yourself how you think you did. You never want to let the first opinion you receive about your work be someone else’s opinion, you want to anchor your belief in yourself, first.

Doing that, will allow you to control the narrative during the feedback experience, and therefore control your emotional state through the process. This might sound like a silly analogy, but think of a glass of water. And then, think of the positive opinions about your work like blue dye, and negative opinions about your work as red dye. If you add your own opinion about your work first, perhaps you’ll add several drops of blue dye and maybe one or two drops of red.

You’ve decided first, and you’ve anchored the color of the water; it’s going to be a little bit more blue. Now, if someone else comes in with a negative comment about your work, their comment hasn’t changed the water read. If they add a little red dye, it’s just going to make the water a little less blue.

To make up your own mind first, you want to answer these questions: Are you proud of the work you’ve done? Don’t be unduly harsh or overly critical here. Just be honest. Identify the work product’s strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself and answer: What did you do well? What could you improve upon? We talked about this in last week’s episode about evaluating; what worked, what didn’t work, what would you do differently.

If you decide for yourself first, any feedback you do receive will have less of an impact. Asking and answering these questions yourself, before you submit work product for review, will also help you improve your work pre-submission, because it’s going to help you identify deficient areas that you may be able to improve upon before you submit the project for review.

Having done this will also enable you to ask targeted questions when you’re submitting something to your reviewer. If you’re questioning a particular portion of the project, you can just ask for pinpointed feedback on that section, if you’re doubting yourself. Remember, if you want better answers, you have to ask better questions.

Assessing your own work before you receive external feedback, allows you to ask targeted questions that will accelerate your learning and professional development. Another reason to self-assess is that oftentimes, you’ll actually find out that you agree with the person giving the feedback.

When you’ve made the assessment of yourself first, instead of taking the critique personally, you might simply see that you both agree that one or two sections of your work product could be improved upon. You might have a lot in common, as far as your feedback goes. In that case, amazing. Great minds think alike.

I see this so often when I’m coaching a client who’s received feedback. I’ll ask them, “Okay, well, do you actually agree? Do you think they totally got it wrong? Or, do you kind of see what they’re saying?” It’s so fascinating to watch my clients respond. They’re like, “Yeah. Well, I kind of did agree with it. It just felt awful.” And it’s like, “Okay, naturally.” It’s alright, if it doesn’t feel super comfortable receiving feedback that you don’t consider to be positive.

But you dialed down the discomfort of receiving it so significantly, when you actually see that you agree with the person. You make that process so much easier to achieve or access, if you make up your own mind first, before you receive the feedback. So, the feedback’s coming in, and they’re just agreeing with what you’ve already decided, rather with their opinion being the first one that comes in.

That being said, the step is still crucial, even if you don’t see eye to eye with the reviewer’s feedback. Making up your own mind first, puts you in the best mindset to receive feedback, and leverage it to learn the most from it. It also helps you build your self-confidence by teaching you to form your own opinions, and establish trust with yourself when it comes to your own work product.

So, you want to make sure you’re making up your own mind first, then you move to step two, which is find the facts. Once you’ve received feedback, you want to start by separating the facts from the story you’re telling yourself about them. More often than not, when someone says something to us, we instantly assign meaning to what they’ve said. Just like I did, when I heard the ‘no’ from the partner in the story, that I told you a moment ago.

Then, we use that assigned meaning in place of their words when we recount the events in our heads. Spoiler alert, and I’ve said this to you before, our brains aren’t always truth tellers. And sometimes they have a flair for the dramatics, here. All I got was a simple ‘no,’ that’s all the partner said, and I made it mean so many other things.

For example, envision a scenario where a partner reviews an associate’s work, and asks the associate to find a different case to support an argument in the brief. Or, to find a different clause to include in a contract, if you’re on the transactional side of things. Maybe this is in person, maybe it’s in an email.

If the email reads something like, “See if you can find a better case to support this argument.” When the associate reads the email, the associate might think, “The partner thinks I’m not a good researcher.” Or, if it’s a transactional assignment, “The partner thinks I’m not a good drafter.” Or, they might even take the partner out of it, and just make it mean that they aren’t a good researcher, they’re not a good drafter. Even though the partner didn’t say that.

The supervising attorney merely asked the associate to either find a better case or find a better clause. That’s all we know. That’s the circumstance. So, you want to make sure you separate the facts from the thoughts, from the story you’re telling about them, and stick simply with the circumstance.

Then, step three; identify your emotions. After you’ve received feedback, if you feel like I did in that moment, like you’ve taken a punch to the gut, I want you to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Remember, you want to find the one-word emotion that you’re experiencing in that moment? Do you feel embarrassed? Do you feel ashamed? Do you feel inadequate? Do you feel worried? Make sure you find that the one-word feeling.

How? If you struggle to put your emotional experience into words, I highly recommend conducting a quick Google™ search, it can be a huge help. Google a feelings wheel or a list of emotions, and scan through it. See which ones resonate with you the most, in that moment.

You want to get better and more skilled at identifying the specific feeling you’re feeling. It’s going to help you create so much awareness as to what’s going on in that brain of yours when you receive feedback. So, in the example I just gave you where the partner says, “See if you can find a better case to support this argument, or find a better clause to include in the contract,” you might be feeling, if you’re on the receiving end of that email, that statement, that piece of feedback, you might be feeling inadequate.

Now, why is it so important to name the emotion and to accurately identify it? Identifying the emotions you experience is so vital to receiving feedback, in a way that serves you and supports your long-term career goals. Because all of the action that you take or don’t take is caused by the emotions you experience.

So, if you’re feeling a negative feeling, like I said earlier, you will most likely take a negative action or no action at all. If you’re feeling inadequate, your default response is probably not going to be a productive one. You’re either going to withdraw, or you’re going to get defensive. Also, putting a name on your negative emotions helps you identify the thinking that’s causing your negative emotional response.

Contrary to popular belief, circumstances don’t cause your feelings, we’ve talked about that a ton on the podcast, your thoughts do. Now, when you receive feedback, oftentimes, you have a like guttural response to it. So, it may be easier for you to identify the emotion you’re feeling first, as opposed to identifying the thought first.

If that’s the case, that’s not a problem, just start with a feeling. And once you’ve identified how you’re feeling in that moment, you can use that as a clue, as intel, to identify the thinking that’s causing that emotional response.

Which brings us to step four; you want to examine your thoughts about the feedback. Now that you’ve identified your feelings about the feedback, you want to figure out, what’s the thought you’re thinking that’s causing you to feel that emotion? You can do this, just by asking yourself, “What am I making this person’s feedback mean about me?”

This will show you the thinking that’s causing that emotional experience that you’re encountering. Not only is it important to identify your thoughts about the feedback you receive, because your thoughts cause your feelings, your thoughts, ultimately create your results. You’ve heard me say that time and time again by now.

So, if you’re thinking a negative thought, you’re going to feel a negative feeling. And if you’re feeling a negative feeling, you’re most likely going to take a negative action or no action at all. And by taking a negative action or no action, you’ll produce a negative result. That’s all to say, your thoughts matter, a lot here.

To ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward, when you’re receiving feedback, you need to be aware of those default thoughts that are coming up for you. What are you making the person’s feedback mean? And the example that we’ve been working through, where the partner says, “See if you can find a better case to support this argument. See if you can find a better clause to include in this contract,” the associate may feel inadequate, because they may be making it mean that the partner thinks that they’re not a good researcher, or that they’re not a good drafter.

In this scenario, and this is the process that you want to walk yourself through when you get feedback, the circumstance is just what the partner said, “See if you can find a better case to support this argument. See if you can find a better clause to include in this contract.” The thought that the person receiving the feedback might think is, “The partner thinks I’m not a good researcher, or I’m not a good drafter,” and then they feel inadequate.

You just want to really get clear on that causal relationship. What are the facts? What’s the thought you’re thinking about the fact, about the feedback? And how is that thought making you feel?

Now, step five; you want to resist the urge to defend yourself or beat yourself up. Once you receive feedback that you perceive to be negative, your natural instinct might be to defend yourself, or to beat yourself up, bully yourself, kind of be a mean girl or a mean guy in that head of yours. Just to talk to yourself with some really negative self-talk.

I want you to resist the urge to do both, or either; to defend yourself or to beat yourself up. When we get defensive, we stop listening. And what happens is that we reduce our ability to learn or become better attorneys as a result. We also prevent ourselves from understanding the other person’s position.

Maybe they see something we don’t. Perhaps they have a piece of information that we haven’t been made privy to. When we get defensive or we just start beating ourselves up, we reduce our ability to access this information, especially when we start arguing our point and getting defensive.

Same thing with beating ourselves up, it doesn’t do us any good. Shame and growth don’t coexist, because if you’re feeling that negative emotion, you’re not going to take a positive action. So, thinking about yourself in a really negative manner, is only going to make you feel worse, which in turn is going to cause you to show up worse.

If you want to show up well, you can’t beat yourself up along the way. Instead of taking action in a default pattern; feeling inadequate and beating yourself up, distracting yourself, engaging in negative self-talk, maybe defending yourself, over-explaining, withdrawing at work, procrastinating on other assignments… Instead of doing that, which the only thing you’re going to do, if you take those actions, is to not learn and not improve, I want you to resist the urge to go down that path.

And instead, pause, just take a breath. Think about how you want to show up in this moment, having received feedback. Defending yourself probably won’t create the result you want. Every once in a while, you may disagree with feedback you receive, and believe that, in this example, the case or the clause you’ve selected is actually the best option. And that making a change and following the partner’s instructions would be a disservice to the client or to whatever piece of work product that you’re working on.

In those situations, I want you to check in with how you’re feeling before you advocate your stance. If you’re feeling defensive, misunderstood, or frustrated, you want to make sure you shift into different energy before you make your case. Before you advocate for your position, get curious about the person who’s giving you the feedback. Get curious about their position. Ask questions. Gain a better understanding. Become more aware.

You might want to take a second or two, to gather your thoughts and organize your argument, before you go in and advocate your position. Then, from a much more intentional place, you can approach the person who gave you the feedback with that strongest case for why you think your position should prevail. And the example that we keep working through why your case or clause should be included.

Taking action when you feel confident and compelled, is going to have a much different impact than doing so when you feel righteous and frustrated. Now, in order to change how you feel, to get out of that negative feeling and into a more positive emotion, you need to change how you think.

Which brings us to step six; you want to reframe your thinking. In order to create the result that you want, in any given feedback situation, you need to intentionally select your thoughts. Remember? That’s because your thoughts create your results.

Now, if you’re thinking a negative thought, like I said, you’ll feel a negative feeling, you’ll take negative action or no action, and you’ll produce a negative result. If you’re thinking a positive thought, you’ll feel a positive feeling, take a positive action, and you’ll produce a positive result.

So, you want to make sure, in feedback situations, you’re reframing your thinking in order to get you to a positive thought. Here’s how you do that. Number one, to reframe your thinking, I want you to consider the source. People are going to have opinions, they’re humans, we can put in parentheses, unfortunately. So, they get to have them. But that’s just how it works. People are going to have opinions.

You get to decide whether you give their opinions any weight. In deciding exactly how much weight to give an opinion, I want you to consider the source. Is this person a supervisor? If so, maybe they have more experience, and they’re trying to teach you something. Is this peer? If so, perhaps they’re trying to help you.

Is the person that’s giving you feedback a friend or a family member? If so, maybe they feel worried for you or concerned, and they’re reacting from that emotion. Is this person a client? If so, maybe they’re nervous about the outcome of a case, or afraid about what might come in the future.

Considering the source allows you to put the feedback into perspective, and it helps you move closer to feeling understanding, instead of feeling those negative emotions that you experience as soon as you received the feedback.

You can also just choose to not give weight to opinions that come from people who haven’t done what you’re doing, or what you’re attempting to do. You don’t have to make their opinions mean anything about you. You can literally just discount them; you always get to decide. So, consider the source and then decide if you want to give the sources opinion any weight.

Next, to reframe your thinking, I want you to decide on the result that you intentionally want to create instead. Do you want to defend your point? Or, do you want to create the best work product? Those two things may be at odds with one another. Do you want to learn and improve? Or, do you want to be defensive and argue or debate?

When you identify the desired result that you want to create, what you end up doing is you illuminate the action that you need to take, in order to accomplish and achieve that result. If you want to defend your point, the action that you’re going to take will be to defend your work. If you want to learn, improve your skills, and create the best work product possible, you’re probably not going to take the action of getting defensive. You’re going to get curious, instead.

When you get defensive, you don’t learn anything. If you truly want to learn and improve, then you need to stop explaining yourself, because that’s not how you learn. That’s how you defend. Defending yourself teaches you nothing. In order to learn, you need to operate from curiosity. So that’s what you need to do next, you need to get curious.

Now, what exactly does getting curious look like? It looks like asking a lot of questions. Instead of explaining why you included a certain clause in the contract or case in an argument section of a brief, I want you to ask why the partner nixed it. Just like I could have asked the partner why he didn’t think item number five was a good idea. That’s how you’ll learn.

Have the person tell you exactly how they came to the conclusion. Whatever conclusion they made in their feedback. Come to understand their analysis. Maybe they’ve handled a previous matter where this issue, the exact same issue, came up before. What did they learn that’s informing their decision now? That’s the intel that you want to get.

If a peer is giving you advice, ask them what they’ve previously encountered, to see if they have experience in this area. That’ll inform how much weight you give their opinion. If a friend or family member’s giving you negative feedback, feedback that you perceive to be negative, because of course, it’s always just a thought. But if you perceive it to be negative, ask them how they’re feeling. What are they concerned about? Learn what’s driving them.

If a client’s complaining about something, ask them why. What are they concerned about? How are they feeling? Are they afraid, nervous, frustrated, maybe? Then, ask them why. Once you find out the feeling, just ask them why they’re feeling that way. What are they afraid might happen? What are they nervous about? Why might they be frustrated? What do they want you to know? Help them help you by asking them questions from curiosity, not from judgment.

If you ask questions to any of the people I just listed; a supervisor, a peer, a friend or a family member, a client, any of those people, from judgment, it will come off that way. It’s like bad perfume or bad cologne. You want to truly be curious. Ask those questions. Gather more information. Let it inform how you want to proceed, and how you want to value or weigh the feedback you’ve received thus far.

Then, you want to find an alternate thought. If you want to create a positive result, by taking positive curious action, you need to feel curious and understanding. In order to feel curious and understanding, you need to think thoughts that cause you to feel those feelings. In order to do this, I want you to ask yourself; what can I think about the exact same circumstance, the feedback I received, in order to cultivate those emotions? What do I need to think about the feedback, in order to feel curious and understanding?

Thoughts that start with ‘of course,’ will often help you feel understanding: Like, of course, they gave me this feedback. Of course, they’re giving me this direction or guidance. Of course, they are going to give me feedback through my supervisor. That’s literally their job.

That will help you feel understanding. Or, of course they’re saying this because they feel nervous. Of course, they’re telling me this because they’re trying to be helpful. Whether or not it actually is helpful, is an argument for a different day. But if you can get yourself to an ‘of course’ thought it will help you conjure the feeling of understanding.

Thoughts that start with ‘I wonder’ will usually generate a feeling of curiosity: I wonder why they’re telling me this? I wonder why they said that? I wonder what they know that I might not know? All those ‘I wonder’ thoughts will conjure up a feeling of curiosity. So, use these sentence starters as prompts, and complete the sentences in order to cultivate those emotions for yourself.

Whatever the feedback is that you received, just finish the sentence. “Of course, they said that…” fill in the blank. Or, take the piece of feedback and finish the sentence, “I wonder what…” fill in the blank. That will help you feel more understanding and feel more curious about the feedback that you’ve received.

Another way to slip into feeling curious is to ask more questions. What does the partner see that perhaps you don’t? What are they worried about? What might they be wanting to achieve by making the change that they suggested? What are they looking for?

If you struggle with answering these questions yourself, excellent. That just means you’ve uncovered an opportunity to operate from curiosity and gather more information from the person who gave you the feedback, by asking more illuminating questions.

So, if you don’t know what they want to achieve by making the change, go ask them. If you don’t know what they’re looking for, go ask them. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s just an opportunity.

Now, an example of an alternative thought, and the example that we’ve been working through where the partner says, “See if you can find a better case to support this argument, or a better clause to include in this contract.” You could think a thought something along the lines of, “Of course, the partner’s giving me feedback. They’re my supervisor, I’m here to learn. They’re just here to teach me,” and it might make you feel understanding.

And the action that you’re going to take in that situation, is to not get defensive, to not beat yourself up, and to just focus on the work and make revisions, the suggested revisions. What result do you create when you do that? You show up and learn. You receive the feedback without getting defensive, and you allow the partner to teach you something.

Another option for an alternative thought here might be, same exact circumstance, you might think, “I wonder why he thinks a different case or clause would be better?” And that ‘I wonder’ thought is going to make you feel curious. And when you’re operating from curiosity, what you’re probably going to do, is not get defensive or beat yourself up, but instead, ask for additional feedback or insight.

As a result, you’re going to learn from the partner and make the additional work easier, because you’ve gained a little bit more clarity. Now, once you’ve changed your thinking, you’ve changed your entire feedback experience. Because your thoughts create your results, right? Your thoughts cause your feelings, your feelings drive your actions, and your actions produce your results.

So, if you change your thoughts about the feedback you receive, everything else will change, too. Remember, you get to choose what to think about the feedback that you get. That means you always get to choose to settle upon a thought that serves you. If you want to think negative thoughts about the feedback you receive, you totally can. You get to choose to do exactly that.

You just want to know and like your reasons for making that choice if it’s the choice you make. Start by asking yourself; does it serve me to think negative thoughts about the feedback that I just got? If the thought doesn’t serve you, if your answer to that question is ‘no,’ I highly recommend, don’t continue to choose thinking it, if it doesn’t serve you. Ultimately, you get to choose.

Those are the steps to accepting feedback without getting defensive. I just want to go over them, really briefly, once more, so they stay fresh in your mind. Step one; before you open yourself up to getting feedback, make up your own mind first, about how you think you did. Then, submit it for feedback.

When you get the feedback, step two; you want to find the facts. Figure out exactly what the person said. Separate the facts from the story that you’re telling about yourself. So, find just the words they said, what their exact feedback was.

Step three; identify your emotions. How are you feeling? Find those one-word feelings. Identify them very specifically, so you can gain some more awareness.

And then, in step four; work it backwards. Ask yourself, examine your thoughts. What are you thinking that’s making you feel this way?

Step five; once you’ve gotten clear on the thoughts that you’re thinking, and that are making you feel the negative feelings, I want you to freeze and resist the urge to defend yourself or beat yourself up. And instead, I want you to take a breath and move into step six, and reframe your thinking.

How do we do that? We consider the source that we got the feedback from. We decide on the result we want to intentionally create instead, and work backwards. What do we need to do in order to create that result? How do we need to feel? And what do we need to think?

I also want you to get curious, as part of this process. Get curious about the feedback and conjure up a sense of understanding and curiosity, and then find an alternate thought to think instead. A positive thought that creates the result you want to create in that moment. Rather than the negative result of beating yourself up or getting defensive.

Alright, my friends, you’ve got this. That’s what I have for you this week. Have a beautiful week, and 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.

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