Episode 18: Sunday Self-Audits

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Sunday Self-Audits

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Sunday Self-Audits

How often do you take the time to reflect on your week and consider everything that happened? Sometimes the simple, straightforward processes are the most impactful, and this week, I’m sharing a tool with you that will help you evaluate, make improvements, and stop going through life on autopilot.

Sunday self-audits are simple, straightforward weekly evaluations that help you figure out where you need to make changes or improvements to your projects and goals. You can do them any day of the week, and they consist of three questions to help you evaluate each week and stay in the winning or learning process.

Join me this week as I share what a Sunday self-audit is, how to do one, and how doing this exercise can change everything for you. Find out what you can gain from doing a Sunday self-audit, and why doing them is a sure-fire way to live a more intentional life and get further faster.

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 beating yourself up and being a bully to yourself doesn’t serve or motivate you.
  • The importance of celebrating your wins.
  • How to have a curious mindset when you do this work.
  • Why there is no such thing as failure.
  • The importance of focusing on the good as well as the bad.
  • How I make improvements to the way I show up in my life and business.
  • The reason Sunday self-audits are so helpful.

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!
  • Click here to download the free worksheet to help you with Sunday self-audits.

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 18. We’re talking all about Sunday self-audits. 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 we doing? I am so good. I hope you are, too.

I have so much that I am celebrating over here. I’m going to tell you all about it, for just a second. First of all, I am celebrating the completion of the Mastermind Live event that I did last week; you guys, it was so amazing! It was absolutely wonderful seeing everyone in person, getting them all in the same room with me and with one another. That was so neat. I just loved it; the dinners were great. The learning was great. The camaraderie and the collaboration were so incredible, as well.

I just loved all of it. I’m already looking forward to the next one. And if you’re like, “Damn, I don’t want to miss out on all the action next time,” make sure you’re on the wait-list for the next round of the Mastermind.

You can get on the wait-list, for the next round of The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind, by visiting my website, TheLessStressedLawyer.com, or by going to the link in my Instagram bio, and my handle’s @thelessstressedlawyer. So, either of those ways; you can get on the wait-list, so you stay up to speed about all of the details.

You know what else I’m celebrating? I’m like, so excited about this. I finally achieved something huge that I’ve been working on in my business for about a year now. This is the first week that I have achieved and will enjoy a four-day work week. What? I know, how amazing is that?

I set this goal in motion about a year ago. I decided that I wanted to only work Monday through Thursday. I didn’t want to decrease my income at all, but I didn’t want to work Fridays; I want to just have Fridays to myself. And I started making small tweaks and changes over time, in order to accomplish it.

It took me a while. I had to set some boundaries in place. I had to allow myself to feel some discomfort, some guilt, some worry, a little anxiety, all of that was fine. I was able to gag-and-go my way through feeling those feelings. And I finally made it here. I finally blocked off every Friday for the rest of the year, no more work. I do, do webinars on the last Friday of the month, but aside from that, no more work on Fridays.

So, I’m celebrating the living daylights out of that. It’s truly something I couldn’t have imagined for myself a couple of years ago. And, now it’s done. Give that some thought.

Maybe there’s something in your life that you can’t imagine for yourself, right now. Maybe it’s a four-day work week, maybe it’s something totally different. But whatever it is, I just want to offer you, you can make small tweaks and changes over time, and eventually get yourself there. It’s totally possible. If you want my help, that’s what I’m here for.

Now, speaking of help, I’m introducing you to a tool that I use with my clients all the time; something that I teach, that I find to be so helpful. It’s called a Sunday self-audit. Now, what is that? What are Sunday self-audits?

They’re weekly evaluations that you complete. And they’re really simple and straightforward. This is not a complicated process. I call them Sunday self-audits because I love a good alliteration. But if I’m being really honest, you can do them absolutely any day of the week. If you’re not working weekends right now, or that’s something that you’re working on, not working weekends, I might recommend doing your weekly evaluations on Friday afternoons.

Some people that I work with wait until Monday mornings to do them. I don’t love Monday mornings, I’d prefer either a Friday afternoon or a Sunday, probably the middle of the week doesn’t make much sense. But the world is your oyster, you get to pick what day you do your self-audit. I like to do mine on Sundays. That feels good for me.

Now, regardless of what day you pick, you do want to make sure that you stick with doing the self-audits weekly. I find that, that is a frequent enough evaluation cycle for them to be detailed and specific, for you to really be able to use them, and make incremental changes as the weeks go by.

You can do them monthly. I just personally don’t think that’s frequent enough. And most people don’t want to do them daily. I think that’s a little bit of overkill, unless you’re really working on time management, time blocking and not procrastinating. That might be an instance where you do want to do a daily evaluation.

But I like weekly; I think it’s frequent enough. It’s going to be detailed enough because not too much time has passed, so you’re gonna get a lot out of it. You’re going to really drill down into the weeds, identify the problems that are coming up for you, and make very pinpointed, specific changes in order to address those problems and solve for them.

Okay. So how do you do a Sunday self-audit? The process is super simple. It just consists of three questions, and you may have heard me mentioned these before on the podcast. But I did want to devote an entire episode, just a short and sweet little episode to Sunday self-audits, so you know why I suggest doing them, you know how to do them, I walk you through it.

The self-audits consist of three questions: First question is what worked? The second question is what didn’t work? And the third question is what will you do differently?

You don’t need a worksheet to do this, you can just do this yourself on a legal pad or a notebook. But because I love you, I’m putting my worksheet, that I give to my clients, in the show notes for you to download and print if you find it helpful. If you’re like me, and you love a good worksheet, you can go to the website for this episode, download it, and use it to do your own.

I promise you though, completing a Sunday self-audit is not more complicated than asking and answering those three questions. Now, although this is simple, I’ve got one caveat here: Don’t half-ass this process. I’m really tempted, I’m just gonna say it because I can’t stop thinking it, use your whole ass when you do a Sunday self-audit.

Actually answer each of these three questions really thoroughly. Assess what worked. Figure out what went well over the course of the past week. And don’t you dare say “nothing.” So many of my clients love to do that. They always want to say, when I asked them what worked this past week, they want to answer, “Nothing. Nothing worked this week, It’s all gone wrong.” And that’s simply isn’t true.

Our brains love to go to the negative here and bypass the things that did work. But, nope, I’m not going to let that fly. All right? And I don’t want you to let it fly either. I want you to force yourself to find the things that did work, to find the things that you did do well. I don’t care how big or small they are. I want you to make a list. What worked? Celebrate your wins.

Beating yourself up, I’ve talked about this time and time again, over the course of the episodes that I’ve done already, it doesn’t serve you. It doesn’t motivate you. Being mean, being a bully to yourself isn’t a motivator, contrary to popular belief.

You need to be your own hype-person here. You need to celebrate your wins. Focus on what worked, what you did well, and that’s going to set you up to go into identifying what didn’t work, over the course of the past week, from a much more positive place. You’re going to go into that second question with a curious mindset, not a discouraged mindset; not a defeated mindset, not a judgmental mindset.

You want to make sure you build yourself up first, so you can bring a curious, inquisitive mind to identifying and problem solving for what didn’t work. So, that’s where we move next; going to identify specifically what did not work over the course of the past week.

I want you to also ask, as part of that; why didn’t it work? For extra credit here, for my overachievers, you can begin to identify the negative thoughts that you were thinking; that caused problems, maybe the actions that you took that didn’t serve you, or any inaction that you indulged in.

You can also identify the negative feelings that you were unwilling to feel; that you resisted, avoided, or reacted to, that drove you to take actions that didn’t serve you, or to, again, indulge in that inaction. You want to be specific with what didn’t work here. The more specific you are, the easier it’s going to be to problem solve for it. I don’t want you to skimp when it comes to completing this step. Really flesh it out.

Lastly, be just as specific with figuring out what you’ll do differently. So, you’re going to take a look, at that list you made of what didn’t work over the past week, and for each item, you’re going to solve for it. For each thing that didn’t work, ask yourself; what am I going to do differently, in order to get it to work in the week ahead?

Don’t simply say you’re just going to do better next time, or something equally as vague or ambiguous. Be specific here. Come up with a plan that you’re going to implement. And if you aren’t sure what the solution is, for what didn’t work last week, just guess. That’s how you make changes and improvements, you don’t have to know all of the right answers, right?

There may not be a right answer. There may be a lot of different answers, and you get to pick one and test a theory. It’s like science class, experiment here, you guys. Come up with your hypothesis, and then test it out in the week ahead. Going forward, see if it works. And then if it doesn’t, you take another guess and see if that works.

Basically, the process I’m describing to you, is you act, and then you audit, and then you adapt: Act, audit, adapt. Act, audit, adapt. Over and over and over again. If you don’t get it right the first time, you get to take another stab at it. That’s the best news ever, right?

Now, why do you want to do Sunday self-audits? Number one, completing a Sunday self-audit prevents you from going on autopilot. Most of us just go through our day-to-day lives, really unintentionally, proceeding on autopilot. And honestly, how are you going to learn and improve, if you don’t evaluate? Most people just look at their week and say, “No, that didn’t go the way I wanted it to. That didn’t go so well, as I had planned.”

Instead of taking time to do a meaningful evaluation, they basically just shrug their shoulders and say, “I’ll just do better next week. I’ll just do better next time.” But literally, how will you do better? What changes will you implement? What theories will you test out? You want to be answering those questions. You want to know the answers to those questions.

That’s how you improve, instead of just proceeding on autopilot. Proceeding on autopilot really doesn’t pan out in the long run. You don’t get where you want to go. Or, if you do, it’s going to take you a lot longer to get there than if you’re meaningfully evaluating.

The second thing that doing a Sunday self-audit does, is that it forces you to focus on the good, not just the bad. Your brain loves to go directly to what doesn’t work. It likes to bypass what’s working. It has a tendency to go into the negative and focus on that, to spend its time there. You want to direct your brain and focus, be a truth teller, and give equal airtime to both stories.

So, you’re going to start by focusing on what worked. That’s really important. You’re going to feel a lot more confident and feel better about the job you’re doing in your life, when you give equal airtime to what’s working, what you’re doing well, and not just focus on what you’re not doing well. It’s gonna be a big competence boost for you.

This process also makes you look at what you did, that didn’t serve you, other than avoiding it and burying your head in the sand. Sometimes we don’t like to take a look at our behavior, it’s easier to just ignore it entirely. This doesn’t let you do that. It makes you look under the hood of the car, so to speak, and figure out what’s going on, why there’s problems in the first place, what’s causing them.

It makes you become very aware and take a look at what you’re doing, that’s leading to the results that you have, that you may not like. So, again, it’s keeping you intentional. And it also gets you focused on solutions instead of problems. Because of the third question, what are you going to do differently to fix what didn’t work?

You’re focusing on those solutions; on coming up with those theories, testing a hypothesis, implementing, tweaking, improving constantly. Rather than, just dwelling or spinning in what’s not working, and kind of chasing your own tail; not making any improvements, not making any progress.

This process gets you out of that. It forces you to focus on finding a solution and then working on implementing it, and then evaluating again. Also, last but not least, the best part of this process, it keeps you from failing; everyone’s least favorite F-word, certainly mine.

One of the things that I teach my clients is that there’s no such thing as failure. That’s a hard concept for people to grasp. I’ll do an entire episode on it. I’ve just unsubscribed from failure; that it’s something that you can do. I don’t believe in it anymore.

What I teach people is that so long as you don’t quit, you can’t fail. Because failure requires an endpoint from which you measure. So as long as you don’t create an endpoint, by quitting, you can’t ever fail. You’re always just winning or learning. Winning or learning. Winning or learning.

By evaluating each week, you’re staying in that winning or learning process. You’re evaluating, and then constantly taking action, auditing, and then adapting. And the action that you take, you evaluate it again, audit, adapt: Act, audit, adapt. Over and over and over again, so you stay in that winning or learning cycle. You’re just constantly improving.

That way, you’re never failing, right? You’re either winning, or figuring out what’s not working, learning from it, and improving as you put that into practice. It’s a constant self-improvement cycle. That’s what you get when you do these Sunday self-audits.

Now, I know this seems overly simplified, so much so, that you may be tempted to think that doing a Sunday self-audit won’t make a difference. I assure you, it will. Sometimes the simplest, most straightforward processes are the most effective and impactful. This is one of them.

I use evaluations in my business all the time. When I do something big, like the live event that I did for The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind, that gets evaluated through this process; what worked? What didn’t work? What will I do differently? I also do this with the webinars or the public speaking that I do; what worked? What didn’t work? What will I do differently?

I do this with my weeks, generally, on Sundays, like I told you. That’s how I make improvements to the way that I manage my time; how I treat my calendar, or interact with my calendar, how I set up my business, how I split my time between coaching and working with my clients, and doing things like business development, or working on my business behind the scenes.

I also use this process with other goals I set. I’ve used this with; losing weight, or getting organized around my house, decluttering things, reaching financial goals in my life, learning to drink less and change my relationship with alcohol, that’s something that I’ve worked on a ton.

So, you can use this evaluation process both with work and in your personal life. Just evaluate your week, really comprehensively. Focus on work and the personal stuff because it all blends together; one impacts the other and vice versa. But you can use this process to evaluate and make improvements on absolutely anything that you have going on in your life.

Think about it for a second: What goals are you working on right now? What are you working towards accomplishing? Whatever those goals are make sure you make weekly evaluations part of your goal accomplishment process. Figure out what’s working; do more of that, whatever’s working, always do more of it. Then, figure out what’s not working, and very specifically determine what you’ll do differently to solve for what’s not working.

Completing these self-audits is a surefire way to live a much more intentional life and to get further faster.

Alright, that’s what I have for you this week. I hope you have a beautiful week. I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 17: Resting and The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alright. That’s our show. Have a beautiful week. I will talk to you in the next episode.

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

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Episode 16: Following Through and Being Consistent (Part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk to you in the next episode. Have a great week.

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

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Episode 15: Following Through and Being Consistent (Part 1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Episode 14: The Labels You Assign

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Labels You Assign

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Labels You Assign

 

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

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

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

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alright, my friends. That’s what I’ve got for you. I will talk to you in the next episode. Have a beautiful week.

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

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Episode 13: The Truth About Your Thoughts

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Truth About Your Thoughts

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Truth About Your Thoughts

Today, I’m giving you the cold, hard truth about your thoughts. I’ve covered this topic briefly in previous episodes, but this time, we’re taking a deep dive because when it comes to our thoughts, one thing needs to be abundantly clear: your thoughts are not true!

I’m always amazed by how many people are shocked by this news. Our circumstances are true, but the feelings we experience about them are a result of thoughts we’re thinking, and thoughts aren’t facts. Not only are they opinions, but they probably miss the mark more than you can even imagine. Sure, your brain is useful, but I want you to consider that it’s not always your best friend.

Tune in this week to discover how to become the observer of your thoughts. I’m sharing how to start seeing your thoughts for what they are, and choose to think some thoughts that actually bring more of what you want into your life. I’m giving you all the examples you need to see this work in practice and I want you to trust me when I say it’s going to change everything for you.

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The tendency we have as humans to believe every thought our brain gives us.
  • Why you don’t have to believe every sentence that runs through your head.
  • How to become the observer of your brain and be discerning when it comes to your thoughts.
  • What’s going on in your brain when you find yourself worrying excessively before anything’s even gone wrong.
  • The secret to deciding whether or not a thought is serving you, and whether you want to keep choosing that thought.
  • How to replace your brain’s false stories with something that creates the emotional experience you actually want.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

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

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 13. Today, I’m going to tell you the truth about your thoughts. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hello, how are you? Is your week going well? I sure hope so. Everything is going swimmingly over here. I’m back in “the mitten,” and I’ve settled back into my routine, after returning home from my trip to Connecticut. I told you guys that I went there to present a CLE presentation for a group of family law attorneys. It was a really great success.

I got to present for such an incredible group of lawyers. It was such a pleasure teaching them all about how to feel better, and simplify their lives so they can have less stress and more fulfillment, and achieve some of the balance that they’re looking for. So, that went really well.

One of the things that was wild… Because I haven’t been around a group of attorneys in person, where I got to really see them talk about their practice, and the different skills, and all of that, in a while. It was so inspiring to see such a passionate group of attorneys really committed to practicing at the highest level.

There was a lot of talk about what they need to do in particular cases, with particular sets of facts, how their appellate practice could be improved, how to bring an expert. It was just really neat to see people that committed to excellence, I really loved it.

The rest of my trip was also amazing. I bopped around Connecticut, and I even made it to part of Rhode Island. I ate lots of seafood. I love seafood! Oysters are some of my favorites, especially from the East Coast, and peel and eat shrimp. They were so good.

I also stumbled upon this adorable little town called Mystic, and had the chance of exploring the most incredible bookstore. I really love bookstores. So, I stocked up and bought a ton of stuff there.

And then, after bopping around Connecticut and Rhode Island, going to the beach, and exploring, I went to visit a really good friend of mine from law school. I got the chance to have dinner with her and her husband, and I got to meet their daughter for the first time.

I also pulled off the successful delivery of a giant, and when I mean giant, I mean a seven-foot teddy bear, which is a signature move of mine. When my friends or family members have kids, I always buy them an extravagant teddy bear. So, I had to do it for this friend and her little one. I’m all for being the impractical, over-the-top aunt. So, mission accomplished there.

I’m happy to be back, and back in the swing of things with working with my clients and recording this podcast. Alright, to help, I have brought you up to speed about what I’ve been up to since the last time we spoke, and I’ve given you a highlight reel of my trip to the East Coast.

Let’s talk about today’s topic. We’re talking about the truth, the cold, hard truth about your thoughts. I’ve talked a lot about thoughts lately in some of the past episodes. But I wanted to record an episode, specifically on this issue, to drive home a specific point, in case, from what I’ve already said on this subject, it hasn’t made it abundantly clear.

Here’s what I want to make abundantly clear, now. Your thoughts are not true. What?! I know, shocker. I’m kind of being funny here, but that might actually be super shocking for you listening to this. You might be like, “Oh my goodness, I think every sentence that runs through my head is true. I always believe the thoughts that I think. I always believe the beliefs, and the thoughts that my brain serves up to me,” right? Like, why would your brain choose them if they weren’t true? That’s how a lot of people think.

But I want to offer you, that that’s not actually the case. Your thoughts aren’t true. Facts are true. Facts, and we’ve gone through this several times, now, facts are circumstances. So, facts are true. Circumstances are true. Circumstances are just facts that we would all agree upon. Those circumstances, those facts don’t cause how we feel, our thoughts cause how we feel. So, we don’t feel a particular way about a fact, until we think a thought about it.

A lot of people go through life believing that the thoughts they think about facts are true, but they’re not. Thoughts aren’t facts. Facts are true, thoughts are thoughts. Thoughts are subjective statements. Thoughts are opinions. Thoughts are beliefs. Beliefs are just thoughts, that goes back and forth.

Again, thoughts and beliefs aren’t true. They’re just opinions that you’ve thought many times. Frequently, those beliefs may feel true to you, but they aren’t actually true. They’re subjective, they’re opinions.

What does this mean? Here’s what this means, you don’t have to believe every sentence that runs through your head. Just because you think a thought, doesn’t mean you need to keep choosing it. Your brain is going to serve you up some crazy thoughts.

I tell my clients this all the time, I tell them that their brains are not always their best friends. Oftentimes, the opposite is true. Your brain is actually working against you, preventing you from accomplishing what you want to accomplish, what you want to be doing, what would set you up for success.

So, your brain is going to serve you up some crazy thoughts sometimes, some lies, some statements that are not true. I want to offer this to you; you can just dismiss them. You don’t have to buy into those thoughts with your belief. You don’t have to make them mean anything. Those thoughts are just opinions, and you get to choose which thoughts you think. Alright?

The key here, is to become aware of what you’re thinking, so you can decide whether or not you want to keep choosing it. If you don’t want to keep choosing it, then what you’re going to want to do is find a different thought, that feels believable to you, that you can practice thinking instead.

This isn’t like positive affirmations, where you’re telling yourself something that you don’t believe. You want to find another thought, that feels believable to you, that you can practice thinking instead. To do this, you want to become an observer of yourself, and of your brain, and of the thoughts it serves up to you.

I like to think about this visually. I’m in my body, I’m sitting here in my chair in front of my computer, and I’m thinking thoughts. Then, it’s like I leave my body… Almost like in the movie Ghost, with Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Swayze, it’s like how they are. Where he’s separate from her and standing over her as she’s communicating with people. Even though people can’t see him, he is essentially hovering over her shoulder observing her and what she’s thinking, what she’s telling other people, that’s going to be you. You want to become an observer of your brain.

So, there’s you that’s existing in the world and going through your life thinking thoughts, and then you want to leave your body and hover over your shoulder. Kind of like a backseat driver, so to speak. And, just observe what’s going on in that head of yours.

What are you thinking? What thoughts is your brain serving up to you? Just noticing what’s going on, but creating some distance and some separation from your brain and the thoughts that it’s serving you, from what you’re thinking. You just want to start to observe. “Oh, my brain’s thinking this right now. Oh, I’m thinking this thought right now. Oh, this is how I’m looking at this situation,” rather than being in the situation. You want to observe your thoughts.

Then from there, as you’re standing over your shoulder, saying, “Oh, wow. You’re thinking this right now, about this particular fact, about this particular circumstance,” you can start to pepper your thoughts with questions. Questions like: Is that thought true? Spoiler alert, the answer’s always no. But asking yourself, why is it not true? Starting to search for the ways that it’s not true.

Asking yourself, does this thought serve me? Do I benefit from choosing to think this, from continuing to think this? Why is my brain serving this thought up to me, right now? Try and make it make sense. Is my brain pretending to protect me from something, by serving me up this thought? Do I want to keep thinking this thought? Does it make sense for me?

Does it support me and what I want to accomplish? And, if the answer’s no, it doesn’t, you want to ask yourself, “What might I choose to think instead? “What are some other thoughts that are available to me, here?” Without anything changing, without the circumstance being any different than it is right now. Without anyone doing or saying anything differently. The exact status quo. What could I choose to think about this instead?

Again, I cannot over emphasize the fact that your brain is not your best friend. It will tell you lies. It will sell you snake oil in an effort to convince you to seek pleasure, conserve energy, and avoid immediate discomfort. Right? It will do its damnedest to get you to preserve the status quo, because that’s what it perceives as safe. So, it will tell you lies that will cause you to hide, avoid, hesitate, spin, indulge in inaction, stay in confusion, all of that.

The thoughts that are driving all of that negative behavior, they are not true. So, you don’t have to choose to think them anymore. You can interrupt the process and choose to think something else. Now, it’s important to know that your brain, even though it’s not your best friend, it’s doing this because it thinks it’s helpful.

One of the reasons that we worry so much, is because your brain is trying to protect you from being caught off guard. It’s trying to solve, ahead of time, for every possible scenario in an effort to keep you safe. That just tends to be really unhelpful. So, we worry ahead of time, I like to say, “We borrow trouble,” when we don’t need to.

I’m going to sound like a complete law nerd here, but I always like to think about this in terms of mootness and ripeness. Is this issue ripe to worry about? What are these thoughts based upon? Where am I coming from? Where are these thoughts coming from? All of these questions are so important. And, you want to start to ask them of the thoughts that you’re observing yourself think, to start to unpack and dismantle your belief in them, if believing these thoughts does not serve you, okay?

Worry pretends to feel protective and productive, very rarely, is it. So, you just want to keep that in mind. The negative thoughts that your brain serves up to you, whether they be worrisome thoughts, or just negative thoughts, self-doubting thoughts, any of that, your brain’s doing it as a survival mechanism. But just because it does this, as a survival mechanism, does not mean the thoughts that your brain serves up to you are right, correct, or true. Alright?

Now, one of the things that I hear from people all the time, they’ll say to me, “Well, my thoughts feel true for me.” I just want to let you know that line of thinking about your thoughts, that your brain is serving up to you, it’s really unhelpful. Okay, I know that may feel accurate, that your thoughts do feel true for you. They feel unchangeable. They feel fixed. They feel like there’s no other option but for you to think these thoughts. I get that; you’ve been conditioned, to think about the way that you think, your entire life.

But thinking about your thoughts in this manner is not helpful, because you’re using language that conflates truth, as in what’s factually true, with your opinion. Again, opinions are not true. They’re not facts, they’re opinions.

Now, a really good rule of thumb is for you to ask yourself, “Would everyone in the whole entire world agree that this thought is true? Is it possible that someone, somewhere could disagree that this thought’s true?”

If everyone in the whole world wouldn’t agree, and if there’s one person that could possibly, even if you don’t know who that person is, but hypothetically speaking, someone could disagree with you, then the thought is not true. It’s not a fact, it’s a thought. It’s an opinion, and it’s not true. If it’s a belief, it’s not true. Facts are true. Circumstances are true. Thoughts aren’t true.

I know this might seem redundant, but I’m going to drill it into your heads because this is so life changing, once you realize your thoughts are not true. That you get to choose which ones you want to think. You can pick the ones that serve you more than the ones that don’t serve you. It’s so life changing.

When you say something is true for you… Like some people have come to me and said, “Well, I think this is true, for me. This feels true for me.” What happens is you stop exploring and observing that thought, from a place of curiosity. You don’t engage in the process of seeing the situation from a different vantage point. You basically throw a wrench in the gears.

You don’t examine how other thoughts, and therefore other feelings and actions, may be accessible to you, if you were able to access different thoughts. You just stop the inquiry before you even start it. You resign yourself to continuing on with that line of thinking, how that line of thinking makes you feel, and show up, and the results that it ultimately produces.

Normally, and I’m saying this to you with love, but normally, there’s also a little bit of victimhood that appears here, too. When you’re saying, “Well, this just feels true for me. This thought feels true for me,” you basically throw your hands up in the air and say, “This emotional experience is happening to me. Because these thoughts are true for me, and I can’t do anything about them.” That is never the case. You can always do something.

The question is: Do you want to? Do you want to explore what you’re thinking? Examine how it isn’t true? And, work intentionally, to choose thoughts that serve you, more than the default thoughts your brain served up to you? Do you want to do that? That’s the more important question to answer here. You can always do something about the negative thoughts you’re thinking. The question is, do you want to?

Which brings me to the other thing I hear people say every so often. People will tell me, “I can’t just choose what I think.” And with love, I’m calling bullshit. Yes, I promise you, you can. You can choose what you think. But it is a skill that you build through practice.

You will get very good at choosing the thoughts you want to think intentionally. You will become an expert at choosing thoughts that serve you, more than the default thoughts that your brain serves up to you. But that will come through practicing choosing different thoughts, choosing better thoughts. You have to practice building this skill.

I’m going to record a specific episode on that process, so you can follow it to a tee and master the art of choosing thoughts that serve you, instead of the negative default thoughts that your brain serves up to you. It will enable you to master this process. But for now, know that you absolutely can choose what you think. Okay?

The other thing that I want you to consider here, and give some thought to, is how do you show up when it comes to examining your thinking, and working to find thoughts that you believe that better support you, when you think you can’t choose what you think? The answer is you don’t show up and examine your thinking, and work to find thoughts that you believe that better support you instead. The answer is you don’t. You give up before you get started on the thought-work, on that inquiry process.

When you believe you can choose what you think, you engage in that process. You examine your thinking. You start to work to find thoughts that serve you instead, that are believable to you. So, choosing to believe that you can change what you think is crucial here. I just want you to sit with that and start to find evidence to support that belief, that you can choose what you think.

Think about other times, where at one time you thought one thing, and then without anything changing, you eventually thought something else. Maybe you gained more information on that change, but the circumstances themselves did not change, and you just thought about it differently over time. Right?

Sometimes this process happens naturally, organically, unintentionally. Maybe time passes, and we just start to think about things differently. What we once thought was a big deal, we no longer consider to be a big deal. That’s happening under the surface, right?

We’re changing our thoughts, unconsciously or subconsciously. All that does, though, is evidence that you can do this consciously, too. That’s the point of thought-work. It happens naturally. In certain instances, we can make it happen in every instance, intentionally. If we practice examining our thinking, dismantling the thoughts, proving them false, proving that they’re not true, figuring out what we can think instead, and supporting an argument with evidence that we can find in, our lives, to support our new belief.

We also think multiple thoughts about facts. So, not only can you choose one or the other, you can swap thoughts in and out, replace one with another. But you can also think multiple thoughts about certain facts. You can decide that you want to focus on certain thoughts more than other thoughts. You might be thinking them all at the same time, but you want to focus your attention on some versus others. Okay?

I want to have you think about this like an hors d’oeuvre tray, at a party. Think about a caterer waiter that’s walking around with that tray, and on that tray, there’s a bunch of different options to choose from. You’ve got many caprese skewers, maybe beef tartare on a crostini, maybe you’ve got spring rolls, shrimp cocktail, a miniature taco, bacon wrapped dates, any of these things. They’re all on the tray. You’ve got all these different options that you get to choose from.

Now, none of the hors d’oeuvres are right or wrong. That being said, you might have a preference. You might like some more than you like others, but none of them are right or wrong. You simply may have a preference.

The same thing is true about our thoughts. They aren’t right or wrong, they aren’t true or false. You get to have a preference, though. And, you get to choose different ones off the hors d’oeuvre platter, based on what you want to experience and accomplish. So, you get to decide how you want to feel. And then, you get to decide what you want to think in order to make sure you feel that way.

Now, I want to walk you through my favorite example of this. Let’s say you have plans with a friend, and your friend texts you an hour before you’re supposed to meet and cancels. The text simply says, “Hey, I’m sorry, I can’t make it.” You have a tray full of thought-options to choose from, just like with the hors d’oeuvre platter being carried by the caterer waiter at the party.

You might think, “How rude! This person clearly doesn’t respect my time.” If you’re thinking that thought you’ll probably feel really disrespected. So, that’s one option on the hors d’oeuvre platter. You can pick that up and have a bite of it, and you’ll feel disrespected.

You might think instead, “Oh, no. I hope I didn’t do something that upset them.” If you were thinking that thought, you might feel really worried. So, that’s another hors d’oeuvre platter option. Instead, you might be thinking, “I hope everything’s okay with them.” If you were thinking that thought, you might feel a little concerned. That’s another option on the tray.

Or you could think, “You know, I know how busy they are. So, this is understandable.” You might feel really understanding if that’s the thought that you choose to think instead. You could think, “Oh, man, I was really looking forward to getting together,” and feel a little bummed when you think that thought. You might think, “No big deal. We’ll just rain check,” and feel really unbothered, you just let it roll off your shoulders.

Or, this tends to be really common among a lot of my clients. They think something along the lines of, “Oh, thank God! I did not feel like going,” and then they feel really relieved. Okay, I just went through seven different thought options for you, to choose from the thought hors d’oeuvre plan. matter.

None of these thoughts are right or wrong. None of them are truer than the others. They’re all optional, they’re simply different. You get to choose one thought over the other, or you can choose to think a combination of them, up to you. Based on the choice you make, you’re going to feel a different feeling, right? So, you want to make sure you choose wisely.

Again, I want to highlight here, you get to choose. There are seven options there, none of them are more appropriate or accurate than any of the others. You get to choose the emotional experience you want by choosing the thought intentionally.

Here are some other thoughts that I thought it would be helpful to run through quickly, to help you see that it’s not just that instance, the friend texted you an hour before you’re supposed to meet up, where your thoughts aren’t true, that this applies across the board.

Let’s take the thought, “I should be further along.” This is a very common thought that people think about their lives, about the results they have, about where they’re at, and it’s a really painful thought. People tend to feel really beholden to it. They tell themselves or they tell me that this thought feels very true for them. It feels like a fact. But then I dig deeper, and I ask them some questions about this thought. If you think this thought, I want you to answer these same questions, okay?

We can start to see that the thought, “I should be further along,” really isn’t true. Start by getting very specific: Where do you think you should be right now? What results do you think you should have, that you don’t? Again, be as specific as possible. What would you have needed to do to create those results and get to that place?

Again, be as specific as possible here. List out all of the actions that you would have needed to take, and all of the actions you would have needed to refrain from taking, and write them all down.

Then, write out all the things you’ve been doing, instead. All of the things that have produced the results that you currently have, all of the action, positive or negative, and all of the inaction. Write that all out too. Again, be as specific as possible.

Then, compare them; the list of actions, that you would have needed to take in order to produce the results you want and get where you think you should be. And, the list of actions, or inaction, that you’ve been operating in, that you’ve taken, that you’ve done, that’s created your current results. Do those lists match? The answer is likely, no, they don’t. Of course, they don’t. Right? If they did match, you’d be where you think you should be. You’d have the results that you think that you should have.

Now, one small caveat here; if the lists do match, and you’re simply mistaken about what it takes to create the results you want and get where you want to go, then you need to reassess and tweak your action plan in order to get where you want to go and where you think you should be. But that is 1,000%, a caveat here. That, usually, is not the case.

Usually, your action lists will not match, they won’t even be close. Normally, the actions that you would need to take, and the actions that you have taken, don’t look anything alike.

Then, the thoughts, this is also important, the thoughts you’ve been thinking, that have been fueling the action you’ve been taking, also don’t match the thoughts you would have needed to think, to take the necessary action, that would have been required to produce the results you want.

So, none of it is matching. The actions aren’t matching, the thoughts aren’t matching, and based on the thoughts you’ve been thinking, and the actions you’ve been taking or haven’t been taking, you should be exactly where you are.

If your actions don’t match, you should have the exact results that you have. This should all make sense. So, it’s not true that you should be further along. You should be exactly be where you are right now. If you think you should be further along, I want you to examine that, because that thought is never true.

Another thought that’s very common is the thought, “This shouldn’t be happening.” This thought isn’t true, either. Why? Because whatever it is you’re thinking it about, whatever the facts are, it is happening. They are happening. It did happen. This, again, is such a painful thought, that something that has happened shouldn’t be happening.

So, it’s never true that it shouldn’t be happening if it did. Instead of choosing this thought, accept that it’s happening, and then inquire why it’s happening; get curious and gain understanding.

Another example of a thought that’s not true, is the thought, “It’s disrespectful to comment on someone’s appearance.” This may feel true for you, but again, it isn’t objectively true. People get to disagree here; the circumstance would be, that a person makes a comment about your appearance. If you’re thinking that people shouldn’t do that, because it’s disrespectful, you’ll probably feel offended.

But the thought that it’s disrespectful to comment on someone’s appearance, is not true. There are lots of different ways you could think about it. If a person makes a comment about your appearance, you could think that the person was trying to be helpful. If you thought that, you might feel appreciative. If you thought that they were criticizing you, you might feel judged. The list can go on and on.

None of these thoughts are right or wrong, or true or false. They’re just opinions. They’re just subjective statements. You get to choose the one that best serves you. Now, you may want to choose to think that it’s disrespectful to comment on someone’s appearance. So, when you’re on the receiving end of that, you might choose to think that thought, and you might choose to feel offended. But it’s important to note that it’s just your opinion. That opinion is not true.

You might think the thought that good friends help you when you ask them for help. Is this thought true? No. Again, just an opinion. It might be an opinion that leads you to feeling really good, when people’s behavior aligns with that thought. It might be a painful opinion to hold when people’s behavior conflicts with this thought.

Regardless, you can keep choosing this or you can choose to think that people can say no and still be a good friend, that both things get to be true. You don’t have to choose to think that good friends always help when you ask them to; up to you, it’s just neither true or false.

You might think that people shouldn’t steal. Right? So, the circumstance would be someone stealing. You might think the thought, “People shouldn’t steal.” Maybe you want to choose to think this thought, and believe this belief. Maybe it aligns with your values, that’s fine. The question here is… Is the thought true, that people shouldn’t steal? No, it’s not true. It’s merely an opinion.

Some people think that they should steal, for various reasons. Maybe they think stealing is okay, if you’re doing it to provide for yourself or your loved ones. If you don’t have the means to otherwise provide for them. Some people might think that stealing isn’t a big deal, if you’re stealing from big corporations that are very profitable and have the money to foot the loss.

People get to think about stealing, differently. No one is right or wrong. Regardless of what opinion they hold about stealing, they’re just holding different opinions.

Another thought people love to think, is the thought that they are a failure, or that they failed. Again, this thought isn’t true, either. The thought that you failed, that you are failing, or that you are a failure, or that something you did amounts to a failure, is simply, always that, just a thought. It’s not a fact.

There’s going to be a circumstance about which you think amounts to a failure. So, it might be you didn’t reach a goal. You set out to make X number of dollars or sign X number of clients, and you didn’t do it. You wanted to make partner, and they didn’t pick you this year. You wanted to get a promotion, and you didn’t get it. Those are the facts. You get to choose what you make it mean. Choosing to think that you’ve failed or that you are a failure is optional, it is not true.

Also, when you use the phrase, “I’m a failure,” to describe yourself, it assumes you’re a failure at all things, all the time. Right? That’s a very general statement, “I’m a failure,” which again, is not true. It’s an overgeneralization.

So, you get to tell a different story if you want to. Show how the opposite is true, how the opposite is also plausible. How is it true that you’re a success? What evidence do you have to support the belief that you’re a success? When have you done something successfully? What have you accomplished? Where have you not failed?

Build that body of evidence to support a belief to the contrary, to support a belief that you are not a failure, and that you have not failed. You also get to decide what constitutes failure. You get to decide that for yourself, which is so fun. There is no failure police who decides it, once and for all, for everyone. Failure is subjective. What amounts to a failure and what doesn’t, is up to you. You get to decide whether you’ve done it or not.

I choose to believe that failure is not even an option. I don’t like to think that I failed at something, or that failure is even on the table, or that it’s possible. I choose instead, to think you’re always winning or learning. And, in every instance, even if I miss the mark and don’t achieve a goal that I was hoping to achieve, I search for evidence to prove my belief in that statement, true. If I didn’t win, what did I learn?

A couple other thoughts here: the thought, “I’m not good enough.” Again, that’s also not going to be true. It’s subjective. That’s your opinion. There are so many questions that we need to ask, in order to even understand what that’s premised upon, and what that means.

You’re not good enough at what? What’s good enough? According to who? Who gets to decide that? Could everyone agree that you’re not good enough? Of course not. People are going to have differing opinions there. Could someone, on the face of the earth, hypothetically disagree? Yes, of course they could. This thought is so subjective. It’s not true, it’s optional. So, why choose to think it about yourself? It doesn’t accomplish anything good.

I frequently encounter clients who have thoughts, something akin to, “I deserve to get paid more.” Again, this is another very painful thought. And, it might feel super true to you, but the issue here is with the word deserve. What you deserve, or what you are entitled to, is always going to be a subjective opinion, never a fact.

The facts here would be: How much money you make, how much your colleagues make, maybe what the industry average is, what someone promised to pay you, what they actually paid you, all of those things. How much the company makes compared to your salary, how profitable you are, those are all data points.

Then, you think a thought about them, a thought like, “I deserve to make more.” That thought is not true. Not everyone would agree upon it. Some people might think that you deserve to make exactly the salary that you agreed to make when you accepted your offer to work there.

What’s more accurate, than saying, “I deserve to make more,” is the thought, “I want to make more.” But not everyone will agree that you deserve to. Not everyone would agree that you even want to. Because if you’re choosing to stay there, is it true that you really want to make more, if that’s not possible where you’re currently employed?

Maybe you want to stay and maintain the status quo, more than you want to make more money. This is an opinion, it’s not true or false. It’s just subjective. Now, if other people think that you don’t deserve more, they’re not right or wrong, and neither are you. There are simply different viewpoints about your salary.

What changes, about your experience at your job, when you switch to, “I want to make more money,” versus, “I deserve to make more money?” How does your experience change when you go from, “I want to make more money,” to, “I am going to make more money?” Three different thoughts, totally different experience. You get to choose which one to think. Ask yourself, which thought empowers you more? I promise you; it will be the latter.

Lastly, I hear this all the time from clients, it’s the thought, “I have to get this done today.” That may feel very true for you, that you have to get something done, but technically, you don’t. I always tell people, “There’s only four things you ever have to do: Eat infrequently, drink water, breathe, and sleep. If it’s not one of those four things, you technically do not have to do it.”

There may be a consequence attached with not doing whatever you’re telling yourself you have to do today. But it is always an option for you to not do it. You may suffer a negative consequence, that may absolutely be true. However, you don’t have to do it. It is optional.

So, if you catch yourself thinking that, on a day-to-day basis, and it leads to feeling a lot of pressure or overwhelm, you just want to check in with yourself and know that thought isn’t true. You don’t have to get this done today. A more accurate thought is, “I want to get this done today.” And then, you can figure out all of the reasons why it is you want to get it done.

These are all great examples that demonstrate how our thoughts are not true. That our thoughts are subjective, they’re opinion statements, they are not facts. And even better, you get to think thoughts that are different than the default thoughts that your brain serves up to you. That process starts with observing your current thoughts and peppering them with the questions I gave you earlier.

So, what I want you to do, this week, is write down a couple of negative thoughts that you’re currently thinking. Find the circumstance that you’re thinking about. Get very clear on what the facts are. And then, separate the facts from the thoughts that you’re thinking about them, and go through these questions: Is this thought true? Answer’s always no. How might it not be true? Make the argument. Ask yourself, what else could you think about this, instead? Find how that thought, your original thought, might be false, and figure out other thoughts that are available to you.

A couple other fun questions I want you to mull over: What will you do differently, now that you know your thoughts aren’t true? What thoughts have you been thinking that you want to change first, and replace with different options? And lastly, what becomes available to you, and possible for you, when you open yourself up to the truth, the cold, hard truth that your thoughts, in fact, are not true? I assure you; it changes everything in the best way imaginable.

Alright, that’s what I’ve got for you this week. I will talk to you in the next episode. Have a beautiful week.

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

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Episode 12: Should Thinking

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Should Thinking

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Should Thinking

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

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

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 11: Reverse-Engineering Results

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Reverse-Engineering Results

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Reverse-Engineering Results

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Episode 10: The Self-Coaching Model

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Self-Coaching Model

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Self-Coaching Model

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

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

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

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the Show?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

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

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re really stuck in “I don’t know,” you can also ask yourself this question. If you’re faced with a situation about how to proceed, how to move forward, what you should or shouldn’t do, what would your answer be if no one else had an opinion? Because, again, you’re probably a little preoccupied with what other people are going to think about the path you choose moving forward. So, get clear. What would your answer be if no one else had an opinion? What you want to do in that moment should probably come into your mind pretty quickly.

Now, a couple other questions to ask yourself. If a situation feels really overwhelming and complicated, ask yourself this question. “What’s the problem here?” What’s the very specific problem that you need to solve? That will help you figure out what to do next, how to proceed; it’ll clear up the “I don’t know.”

Also, when you’re dealing with “I don’t know,” make two lists. Separate, in a given situation, what do you know versus what don’t you know. That will help guide you forward and illuminate the path you need to take. It’ll help you figure out your next steps. So, what do you know versus what don’t you know, and then start to solve for what you don’t know. Again, I mentioned this earlier, but you want to be as specific as you possibly can be when you’re indulging in “I don’t know.”

Let’s talk through a couple examples here. Let’s say you’re working on a project, and you don’t know how to proceed, you don’t know what to do next, you’re thinking, “I don’t know what to do in this situation. I don’t know what arguments to make on this motion. I don’t know how to respond to this person’s email.” You just feel confused, because obviously, you’re thinking the thought “I don’t know.” And your natural inclination, when you feel confused, is to avoid the task at hand, and to procrastinate on that particular project.

In that moment, again, you want to get very clear on what you don’t know, get as specific as possible. You can make that list of what do you know; all the things that you do know in that particular situation with that project. Then get crystal clear about what you don’t know.

And from there, start to solve for what you don’t know. What information do you need? Where can you find that information? What resources do you have at your disposal? Ask better questions that work through the not knowing, and get you to the point where you can get the answers that you want for yourself.

Like I said earlier, indulging in “I don’t know” happens when we don’t tap into our own resourcefulness. So, you want to get resourceful here, you want to solve these problems yourself. You want to create knowing, create answers for yourself. You can do that by asking better questions, and then answering them.

So, what information do you need? Who can you go to, to get that information? Where can you find it? Thinking through that problem, it will help eliminate the confusion.

I’m gonna use a non-work-related example for a second. My dad and I were talking, a couple of years ago, about how I can help someone solve any problem. He didn’t quite understand the context of coaching, and what coaching does. So, he was like, “Well, you don’t know how to solve every problem.” He used the example: You don’t know how to build a deck, so if a client came to you wanting to build a deck, you wouldn’t be able to help them. And I said, “Oh, you’re mistaken. I would be able to help them build a deck.”

We talked through it, and I said, “The problem is their thinking about it, and their unwillingness to work through confusion.” So, my dad’s super handy, and if he didn’t know how to build a deck, he wouldn’t think, “I don’t know how to build a deck and feel confused,” and then avoid the project. He would think the thought, “I know how to figure this out,” or “I’m capable of figuring this out.” And then he would feel resourceful. From feeling resourceful, and probably determined, he would seek out the information that he would need in order to figure out how to build a deck.

So, when we were talking through this example… if you had no idea where to start, if you weren’t indulging in “I don’t know thinking” and you were thinking, instead, “I can figure this out,” where would you start? What would you need to know? You might need to know what kind of wood you would use to build a deck. You might need to know how you construct it. You might need to know measurements.

If you identify a few bits of information that you would need to have in order to get started, then you can take an educated guess on where you can find that information.

When my dad and I were talking through this example, we both said that he would go to YouTube and watch some videos on how to build a deck. He might search on Google and see if there were any blog posts or articles about building a deck. He also said he would go to the local hardware store and talk to some of the experts there and see if they had any suggestions. Those would be his go-to resources to begin with, to get the ball rolling.

And then from there, he would reassess. Is there anything else he doesn’t know once he’s gathered some more information? The process continues on and on until you finally get to the end of the road where you know how to build a deck, and you go and put that plan into action, and you actually build it.

So whatever project you’re working on, you can do the exact same thing, whether it’s building a deck, renovating something in your house, solving a problem at work, doing a PowerPoint, anything that you feel confused about. Maybe it’s working through social media, learning how to create a TikTok because you want to start advertising your law practice through TikTok.

Whatever the case may be, figure out what you don’t know in the beginning. What would you need to know to get started? Where can you find that information? Take an educated guess. Put that plan into action, and then just keep that process going.

Now, another example that I want to give you, is an example that came up for me in the beginning of a pandemic. I put on a virtual summit. It was a five-day virtual event called, Thrive and Five. I had over 30 speakers present as part of the summit. As I was getting the whole slate of speakers lined up, I had talked to some people in the beginning and I had promised them longer time slots, 45 minutes to an hour to speak. People were so amazing. They kept introducing me to other people that they knew.

When I would meet those people, I would get so excited to include them in the slate of speakers because they had so much to bring to the table. I really wanted the Thrive and Five audience to get to know these people, and to learn from them. So, I kept adding more and more speakers to the schedule. The problem was, I had decided very early on that each day was going to be three hours long, because even though it was early days of the pandemic, that’s a lot of time to stare at people on Zoom. I figured three hours was plenty. I wanted to constrain to that timeframe.

Now, here’s the problem. As I kept adding more and more people, it was messing with some of the time limits that I had originally given people. I needed to now go back to the original speakers I had spoken to, and shorten the amount of time that they were going to be able to speak. I was afraid to get pushback from them because when I had originally spoken with some of them, they had a pretty severe, kind of harsh reaction to 45 minutes that I had originally given them. They really wanted an hour, they thought 45 minutes was too short.

So now that I was cutting it to an even shorter period of time, I was really nervous to deliver that bad news. I overcomplicated the situation. I was thinking about making certain segments the original 45 minutes, and other ones like 35 minutes or 25 minutes; just a really haphazard, complicated, confusing schedule, with really weird start times. The easiest solution available was just to make all of the speakers segments 30 minutes long, it was so easy.

I got coached by a friend of mine on this issue because I was having all this mind drama about it. She asked me that beautiful question, “What would you do if this was easy?” And just like a lot of my clients say to me, I got frustrated and was like, “But it’s not easy. This is so complicated. This isn’t easy at all.” But I took a deep breath and I sat with the question, “What would I do if this was easy? What would I do if this was easy?” And then the answer became so crystal clear for me.

I said I would give everyone 30 minutes. I would tell them 30 minutes is more than enough time for them to teach people what they need to know. For them to demonstrate their expertise and to add a ton of value. 30 minutes was going to be perfect for them. They’re going to be great, it’s all going to be fine.

I would tell them that. It’d be done. I’d have the schedule that I wanted. The start times would be super easy. I wouldn’t have to extend the three-hour limit that I had set for myself. That was the simple solution.

Then I asked myself, “Why wasn’t I taking that simple solution that was available to me?” And it was simply because I was worried about what the original speakers, that I had spoken with, what they were going to think about me changing what I had originally told them. It was just guilt coming up and a little bit of worry. I can stomach those feelings.

I decided to pick the easy route, to make everyone’s time limit 30 minutes, and to gag and go through the guilt and the worry about going back and changing what I had originally told them. And it all worked out fine. So that’s a really great scenario where that question, “What would you do if it was easy,” comes up and is super useful.

Now, if there’s a scenario that you’re currently dealing with feels super complicated, very overwhelming, it would take you like 30 minutes to give someone the rundown and the back story of what you’re dealing with. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to think of that situation, all the tangled ball of yarn and complication that comes with it, and I just want you to distill the situation down to a one sentence problem.

If there was only one issue to solve, what would that issue be? What is that problem specifically? Don’t allow yourself to say, “I don’t know.” Force yourself to get specific. Sit with it, poke around, come up with your answer. You do know, trust that you know, sit in the discomfort of the confusion for a second, and distill it down. And ask yourself, “How do I go about solving for that problem? That specific issue?”

Again, your brain is going to want to serve you that knee- jerk “I don’t know.” Push past it. You do know, trust yourself that you know, and come up with the questions that you need to ask in order to get to an answer.

I gave you a bunch of questions that you can ask yourself. Force yourself to answer these questions: What, specifically, are you confused about? What does telling yourself that you don’t know pretend to protect you from? What would you need to do next if you weren’t confused? What does staying confused allow you to avoid? What would you say if you did know? What would you say if you had to guess? What would you do if it was easy? What would your answer be if no one else had an opinion? What’s the specific problem here? What do you know versus what you don’t know? Separate it and make those lists.

These are the questions that you can always go to when you find yourself indulging in “I don’t know” thinking, in order to push past the “I don’t know.” Get to a clear path forward, figure out the answer, and come up with the solution to the problem that you need to solve.

Hope this helps you guys. It’s what I’ve got for you this week. I hope you have a lovely week, and I will talk to you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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