Episode 87: Hope (Is Not a Strategy)

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Hope (Is Not a Strategy)

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Hope (Is Not a Strategy)

The holidays are a time of hope, but there are some hard truths about hope that we need to discuss. If you’re spending this season hoping and wishing for something different in your life, this is not a strategy, it isn’t serving you, and it’s time to try something else.

Contrary to what you might believe, hope is not a helpful emotion. However, people tend to challenge me on this, saying that hope is wonderful, so to address this pushback, I’m explaining why hope isn’t an emotion you want to be cultivating for yourself. 

Tune in this week to discover why hope is not a strategy, how it has you relinquishing responsibility, and why operating from hope isn’t going to bring what you want into your life. Discover why hope doesn’t create results, how to see where you’re stuck in the emotion of hope, and how to start operating from more empowering emotions that will help you actually create your desired results.

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why the actions you take from hope tend to be passive and lack power.
  • How hope keeps you stuck in wait-and-see mode.
  • The kind of action required to ensure something actually happens.
  • How to see where you’re currently relying on hope to drive your actions.
  • Some stronger emotions you can start operating from.
  • What to consider if you feel like hope is your only option right now.
  • How to start actually working your way toward your desired results.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 87. Today, we’re talking all about hope. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Well, hello there. How are you? I don’t know about you, but my December is A- flying by, and B- going so well. I don’t know if you know this, I don’t know if I’ve talked about it on the podcast before, but I take time off at the end of every year.

I was actually inspired to do this by one of my coaches, who early in my coaching career, early in the journey of starting my own business, I heard her talk about taking time off, she took a whole month off, and I just thought that was absolutely crazy. I had a lot of judgment of it, at first.

I thought it was sort of irresponsible. I had a lot of limiting beliefs about being an entrepreneur and being able to take time off, some of which I picked up from family members who are self-employed. I decided that I was going to work my way up to it. Now, I could only decide that after I made the decision that it’s actually something that I would want to do at some point, to take a month off.

For the past couple of years, I’ve taken two weeks off at the end of the year, and it never quite feels like enough. So, this year, I’ve upped it to three weeks. This is my last real week of work before the end of the year. I’m taking two weeks off at the end of the month, and then the first week off in January. The podcast will still be coming out, so don’t worry about that.

But I am so excited to relax and brainstorm, and do some behind-the-scenes stuff prepping for my business in the new year. I’ve got a bunch of exciting stuff coming down the line. So, I’m super thrilled to be doing that.

I’m also getting ready to, at the end of this week, I’m heading to Savannah to host a content weekend for a bunch of my friends. What that looks like is we record content, we create video content. My videographer, Alex, is going to be there. If you’ve been to my in-person retreats, you already know Alex. So, he’s going to be there, and we have a whole group of entrepreneurs who are coming in to record video content with him.

I also have a photographer coming in. She’s a local photographer in Savannah, so she’s going to be coming in for us to create static photo content as well. I’m so excited to do that. It feels like a fun way to kick off my time off, and a really neat transition from my typical work weeks into an extended vacation.

I hope you have something fun planned throughout this month, end of year. How are you celebrating? What are you doing for yourself? Are you doing anything fun? And if you have judgment, when you hear me talk about taking that much time off, I highly encourage you to explore that.

What’s coming up for you? Do you have limiting beliefs about what’s possible for you? Do you have thoughts that aren’t serving you when it comes to taking time off? I’m actually going to do a whole episode on that now that I think of it. So, there’s more to come on that topic. But just see what comes up for you in the meantime.

All right, speaking of the holiday season… I don’t know that these things essentially go together, but bear with me here. I really wanted to talk about hope. This has come up on a couple of my coaching calls recently. I’ve heard some clients say some things back to me when I talk about this. They know how I think about hope, and I’ve gotten some pushback.

So, I wanted to record a podcast episode on this topic. I also think it’s sort of timely, because I feel like holiday hope, miracles, making wishes for the holiday season, that kind of all ties in together. Are you spending a lot of time hoping and wishing? Today, we’re going to talk about whether or not that serves you.

Okay, so let me give you a little backstory on a couple of my recent coaching sessions with clients. I’ve had clients make comments to me, and they’ve used the word “hope.” They’ve said, “I hope this happens… I hope that happens…” And more than once I’ve had a client say to me, “Well, I know you don’t like ‘hope.’ I know you don’t like the feeling ‘hope.’”

Or I’ll tell someone, just in passing, “Oh, I don’t love ‘hope’ as an emotion. I don’t love ‘hope’ as a feeling.” and people will always challenge me on that. They’re like, “Oh my God, why not? Why don’t you like ‘hope?’ Hope is wonderful. Hope is lovely.”

Because of the pushback I’ve gotten on this, I wanted to address this specifically. Because if you’ve heard me say this on social media before, or maybe elsewhere on the podcast, you might be confused why I feel this way about “hope.” So, I want to get into it today and really explain to you why I don’t like it. Why I think “hope” really isn’t the emotion that you want to be cultivating for yourself and operating from.

I’m going to give you a couple examples here, but ultimately, my thesis on “hope” is this: The action that you take from hope isn’t very powerful. I don’t think that hope is a feeling that necessarily serves you. When you’re feeling hopeful about something, you normally get really passive. You sort of throw your hands up in the air, you cede control over a situation, you really step into wait-and-see mode, you kind of cross your fingers, and wish and hope that things work out.

But you don’t take active action to ensure that something happens or goes a particular way. You become very passive, you relinquish responsibility for your results, you kind of put it in the universe’s hands, or if you’re religious, you put it in God’s hands. You put it outside of your own control, your own responsibility.

When you do that, it doesn’t create very powerful results. It typically leaves you still hoping that something turns out the way that you want it to. I often say, when you’re thinking a thought with the word “want” in it, that want begets more wanting. The same thing goes for “hope.” Hope begets more hoping.

Here are a few examples of this. Think about time management. Let’s say you struggle with time management, and it’s something that you’re working on. As you go to “work on it,” your thought that’s fueling you forward is the thought, “I hope I get better at this.” When you think, “I hope I get better at this,” you end up feeling hopeful.

And, what do you do from feeling hopeful? You don’t really do anything, you just wait. You “try,” and try just means not doing. So, you keep doing the same things, and you anticipate a different result. But that doesn’t make sense, right? Doing the same things, crossing your fingers, hoping as a strategy, not doing something different as a strategy, that’s all going to get you more of the same.

So, when you’re thinking, “I hope I get better at this,” and you’re feeling hopeful or optimistic, you don’t take the action that would actually help you get better at this. Right?

What would that action look like? Following my process. Reclaiming control of your calendar. Planning your schedule accurately. Honoring your plan. Evaluating. Allowing the negative emotions to be there. Taking action in spite of them. Those are all of the things that you need to do in order to get better at time management.

Really studying yourself: Where did I reshuffle? Where did I procrastinate? Where did I plan inaccurately, and do the math wrong? Going through that process, and making decisions and changes little bit by bit at a time in order to get better at it. That is the process of actually getting better at time management. When you’re hoping you get better at it you don’t engage in those activities.

Take business development, as an example. Maybe you have the goal to bring in half a million dollars in revenue for your firm. Or maybe your goal is bigger than that, maybe it’s a million. Or maybe it’s bigger than that; how fun.

If you were thinking the thought, “I hope I develop business. I hope I make $1 million,” and you’re feeling hopeful or optimistic, what do you do? You sit around, you cross your fingers, you hope as a strategy, you wait for clients to come to you, you don’t actively market, you don’t meet people, or you don’t tell them what you do.

You don’t add value ahead of time in a bunch of different ways through social media or through conversations with people, or you don’t make offers to help people when it makes sense to do so. You just sit around and wait. Guess what? You take what comes, but what comes isn’t going to get you to your goal. That strategy isn’t going to get you to where you want to be.

So, you end up still hoping that you make a million dollars next year, that you develop a business next year, and you’re probably getting discouraged in the process because it’s not going the way that you “hoped” that it would go. So, you start taking less and less and less action, because hope isn’t panning out, then you feel discouraged, and the worst you feel the worst action you take. Right?

Think about that. If you’re feeling hopeful when it comes to business development, you’re still going to be hoping that you get different results than the ones that you create. When you’re using hope as a strategy, you also might be thinking, “I might hit my goal.” The sentence doesn’t have to have “hope” in it. The thought doesn’t need to have “hope” in it.

It might be, “I might hit my goal. Maybe I’ll hit my goal. Maybe I’ll develop business this year. Maybe clients will want to work with me. Maybe I’ll sign clients. Maybe I’ll develop a business. Maybe I’ll make the amount of money that I want to make. Maybe I’ll get the bonus I want to get this year. I might get the bonus that I’m hoping to get this year.”

And then, when you think any of those thoughts, you feel hopeful and then you relinquish control. You put the power of achieving that result outside of yourself. Again, you cross your fingers, and you wait. You wait to see what happens. When you wait and see what happens, and you passively pursue your goal rather than actively pursue your goal, you don’t create the results you want.

Same thing if you’re thinking about the circumstance of making partner. Maybe that’s a goal that you have. When you’re thinking the thought, “I want to make partner. I hope I make partner. Maybe I’ll make partner. I might make partner this year,” and you feel hopeful or optimistic, what do you do? You sit around and wait and see, rather than actively pursuing it.

What would it look like to actively pursue making partner? You’re going to get very clear on what you need to do, what the firm expects of you, what the metrics are, that are considered in order for you to go from being an associate to being a partner, or from being a non-equity partner to an equity partner.

You’d get very clear on what you need to do in order to meet the requirements, and then you would get to work on meeting those requirements. You would hit a certain billable hour target, if there is one that exists within your firm. If you need to have a certain book of business, in order to be considered to make partner you would make sure that you devote time to developing that book of business.

You’re going to make sure you have strong relationships with the people who make those partnership decisions if there’s a committee that makes those decisions. So, you would go very intentionally about checking off those items on that list.

Rather than just crossing your fingers, using hope as a strategy, and waiting around to see what happens. Hoping that people look out for you. Hoping that people advocate for you. You take much more intentional action to ensure you do everything in your power to make it happen.

So, I want you to think about an area of your life where “hope” is coming up for you. Where are you feeling hopeful? And then, I want you to think about what action you take from that feeling. You’ve got to be really honest with yourself here.

If you’re someone who likes feeling hopeful, and you think that that’s a good emotion to operate from, really get tedious here. Get very specific and identify what’s the exact action you take when you’re feeling hopeful. Then, get even more honest, even more candid.

Is that action guaranteed to produce the results you want? Are you taking the most intentional, most active action? Not to be redundant, but are you taking the most meaningful, logical action to create your desired results? Or are you being passive from that hope?

Here’s the thing with hope, there’s always a better feeling that you can move into in order to create the results you want, with more intention and more success. So, think about the examples we talked about earlier, the time management, the business development, and making partner.

If you were thinking, “I’m going to get better at time management. I am getting better at time management,” you would feel encouraged. If you were thinking, “I can learn how to do this,” you would feel capable. If you were thinking, “I’ll figure out how to do this,” you would feel committed and resourceful. If you were thinking the thought, “I will get better at time management, no matter what. I will not quit until I get there,” you would feel determined, right?

Those emotions drive you to take significantly different action. Think about the action you take when you’re feeling capable, committed, determined, resourceful and encouraged. How would you show up differently than just feeling hopeful? If you’re thinking about developing business, if you shifted from feeling hopeful that you develop it to feeling determined and committed that you would develop it, feeling capable of developing it, feeling encouraged and resourceful, what would you do?

You would take that action that I mentioned a moment ago. You would meet people, you’d tell them what you do, you’d add value ahead of time, you’d make offers to help people, you would network, you would do virtual coffees, you’d go to in-person events, you’d post on Social media, or you’d offer trainings online. There’s so much stuff that you would do, you would leave no stone unturned.

If you were feeling determined and committed and capable, you would really go for it. You’d be taking all of the active action; the massive action, not the passive action. Think about making partner; I gave you that list of things that you would do. That’s going to come from feeling determined, committed, capable, and resourceful, not from feeling hopeful.

So, that situation you just identified a moment ago, the one where you have hope coming up for you, the one that you’re feeling hopeful about, or where you’re using hope as your strategy. You’ve gotten clear now on the action that you’re taking from that hope.

I want you to be really honest. How would you change what you’re doing if you were feeling determined and committed and capable and resourceful and encouraged? What would change? How would you show up differently? What action would you specifically take that you’re not taking right now? Would you be waiting around to see what happened, or would you be making it happen?

You’re going to be making it happen. If you’re feeling those stronger, more powerful emotions, you’re going to ensure your success. You’re going to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

So, that’s what I mean, when I say I don’t love hope as an emotion, I don’t love hope as a strategy. I want you to move into, if you think about emotions on a spectrum, feelings on a spectrum, I want you to move into a stronger, more powerful emotion. I want you to inch your way across the spectrum, going from hope to those more powerful emotions, that committed, determined, motivated, resourceful energy.

Another way to prove my point here, one of the ways that we accomplish goals, is I teach people how to reverse engineer their results. We do that by starting at the end of the model and working backwards. So, the model is the tool that I use in my coaching. It consists of five components: Circumstances, Thoughts, Feelings, Actions and Results.

The premise is that we encounter circumstances. So, a goal would be a circumstance. And then, we think thoughts about it. Those thoughts drive our feelings, or cause our feelings. And, our feelings drive our actions. And, our actions produce our results.

So, what you can do, you can use the model to create awareness as to why you have the current results you have, while you’re doing the things you’re currently doing. You can use it to figure out what you would need to think, how you would need to feel, and what you would need to do in order to create your desired results.

You could just start by replacing the thought. You can say, instead of thinking, “I hope to make a million dollars,” you can shift it to, “I will make a million dollars.” You can see the difference that thought makes, how it makes you feel, or how you show up differently from that feeling, and the different result you produce from that action.

But you can also work backwards. So, you can start with your desired result, and then you work your way up the model. You go from the result to the actions you would need to take in order to produce that result, then you go to the feeling you would need to feel to take that action, and then you go to the thought that you would need to think in order to feel that emotion.

So here, think about the result you want to create. If you want to develop business, if you want to master time management, if you want to make partner, if you want to delegate, if you want to stop people pleasing, if you want to travel the world, if you want to get married…

If you want to do anything in your life, think about the specific actions you would need to take in order to make that result happen, in order for that to come to fruition. Get very specific and list out all of the micro steps, all of the little actions that you would need to take, in order to produce that desired result.

Now, once you’ve got that list, work your way up the model again, another level. What’s the feeling you would need to feel, in order to take that action? I promise you, whatever word just came to your mind, it definitely wasn’t hopeful. And, that’s what proves my point.

If you were to reverse engineer your results, you’d never pick hope as the feeling to fuel you forward. You would always pick something stronger than that. So, it goes to show that hope isn’t a strategy to get you to where you want to go.

You choose to feel compelled, committed, convicted, determined, motivated, driven, empowered, powerful, encouraged, certain, assured, capable, confident, unstoppable, resilient, or relentless. Relentless is one of my favorite emotions.

I love taking action when feeling relentless. I love pursuing goals while I’m in that state, that emotional experience. It’s so fun. It’s so much different than hopeful, you can feel it in your body, just as you’re listening to me right now.

I want you to check in with yourself. Try on what hope feels like in your body, and then try on what relentless feels like, what convicted feels like, what compelled feels like, what committed or determined feels like. And if you are having a hard time accessing that emotion in your body, think right now of a time where you felt any of those feelings before, and tap into it. Notice the difference. The energy of those emotions is completely different than the energy of hope.

So, working the model backwards really proves my point here. You’d never intentionally choose that as the emotion to fuel you to take the action that you would need to take, in order to produce your desired result. So, don’t settle for hope.

Now, with that being said, I want to talk about an exception to my rule of not using hope as a strategy. I’m going to be really realistic with you, okay? Sometimes hope is all you have. If you’re feeling, right now, if you’re feeling discouraged, defeated, down, depressed, stuck, ashamed, guilty, frustrated with yourself, helpless, and really hopeless…

If you’re feeling those feelings, sometimes the furthest you can get yourself along that feelings spectrum is to get yourself to feeling hopeful. Optimistic is as far as you can get, at least for now. You’ll be feeling hopeful that things might get better. Hopeful that the situation that you’re dealing with is going to work itself out. Hopeful that you’ll be okay.

Sometimes hope’s all you got. And if that’s where you’re at right now, I don’t want to diminish it. I want to hold space for you to just be there for a little while. And even better than saying hope’s all you’ve got, think of it as hope is the best that you’ve got in this moment. And when that’s the case, hope is a step in the right direction.

Again, I want you to think of feelings as a spectrum. Now, I don’t want you to stop at hope; I don’t want it to be your final destination. But if hope’s the best you’ve got right now, then let it be a pitstop. Get yourself out of those heavier emotions, those feelings of discouragement, defeat, depression, feeling stuck, ashamed, frustrated, or hopeless. Get yourself to hope.

Ask yourself: What would I need to think right now to just access hope, even if for a moment, even if just for a little while? Get yourself to hope and stay there for as long as you can. And then, practice being there. Practice being in the emotion of feeling hopeful. Hang out there for a little while, until hope becomes your new normal.

From there, once you’ve shaken off those heavier emotions and you’ve been able to stay in hope, recalibrate. And then, work on moving your way further across the feelings spectrum to those more powerful emotions. There is no shame in taking a quick stop, or a long stop, at hope if it’s the best you have access to right now.

And, you’ve got to be really honest with yourself. “Is that the best I have access to? Is hope as good as I can get to in this moment, in this season, for right now?” If it is, just let yourself be there and let hope be enough. And then, I promise you… You’ve got to be on the lookout for it and you’ve got to try on different thoughts.

The longer you stay in hope, practice trying on a thought that would make you feel a little bit better than hopeful. Practice trying on a thought that would make you feel an emotion that would have you taking slightly more intentional action than hope would have you take. Then, let that spot, that emotion, be your new normal for a little while. And just keep inching your way along that feelings spectrum to get to those much more powerful emotions.

Okay, if you’re used to using hope as a strategy, this is your sign to stop. I want you to challenge yourself to move your way along the spectrum to get to those more powerful commanding emotions. But if hope is as good as you can do right now, if hope is as good as it gets for this moment in time, give yourself some grace and just let yourself be there.

If you’re not there, get yourself there. Do the work to just get to hope. Ask yourself: What would I need to think to feel hopeful, even if for a minute? And practice that thought as often as you can. All right? Inch your way along the feelings spectrum, and as you do this, you’re going to create more positive emotions and more intentional action.

Ultimately, as a result of all of that, much better results. I hope this helps you make sense of what I mean by ‘I don’t love hope as an emotion.’ If you’ve heard me say that before, hopefully this clears up some of the confusion.

My hope for you, as we close out this year and we head into a new year, we head into 2024, is that you don’t just settle for hope. You don’t just hope that next year will be better than this year. I want you to ensure it for yourself. I want you to commit to it, that next year will be better than 2023.

The best way you can ensure it is by coming to work with me. There are two ways that you can do that in 2024. You can decide to attend The Obsessed Retreat. Join me in Miami, in March; March 20th through the 23rd; for three and a half days, in person.

Where we immerse ourselves in solving the problems you’re facing, developing the skills you need to have to create the results you want, and then making your plans for the future, for all of 2024 and the next several years. So, you’ve got a clearer picture of where you’re headed.

That way, we don’t just hope to get there and create the results we want, but we ensure it. Because we’re going to reverse engineer those results, and create a roadmap that you can follow to get exactly where you want to go.

Remember, when you attend The Obsessed Retreat, you also get access to lifetime monthly coaching calls. So, you’re going to have continued support after our time in Miami, and lifetime access to those calls to get all of the support you need, to get the results that you want. That’s the first way to work with me in 2024.

The second way is to join Lawyers Only. The Obsessed Retreat is open to everyone, whether you’re a lawyer or not; you’re welcome to come to that. If you are a lawyer though, and you want to join a group coaching program that consists entirely of lawyers facing the exact same problems you are facing, I am getting ready to launch a monthly coaching subscription for, you guessed it, lawyers only.

Now, the monthly subscription consists of weekly group coaching calls. We’ll meet once a week as a group, and you’ll get a chance to get coached by me and work through the problems that you’re facing. You’re also going to get access to a member portal. There’s going to be courses on demand; courses in there on time management, on how to do the thought work that I teach, and I’m going to continuously be adding courses as time goes by.

So, we’re going to kick off with those two courses. But the next course I’m going to add after that is going to be a business development course. And then we’ll go from there by continuing to add on how to manage a team, how to delegate, how to set boundaries, how to do all of the things that you need to know how to do, in order to have the life you want to have, the career you want to have, and the personal life you want.

In addition to that course content, that you get to binge on demand, and consume on demand as much of it as you want at a time, you’re also going to have access to written coaching. You’ll be able to submit issues in writing, and I’ll be able to respond to you. You get to do that in between our weekly calls. So, you have all the support you need whenever you want it.

You’re also going to have access to a community platform where you get to engage with all of the other attorneys and lawyers only. You can cheer each other on, problem-solve things together, and celebrate each other when you’re achieving the goals you set out to accomplish.

This program is going to have everything you need to have the practice and the life you want. It’s going to be so good. So, enrollment for both of those programs is getting ready to open. Like I said, don’t let hope be your strategy for how to have a better year. Ensure that you have a better year in 2024 than you did in 2023. Ensure that you do next year better than you did this year.

Come work with me. Enrollment opens for both of those programs very soon. The way to stay informed and up to speed on when doors open for both The Obsessed Retreat and Lawyers Only is to head on over to my Instagram, there’s a link in my bio there. My Instagram handle is @thelessstressedlawyer, or you can go to my link tree link, which is linktr.ee/thelessstressedlawyer.

I’ll repeat that one more time, and you can just type it in your browser right now. linktr.ee/thelessstressedlawyer. All right, go there. The first two links are the interest list for The Obsessed Retreat and for Lawyers Only; go sign up for either or both. I can’t wait to work with you in the new year. We’re going to make 2024 the year you go from hoping things happen to making sure you do.

All right, my friends. That’s what I’ve got for you this week. I hope you have a beautiful 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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Episode 86: Frustration

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Frustration

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Frustration

Frustration is an emotion we all experience. You might believe that the situation you’re currently dealing with is what’s causing your frustration. However, there’s a coaching tool I use in my practice that illustrates why you have more power and influence over your feelings of frustration than you realize.

If you’re ready to address the root cause of your frustration, today’s episode is for you. When you can see how you’re creating your own experience of frustration through the thoughts you’re consciously deciding to think, then you can begin taking the steps required to move past frustration and start getting things done.

Tune in this week to discover what you can do to ease your frustration about anything in your life. I show you how to separate your thoughts and feelings of frustration from the facts of your situation, and how to start easing your feelings of frustration while creating the emotional experience you actually want, without needing to change anything external in your life.

I’m running another rate and review giveaway! Instructions for leaving a rating and review for The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast are here. Don’t forget to take a screenshot of your review, and email it to me or DM me on social media.

The Obsessed Retreat is open for registration right now! It’s an in-person event happening in Miami Beach, Florida from March 20th through 23rd 2024. It’s where you’ll learn a three-part framework for creating a life you’re obsessed with, so click here to find out more. 

Want to be the first to know when my monthly subscription Lawyers Only launches? Click here and sign up for the waitlist!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How we often confuse our thoughts and feelings with facts.
  • The stories you might be telling yourself about your feelings of frustration.
  • Why nothing in your life is inherently frustrating.
  • How a coach can help you see the real source of your frustration.
  • What you can do to ease your feelings of frustration right now and choose the emotional experience you really want.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 86. Today, we’re talking all about frustration. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Well, hello there. How are you? I hope your week is off to a wonderful start. Maybe it’s the end of your week when you’re listening to this. Whenever it is, I hope that your week is going well. My week is off to a good start. I just had a bunch of friends come visit me in Charleston. I’ve actually had those friends on my podcast, we recorded a group call, or like a group episode, earlier this year, all about the power of group coaching.

I had the privilege of meeting these women in a group coaching program that we all joined. Since we were all in that program together… I’m still in it, but the three of them are not… we still get together a couple times a year.

Because we’re all coaches, and we’re all entrepreneurs, we like to get together and brainstorm and make plans for our businesses. We strategize, and we work through some of the problems that we’re facing. We trade tips and different ideas and suggestions.

Actually, one of the tips that came up over the weekend, that was recommended to me, I just implemented right before I started recording this episode. It was a game changer. I have been stuck on something and just the slightest, smallest, little suggestion from someone in passing made all the difference in the world.

It’s so fun to spend time with people who inspire you like that. I get the privilege of doing it in the group coaching programs that I’m a part of. And then, with the other people that I’ve met that are entrepreneurial, that are in the coaching industry, that think like me that have similar goals.

To me, it’s just so incredible to get to spend time with people like that. If you’re listening to this, and you want to spend time with people like that, you’ve got to come to the next retreat that I’m hosting, The Obsessed Retreat, because those are exactly the types of people that you’ll meet.

They’re people who have the same goals as you. You can talk about your goals with them, you can workshop through things, and they can have suggestions and tips and tricks. You’ll just have so much in common with them, and you’ll form relationships just like the ones I have now, that last you outside of these programs.

You can continue on in the programs if you want to, but you’re going to make friendships and you’re going to build relationships, that last you far longer than whatever program you’re in. It’s so cool.

We meet quarterly, essentially, myself and these women, so I might do a couple episodes here and there throughout the podcast about some of our random takeaways and epiphanies from these incredible weekends we spend together.

I had a lot of takeaways, some small, some really big, and I was taking notes all weekend, thinking about how can I implement what we discussed. I know as I was taking all of that in, I was thinking, “Oh my God, this would be so helpful to the people who listen to my podcast, and to the people who follow me on my social media channels.” So, I’m definitely going to share some of those tidbits with you in a separate episode. That’ll be so fun.

Speaking of tidbits that I want to share with you, this is something that’s come up pretty frequently on recent coaching calls. It’s come up across the entirety of my coaching career, but I’m noticing a bit of a trend. Sometimes I see things more frequently. Or I’m just paying attention to something because it popped up on my radar, and I really want to start thinking about maybe recording an episode on it, or creating some social media content around it.

So, I’ve been paying closer attention. It’s sort of like when someone tells you or asks you, “Did you see any red cars on your way driving here today,” and you can’t think or remember any of the red cars that you saw; you can’t think of them. And then when you’re driving home, all you see is red cars. So, it’s sort of like that.

I encounter this issue all the time when I’m coaching. But because I’ve been paying particular attention to it recently, it’s really come up on my radar. I’m just much more cognizant every single time a client references this, so I wanted to record an episode about it.

The topic that I want to talk about specifically is the topic of frustration. So, if you’ve been listening to my podcast for a while, you know I teach a concept called “the model.” The model consists of five interrelated components. It’s basically an equation for your life. You get to plug things into it, and then it spits out other information.

The five components are: Circumstances, Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, and Results. Circumstances, the premise of the model starts with this, circumstances are neutral.

They’re simply facts that we encounter in our lives. What someone says, what someone does, without any spin on it. Without any qualifying statements, subjective statements, opinions, adjectives, descriptors; anything that makes it an opinion, not a fact. So, circumstances are strictly facts.

Then, our brain serves us up thoughts about them. And thoughts are just sentences that run through our minds. They’re our opinions. They’re subjective. They have those descriptive, qualifying words in them, those adjectives. And, it’s our thoughts that cause our feelings.

Our feelings are one-word emotions that we experience as vibrations in our body. Then, our feelings drive and determine the action that we take. And, our action produces our results. Okay?

So, circumstances, thoughts, feelings, actions, results, those are the five components of the model. Now, we use the model in a couple of different ways. We use it to understand ourselves and others, why we’re feeling the way that we’re feeling, why we’re doing the things that we’re doing, or why we have the results that we have.

We can also use the model to solve problems. So, if we don’t like how we feel, we can figure out what thought are we thinking, and how do we need to change it in order to feel differently? How do we want to feel? What would we need to think instead to feel that way? If we want to change what we’re doing, what would we need to think and how would we need to feel in order to show up differently?

If we wanted to produce a different result, you’d address all three of those things: What do we need to do differently? In order to do that, how would we need to feel? In order to feel that way, what would we need to think?

So, we can use it to gain awareness or solve problems. Now, I always tell my clients, one of the biggest components of coaching, one of the things that we do the most, one of the most important things that we do, is start to learn how to distinguish between circumstances and our thoughts about them.

Most of us don’t know the difference between a circumstance and a thought. Therefore, we go through our lives believing that our thoughts are circumstances. We believe that our thoughts are facts, even though they’re not. And when we do this, we make it seem like our emotional experience is outside of our control. That we’re living at the effect of our circumstances.

We’re not, we’re living at the effect of our thought. But when we conflate a circumstance with a thought, and we think that a thought is really a fact, what happens is that we make ourselves feel like we don’t have any control over our emotional state, over our feelings.

So, when I’m working with my clients, a big chunk of the work that we do together in our coaching sessions is just figuring out and distinguishing between circumstances and thoughts. Figuring out what’s the circumstance, what is the thought. What is the fact and what is the thought.

Now, when you’re new to coaching, you’re not going to be good at this. This is why we work with coaches because coaches have the ability to point this out to you, and show it to you in a way that you start to become aware of your blind spots and you start to change your perspective.

You stop seeing your thinking as true. You stop seeing your thoughts as facts, as circumstances, and you start seeing them for what they are, simply your thoughts. But it really takes the support of a coach to help you do that. Because these sentences, when they run through your head, they feel true because it’s what you believe. But just because you believe something doesn’t make it true. Okay?

So, when you’re working with a coach, they know what questions to ask you to help you see how it’s a thought, not a fact; how it’s a thought, not a circumstance.

They’re going to be able to show you, through the questions that they ask and the journey that they take you on in a coaching session, they’re going to help you see how it’s simply your opinion, how it’s not a fact, how other people might be able to look at it differently, how you’re looking at it, and what words you’re using that change it from a fact to a subjective statement.

The power of that is that once you know the sentence isn’t true, once you know it’s an opinion, it becomes optional, and you give yourself power to change it. So, one of the most common thoughts that my clients mistake as a circumstance is the thought, “It’s frustrating.”

I’ll digress just for a second here. I really want you to be thinking about those five components of the model: Circumstances, Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, Results.

There are only two places in the model that frustration would go, okay? Now, the first would be in the T-line of the model, the thought line. That would be the thought, “It’s frustrating.”

Or you could use a specific noun that you’re talking about. “What that person did is frustrating. What that person said is frustrating. What happened is frustrating. What didn’t happen is frustrating.” Whatever the noun is, you’re thinking the thought, “It’s frustrating.” So, frustration would go in the T-line of the model in that way. You’ll think something is frustrating.

The other place frustration can go is in the F-line of the model, in the feelings line, because you’d be feeling frustrated. Guess where frustration doesn’t go in the model? It doesn’t go in the C-line, which is what most of my clients end up doing. It’s a thought error they have, they think it is true that something is frustrating. That is never true.

I’m going to say that one more time because I really want you to hear me: It is never true that something is frustrating. What your colleague did is not inherently frustrating. What your mom said to you is not inherently frustrating. That someone turned something in late to you is not inherently frustrating.

That someone emailed you on the weekend is not inherently frustrating. That someone cut you off while you’re driving is not inherently frustrating. That a store won’t let you return something that you purchased is not inherently frustrating. That your spouse keeps buying you presents that you don’t like, that is not inherently frustrating either.

You can put anything that you encounter, any fact that you encounter, in the blank there, okay? It, in and of itself, is not frustrating. It is not true that the things that you think are frustrating are actually frustrating. It is simply your opinion that something is frustrating.

Now, imagine this. When you think something is frustrating, you will feel frustrated 100% of the time. That’s just how this works. It’s very linear. If you think something’s frustrating, you’ll feel frustrated.

Now, you might think some other thought. Your thought might not be, “It’s frustrating… They’re frustrating me. When they said that it was frustrating.” You might think, “They shouldn’t have done that,” and you’ll feel frustrated. You might think, “I can’t believe they did that,” and feel frustrated. You might think, “It should have happened differently than it did,” whatever situation it is that you’re encountering.

When you think that way you might feel frustrated, but the facts themselves would be ‘what present your spouse got you.’ It would be the statement that your mom said, or whatever your colleague said or did. Or the fact that someone got you something at a particular time when they said they’d get it to you at a different time.

Any of the examples that I just gave you… that the store said no to you returning something… all of those things are facts. That’s what happened. Okay? And, they aren’t frustrating, or not frustrating.

Here’s how I think of this. If you think about frustration on a spectrum, it’s not even on the spectrum yet until you have a thought about it. So, there’s no charge, good, bad, or otherwise, to the fact that you’re encountering, to the situation that you’re dealing with, to the circumstance at hand. It’s just neutral; it’s blank.

Then you think a thought about it, and you decide whether or not you think it’s frustrating. Depending on what you think about it, it’s going to determine how you feel about it. It’s going to determine whether or not you feel frustrated.

Now, one of the tricks that I teach my clients… Because when I call them on this, when I point out to them, “Hey, it’s not actually true, that that thing that you just said is frustrating is actually frustrating. That’s just your thought. That’s just your opinion. Even though you just told me that it’s frustrating, and you said that to me in a manner where it seems like it’s true, like you’re just reporting the news to me, it actually isn’t true. That’s just your opinion. That’s just your belief.”

When I tell them that, they struggle to see it. So, one of the ways that I help them see that it’s not actually true, is we start to find other ways to describe it. We work on identifying other thoughts to think about it. I was coaching a client on this earlier today, and the conversation that we had around the situation that she was dealing with, she said to me, like it was true even though it’s not, she said, “This person’s not getting back to me, and it’s beyond frustrating.”

Do you see how it sounds like she’s reporting the news? When you think that thought you’re going to feel very frustrated or very angry. And listen, you get to pick those feelings and that emotional experience on purpose, if you want to.

But when I teach people that it’s not true that something is inherently frustrating, that that is just their opinion, I’m also teaching them what is happening is that they’re causing their own frustration.

Another person isn’t causing your frustration. What they do is neutral, what they say is neutral, what they don’t do is neutral, what they don’t say is neutral, and the situation, or the fact that you’re encountering, is also neutral. It’s not causing you to feel frustrated; none of it is.

What causes you to feel frustrated is your thought about the fact. Which means you cause your own frustration because you have control over your thoughts. Now, this begs the question, do you want to make yourself feel frustrated?

Most people don’t think like that, they don’t talk like that, they blame other people for their feelings of frustration. But that’s not what’s actually going on. You’re causing your own frustration by thinking things are frustrating. Now, if you want to feel frustrated, you get to; you get to choose that emotional experience for yourself.

So, if you want to feel frustrated, keep your thoughts, don’t change them, you get to continue to think that the thing is frustrating. Now, when I ask most people, “Do you want to feel frustrated,” they tell me no. Which means you have to change your thought about the circumstance. You cannot keep the thought, “It’s frustrating,” and not feel frustrated, the two simply go together. If you keep thinking something is frustrating, you’re going to feel frustrated. That’s just how this works.

In order to not feel frustrated… Which, who wants to feel frustrated? Like 99.9% of the time, I don’t want to feel frustrated. Every once in a blue moon, I’ll choose to feel frustrated because I will not want to think anything else about a particular situation. But that’s very, very rare.

I want that to be the 1% rule for you as well, rather than the 99% rule or even the 70/30 rule. I want it to be rare that you think something is frustrating.

So, think about a situation that you currently find “frustrating.” What are the facts? What actually happened? Get very clear on what those facts are. Then ask yourself: What am I thinking about those facts? You might be thinking the simple thought, “It’s frustrating. This is frustrating,” and that will make you feel frustrated.

But you also might be thinking something else, so dig a little bit deeper and see if there are other thoughts that are making you feel frustrated too. See what those thoughts are.

From there, once you’ve identified those thoughts, ask yourself: Can I think something else, instead? You can start with identifying the feeling. How do you want to feel about this situation, instead? About this circumstance, instead?

Do you want to feel accepting? Do you want to feel understanding? Do you want to feel in control or at peace or grounded? How do you want to feel? Pick the emotional experience that you want to have for yourself.

From there, work it backwards. Ask yourself: What would I need to think in order to feel that feeling?

Now, one more tip that I have for you. People will try and do this, and they’ll find one replacement thought, and the replacement thought won’t land with them. It won’t resonate. So, they give up really quickly and they just go back to the original thought. Instead of approaching this like trying on clothes. Okay?

You might not settle on the first article of clothing that you try on, especially if you’re shopping for something for a special occasion, right? You’re going to try on lots of things probably, until you find something that fits, something that looks good on you, or something you feel comfortable in. You keep trying until you find the ideal fit.

That’s what I want you to do here when it comes to finding new thoughts to think. I want you to keep going until you find a replacement thought that feels like it clicks into place. Where you’re like, “Ah, I could believe that. I could choose to think that. That makes me feel differently. That makes me feel a little bit better.”

It’s going to make you feel better because you actually believe it. If you don’t believe it, it’s not going to change the way that you feel. So, you’re going to still feel frustrated because the thought, the primary thought that you’re continuing to think, is the original thought that made you feel frustrated in the first place. You can’t get rid of the feeling of frustration until you get rid of the thought causing it. So, you want to replace that thought with something else.

Another way that you can break up the thought, dismantle the thought making you feel frustrated, is simply by making the argument: How is that thought not true? Now, I know you’re going to feel like it is very true; that the situation that you’re encountering is frustrating.

But I want you to put your thinking cap on and really go to work here. How is it not true? How might someone else look at the situation? How might the business that is telling you you can’t return something, how might they look at it? How might your mom look at the situation? Specifically, what she said, how might she look at that? Will she think it’s frustrating or will she have a different thought about it?

Will your spouse think it’s frustrating that they bought you the present that they bought you? Will someone else think it’s frustrating your colleague said what they said, or they did what they did? Or the person that turned something in late to you, will they think it’s frustrating? What might they think, instead?

Even just going there helps you get perspective on how other people can look at the exact same fact through a different lens, from a different vantage point. When you start to see those different lenses and those different vantage points, you get access to different thoughts to think about the facts that you encounter. And when you get access to those thoughts, you also get access to different feelings.

So, if you’re someone who frequently feels frustrated… Which a lot of the people I work with they frequently feel frustrated. They feel frustrated about traffic, that there shouldn’t be traffic. Or that it’s frustrating to be in traffic… what else could you think about that?

I promise you, there’s one person, at least, probably many more people than one, but there’s one person on the planet that has a different thought about traffic. What do you think they think? How do you think they feel about it?

Try that on. What would someone else, who got the present that you received, think about it? What might another person think about it? Maybe not what would they, but what might they think about it? Just to give you access to different thoughts to think, instead of the thoughts you might be thinking.

Try doing this. Find the things that you feel frustrated about, and figure out what you’re thinking that’s making you feel frustrated. Because I promise you, you are frustrating yourself. No one else is doing it to you. And then, make up your mind: Do I want to feel frustrated? I highly recommend you don’t choose frustrated most of the time. And in that case, what can you choose to think instead?

Think of how you want to feel instead of feeling frustrated, and let that be your common experience, feeling those feelings instead of feeling frustration, it’s way better. I hope this helps you dial down the frustration that you feel day in and day out, so you can feel less stressed and more fulfilled. That’s what we do here on The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast.

All right, my friends, that’s what I have for you this week. I hope you have a beautiful week, and I will talk to you in the next episode. Oh, one more thing. I talked about this last week, but I’m going to mention it again here.

Remember, I am doing another rating and review giveaway. So, if you rate and review the podcast before the end of the year, before December 31, 2023, you will be entered to win a $50 gift card to Amazon.

I just gave out five of these gift cards, which was so fun for me to do. It’s not like there’s only one bite at the apple, you have a lot of chances to win. There’s also no limit on how many times you can leave a rating and review.

So, go in there, leave me a rating and a review, and then either email me at Olivia@thelessstressedlawyer.com letting me know that you did it, include a screenshot so I can see that you did, and then I’ll have your email address.

Or you can DM me on LinkedIn or Instagram with a screenshot and your email address, that way I can enter you to win. And if you win, I can easily send over that Amazon gift card to you.

It’s so much fun giving away a little extra holiday cheer. I really appreciate you taking the time to go help me get this podcast in the ears of more listeners, that’s what happens when you leave me a rating and review. I greatly, greatly appreciate it.

All right, my friends, that’s it. I will talk to you next 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 85: The Process of Creating a Process

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | The Process of Creating a Process

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | The Process of Creating a Process

Is creating processes in your life something you struggle with? If so, you’re not alone. Tons of people have difficulty when it comes to this topic, as our brains love to choose confusion and overwhelm instead of taking action. So this week I’m giving you a process for creating a process.

When I experience confusion, I tend to shut down and stop taking action. Maybe you’re the same, but this is exactly where implementing processes can come in useful. If you find it impossible to get started, or you feel overwhelmed by the idea that you might end up doing things wrong and you just want someone to tell you exactly what to do, this episode is exactly what you need.

Tune in this week to discover why you are feeling overwhelmed and confused when it comes to taking action in your life and how having a process in place can help. I’m showing you my process for creating a process, so you can move forward, figure things out on your own, and break free from the confusion that’s keeping you stuck.

I’m running another rate and review giveaway! Instructions for leaving a rating and review for The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast are here. Don’t forget to take a screenshot of your review, and email it to me or DM me on social media.

The Obsessed Retreat is open for registration right now! It’s an in-person event happening in Miami Beach, Florida from March 20th through 23rd 2024. It’s where you’ll learn a three-part framework for creating a life you’re obsessed with, so click here to find out more. 

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why our brains love to choose confusion and overwhelm.
  • How to see where you’re waiting for a step-by-step process to appear before you can take action.
  • Something I’ve struggled to take action on lately because I lacked a process.
  • How to get out of that space where you’re convinced that you don’t know where to start.
  • Why there isn’t one right way of doing things.
  • My process for creating your own processes.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 85. Today, we’re talking all about the process of creating a process. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Well, hello there. How are you? I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It’s so wild to me you always know what I’ve got going on in my life, and I don’t ever really get to hear what’s going on in yours. But I hope you got to spend it with people who matter most to you.

My parents actually came down. We had a very non-traditional Vizachero family Thanksgiving. It’s different than anything we’ve ever done before. I shouldn’t say that. I went to Chicago, I think two years ago, for Thanksgiving to visit with my aunt, my uncle, and my cousin Emily. I call her Ginger, for those of you who know her. She has red hair, so that’s my nickname for her.

That was the first time I really did something unconventional and didn’t spend it with my parents. This year, I spent it with my parents, but we weren’t at home. I wasn’t in Michigan, and we didn’t have a traditional home-cooked Thanksgiving meal.

We spent the week bopping around Charleston eating our way through the city. I got to go deep-sea fishing with my dad, which was so much fun. It’s something that we used to do when I was a lot younger. I haven’t gone with him in years, so it was really amazing to get out on the water with him and just have a riot.

So, they were down here for almost the whole week. I took some time off of work, which I’ve been coaching people on a lot lately, about their mind drama about taking days off of work. I should do a whole episode on that. I’ll make a note of it. But today’s episode isn’t about that.

Today’s episode is a continuation of what I talked about last week. Last week, I was talking about the process of focusing, and imperfect focus versus perfect focus. I explained in the last episode that I wanted to talk to you about the process of creating a process.

This is something that I do all the time in my own life. It’s something that I use with my clients all the time as well because I’ve seen how effective it is for me. So, here’s the reason I do this, and I’ll explain what it actually means in a second.

But the reason that I create processes, it’s because I’ve learned how I operate. All right? Confusion is an emotion that when I experience it, I tend to shut down. When I feel confused, I do not like moving forward. Is that my perfectionism making an appearance? You’re right, it sure is.

Because I don’t like the discomfort of not knowing. I love the certainty. I love feeling like I’m doing something right, the “right way.” Even though, as a coach, I intellectually know there is no “right way” to do something. That being said, I’m still a human.

So, if I’m doing something new, something I’ve never done before, it’s very easy for me to feel confused. And confused just comes from the thoughts, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know how to do this.” That’s it. You just think, “I don’t know,” and then you feel confused. That’s all that happened. That’s all that causes confusion.

I’ve also noticed that when I feel confused, I also tend to feel overwhelmed. The two are sort of like cousins, they go together. So, when I’m feeling confused, I also feel overwhelmed. Maybe there are a lot of different options to choose from, and I don’t know where to start. I tell myself that something’s going to be hard or challenging, and it’s going to be difficult for me to complete. So, I’ll feel overwhelmed and confused.

Which is so funny, because if I don’t know how to do it, how can I assume that it’s going to be hard or complicated, and feel overwhelmed? It could be easy, but that’s not what my brain does when it defaults to this setting. When it’s indulging in ‘I don’t know,’ it loves to choose confusion and to choose overwhelm.

When I’m in this state, in this low-value thought cycle, one of the things that I’ve noticed is I really crave someone to tell me how to do whatever it is I need to do. I want them to give me the ‘follow the yellow brick road’ process. Every single step from A to Z, I want them to lay it out for me.

And if I can’t clearly see every single step, again, I shut down because I’m in that low-value cycle. I’m feeling confused. I’m feeling overwhelmed. Where there’s a lack of clarity, I just refuse to move forward.

A lot of people don’t teach things the way that I teach. If you work with me, if you’re a client of mine, you know this. I teach meticulous processes. I make it so clear, so crystal clear what you need to do. I break it down with such specificity because that’s what my brain needs to function at its most optimal level. That’s what I need to get unstuck and to move forward.

I need to know, I call them the micro steps or the micro tasks, 1.1, and then 1.2, and 1.3, and 1.4; every single micro step to doing something. When I have that clarity, I’m able to move forward with such ease.

If you remember back to elementary school, when you learned how to do math, when you learned how to do multiplication or division. In the very beginning, your teacher always tells you, you’ve got to show your work.

And when people glom a bunch of different steps together, and they’re really ambiguous or vague about what they’re teaching and how they’re teaching it, I get really overwhelmed and confused. It doesn’t make sense to me; I can’t see the path forward. Then I end up resisting what they’re teaching me, because it doesn’t make sense to me.

Now, in a perfect world, everyone would just hand me a perfect micro step, micro task, follow the ‘yellow brick road’ process for everything that I need to do. I have worked with some people who have done that for me. Those are the teachers that I end up really resonating with, that I follow, that I am so grateful for, because of the way that they teach. They teach in a way that makes sense to my brain.

But not everyone teaches like that. Sometimes people teach certain concepts really thoroughly, really well, and then they teach other concepts very vaguely. I’ve noticed that I really struggle when people teach vaguely. So, what I end up doing is I resist, I fight. I’m a little combative. I don’t apply what they’re teaching me.

I’ve learned… I worked through this with a friend of mine. She’s a coach, she’s a brilliant marriage coach. Her name is Maggie Reyes. She thinks a lot like I do, our brains work very similarly. So, she has an ability that when someone else says something that I end up feeling confused or overwhelmed about, she’s able to translate it for me and to approach it or teach it to me in a different way that makes sense to my brain.

I’ve noticed, because she’s been patient enough to do this with me, one of the things that she’s helped me do is recognize why I’m so frustrated, why I’m so resistant to whatever I’m being taught. It’s because I’m confused. It’s because I don’t see a clear process. Maggie knows that I have a flowchart brain, a very process, logic, oriented brain.

To give you a little backstory here. I was a math major through most of my undergrad career. I ended up dropping in at the last minute because it was going to extend my undergrad timeline by about another year and a half in order for me to finish it.

But before I dropped that double major, one of the classes that I took was Proof Theory. Proof Theory is all about those logic formulas. If A, then B. If not B, then not A. So, my brain works like that. That’s how I see the world. I see the world in flowcharts, in processes, in equations.

And I know not everyone loves math, but I think you can use math as a really great framework for teaching people things. It’s like, you have to go from A to B before you can go from B to C. You have to go from C to D before you can go from D to E. That’s just how it works.

So, if you think of the world that way, and you think of your problems that way, you can solve them with such greater ease than glomming everything together, jumbling it all up, being really confused and overwhelmed, and not knowing where to start.

Once I learned that I have this pattern of feeling confused and feeling overwhelmed when there’s a lack of clarity, when I don’t have a specific process, and knowing that I shut down when I’m in this state… Like I said, it’d be great if everyone just gave me, spoon-fed me, an amazing flowchart process to simply walk through and apply and implement.

But not everyone does that. Not everyone teaches like me. Not everyone knows that I might need that or that it might be beneficial, so I have to tap into my own resourcefulness. And one of the things that I started doing is to create my own ‘follow the yellow brick road’ processes for anything that I struggle with.

So, I’m going to walk you through a couple different examples. I’m going to start with the most recent one. Recently, I was getting coached by my business coach, Stacy Boehman. Before I raised my hand to get coached on this issue, I recognize that it would probably be good if I flushed out some of my thoughts about the topic that I was going to raise.

The topic that I was going to bring up with her was my resistance to hiring someone. I’m at a point in my business where I could probably really benefit from bringing someone on, even if it’s just part time, and I’ve been very reluctant and resistant to doing that. I noticed that I have a lot of resistance to it.

So, whenever I notice that I have a lot of resistance to something, that’s always a red or pink flag for me to dig a little bit deeper and figure out what’s going on there. What am I resisting? What’s coming up for me? Where are my thought errors?

What problems in my thinking are causing me to not move forward and do something that would actually really benefit me? What negative emotions are coming up for me that I’m resisting or avoiding by not moving forward?

I did a thought download. I just wrote down some of my thoughts about hiring. I noticed very common thoughts that come up for me when I’m embarking on doing something new that I don’t quite understand how to approach.

So, the thoughts were, “I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to do this. it’s going to be really hard.” Those were the kinds of thoughts that I was thinking. And when I think them, I feel confused and overwhelmed. Then I just spin, I don’t move forward, I don’t figure it out.

You’ve probably heard me talk about this on the podcast before, if you’ve been listening for a while, but one of my favorite questions once we’ve done a thought download and we’ve identified the negative thoughts that we’re thinking, is to simply ask the question: Is this thought true? Now, it’s a thought. Our thoughts are never true. So, the answer is always no, this thought is not true.

But then, from there, I go to work to make the counter argument. I go to work to prove how the thought is not true. So, I want to prove how the opposite is quote “true,” even though the opposite isn’t true either. because thoughts aren’t true. I know that’s a little confusing but bear with me.

So, I challenged the thoughts, “I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to do this,” knowing that it’s simply a thought and not true. I started to make the opposite argument. I started to make the argument that I did know where to start. I just started to jot down the process.

Now, I allowed myself to not need to have it all figured out. I was, at that time, telling myself, “You probably don’t know the whole process, but you might know some of it.”

I also want to backtrack for just a second. Right before I started to engage in this process of writing out what I think the process is, I noticed I had a lot of victimhood coming up in this moment. I noticed that I desperately wanted my business coach to just give me the process to hire someone.

I was feeling whiny and entitled and sort of desperate and needy. Very much like, “Why can’t you just explain this to me? Why can’t you just tell me what to do?” Being in that energy feels terrible. I never like to feel helpless. I never like to feel I don’t have the ability to be resourceful, to figure things out on my own and to come up with the answers that I need myself.

I think there’s a gentle balance between being willing to get help from a coach, but also not relying on them to do everything for you and to be willing to move forward and figure things out on your own.

So, I noticed my own victim mentality coming up here. Really feeling needy and desperate for someone to just tell me what to do. And yeah, could I start to google stuff and do more research and consume more content and find 18 different people who have 18 different ways of hiring? Yes, I could certainly do that. But it’s not a super-efficient use of my time.

Instead, what I realized is that I could just come up with my own process. If someone teaches me something, and they don’t give me the micro step brick by brick, ‘follow the yellow brick road’ process, I can just create that for myself.

There isn’t one right process. There might be a lot of different ways to do something. And just because mine is different than yours doesn’t make yours wrong and mine right, or mine wrong and yours right. We get to have different processes and arrive at the same result. I don’t need to match yours; I can just come up with one that works for me. So long as it moves me forward, that’s all that matters.

So, that’s what I did for myself. I gave myself permission to not have everything figured out. I, at the time that I embarked on this process and started to list out the steps as they came to my mind, I didn’t think that I would know steps A through Z. I didn’t think I would know the whole process. But I gave myself permission to do it imperfectly, and to just start to list out as many steps as I could think of.

I started with the thoughts, “I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to do this.” I said, “That can’t be true. Where would you start if you had to take a guess? If you did know, where would you start?”

Here’s what I came up with. I first started by deciding that I would need to make a list of the tasks that the person would do for me. So, make that list, that’s step one.

Step two, decide the number of hours I’d like them to work. I decided on five, very randomly. And then, I actually already know of a matchmaking service that pairs virtual assistants with coaches, with entrepreneurs, so all I need to do is go and fill out their questionnaire. From there, they’ll send me an email notifying me that I’ve been matched with certain candidates.

I’ll read that email, and then the next step will be to schedule interviews with the candidates that they selected. Then, the next step will be to do those interviews. Then, the next step will be to select the one person I want to work for me. Then, the next step will be to invite that person to start working for me, to extend that offer to them, and see what they say.

If they accept, the next step will be to inform the other applicants, the other candidates, that they did not receive the position. And yes, I will have to gag-and-go my way through those conversations, sending those emails or making those phone calls. Then, I will onboard the person and start giving them assignments. I decided that I would pay them as a contractor, likely through PayPal.

So, I wrote this all out in the same setting that I had just moments ago been telling myself, “I don’t know where to get started. I don’t know how to do this. It’s going to be so hard.” What I realized is, just like our brains love to do, my brain was lying to me. I actually did know where to start. And not only did I know where to start, I actually knew the whole process.

Now, my brain was indulging in confusion because I have some other fears around hiring. Can I sustain employing another person? Is my business secure enough to be able to do that? And the answer to those questions is, yes. However, it just shows me where my own self-doubt is. It shows me where I need to build and further develop my self-concept and my identity as a business owner and a CEO.

It’s okay for me to have gaps in that belief, and to go to work on bridging those gaps, on filling those gaps, and becoming more and more confident in my capabilities as a business owner, as an employer. But the confusion protects me from all of that, from having to feel that worry, and to have to work through those questions. Being confused and being overwhelmed gets me to keep spinning and not moving forward.

So, it was so fascinating for me to see that I actually, not only did I not need a process from someone else, I already knew the process. I was able to answer my own question myself.

This is the process of creating a process. This is the process that I want you to start to utilize in your own life. You have to pay attention to where you feel confused and overwhelmed. You want to start to look for it. You want to start to identify it in your day-to-day life.

Then, I want you to pay attention to how you show up when you feel confused and overwhelmed. Do you do what I tend to do, which is shut down and spin and not move forward and get yourself stuck? If that’s you, if you don’t move forward, if you freeze when you feel confused and overwhelmed, I want you to practice creating your own process for whatever it is that you want to do, whatever it is you want to accomplish.

So, I just gave you an example of hiring. Last week, when I was talking about perfect versus imperfect focus, I helped my client come up with a process for focusing. I walked you through that in the last episode. I’ve also walked clients through the process of starting work in the morning.

This is going to seem really, really tedious. But I’ve had clients who say to me that it’s just so hard to start working in the morning. “I can’t bring myself to do it. I procrastinate. I waste hours at the start of my day because I just can’t get myself to start working. I can’t do it. It’s so hard.”

They’ll tell me it’s going to be challenging, “It’s really difficult for me. I’ve so much to do.” That thought will make you feel overwhelmed. “There are so many things that I could do,” that will make you feel overwhelmed. Then, telling yourself, “I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what I should do first,” that’s going to make you feel confused.

So, when that confusion and overwhelm come together, you’re likely just going to stare at your computer screen and shut down. Right? And if you’re telling yourself that it’s so complicated and it’s so convoluted, and it’s so difficult to work through this, you’re not going to have a very good time doing exactly that.

I worked with a client on this. I was like, “Break it down for me. What exactly is hard?” Again, she was glomming it all together, saying, “It’s just all of it. It’s all hard.” I’m like, “No, let’s break this down micro step by micro step, micro task by micro task. Let’s create a ‘follow the yellow brick road’ process for starting work in the morning. “Do you have a hard time getting out of bed?” “Do you have a hard time waking up?” “No, my alarm goes off and I wake up.”

“Okay, great. Next step, getting out of bed. Do you have a hard time doing that?” “No, I don’t. I get out of bed pretty easily.” I’m like, “Okay, what has to come next?” She’s like, “I’ve got to put clothes on.” If she’s working from home she’s going to just go into her office, but she gets dressed first. “Is that a challenge?” “No, it’s not.”

“Okay, then what happens?” “Well, then I make coffee.” I’m like, “Great. Is that hard?” “Nope. That part’s not hard, either.” “Okay, great. Then you walk down the hallway into your office, is that part challenging?” “No, it’s not.” “Okay, then you sit down at your desk, is that part difficult?” “No, it’s not.”

“Okay, then you open up your computer and you log in? Are either of those steps challenging?” “Nope, those aren’t a problem.” I’m like, “Okay, then you open up your email, is that a struggle?” She goes, “Nope, that’s not hard, either.” I’m like, “Great, and then what do you do from there?” She was like, “Well, that’s where I freeze.” I’m like, “Amazing.”

I’m going to talk about pinpointing your resistance in a second, but what we learned here is that this is the time where her confusion and her overwhelm is the highest. She’s telling herself there’s so much to do, there’s so much that she needs to do, and she doesn’t know where to start.

So, one of the things that we decided to do from there is to create a process for figuring out how to decide what to work on. I want to encourage you to come up with your own process for that. I teach a 10-step process for planning your day. I’ve mentioned this on recent podcast episodes.

You’ve got to start by putting everything, all the appointments that you have on your calendar. From there, you’ve got to make an electronic to-do list, and you’ve got to put everything on it. You’ve got to break projects into tasks, micro tasks if possible. You’ve got to estimate the amount of time those tasks take.

Then you’ve got to decide your start and stop times for the day. Calculate your total availability, factoring in time for being a human and time for any meetings you already have scheduled. Once you get that number of your total availability, you want to plan only what fits. Actually, less than what fits.

Then it’s time to implement. You’re going to implement the plan that you put in place. Then you’re going to evaluate what worked, what didn’t work, and what are you going to do differently. Then you’re going to take what you learned and you’re going to adapt. You’re going to apply the learning, and do tomorrow differently. That’s the process for creating your plan for the day, for figuring out what your schedule is going to look like. Alright?

If you do that the day before, which is what I recommend, then you don’t have to sit in front of your computer like this client was, wondering, “What should I be doing?” You’ve already decided. Then your work just becomes doing what you said you were going to do, even when it’s uncomfortable. Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when something else feels more pressing.

You get to create a process for all of this. Think about a process for working out if you had to create the micro steps to working out. Let’s say you work out in the morning. You would need to wake up, get out of bed, put on exercise clothes, put on your tennis shoes, walk out of your room, if you work out at your house go to wherever it is that you do that.

Start the Peloton, start the video on YouTube that you’re going to use to guide you, whatever it is that you use. If you go for a walk, you’re going to walk out of your house and start walking down the street. If you go to the gym, you might need to get in your car and drive to the gym. Then, go into the gym and pick a machine to start with. Maybe decide on a routine. All right?

These are the micro steps that, when put together, create the process of working out. You can do this with so many different things. You can do this. I did this recently with a client. We came up with it a bespoke process that she now uses for processing her email.

She would wake up in the morning and get into the office and start working, and she would be so overwhelmed by her email. She would be telling herself there were so many emails that she didn’t have enough time to get through all of them. That she didn’t know where to start. Again, when you think those thoughts, you’re going to feel confused and overwhelmed.

So, we came up with a process. We decided that she starts by going through her email, and she sets time aside each morning in order to do that. When she’s processing her email, she has four steps that she would take.

There are four actions that she would take: Delete it, save it… I talked about this in the recent email series that I did… Delete it, save it, reply immediately, or create a task on her to-do list and schedule the time where she would reply to that email later. Those are the four steps. That’s the process that she uses.

We also decided that she starts with the first in, as far as received emails goes, rather than starting with the most recently received. She starts at the bottom and just works her way through.

We always go back to this process. Your brain’s going to want to break the rules, that’s okay. But the process works, so you’ve got to work the process. All right? That’s why we come up with the process in the first place.

Now, over time, you may realize that there are holes or gaps or flaws in your process. You can make data-driven decisions to correct those issues. But you don’t want to just keep changing it because you’re indulging in perfectionism, and you think it could always be better.

Or that you don’t like your process, and because you’re not sticking to the process that means there’s something wrong with the process. That’s not accurate. The only thing that’s wrong, is that you’re not exercising discipline to stick to the process that you already created for yourself. That it’s more comfortable to create a new process than it is to force yourself to stick to the one that you’ve already created. So, you got to be onto yourself there.

You can also have a process for entering your time. People have so much resistance to entering their time. But if you create a ‘follow the yellow brick road’ process for entering individual time entries: Pick the client name, pick the client matter, enter the amount of time, enter the narrative, proofread it, hit enter, release the time.

If you create this little tedious process… It’s funny, we actually enjoy tedium. I always tell people, if you want to threaten me with a good time, give me a box of like 4,000 documents and tell me to put it in numerical order; tell me to put them in numerical order or chronological order. That is my idea of fun. I know I sound so exciting, don’t I? But honestly, I just get a kick out of that.

That’s very tedious to sit there. And, I have a whole process for doing it. I would create four piles: Zeros, 1,000s, 2,000s, 3,000s, all the way up to 4,000s. Then, I would set the 1,000s, 2,000s, and 3,000s aside, and I would just focus on the zeros; zero – 100, 101 – 200, 201 – 300, all the way up to 1,000. Then I would create those many piles, and I’d separate them again. Then I’d go through each mini pile and put it in order. That’s what I would do. That’s how I organize things chronologically or numerically.

I have so much fun doing that. When I tell people about that, that really resonates with them. They’re like, “Oh my God, I love doing that too.” So, if you’re someone who likes doing that, but you don’t like entering your time, stop telling yourself you don’t like it because it’s tedious. That’s not true. You actually enjoy tedium, just not the version that comes from time entry.

But all that has to happen, for you to feel differently about entering your time, is for you to change your thoughts about it. One of the ways to do that is to create a micro task process, a ‘follow the yellow brick road’ process.

Now, the reason that this works is threefold. Number one, you really eliminate your resistance when you break things down into micro tasks, into micro steps. Because no individual micro step is that challenging, is that hard. You break them down so specifically, so minutely, that you really don’t have any resistance to doing any one individual task. And then, you can start to rack up the wins.

Which brings me to reason number two that this works: When you create a micro process filled with micro tasks. Your own bespoke process, with all these individual steps, these very small steps. Every time you complete a step, you get a hit of dopamine. And this is how you work with your own brain, with your own primitive conditioning.

When you complete a micro step, a micro task, your brain releases dopamine. You feel good and you get to start to create more momentum for yourself. This is how you organically cultivate motivation. By getting started when you don’t feel like it, completing micro steps, completing micro tasks, and then getting the dopamine hit from the things that you complete. Then working yourself up to feeling really focused, feeling really motivated.

So, that’s the second reason this works, because every time you complete a micro step your brain drugs you, in a good way.

Lastly, the reason that this is so effective, is because it is a great self-study tool, a great self-study approach. Because when you break things down this specifically into these micro tasks… When you are following the yellow brick road and you come to a point in the yellow brick road where you freeze, where you get stuck… Because the tasks are broken down with such specificity, you get a very, very clear, pinpointed picture of where your resistance lies; to what it is that you’re resisting.

That helps you identify the thinking that’s getting in your way and the negative emotions that you’re experiencing. You think those thoughts, negative emotions come up, and then you resist and avoid them. Right?

So, when you have this very clear, pinpointed understanding of the micro step that you’re getting stuck at, you’re going to be able to identify with, again, very extreme specificity, what thoughts am I thinking about this specific micro step? What negative emotions would I be forced to feel if I forced myself to complete this micro step?

It’s going to get you laser focused on what you’re resisting, on what thoughts aren’t serving you, on what negative emotions you’re not willing to feel, and the path forward is going to be so much easier to create. Because those thoughts, those pinpointed thoughts, are going to be the thoughts that you need to change.

And those negative emotions, those pinpointed negative emotions, are going to be the emotions that you need to be willing to feel. You’ve got to force yourself to feel them on purpose. You’ve got to gag-and-go your way through them.

This process, creating your own process when you’re confused and overwhelmed, is a game changer. If you struggle with this, I want to invite you to come work with me. I realize that not everyone sees the world in processes. This is definitely a skill that you can develop, but if it’s not something that you default to naturally…

I was working with my client, when we were talking about creating a process for focusing, and she really struggled to articulate what the process would be. And all you have to do is sit down and start to say, “Well, this is where I would start. This is the first step. And this is the second step.” If you write out the process, like you had to give instructions to another person, that’s what you need to do for yourself.

There’s a really funny video that really articulates this point, it gets this point across so well. So, there’s this exercise that they give young children, and they tell them to give instructions to an adult on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They have to go step by step by step, and they’re told to be as specific as possible.

They start out, and of course, they’re not as specific as possible. They know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so they don’t show their math, they don’t show their work. They glom a bunch of the steps together and they aren’t specific enough.

The adults are instructed to take the instructions very literally and not to bridge or close any of the gaps with their own thinking, with their own reasoning. So, the first step that a child might articulate, if you’ve got a container of peanut butter that’s closed, and a loaf of bread that’s in a bag, they might tell you to put the peanut butter on the bread.

In the most literal sense, because no other instruction has been given, what you would need to do in that case would be to take the closed jar of peanut butter and place it on top of the closed loaf of bread. Right? Obviously, that’s not what the young child means. They mean to spread the peanut butter using a knife, that you also would have, on an individual slice of bread.

But in order to get to that part of the process, you’ve had to go through so many other steps, right? So, think about if you had to instruct someone on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Write it out. What are all of the micro steps you would tell them to take?

Open the jar of peanut butter. You might even want to be more specific than that, twist the lid of the jar of peanut butter too. Open the jar of peanut butter or hold the jar of peanut butter in one hand, and then take your other hand, place it on the lid, and grip and twist. See how specific that is?

Then, once you’ve done that, you would need to open the bag of bread. So, you could be specific about that. Take the twisty tie, untwist it, and then open the bag where it opens. Don’t create your own new opening by ripping the bag. Then, reach inside, grab two of the middle pieces of bread, and remove them from the bag. Do you see this level of specificity?

There’s a really funny video, as children are giving these adults this instruction. They go through multiple takes, and each time that the person screws up they have to start over. They learn to be more and more and more specific.

But there’s this really funny clip where this child has gone through a couple iterations of giving instructions, and it’s not going well. They’re starting to get frustrated. They’ve reached the point in the process where they tell the adult to take the knife and put it in the peanut butter. The adult, as instructed, takes that instruction very literally.

The peanut butter jar is open and it’s full, and they take the butter knife, and they drop it into the jar of peanut butter. So, of course, the whole thing gets covered with peanut butter. It’s not the way that we would want to extract the peanut butter from the jar.

Which is to hold the knife in your hand, take the tip of the knife to get a dollop… or a teaspoon, a tablespoon, or however much of some unit of peanut butter, and put it on the tip of the knife… then take that portion and slide it all over the bread, spread it all over the bread.

So, when his adult drops the knife just straight into the jar of peanut butter and gets peanut butter all over the knife, to where it would be totally messy and you’d get it all over your hands if you were to pick the knife back up, the kid just goes, “Ugh,” and takes his hands and smacks them on his forehead because he’s just so exasperated. It’s really charming. It’s a really funny video. I bet you could YouTube it if you wanted to see it.

But it illustrates the point that we aren’t specific enough. That there’s a certain level of specificity that you need to aim for, in order to get yourself unstuck. In order to create a process properly filled with micro steps and micro tasks, so you have a ‘follow the yellow brick road’ way to proceed.

I want you to practice this. Start to search for: Where are you confused in your life? Where are you overwhelmed? What do you do when you feel those feelings? Is that situation right for you to create your own process?

Like I said, If you struggle with this, if you don’t think this way, if you don’t see the world mathematically or in processes or in flowcharts, in that logical if A then B way of thinking, this is something I teach people how to do. So, I invite you to come work with me.

I’m currently enrolling people into The Obsessed Retreat. The Obsessed Retreat is a three-and-a-half-day retreat. We’re going to be in Miami, in March. March 20th through the 23rd, technically. But you would leave the morning of the 24th because we have this fab farewell dinner.

On March 20th through the 24th, you come and you’re going to learn how to solve the problems that you’re facing. I’m going to teach you how to think this way, and how to break it down. This is one of the ways that I teach people to solve their own problems, is to create processes that help them work through the confusion and to get out of the overwhelm.

Not only are you going to learn how to do this, when we’re together in Miami in March, but when you sign up for The Obsessed Retreat, you also get lifetime access to two things. Lifetime access to monthly group coaching calls, and then lifetime access to The Obsessed Retreat member portal.

The member portal is going to be a place for you to ask me questions, get coached on anything that you have an issue with or confusion around, or anything you’re struggling with in between our monthly calls. You can ask for feedback from me, ask my advice on something, you can also interact with the other retreaters.

There’s going to be a community platform there, where you can engage with them, stay in contact with them, cheer each other on, or support one another, that’s going to be so amazing.

Then, there will be additional training resources that I put in, that I add from time to time, so I’m always giving you fresh material to work with. Also, the retreat recordings are going to be in there. So, if you want to refer back to anything that we talked about, anything that we did together when we were in Miami in March, you’re always going to have access to those recordings.

If you want to learn how to think like this, if you want to learn how to approach your problems and solve them with this level of intentionality, being this deliberate with this level of specificity, I will teach you how to do this.

Go to bit.ly/the-obsessed-retreat to register for The Obsessed Retreat in Miami, in March. Enrollment closes December 1st, so don’t waste any time. Go sign up. Right now, there are only a few rooms left at our discounted rate at the Betsy Hotel, so you want to sign up and register as soon as possible.

As soon as you register, you get the information that you need in order to complete your room reservation. And trust me, you’re going to want to stay there. You’re going to want to be in the middle of all of the action. That’s where everyone’s going to be.

It’s just a really wonderful experience to be in the center of it all. To be able to wake up, just come down from your room, and to start workshopping with me. To be able to hang out with people at the pool. To be able to have a drink at the hotel bar with the other retreaters after a long day of solving problems, developing skills, and making plans, which are the three things that we’re going to do in person.

So, go to that website, bit.ly/the-obsessed-retreat, and go sign up. Join me in Miami, in March, and we’ll learn how to do this in real time, together. It’s going to be so much fun.

A couple more announcements. Quick housekeeping, very quickly, I’m teaching a couple of masterclasses and online virtual events that are coming up over the next two months, and I want them to be on your radar.

I am teaching how to set boundaries on December 8th. I am hosting, for the second year in a row, my In With the New Year workshop. That’s where we do a 2023 review, and a 2024 planning session. That is on December 20th.

Then, on January 19th, I’m teaching a masterclass on how to develop business. So, those are the three trainings that I have coming up:  How to Set Boundaries, In With the New Year; a 2023 review and 2024 planning session, and then How to Develop Business. If you head to my linktree, linktr.ee/thelessstressedlawyer, you can register for all of those events there. I would love to see you at all of them.

Last but not least, I announced winners of my rating and review giveaway, the one that I did in October, in the last episode. It has been so fun sending out the prizes that people won to them, this week. Since I’ve announced the winners, people have reached out to me and have been like, “That was me. I won, amazing.”

I’m doing it again. It’s so fun, and ‘tis the season of giving, am I right? So, you have until December 31st to leave a rating and review. This time, so it’s easier for me to track, I want you to send it to me. Take a screenshot. You can email it to me at Olivia@thelessstressedlawyer.com. Or you can send it to me, DM me, on any of my social media platforms, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Just shoot it to me so I know that you submitted it, and send me your email address. That way, I have a really easy way of reaching out to you and sending you your gift, if you win this next giveaway. So, anytime between now and December 31st, go leave me a rating and review of the podcast and you’re automatically entered to win the prizes that I give out. They’re good, y’all.

So, take a second and go do that. It means the world to me. Your support is so valuable to me. I really appreciate you taking the time to do it. And because you take the time to do it, I want to say thank you with these giveaways. There’s no limit on how many times you can do it. Go submit all the ratings and reviews that you want to enter to win.

I will announce the winner after December 31st, in the new year. I can’t wait to get to that again, it’s going to be so fun.

All right, my friends, that’s what I have for you this week. Go out there and indulge, in the best way, in the process of creating your own processes. I hope this works for you. I trust that it will. Now you just need to trust that it will. That’s what I’ve got for you this week.

I hope you have a beautiful week and I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 84: Perfect vs Imperfect Focus


The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Perfect vs Imperfect Focus

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Perfect vs Imperfect Focus

Would you say you struggle to focus? Do you find yourself chasing the kind of laser focus that has you devoting all your attention to one thing? There are two different types of focusing we engage in, but a lack of either one of these isn’t the huge problem you might think it is.

This week’s episode is based on a recent client conversation where my client expressed her struggle with focusing. But what does it actually mean if you get distracted? And what if you could create a process for focusing when you find yourself running out of gas?

Join me this week to learn the difference between perfect and imperfect focus and how to see which one you engage in. I’m showing you what each type of focus looks like in action, why imperfect focus isn’t a problem, and how to course correct when you notice yourself getting distracted. Make sure to stay tuned all the way to the end because I’m also announcing the five giveaway winners!

The Obsessed Retreat is open for registration right now! It’s an in-person event happening in Miami Beach, Florida from March 20th through 23rd 2024. It’s where you’ll learn a three-part framework for creating a life you’re obsessed with, so click here to find out more. 

Want to be the first to know when my monthly subscription Lawyers Only launches? Click here and sign up for the waitlist!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The difference between perfect and imperfect focus.
  • How you might be making imperfect focus a problem.
  • What happens when you believe imperfect focus is a problem.
  • An example from my life of what imperfect focus looks like.
  • Why you don’t always have to be in the right mood to take action.
  • How to turn your attention back to the task at hand when you’re imperfectly focused.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 84. Today, we’re talking all about perfect focus versus imperfect focus. 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, y’all, how are you? Happy early Thanksgiving. What a fun time of year. I love the fall. I really love fall in the South because it’s about 30 degrees warmer than I’m used to it being, where I’m originally from up in Detroit.

There’s so much that I’m grateful for this year. I’m grateful for you listening to this podcast, I hope you’re getting a ton of value out of it. At the end of this episode, I’m going to announce the winners of the giveaway that I’ve been doing. I ran this last month; I’ve had all of these amazing reviews come in, and I’m going to announce five winners. I’m going to give away five different prizes.

I’m going to announce it here. I’m also going to announce it on my social media, because I’ve posted about it there as well. Some people have submitted reviews, but there’s no identifying information so it’s just your handle on the iTunes app. Not the iTunes app, the Apple Podcast app. I’m going to use your handle, but you’re going to have to reach out to me because I don’t have a way to send it to you. Okay?

Next time I do this, I’m going to build in a mechanism so people can email me proof that they reviewed, and then I’ll have their contact information, which will make it much easier. But we’re going to make do this time.

So, if you listen to the podcast, I’m so grateful for you. Thank you for taking time out of your life to listen to the things that I have to say. My goal is always that I provide you with value, tips and tools, and tricks and tactics, that you can implement on your own in order to start seeing immediate improvement in your day-to-day life. I hope you’re getting that from this podcast.

If you are and you haven’t left me a rating and review yet, or you haven’t subscribed, go ahead, and do that right now. It would mean the world to me.

Other things I’m thankful for: I’m thankful for getting to spend Thanksgiving with my parents. I was just back up in Detroit, and I am going to sound ridiculous, but I go back up there to have my hair done. I’ve been going to the same stylist for a million years. Basically, he’s a really good friend of mine and I just trust him completely. So, I’m willing to fly back and forth in order to have him be the one to do my hair.

But I was just back in Detroit, in order to have that done, and my parents decided, instead of having me come back again to Detroit, they were going to come down to Charleston. So, they’re on their way down here as we speak. I’m so excited to get to spend the holiday with them in a way that looks a little bit different than what we’re used to.

It’s a departure from how we usually celebrate, but I’m going to be honest with you, nothing this year went the way I expected it to. We’re kind of just pulling an audible, or calling an audible on a lot of different things that I didn’t expect to go quite the way that they went. The holidays this year look different for me than what I expected them to look like.

If you’re a client of mine, or your friend of mine, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But I’ll get into that on another episode of the podcast; that’s a total digression.

With that being said, though, I’m super excited. My parents are coming down, they rented a place right on the beach, and they’re going to get to enjoy some time away from their day-to-day life. My dad just sold his business, so this is their first retirement trip, which is so exciting. He and I are going to go deep sea fishing, that’s one of the things that we love to do together.

I haven’t gone with him in years and years, just because of our schedules and he doesn’t travel a ton, especially when he was still working. So, I’m grateful to get to spend some quality time with my folks. I hope you get to spend quality time this week with the people who are important in your life.

I’m going to do a post about this, but if your holiday season looks different than you expected it to, just like my holiday season looks different than I expected it to, my heart goes out to you. You’re going to get through this. You’re a tough little cookie. You’re going to be okay. All right?

Try and make the most of it. Try and find the silver lining. Try and enjoy the parts that you can even if they’re small, and even if they’re not the parts that you wanted to be enjoying this season. Okay?

I’m going to announce, towards the end, the winners of the rating and review giveaway, but let’s dive in to today’s content. Today’s topic came out of a client session last week. I loved the conversation that I had with my clients so much, I knew that I had to share it on the podcast.

My client comes to our session, and I ask her, “Hey, tell me what’s been going on? Give me an update. How have things been going?” She starts off with saying to me, “Hey, Olivia, I’m like really struggling with focusing. I’m just having a hard time focusing.” I said, “Okay, tell me more about that,” and we started to get into it.

I’m going to do a separate podcast, I think it’s going to be the episode right after this one, to talk about how I solve problems. I know I’ve done some content around solving problems, but this is a specific way that I’ve learned to get myself unstuck, by creating a process out of thin air. I’m going to walk you through and teach you how to do that for yourself. That’s a separate episode, though.

I want to talk about what I did with this client in particular, when we were addressing the issue of focusing. So, she comes to the session, and she tells me she’s struggling with staying focused, with being focused, with focusing, and I asked her, “Walk me through the process. If you had to create a process for focusing, a step-by-step process, that you could follow, walk me through it. What would it look like?”

She really struggled to articulate and form an answer for what I was asking her to articulate. She was like, “Frankly, respectfully, if I knew how to focus, I wouldn’t be having this problem. I wouldn’t be asking you this question. I wouldn’t be bringing this up right now.”

While I totally understand where she’s coming from, I do want to teach you to tap into your own ability to create a process, sort of out of thin air. Just to be able to talk yourself through it, to start to identify steps. The more we talked, I realized she was struggling to really understand what I was asking her to do.

So, I knew at that moment that I was going to walk her through it. I was going to explain, by way of example, what I was talking about. But before I got to that, through the course of our conversation, I realized… and I’ve never articulated this quite this way before, and I was so excited to share it with you… I realized there’s two different types of focus.

There’s perfect, ideal focus. And then, there’s imperfect focus. So many people are chasing and craving perfect, ideal focus. Now, what the heck am I talking about? Perfect, ideal focus is the focus that you experience when you work on something you want to be working on. It’s where you devote all of your attention to something. You don’t pick your head up, you don’t come up for air, you don’t distract yourself, you don’t allow interruptions. You just stay focused, like laser focused.

Then, the second time that this comes up… So, the first time is when you really want to be working on something, when you’re really into it. All right? For me, if you’ve ever watched me do a jigsaw puzzle, I am in to it. That is an understatement, I promise you. I am intense.

I did a puzzle with my aunt and my cousin Kenna, a couple weeks ago. I guess it was maybe the end of September. I guess, it was right before I moved to Charleston. So, a couple months ago, I suppose. But we worked on a jigsaw puzzle at my parents’ house, and they are just like me. They are just as intense.

They are so focused; talk about perfect, ideal focus. Neither of us, or none of us, did anything other than work on this puzzle start to finish. We got it done in an entire sitting. There were no distractions, no funny business, we just got to work.

Myopically laser focused, that’s ideal focus. So, when we want to be working on something, when we’re really into it, we’re perfectly focused then. The other time I see people perfectly focused is when they’re working on something at the very last minute, and if they don’t remain focused, they won’t finish it in time.

You’re up against a really hard deadline. You put your phone down, you don’t do any of the things that would normally distract you or allow you to buffer and procrastinate, you just get to work. Those are two examples of perfect, ideal focus.

What I was asking my client to do, was to walk me through… Let’s say I couldn’t see, and you needed to describe to me what it looks like, what you would need to do step by step by step, microscopic step by step by step, what you need to do in order to perfectly focus. If you were to describe it to me, what would it look like?

So, it would look like putting your phone down. Start working on whatever it is. Not stopping, not grabbing your phone at any point. And working to completion, right? That’s what it would look like to perfectly focus, the process of perfectly focusing.

Now, that’s not what most of us do. So, when we’re not up against a tight deadline rushing at the last minute, or we’re not working on something that we really, really, really want to be working on, that we’re really into, we end up doing the second type of focusing, which is imperfectly focusing. I’m going to call this “imperfect focus.”

Imperfect focus looks like getting distracted, allowing yourself to be distracted, distracting yourself, allowing interruptions, losing your attention, turning to something else while you’re in the middle of doing the task at hand. That’s what imperfect focus looks like.

My perfectionists, if you’re listening to this, you know you’re making imperfect focus a problem. Just like my client was when she said, “Olivia, I’m struggling to focus. I’m having a hard time focusing.” What happens is when you focus imperfectly and you get distracted, you distract yourself, you allow yourself to be interrupted, then you get frustrated with the fact that you’re not focusing perfectly. So then, you invest more time into the distracted activity. Okay?

You focus more imperfectly. You stop focusing because you’re frustrated with yourself. You’re discouraged, and you’re upset with yourself for not perfectly focusing, instead of giving yourself some grace.

Now, what I don’t mean by ‘giving yourself some grace’ is just saying, “Yeah, it is what it is. I’m having a hard time focusing. I’m not going to pay attention, and I’m not going to get back to what I was doing.” That’s not what I’m talking about here. What I mean by ‘giving yourself some grace’ is, what if the process for imperfect focus looked like this?

I’m going to use recording this podcast, as an example. Now, this isn’t every time I record the podcast, but a lot of times I record the podcast, if I was to break down and describe to you step by step by step by step by step, the things that I do in an imperfectly focused manner, which is typically how I record this thing, it looks like:

I sit down in front of my computer, I put my phone away, I open up GarageBand, which is the app on my Mac that I use to record my podcast episodes. I plug in my podcast microphone. I use a specific microphone to record it, it gives the best sound. I click the file in the Settings tab to make sure that the microphone is hooked up. That way I don’t record the episode without using the correct mic, and have poor audio quality and need to record it all again.

So, once I’ve sat down, put my phone away, opened GarageBand, and check to make sure the mic is plugged in and it’s on the right setting, then I record the intro. That’s the part where I say, “You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 84. Today, we’re talking about…” Then, I give you the title, and I say, “You ready? Let’s go.”

Then I pause, and I outline the episode. I go through and I figure out roughly what I want to say. Now, I don’t script out the entire thing. But I do map out the things that I want to talk about, the points that I want to make, and then I start recording.

So, if I were to list that out… Let me count them. Sit down, step one. Step two, put phone away. Step three, open up GarageBand. Step four, plug in mic. Step five, check mic. Step six, record intro. Step seven, outline the podcast. Step eight is to start recording the core content.

Normally, for me, step eight is to give you a little bit of an update on my life, what’s been going on. We just do a little bit of the pleasantries in the beginning. Just to bring you all along with me in my life and feel like you’re a part of my life, just like I am privileged to be a part of your life. So, that’s step eight.

Then, step nine is to get into the meat and potatoes of the episode. So, I start recording that part. And lo and behold, as I’m doing this, I always reach a point where I subconsciously think to myself, “Shoot, I don’t know what to say next.”

As soon as I think the thought, “I don’t know what to say next. I’m not sure what to say next. I don’t know where to go from here;” it’s just a tiny, micro, little thought; then I feel confused. That’s the emotion that that thought creates for me.

When I think the thought, “I don’t know what to say next,” and I feel confused, step 10 is, I stop recording. I press pause, or I press the Stop button. Step 11 is, I grab my phone. Step 12 is, I go on Instagram. Step 13 is, I start to scroll. Step 14 is, I catch myself. Step 15 is, I stop, and I remind myself, “We’re not done with the episode, yet.” Step 16 is, I put my phone back down. And step 17 is, I start recording again. Okay? I figure out what I’m going to say next, and I start recording again.

Now, this process, this part of the process specifically, from where I think to myself, “I don’t know what to say next,” that’s step 10. Then I feel confused, and I stop recording, I grab my phone, and I go on Instagram. Or I text someone, I check my email, I go on LinkedIn, whatever the activity is that I use to distract myself. Then I catch myself, I stop doing it, I put my phone down, and then I go back to recording and figure out what to say next. I keep recording until this happens again.

What I end up doing is, I record the podcast as I cycle through and repeat steps 9-16, over and over and over again, until I get to the point where I get close enough towards the end of the episode that I see the end in sight. Then, I pivot and transition back to that perfect focus, rather than the imperfect focus.

I just power through and I record the rest of the episode. Because the end is so near, that I’m really motivated to just get it done so I can get the dopamine hit of finishing the project that I’m working on, recording the episode.

Now, what I’ve noticed is different about me than the way my clients think about this, is that I don’t beat myself up for being imperfectly focused. I don’t give myself a hard time. I don’t make it a problem. I recognize when I’m recording something, or doing an activity that I don’t have the utmost enthusiasm for. As much as I love teaching you guys things, this is an activity that I’m not always in the mood to do. That’s me being completely transparent.

Just like I’m not always in the mood to respond to an email. Or I’m not always in the mood to record video content for social media. Or I’m not always in the mood to create a post. We don’t need to be in the mood in order to do something.

You just need to know, if you’re not in the mood to do it you’re going to have resistance to finishing it. And it’s likely that you’re going to be imperfectly focused, and more likely to distract yourself while you’re working on something than you are if you’re really jazzed about something. I am very jazzed about recording this episode. I was super inspired when I brought this up with my client last week, and I couldn’t wait to talk to you about it, so I’m able to just power through.

But other times, I pick topics that I believe are really useful for you, but I am not always super, super excited about that topic at that time. I probably planned it in advance, I knew I wanted to record it to get it to you, but I’m not feeling super motivated. We don’t want to rely on motivation to get work done.

When we’re motivated, we’re perfectly focused. But when we’re not motivated, we’re going to be imperfectly focused. You just get to decide that being imperfectly focused isn’t a problem. If you make it a problem, you’re going to devote more time to the distraction. Unlike what I do, which is my goal, is to reduce the amount of distracted time as much as possible, without expecting there to be no distracted time at all.

So, your goal, when you’re working on being imperfectly focused, you’re going to leave room for yourself to get distracted, to distract yourself from the task at hand. Then, the whole goal, the whole thing you want to be striving for, is just to make those distracted moments take the least amount of time as possible.

You want to catch yourself as quick as you can, realizing that you distracted yourself. Then, you want to stop engaging in the distracted activity, and you want to turn back to the task at hand, the thing that you’re in the middle of doing, as quickly as possible.

So, you’re making these distraction cycles, steps 9-16 or 10-16, you’re making them as short as possible. That’s the goal when you’re working on being imperfectly focused. You’re not beating yourself up, you’re just paying attention to yourself. You’re being curious, you’re watching this happen, and you’re working to reduce the distracted time as much as possible. All right?

That’s what it looks like to be imperfectly focused. That’s the process of “focusing,” if you think of focusing as a verb. Something that you actively strive for, you actively work towards with your actions. These are all of the little, microscopic steps that you would need to take in order to “focus,” to be focused. To create the result of working on something in a focused manner.

There’s perfect focus, and there’s imperfect focus. Most of the time, you’re going to be imperfectly focusing. Now, the more you get better at imperfectly focusing, the more often you will also perfectly focus. But you’re not going to have a perfect track record. This isn’t going to be 100% of the time, “I’m perfectly, ideally focused on the task in front of me.”

You’ve got to leave room for yourself to be a human. To not make it a problem, and to know how to course correct as quickly as possible. That’s the goal here, course correcting as quickly as possible.

So, I want you to take this concept with you. I want you to go into your week, and if you’re struggling to focus on something, I want you to aim for imperfect focus, not perfect focus. I’ve given you the process for imperfectly focusing.

Now, I gave you an example from my own life, the podcast, recording episodes like this. But you could use this with email, right? Let’s say, email’s coming in and you want to clear your inbox. What needs to happen? Go through and create a process for yourself. What does imperfect focus look like for that?

Or if you need to respond to an email, you’re going to open up the email you received, you’re going to read it. Actually, let me back up. We’ll get even more specific. You’re going to open your computer. You’re going to open your email. Your phone’s going to have to be put away. It’s going to need to be next to you, not in front of you, unless you’re using your phone to respond to email, right?

You have to close out of the other apps. Open up the email application. Read the email. Decide, right then and there, to respond to it. Draft your answer, or start drafting your answer. Type out your intro, “Hello, how are you? I hope this email finds you well.” I’m not actually recommending that you say that, that’s a little cheesy. But you get my point. Open the email, and then start typing what you need to say in the email.

Now, you might catch yourself thinking, “I don’t know what to say next,” and you feel confused, and you stop typing the email. You jump to something else, something that distracts you from having to sit through and figure out what to say next, having to work through that confusion that you experience.

If you’re imperfectly focusing, you’re not going to make this a problem. You’re just going to notice that you’ve turned your attention to something else. You’re going to realize why you turned your attention to something else. It’s because you were feeling confused about what to say next. And you’re going to stop doing the distracted activity.

Then, you’re going to turn back to the email and you’re going to sit in the confusion. You’re going to work through it. You’re going to figure out the next sentence you need to say, and then you’re going to type it. Then you’re going to type another sentence after that, and another sentence after that.

And if you distract yourself again, because you’ve reached another point in the email where you think, “I don’t know what to say next,” and you feel confused, you’re going to repeat that process, that loop part, of this imperfect focus process. You’re going to stop doing the distracted activity once you catch yourself and you realize why you’re doing it.

You’re going to turn back to the email, you’re going to figure out what to say next, and you’re going to keep doing that, working in that loop, completing that cycle as many times as necessary, and shortening the time period of distraction as much as you can, until you’re done with the email.

Same thing with writing a brief or drafting a contract. Same thing with reviewing documents. You distract yourself because you get a little bored or you get confused about what to do next, or you’re not sure whether documents relevant or not, or you don’t know what to say. Notice your pattern. You feel a negative feeling because you’re thinking a thought, and then you distract yourself.

The art of being imperfectly focused is being able to recognize why you distract yourself, what you’re distracting yourself from, and to catch yourself. To course correct and go back to the task at hand. Sit in the discomfort. Work through it, and get a little bit further to make a little bit more progress.

Take this with you. Go out there, and work on being imperfectly focused. Don’t fixate on having to have 100% of your attention, 100% of the time, doing the thing that you decided to do. That’s ideal, absolutely. But if that’s not what happens, if you get distracted and you distract yourself from what it is that you’re doing, because you’re confused, because you’re bored, for whatever other reason, figure out the reason, and then practice being imperfectly focused.

I hope this helps you. I hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving. I’m going to talk to you in the next episode. But before I leave you, let’s pick the five winners. Actually, I lied. Before I get to the five winners, quick announcement.

If you’re following me on social media, you already know this, but I am in the middle of a launch for my upcoming retreat. The retreat is called The Obsessed Retreat. It starts with a three and a half day in-person event. We’re going to be in Miami Beach, Florida, March 20 – 23.

The whole point of the retreat is, it’s designed to help you create a life you’re obsessed with. I am really a huge advocate for living a life that you absolutely love, not just a life that you merely tolerate. I really want people to live a life they’re obsessed with.

The way that you do that, there’s a three-part framework that I’m going to teach you. We’re going to solve problems, that’s day one of the workshop. Day two, I’m going to teach you how to develop the skills you need in order to create a life you’re obsessed with. We’re going to talk about making decisions ahead of time, developing discipline, and practicing constraint. Those are essential to creating a life that you’re obsessed with, a life that you love.

And then, on day three, we’re going to set goals and make plans. You’re going to map out everything that you need to do and want to do in 2024, in order to create the results you want and get where you want to go. So, three days; we meet, we do the welcome reception. You know, I always do that when I host events, an amazing welcome reception. It’s going to be so fun; you get to meet me and all the other retreaters.

Then, we wake up the next morning, breakfast is served, group breakfast, so delicious. Then, we dive in. We do six-hour days, three days in a row. So, that’s 18 hours of workshopping, coaching, growing, learning transforming. Three days.

Day one is all about solving the problems you’re facing. We’re going to talk about the professional aspects of your life, and also the personal aspects of your life. Because in order to create a life you’re obsessed with, we can’t just have one area be good, it’s all got to be good. So, we’re going to solve problems on day one.

Day two, we’re going to develop those essential skills. And then, day three, we’re going to set goals and make plans. Then, of course, just like I always do, it ends with a really decadent, lavish, farewell dinner where we get to celebrate everything that we accomplished in person.

Now, people keep asking me, “Olivia, in addition to the in-person event, is there any other support that we get when we sign up for The Obsessed Retreat?” The answer is, yes. When you sign up to attend The Obsessed Retreat, you get lifetime access to two different things.

Number one, you get lifetime access, you heard me right, lifetime access to monthly group coaching calls. They’re live calls. Each month, we’re going to coach, go through different exercises, different prompts I give you, in order to make sure you accomplish what you set out to achieve. It’s going to be amazing support, to make sure you stay on track and achieve what you set out to when we’re in person, together in Miami, in March.

You’re also going to get lifetime access to The Obsessed Retreat member portal. The member portal is going to be where you can come and submit questions or issues to get coached on, and I’ll coach you in writing. Written coaching is so, so powerful.

Number one, you can sit with it. Sometimes when you get coached live, in person, face to face, or over Zoom, you have a hard time taking everything in all at once. Now, obviously, face to face, live, in real time, coaching is super, super powerful, super effective.

But so is written coaching, just for different reasons. You get to sit with it, you notice different things, you can slow yourself down, you can go back to it over and over again, and recognize different aspects of the coaching that feel more relevant at one time over another. Written coaching is super powerful.

So, inside the member portal, which you also get lifetime access to, you’re going to be able to submit questions to me. It can just be simple questions that you just want answers to. You want advice, tips, tricks, feedback on something, but you can also submit issues to get coached on and I’ll coach you in writing, and respond in writing, to your questions.

You also get to watch the retreat recording replays. They’re going to be available in the member portal. I’ll also be adding additional materials over the months, over the years, for you to watch on demand. I love over delivering to my people, so I’m constantly going to be updating the member portal with new stuff in there. It’s going to be so fun. Kind of like Easter eggs, or like Christmas Day.

You also are going to have a community platform. So, you’re going to be able to stay connected to everyone that you meet in person, all of the rest of the retreaters. You’ll be able to stay connected inside the member portal.

So, that’s what you get when you join. The three and a half day event in Miami, in March; March 20 – 23. Then, you get lifetime access to the monthly group coaching calls and The Obsessed Retreat member portal. It is an insane value, you guys.

When I decided to add on the monthly coaching calls, the lifetime access to that, I blew my own mind. I just can’t get over it. And the response has been epic. People keep reaching out to me, and they’re like, “I can’t believe that. I was so excited to come and be with you in Miami, and now this. I can’t believe you’re offering this to us.” People are so excited because they know it’s everything they need to really accomplish what they want to accomplish.

So, if you’re interested in working with me… Also, I’m getting ready to launch a members-only subscription for lawyers only. Because I knew that I was getting ready to launch that, I wanted to give people an opportunity to work with me whether or not they practice law.

Because a lot of people who follow me, they’re former lawyers. They’re people who used to practice but they’ve transitioned to something else. And rather than comingling lawyers and former lawyers inside the subscription that I’m starting at the end of December… And will start officially in January; our first call’s January 10… I wanted to create a space, a program, an offering for everyone. For anyone who listens to me, or who follows me, who has been interested in working with me.

If that’s you, if you’re listening right now, this is your opportunity to work with me. All right? So, you want to make sure that you register. You can go to bit.ly/the-obsessed-retreat. Or you can go to my social media platforms, LinkedIn, or Instagram, and access it there. There’s a link in my bio in both places, for you to access and register for The Obsessed Retreat.

You can also go to my link tree, which is linktr.ee/thelessstressedlawyer. That’s another way to access the registration page for The Obsessed Retreat. The retreat, the lifetime access to the monthly group coaching calls and the member portal, cost $4,000. You can pay that all at once or in installment payments.

So, if you’re interested in working with me, make sure you sign up. You’ve got to sign up before December 1. And if you want to stay at the venue that the retreat is being hosted at, we’re staying at The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. It’s on South Beach, it’s absolutely incredible. If you have followed me on social media, you know I don’t pull any punches. I don’t skimp when it comes to the locations that I select. I want it to not only be a transformative experience for you, but I want it to feel like a vacation. I want it to feel luxurious and decadent.

So, The Betsy Hotel is absolutely that. Just to-the-nines, over the top stunning. If you want to stay at The Betsy Hotel, we have a very, very, very… I’m going to say it one more time… a very limited room block. So, you want to register for the retreat as soon as you possibly can, in order to make sure you get in that room block at our discounted rate. It’s $579 a night, which is a steal for Miami, at the time of year that we’re going to be there. Especially for a location as nice as The Betsy.

So, make sure you go to my social media, go to bit.ly/the-obsessed-retreat, and sign up and join me in Miami, in March, to create a life you’re obsessed with. I can’t wait to see you in South Beach.

Alright, without further ado, here are the five winners of the reading and review contest, or giveaway, I suppose. I’m just reading the handle that you submitted the rating and review with, and then you are going to have to reach out to me.

You can contact me on social media, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Just DM me, or you can email me at Olivia@thelessstressedlawyer.com. Just send me your contact information, send me your email, so I can send you the gift that I’m going to send you. All right?

So, here are the five winners: Kristen King Jaiven. If I’m mispronouncing that, I’m so sorry. The second person, the handle is, The Peace_Maker. So, I don’t know who that is. You’re going to have to reach out to me and let me know. The third person is, RJP Injurt Attorney; that’s the handle. The fourth person is, JRLevenson. And the fifth person, also another handle that I can’t recognize who it is, keepin’itRayl; keepin’itRayl, like keeping it real, but not quite.

Okay, those are the five. If you contact me, you will receive your prize. For anyone listening, I’m going to do this again. Actually, we can just start it right now. I will do another giveaway by the end of the year. So, you have between now and the end of the year to submit a rating and review. The rating and review winners, the giveaway winners, receive a $50 gift certificate to Amazon. A $50 gift card to Amazon.

You get to buy yourself whatever it is you want. If you’re anything like me, you love buying things for yourself. I love getting myself presents, especially during the holiday season. So, this is just a little bonus; you get to go buy yourself something. Reach out to me if you’re one of the five winners, and I will send you your Amazon gift card.

Thank you again, so much, for taking time out of your busy day to help me share this podcast with more people. It means the world to me. I am very thankful for you, and I’m thankful for everyone else who took the time to leave a rating and review.

You can resubmit, too. That’s how I understand iTunes to work. So, you can submit another rating and review if you want another opportunity to join and to win the next one. So, the next one will go until December 31, and then I’ll pick five more winners.

All right, that’s what I’ve got for you this week, my friends. I hope you have a beautiful week, and a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I will talk to you in the next episode.

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 83: Caring What Other People Think (Part 2) – How to Stop

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Caring About What Other People Think (Part 2) - How to Stop

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Caring About What Other People Think (Part 2) - How to Stop

Last week, you learned how much it’s costing you when you’re stuck in caring about what other people think. Now you understand the negative impact of worrying about the opinions of others, we’re diving into how to stop caring about what they think, whether that’s their thoughts about you, or their thoughts about anything else.

Now you know that nothing bad happens when you prioritize your own opinion over other people’s, you can begin the work of not even trying to control the thoughts of others. This not only frees up your time, but also your attention and energy to focus on what matters most to you.

Tune in this week to learn a framework for letting go of your worries about what other people think. I show you why you care about other people’s opinions in the first place, two truths you need to start accepting right now, and how to start reframing the way you think about other people’s thoughts and opinions.

Want to be the first to know when my monthly subscription Lawyers Only launches? Click here and sign up for the waitlist!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why nothing bad happens when you prioritize your own opinion over other people’s.
  • What changes when you stop caring about other people’s thoughts.
  • Why it’s incredibly difficult, at first, to stop caring about what other people think.
  • How to see why you care deeply about other people’s opinions in the first place.
  • Why caring about other people’s thoughts or behavior is ultimately futile.
  • 2 truths you need to start accepting right now.
  • How to stop caring about what other people think.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 83. Today, we’re continuing to talk about caring about what other people think, Part 2. Specifically, how to stop caring about what they think. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Well, hello there. How’s it going? As you already gathered from the intro, I am continuing this two-part episode about caring about what other people think. In the last episode, we talked about what it costs you to care about what other people think, the impact that caring about other people’s opinions has on your life.

Quite typically, it’s a negative impact that it has on your life, right? So, you’ve had some time to let that marinate, to start to create some awareness around what caring about other people’s opinions is costing you. How it’s impacting your life, whether it’s on a day-to-day level or on a much grander scale.

I gave you some examples of ways that I’ve overcome caring about other people’s opinions and how it’s benefited me. So, hopefully, we’ve started to make the case for why you might not want to care about what other people think.

Now, I work with a handful of people that think it’s important to care about other people’s opinions, and I just want to offer you, it’s okay to not care about them. Bad things won’t happen if you care about your own opinion more than you care about other people’s opinions of you. Okay?

If that seems foreign to you, you’re going to have to trust me a little bit on this one. I want to walk through a framework that you can use in your own life, if maybe you’re receptive to this, if maybe you’re not resistant to the idea that it actually can be okay to not give so much credence to what other people think.

If you’ve gotten on board with the idea that you want to stop caring about what other people think, that you don’t need to be preoccupied with it, that it’s okay if you’re not obsessed with controlling other people’s opinions of you, and you don’t want to devote all of this time, attention, and energy to caring about other people’s opinions of you, then you need a framework to do it.

A lot of people feel like they don’t know where to get started. They don’t know how to not care about what other people think. So, that’s what we’re going to cover in today’s episode; we’re going to talk about the “how.”

Now, the first step to getting over your preoccupation about caring about other people’s opinions of you, is you need to really understand why you care in the first place. There are a couple different reasons that we care. First and foremost, it’s part of our primitive conditioning as humans.

Belonging to the group, belonging to the majority, being a part of that cohesive communal unit, that is a survival mechanism. It is a way that we ensure our survival. It’s a way that we protect ourselves. I want you to think back to the hunter/gatherer days.

Your existence quite literally depended on your ability to be part of the group. You couldn’t do everything that you would need to do in order to survive on your own, by yourself. You needed to rely on belonging to the collective in order to survive. And that’s just a part of our human conditioning that we haven’t evolved out of. So, that desire to belong, that push to belong, that’s still within us.

Now, what’s good news, is that we can be pretty self-reliant. I do believe that as humans we need other people in our lives, in different ways, in order to really thrive and be our best, and to have the most enriched experience on this planet during our time here. But for the most part, we can provide for ourselves. Very different from how we couldn’t provide for ourselves in these primitive days, right?

So, even though we’ve evolved out of that, that we’ve advanced enough to where we can pretty much just provide for ourselves, we haven’t evolved enough to the point where we no longer have this primitive condition where we have this desire to belong. This is just a protective mechanism.

You want to know that it’s there, just to simply understand where this drive, this desire, this internal longing is coming from, to wanting to belong, to wanting to be accepted by the group. Okay?

We’re also taught to care. In addition to our primitive conditioning, if you’re thinking about the nature versus nurture, nature is the primitive conditioning, but nurturing, meaning how we’re raised, also plays a big role in our caring about what other people think. So, we’re taught to care about other people’s opinions of us.

Think about what you learned growing up. Where did you learn to care about other people’s opinions of you? You probably learned this both explicitly and implicitly. One of the ways we typically learn this growing up, oftentimes from our parents or other authority figures, they will say to us, “If you do X, people will think this about you. You can’t do Y, because if you do it, people will think that.”

So, we get taught that our actions determine someone else’s judgments of us. That our actions beget a certain viewpoint, a certain opinion. That that is bad, and we need to protect ourselves from that happening. That we need to be concerned about what other people think.

Also, if we’re being really honest here, this is a way that people control other people. I like to think of this as the poor man’s control mechanism. As you go through life, you become intimately aware that you don’t actually have the ability to control other people’s behavior. We can’t control what another person does or doesn’t do.

Instead of just accepting the fact that we don’t control another person’s behavior, what people will do is they will attempt to judge or shame or guilt someone in the hopes of altering their behavior. Right? If you fear judgment and someone judges you, or threatens to judge you, if you do something, you may not engage in that behavior to avoid the judgment.

Again, this is the poor man’s control mechanism. It recognizes that people can’t actually force you to do something against your will. But they can attempt to influence you by threatening to shame, guilt or judge you. This is very effective.

If you’ve been taught that you’re responsible for how other people feel, and you’re responsible for controlling other people’s opinions, and that you need to guard against and prevent anyone else from having a negative opinion of you, this is an effective way that people can manipulate you.

We see this a lot in organized religion. Or with parents raising children, wanting to control their behavior. We also see this in friend groups and different relationships, even romantic relationships. Someone will judge or attempt to guilt or shame the other person.

Now, no one can guilt or shame you without your permission. So, you have to change your own thoughts, to feel ashamed or to feel guilty, in order for this to be effective. Another person can’t make you feel those feelings. You cause yourself to experience those emotions because of the thoughts that you choose to think.

So, that’s always within your control, whether or not you choose that emotional experience for yourself. But you want to be aware, if you are someone who chooses that emotional experience for yourself, why is this happening?

It’s because you were taught to care about what other people think. And someone might want you to care about their opinion, in order for you to alter your behavior. Whether or not you succumb to this tactic is up to you though, it’s optional.

Now, another way that we get taught to care about what other people think happens in a more implicit way. It actually happens in both negative ways and in positive ways. So, one of the negative ways that I see this implicitly play out is by hearing other people judge other people. It’s not being directed at you, but you’re watching someone else have an opinion about someone else, they articulate it, and you bear witness to it.

You form a negative association with that person’s opinion about the third person, and you want to protect yourself against it. So, you learn to care about what other people think and alter your behavior accordingly.

The other time this happens is a more positive experience. Which is where you receive praise for doing something that someone else thinks is “good,” or “acceptable.” There is no true, inherent good, that’s just a subjective opinion about a particular action that you might take.

But when we receive praise for our behavior, it feels good because we then give ourselves permission to think positive thoughts about ourselves. And because that experience feels good, we learn to care about what other people think.

Now, unfortunately, if you care, in a positive sense, what other people think, you’ll also tend to care in the negative sense about what people think, right? If the positive feedback and praise has you feeling excellent about yourself, then negative feedback and criticism and judgment will make you feel badly about yourself.

So, you really want to strive to get to the place where you don’t care about another person’s opinion of you, whether it’s good or bad. You really just want to care about your own opinion of yourself.

These are some examples of why and how we’re taught to care about other people’s opinions in the first place. Actually, let me add one more example of how we’re taught implicitly to care about other people’s opinions. Think about the people who raised you, they probably care about what other people think as well.

And when they model this for you, you will learn that it is important to care about other people’s opinions, about other people’s judgments of you, right? If your parents are concerned about what other people think it shows you that other people’s opinions are important. So, this is another implicit lesson that we get taught, that we pick up over time as we’re growing up.

Okay, now that you understand why you have this habit of caring about what other people think, why we as humans have this habit about caring what other people think, it’s time to break the habit. In order to do that, we need to identify the judgments that you think people have about you.

We started this exercise in the last episode, in part one of this two-part series. But if you missed that episode, or it’s not fresh in your memory, you can go through and complete this exercise again. I just want you to take a second and think about: What are you afraid other people think about you? Finish the sentence: People think I’m…, and fill in the blank.

Complete that sentence as many ways as you can think of completing it. You can even get more specific; you can identify specific groups of people. So, “My clients think I’m… My friends think I’m… My colleagues think I’m… My boss thinks I’m… My parents think I’m… My partner thinks I’m… My children think I’m…” Go ahead and identify all the judgments that you think people have about you.

Then, from there, you have to go through, and for each opinion that you’re afraid someone thinks about you, for each judgment you’re afraid someone’s making about you, you have to go through and distinguish the facts from the story that you’re telling about them.

So, the first question I want you to ask yourself is: Did the person or the people who you think hold this opinion about you, did they actually say this to your face? Is this a direct quote? Did this happen verbatim or are you reading this meaning into a situation? Is this just the story you’re telling yourself about a particular set of facts? You really want to separate what did they actually say versus what are you making it mean?

For instance, did someone tell you to revise something? If that’s the fact, are you making it mean that they think you’re not smart? Or that they think you’re not a good writer? They didn’t say those things, you’re just assigning meaning to what they said. That’s the opinion you’re telling yourself that they have of you, even though they never articulated that opinion to you.

Did someone ask you to work over the weekend, and you make that mean that they think you’re lazy? They didn’t call you lazy, you’re just assigning that opinion to the person even though they never articulated it to you.

When you do this, you’re going to notice two different options appear; two different options become available to you. In the first instance, you recognize that you’re just giving this additional meaning to the facts. Someone actually didn’t express this opinion to you. Your brain is just offering this up to you.

So, in those instances, what I want to offer you is that you can check it with yourself. Option number one is, can you just make it mean something else? There’s whatever they actually said or did, or they’ve never even said anything or did anything, but whatever the facts are, can you just tell yourself a different story?

Can you admit to yourself that you aren’t a mind reader, that you don’t actually know what they’re thinking, that they might be thinking this instead? Can you put a more positive spin on the situation? Can you read different meaning into it? Read a meaning that’s a lot less malicious, or a lot less negative than the one that you’ve been assigning to that story?

That’s the first option. If you can tell yourself a different story, and you can just give different meaning to a particular set of facts, you’re going to feel better. You just get to change the narrative about the opinion that the person holds. Because you don’t even know what the opinion is to begin with.

However, sometimes that doesn’t work. A good example of this is when I was getting started marketing myself on social media. I was creating a story in my own head about what other people thought. No one had reached out to me to tell me that they thought my marketing was stupid, that coaching was stupid, that I couldn’t hack it as an attorney. No one was telling me that; that was all in my own head.

The facts were, I was marketing. I think that’s the actually the only fact now that I think of it. No one was reaching out to say anything to me. The facts were, I was marketing, and some of my former colleagues were connected with me on LinkedIn.

Now, I can’t even say that a fact was that they saw it, because I don’t know that to be true. I would guess that it was likely that some of my former colleagues were seeing my stuff on LinkedIn, but I can’t guarantee it. So, with that being said, at the time, the only facts that I had were that I was connected with former colleagues on LinkedIn, and I was also marketing and posting content on LinkedIn.

The story that I crafted in my beautiful brain was that they were judging me. That they thought what I was doing was stupid. That they thought I was a failure. So, option one, in this instance, when I go in and I separate fact from story, I could just assign different meaning. I could come up with a different story, a different narrative.

For instance, I could come up with the story that my colleagues, my former colleagues, were happy for me that I was pursuing something that made me happy, right? Or that they thought what I was doing was cool, or useful or valuable. I could have told myself that story instead.

But I’m going to be really honest with you, I tried to coach myself but this thought, these judgments, these opinions that I had come up with in my brain, they were really, really sticky. So, as much as I tried to tell myself a different story about other people’s opinions about what I was doing, I wasn’t able to get it to stick.

So, option number two, if you can’t change the assumptions that you’ve been making about other people’s opinions, or if the person actually said the opinion that you are now thinking about, if they actually said it verbatim, then here’s what you need to do. Instead, you need to decide what you want to do about the judgment.

To start, you need to notice the impact that these thoughts have on you. How do you feel when you think them? How do you feel when you think, “People think I’m…? He or she thinks I’m…? They think I’m…?

When you think about the opinion you’re afraid people have of you, or the opinion that they told you they have you, check in with yourself? What’s the one word emotion you experience when you think about this? Do you feel inadequate? Do you feel ashamed? Do you feel insecure? Or do you feel attacked and misunderstood?

If you’re feeling inadequate, ashamed, guilty, or insecure, part of you is agreeing with this judgment. Part of you is agreeing with their opinion of you.

If you’re feeling misunderstood, you probably don’t agree with it. It’s always important to check in here, does part of you agree with it? But if you don’t agree with it, or there’s a part of you that doesn’t agree with it, then you’re going to feel misunderstood. And based on how you’re feeling, it’s going to help you figure out how you want to move forward. How you proceed in light of this judgment that you’re on the receiving end of.

So, if part of you agrees with the judgment, with the opinion, you want to start with asking yourself, do you want to agree with it? If you do want to agree with it, then there really isn’t a problem here, you can release the negative emotion.

If you’re like, “Yeah, that’s kind of right about me. That actually makes sense,” then you, and the person with the opinion, are actually in agreement and we don’t have an issue to resolve here.

Now, if you don’t want to agree with it, if part of you agrees with that, or all of you agrees with it but you don’t want to agree with it, what you need to do is make the case for how it’s not true. So, whatever the judgment is, make the counter argument. As you do this, you also are reiterating to yourself that opinions about you aren’t true. Opinions aren’t facts, okay? Opinions are just subjective statements about facts. They don’t have truth to them.

They’re just opinions, so make the case against the negative opinion. Talk through it: How is this opinion of me not true? And then, decide what you want to think about yourself instead? Then work on finding evidence to support that belief.

Now, if you fall into the second camp, if you don’t agree with the judgment, if you don’t agree with the opinion, and you’re feeling misunderstood, you get to think about, what do I want to do instead?

A lot of people in this instance want to start to defend themselves. I really want you to question your urge to do that. I really want you to think through that. Does it make sense for you to defend yourself? For you to correct the record? For you to try and convince the other person that they’re wrong about you?

Or might it be more effective, and a better use of your time, to simply allow yourself to feel misunderstood, to feel judged, to feel criticized? When you think about defending yourself, I want you to think about, what’s your motive behind defending yourself? Are you hoping to convince the other person to change their opinion? Are you trying to change the other person’s mind?

If you are, really question whether or not you want to invest time into defending yourself. The reason it’s important to take a look at this, to slow yourself down and really question whether or not you want to do that, is because the truth of the matter is, you can’t control what another person thinks.

So, there are two huge truths, when it comes to caring about what other people think, that you really want to internalize. Truth number one is that people’s opinions of you are not true. Opinions aren’t true. Facts are true. Circumstances are true. Another person’s opinion of you is not true. It’s also not false. That’s not the measurement of an opinion. Okay? Opinions are simply opinions, and every person gets to form their own opinions.

Which brings me to my second truth that you want to accept, is that other people’s opinions of you aren’t within your control. Think about examples of things where other people have opinions that differ from you, and you don’t even think to correct it, or you don’t think to make the other person wrong.

Think about someone’s food preferences. Some people like chocolate, other people don’t. We don’t make chocolate right or wrong based on people’s opinions of chocolate. Same thing with, I don’t really love kiwis. I think my cousin loves kiwis. I don’t love the texture of them. Now, that doesn’t make Kiwis good or bad. It doesn’t make her right or me right, or her wrong or me wrong. We just simply get to have different opinions about kiwis.

Same thing with pineapple on pizza. It isn’t inherently good or inherently bad. No one’s opinion about pineapple being on pizza is right or wrong. We simply just get to have different opinions. Same thing with restaurant recommendations or movies.

Some people, my dad for example, he doesn’t like The Godfather, he kind of thinks it’s boring. It is my favorite movie. Now I don’t make him wrong, he’s right for him and I get to be right for me. But neither of us are inherently right or inherently wrong. It’s simply, we hold different opinions about the same thing. Which we’re perfectly allowed to do.

No matter how hard I tried to convince my dad that The Godfather is amazing, he still holds his same opinion, as is his right to do so. He’s allowed to do that. Again, that does doesn’t make him right or me wrong, or vice versa. It’s just that we have different opinions about a thing.

Now, we mistakenly get taught growing up that we actually do have input and influence over another person’s opinion. But if you think about the examples that I’m offering to you, if you’ve tried to convince someone’s taste in movies to change and it hasn’t worked, you’ve done it to no avail, you know you can’t control another person’s opinion.

For instance, a really good client and friend of mine, Jen, she loves the movie The Matrix, and I can’t stand it. That doesn’t make her wrong or me wrong. No matter how much she tries to get me to love it, I’m not going to love it. That’s just my opinion about the movie and I’m not going to change it.

We notice our same lack of control about other people’s opinions or judgments when we try and convince someone to change their political viewpoints. Right? Typically, that does not work. Same thing if you’ve ever tried to cheer someone up. I think there’s really no better example of this, of our lack of control over another person’s opinion, over another person’s thought process, than when we attempt to cheer someone up and it doesn’t work.

It’s because we don’t control their opinions. We don’t control what other people think, and we don’t control how they feel. So, you’ve got to, if you want to care less about what other people think, you have to accept these two truths.

You have to accept that other people’s opinions of you aren’t true. If you understand the other people’s opinions of you aren’t true, then you get to concern yourself so much less with what other people think. If it’s not true, why does it matter?

Then, the second truth, which is, you don’t actually have control over another person’s opinions. They get to form their own opinions. They get to have them, and you don’t get to change them. So, why expend any energy trying to change them if you can’t? When you accept these two truths, you really free yourself from carrying about other people’s opinions of you.

So, you want to figure out what you think other people think. Separate fact from story. If no one actually said the opinion verbatim, decide, can you tell yourself a different story? Can you change the narrative? If you can’t, or someone actually did say their opinion to you, decide or figure out how you feel about it.

Do you feel attacked and misunderstood? Or do you feel insecure, inadequate, guilty, ashamed? Depending on how you feel, it’s going to depend and determine what you do from there.

If you feel inadequate and insecure and ashamed and guilty, if you’re feeling badly about yourself, a part of you agrees with the judgment. And you’ve got to figure out what you want to do about that. Do you want to agree with it, yes or no?

If you don’t, figure out how the judgment or the opinion is not true. And then decide what you want to think about yourself instead. Make a case for it. Find evidence to support that new belief.

If you fall into the misunderstood, attacked, criticized camp, and you feel as though someone is being wrong about you, then decide if you can just release your caring about it? Can you just allow yourself to feel misunderstood on purpose? Can you just sit in the discomfort of letting someone be wrong about you, rather than needing to defend yourself? Or trying to control the narrative? Or get someone to change their opinion, get someone to change their mind?

Which, if you’ve had someone try to get you to change your mind, you probably know that’s a futile exercise. So, can you just let yourself feel misunderstood? There’s so much power in just allowing yourself to feel misunderstood. I truly believe this is a superpower when you learn to master it.

Lastly, one thing that I want everyone to practice, that will help you get better and better and better at caring less about what other people think, is really learning to cultivate your own self confidence. The way that we do that is, number one, develop your own self-concept.

Figure out what you want to believe about yourself. How do you think about yourself? What opinions do you want to have? Make up your own mind before anyone else makes up theirs. Then evaluate yourself frequently. How do you think you’re doing? Make up your mind before you receive feedback.

I do this every time I do a presentation. Before I ever receive feedback from someone else, I’ve made up my own mind. How do I think I’ve done? How do I think I did? What could I have done better? What did I do really well? What will I do differently next time?

You also get to decide, are you even open to feedback? Now, you can’t perfectly control whether someone gives you unsolicited feedback or not, because people have free will. But I do like to decide, am I even open to feedback? Do I want to care about positive feedback? Just like I want to decide, do I want to care about negative feedback?

I really want to make sure I monitor myself for whether I am being intentional about being open to different types of feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. If you care about the positive feedback, you’re going to care about the negative feedback. So, take that into consideration when you’re deciding what types of feedback to care about and to concern yourself with. Okay?

These are the steps about how to care less about what other people think. I hope you walk yourself through this process. This is a process that you get to bring with you into your day-to-day life to help you care less about other people’s opinions of you.

I want you to go out there and develop a strong opinion of yourself. Develop your self-concept, evaluate yourself frequently, make up your own mind about you, about how you’ve done, before you receive feedback.

These are great ways to guard against being preoccupied with what other people think. But remember, no matter what someone thinks about you, their opinions of you are not true. You can’t control their opinions, so don’t concern yourself with them. Free up your time, free up your mental energy, to devote yourself to something that is within your control instead. All right?

Okay, my friends, that is what I have for you this week. I hope you 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 82: Caring About What Other People Think (Part 1) – What It Costs You

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Caring About What Other People Think (Part 1) - What It Costs You

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Caring About What Other People Think (Part 1) - What It Costs You

Are you one of those people that cares deeply about what other people think of you? If this is a familiar pattern for you, you’re not alone. I used to care about what EVERYONE thought, and this had a hugely negative impact on my personal and professional life for way too long. So, if you resonate with this story, today’s episode is for you.

Learning to stop caring about what other people think has been one of the most transformational aspects of my coaching journey. There is a massive cost to being preoccupied with other people’s opinions about who you are and what you’re doing. But by the end of this episode, you’ll see how focusing your attention on other people’s thoughts is affecting you, and what changes when you free yourself from worrying about the opinions of others.

Tune in this week to start identifying the judgments you think people have about you, discover what these worries are costing you, and learn how to begin laying the foundations to stop caring about what other people think, so you can live the fulfilling, enjoyable life you really want. Be sure to come back for part two where I’ll teach you a practical framework to help you stop caring about what other people think.

Want to be the first to know when my monthly subscription Lawyers Only launches? Click here and sign up for the waitlist!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why we fear being judged.
  • How to catch yourself worrying about what other people think.
  • An exercise to get clear on the specific judgments you think other people have about you.
  • 2 sentences that will help you stop caring about what anybody else thinks of you.
  • Some of the opinions other people had about me that I let hinder myself for too long.
  • What caring about other people’s thoughts, opinions, and judgments is costing you.
  • How to start the work of disregarding other people’s opinions and doing what’s right for you.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 82. Today, we’re talking all about how to stop caring about what other people think. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Well, hello there. How are you? I hope you’re as excited as I am to talk about how to stop caring about what other people think. This is one of the coaching concepts that I was introduced to pretty early on into my relationship with coaching, if that makes sense, and it was really transformational for me.

I used to care so much about what everyone thought, and it had such a negative impact on my life. I’m going to talk a decent amount about that in today’s episode. I have so much to say, I’ve actually learned a lot about this, but I also have a lot of my own stuff to share as well.

I’m going to turn this into a two part episode because I don’t want it to be obnoxiously long, and I don’t want to rush through the things that I have to teach you. So, I’m going to take my time with it, and just cover it in two separate episodes.

Today’s episode is really going to focus on getting intimately aware of what caring about what other people think is costing you. What being preoccupied with other people’s opinions about you, and about what you’re doing, what kind of impact that’s having on your life. That’s what I want to talk about today.

Then, in the next episode, little teaser, I’m going to go through and teach you a framework that I recently taught in a masterclass that I hosted. That teaches you what you need to do in order to stop caring about what other people think. So, I really want to give you the ability to free yourselves from caring about other people’s opinions.

I’m going to walk you through a process. You guys know that I love a process. I tell everyone that I have a flowchart brain. That is really how my brain sees the world and approaches every single problem. I can turn it into a flowchart or a logic tree, a decision tree. That’s how I see the world. It’s very much like mathematical proof theory. I see everything as an if/then equation.

So, I broke down ‘how to stop caring about what other people think’ into a process that I’m going to give you in the next episode. But first, let’s slow down a second, and talk about if you’re someone who cares a lot about what other people think about you, about what you do, about what you don’t do, or even about other people.

If you care about other people’s opinions about other people, I think we weaponize that against ourselves as well. It’s like, you notice someone else’s judgment of another person. Then our fear of being judged, our fear of having someone have an opinion about us, ultimately deters our behavior or impacts our behavior in some way.

We might have wanted to do something… I’ll just use a silly example. Let’s say, you wanted to get a tattoo. But then you heard your grandmother talking about someone else with a tattoo, and she was judging the person with the tattoo, and then you choose to not get the tattoo because you saw your grandmother exhibit an opinion about someone else. Right?

So, it’s these three different ways that we care about other people’s opinions: Their opinions about us, their opinions about our actions, and then their opinions about other people and their actions. We use all three of these opinions against ourselves to really hinder the things that we do.

Take a second and start to take an inventory. I’m going to talk a little bit more about this in the next episode, and we’re going to go through part of the exercise. It will just be identifying judgments that you think people have about you. But we can start that process now. What are you afraid that other people think about you?

The easiest way to start to identify the judgments that you’re afraid people have, the opinions that you think they have, is just to finish the sentence, “People think I’m…” People think I’m what? “People think I’m…” Okay? Complete that sentence as many ways as you can think of.

If you want to get more specific, if that’s a little too broad for you, that’s not a problem. We can get more specific with what we mean by “people.” So, what do your clients think of you? What do your colleagues think of you? What does your boss think about you? What do the associates you supervise think about you?

What does your assistant think about you? What does your partner think about you? What do your parents think about you? What do your friends think about you? What do your kids think about you? What do your neighbors think about you? Start to make lists for each of these categories of people.

You can even get so specific as to say one specific person. So, whoever the person that you might be worried about having some judgments or opinions of you, just list their name. “He/She/They, think this. Eric thinks this about me. Miranda thinks that about me.” Just pick the person and start to write out the judgments or the opinions you think they have about you.

Now, think about the action that you take. So, those are going to be judgments particularly geared towards just who you are as a person, based on your personality or the actions that you’ve taken. But it’s a judgment about someone’s personality based on the actions that they’ve taken. Right?

For example, if you don’t work weekends, you might think someone’s opinion of you is that you’re not a team player. Okay? Now, that would be a judgment about you, even though it’s based off of the action. Versus a judgement about the action itself.

So, what would you think that someone thinks about your actions? Would you think, that they think not working on the weekends is irresponsible? These are going to be a little redundant. But you guys know that I like a little bit of redundancy, because it pulls out some nuance in the different things that come up when we answer redundant questions.

Start to make lists. What are all of the judgments that you think people have about you and the things that you do? Or the things that you want to do that you’re afraid to do, because you’re afraid to be judged for doing them?

For instance, maybe you’re a vegetarian and you’re questioning that. And you want to start eating meat again, but a lot of your friends are also vegetarian. So, what judgements would they have about you eating meat? Maybe you’re not making the switch back to eating meat because you’re afraid of being judged. That’s just an example.

But I want you to compile your lists. What are these judgments? List them all out. Then I want you to start to think about this, what is it costing you to care about these opinions, about these judgments? What aren’t you doing because you’re afraid someone is thinking this thought, or would think this thought if you did something different than what you’re doing?

What aren’t you pursuing in your life because you’re afraid that someone else is going to judge you or have an opinion about what you would pursue, or how you would pursue it? What parts of yourself are you hiding? Are you playing small in some way? Or are you being more agreeable? Are you shrinking yourself and your personality to avoid someone else’s opinion of you? What are you missing out on?

I really love this next question. A friend of mine reached out to me recently, and he made this point about how you’re really always just choosing your regret, which regret will you have? The regret of doing something, or the regret of not doing it?

So, the last question I have for you, when we’re thinking about what is it costing us to care about other people’s opinions, is: What regrets are you accumulating by caring about what other people think? How you’re altering the things that you do, and the things that you don’t do, in response, or even in anticipation, of someone else’s judgment?

You can pause this episode and take a minute or two to really think about this. What is it costing you to be preoccupied with what people think of you? It almost makes me start to get emotional when I really think about how limiting it is to care about what other people think.

How we limit our experiences. How we don’t live authentically. How we don’t pursue the lives that we would prefer to be living, because we’re afraid of someone else’s opinion of us.

Now, if you’re having a hard time articulating what caring about other people’s opinions is costing you, another question that gets at this is just to ask and answer: Where in your life would you choose a different option than what you’re currently choosing, if no one had an opinion about it?

It’s like, “Oh if no one had opinion, I definitely wouldn’t go home for Christmas. If no one had an opinion, I’d never work weekends. If no one had an opinion, I would never show up to work before 10am. If no one had an opinion, I would only check my email once a day.”

Think about it. How would you be showing up differently if you didn’t care about what another person thinks? If no one had an opinion about what it is that you do or don’t do?

I wanted to talk about some of the ways that this has shown up in my life. Once I learned… We’re going to talk about this in the next episode. The operative word here is really the word “opinion.” Right? So, we have to come to terms with the fact that other people’s opinions of us aren’t true.

Because opinions are not facts. Opinions are just that, opinions. Just thoughts someone else thinks about us. They get to have their own judgments, or their own subjective stance on something, but that doesn’t mean their stance is true. Facts are true. Stances, opinions, are just subjective beliefs. Okay?

Their thoughts… and you’ve heard me talk at length about the difference between circumstances and thoughts. So, another person’s opinion is just their thought. It’s not true. It’s not a fact about us.

Once I learned that other people’s opinions about us weren’t true, and also, that we can’t control what another person thinks about us… Again, that’s a very in depth topic, so I’m going to go into detail about that in the next episode.

But I learned these two things: That opinions about us aren’t true. And that we don’t control another person’s opinion about us. When I learned those two things, it really was permission for me to start living the life that I wanted to be living. I started to live life on my own terms.

When I realized that I didn’t have control over what another person thought about me, I really decided to spend a lot less time caring about what other people think. If we believe we can control another person’s opinion, then we think that we need to twist ourselves into a pretzel in order to control their opinion of us.

But if you realize that that is something that is outside of your control, and also that their negative thoughts about you, their negative opinion of you, their judgement of you isn’t true, so that means they get to have it. And you don’t have to concern yourself with it.

That was really my permission slip to start living life the way that I wanted to. To start living a life that felt authentic to me, and in alignment for me. A life on my own terms.

So, when I learned this concept, I started making different decisions in my life. One of the decisions that I made really, really early on, I wanted to have an elective surgery done. People in my family had strong opinions about it. And for a really long time, I hindered myself, and I didn’t pursue something that I knew deep down I wanted to do for my own health and happiness. I didn’t do it because I was afraid of being judged for doing it.

Sometimes people don’t tell us what we think, and we’re just making an assumption about what they think. Other times people tell us what they’re thinking. This was an instance where people were telling me what they were thinking.

When I realized that their opinions weren’t true, and also that I couldn’t control their opinions, I couldn’t change their mind, I decided to stop concerning myself with what they were thinking. I made the decision that made me happy. I elected to go forward with the procedure.

I’m so, so happy that I did. I absolutely believe it was the right choice for me. I’m so proud of myself for making that decision. It was the decision that was most aligned with what I wanted for myself, and it was only available to me on the other side of caring about what other people think.

Now, if I’m thinking temporally, one of the decisions that came shortly after this time was my decision to leave my big law job. A lot of people I know had a lot of really strong opinions about that decision. I might have mentioned that on the podcast before. I talk about it pretty openly.

But my friends and family were really opinionated about my decision to leave big law. They thought it was irresponsible. They thought I was being foolish. They thought it was stupid for me to walk away from that type of prestige and that kind of salary.

I had to trust myself to know what was right for me. I had to let them judge me, and I had to not care about what they thought. I actually worked with a woman, and she was amazing. She did the Attorney Development in the firm that I worked at. I was having my annual meeting with her, and before we were going to dive in and talk about some of the things that I was struggling with; I was really struggling with time management and procrastination at the time.

Before we dove into really workshopping a strategy to improve, she sat me down and she said, “I have to be honest with you. I think you’re really unhappy. I think you’re tragically unhappy in this job.” I just started crying. As soon as she said it, I broke down. Because she was right, I was tragically unhappy in that job.

I admitted to her that I was so, so unhappy, and that it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. I didn’t feel like I was doing a good job there. It’s just not what I wanted for myself. I just felt like it was not the right fit. She simply asked me such a powerful question; such a simple question, but a powerful one. She asked me, “What’s keeping you here? You don’t have to keep coming to a job you don’t like.”

I realized that there were two main things that were keeping me there. Actually, three main things. My parents’ opinion about me working there, that was one. And then the other two were about my perceived opinions, judgments, that my colleagues would make. So, I figured that people would think that I failed, and that I couldn’t hack it as an attorney.

Now, those judgments are kind of similar. But those were really the two statements that came up in my head at the time, so I’m just rehashing both of them for you. Those were the judgments that I was afraid that other people were going to have of me.

I kept choosing to stay in a job that I didn’t enjoy, because I was trying to prevent someone from having that opinion about me. Okay? Now, that is not a great reason to stay in a job, because you’re afraid about what other people will think if you leave it.

Great reasons to stay in a job are that you love it, you feel fulfilled by doing the type of work that you’re doing, you have fun, you find it stimulating and rewarding, you enjoy the people that you work with. That wasn’t me. I was just trying to avoid other people’s judgment by continuing to stay in a job that I didn’t like.

When I recognized that those were my reasons, I realized that I didn’t want to keep making that decision for those reasons. I wanted to choose differently. I wanted to let people have whatever judgments they were going to have. My parents had judgments. I’m sure people who I worked with had judgments when I left; about me, about my performance, about who I was, and the type of lawyer I was.

I just had to let them have their opinions. I had to take care of myself and do what was right for me. I also did this when I started my own business, when I quit practicing law, which was not too long after I left big law, but a little while later. A lot of people had judgments about me starting a coaching business.

I’ve talked about this a decent amount, especially every time I talk about business development. I really struggled with putting myself out there on social media, because I was so afraid of my former colleagues seeing my social media content and judging me.

I thought that they were going to think that I was stupid, and that coaching was stupid, and that I was pathetic for starting a coaching business, and that I couldn’t hack it as an attorney, and that I had failed as a lawyer and that’s why I was doing something else.

Now, that’s not true. I could have had a long, successful career as a criminal defense attorney. That was work that I was passionate about. But I really wanted to become a coach, because I believe this is how I can truly best help people in the world. I believe in what I teach so strongly. I always tell people, “I feel like I went to law school in order to help people. And I finally feel like I actually do that now, in the work that I’m doing now.”

But in the beginning, when I was getting my business off of the ground, I was hesitant to put myself out there. I really had to force myself to feel exposed, to feel embarrassed in front of other people, and feel judged. Because I believed that they had opinions about me, and about what I was going to be doing online.

I recognized that there were two options for me. I could keep caring about what they think. And if I cared about what they think, and I let myself hold myself back from marketing, I was never going to be successful. I wasn’t going to make anything of my business. I wasn’t going to get it off the ground. I wasn’t going to start making money.

I could care enough to hinder myself and my future success, the success that was ultimately available to me. Or I could deal with their judgment, deal with their opinions, stop caring about what other people think or thought at the time, long enough to start putting myself out there.

That’s what I ultimately did. And honestly, not caring about what other people thought, or at least not caring enough to let it hold me back, it was a game changer. I now get to live a life that I love, because I got over caring about what other people think enough to pursue what was important to me.

Even recently, I’m renting furnished condos, and I was raised by a dad who strenuously believes that renting is a waste of your money. That was an opinion that I was allowing myself to be hindered by. I knew that he would think that. I knew that a lot of people would probably think that I was being impractical or irresponsible with spending money, when I own a perfectly fine house in Michigan that I could just continue to live in.

But the truth is, I don’t want to. I want to live in different places across the country and across the world. I want to live in beautiful places that I don’t have to decorate. And to me, that’s worth it. Even if other people don’t think it’s worth it. That’s okay for them to have that opinion. I don’t have to hinder myself or alter my behavior because of it. I can simply not care about their judgment, and I can do what makes me happy.

These are just a few different examples of ways that once I learned that I can’t control what other people think, and that other people’s opinions of me aren’t true, I started to give myself permission to choose what was important to me. To choose what I wanted, and to care less about what they thought of what I was doing. Okay?

It would be so tragic to me to envision a life where I never got over caring about what other people think. I would probably be still working in a job that I strenuously disliked. I wouldn’t have pursued running my own business. I would have held myself back from that.

I would have played it safe and played small. I would have never started showing up on social media. I wouldn’t have made changes in my life that make me happy, even if they don’t seem “practical” or responsible. I’d be living as less of myself. I’d be living less of the life that I want to be living.

Now, I’m not wanting to really hold myself back, personality wise. Some people might think I’m over the top, and I’m okay with that. But I know a lot of people who hold themselves back and water themselves down, because they’re afraid of being judged by other people.

So, if that’s something that you’re doing, think about that. Who would you be? How would you get to show up? What would you be doing instead, if you stopped caring so much about what other people think? What is it costing you? Is it costing you the life that you want to be living? Is it costing you beautiful experiences that you would get to have, if you didn’t care so much about other people’s opinions of you and the things that you do?

Would you have fewer regrets in life if you got over caring about other people’s opinions? Would you miss out on fewer things, if you stopped caring so much about what other people think? What goals would you set? What activities would you try? What adventures would you embark on?

My guess is, if you’re someone who feels crippled by the weight of other people’s opinions of you, your life would be so much fuller, so much more rewarding, so much more enjoyable, if you finally stopped caring about what people think. I really want the pain here to be as high as possible. Because I really want to incentivize you to adopt the framework that I’m going to teach you in the next episode.

I see people fight what I teach on this because it’s quite foreign to how we were raised. We were raised to care about what other people think. We were raised that other people’s opinions matter. So, this seems foreign to people. We were also raised to believe that we can control what other people think of us.

So, when I offer you that other people’s opinions aren’t true, other people’s thoughts about you aren’t true, and that they’re not within your control, it goes against so much of our upbringing. People really fight me on this.

I have a lot of my clients ask me, “Did you struggle with thought work, and learning the model, and coming to believe that circumstances are neutral and that it’s our thoughts that cause our feelings? And that we have the power to change our own thoughts, but not someone else’s thoughts?”

People ask me all the time, “Did you struggle with adopting that?” And very candidly, I didn’t. I didn’t. I was experiencing so much suffering from living a life I didn’t love, to making choices I didn’t love, because I was caring so much about what other people thought, that when someone introduced me to a different way of thinking, I just adopted it.

I really felt like, “You know what? You’ve got a better framework than I do for how to navigate life. I’m all ears. I’m all in.” I didn’t fight it at all. So, I really want you to be clear: What is caring about what other people think costing you?

I want you to become intimately familiar with the pain and suffering that caring about other people’s opinions is creating in your life. Because when I introduce you to a framework to stop caring about what other people think, rather than being apprehensive or skeptical and resisting it and saying, “No, that can’t be right. That goes against what I was taught growing up,” I want you to adopt it.

I want you to just dive headfirst, be all in, and really see how it can be right for you. How it can be true for you. Okay? I promise you, the life that you get to live when you get over caring about other people’s opinions, it’s delicious.

You get to that delicious life a lot faster if you don’t resist the things that I’m going to teach you, when I teach you the specific process for how to care less about what other people think. All right, I will give that to you in the next episode.

In the meantime, I hope you have a beautiful week, and I will talk to you in the next episode.

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 81: Needing to Get Closure (And How You Actually Don’t)

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Needing to Get Closure (And How You Actually Don’t)

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Needing to Get Closure (And How You Actually Don’t)

We often think we need closure on a situation like it’s a vital part of the human experience. But my hot take here is that you don’t actually need closure on anything. Needing closure is just a thought you’ve practiced on repeat your whole life, and now, it’s time to understand the truth about it.

When having “the talk” at the end of a relationship or after being let go from a job, the person you are talking to might believe there is closure. But even though there has been a discussion about what happened and both points of view have been shared, you may still feel as though you haven’t had closure. Nobody is actually wrong either way. Closure is totally subjective, but is thinking you need closure from somebody else serving you?

Tune in this week to discover the truth about closure, and why you don’t actually need to get closure from anyone else. I’m showing you why closure is a matter of your thoughts, not your conversations with others, and if you still want closure, I’m showing you how to give yourself what you’re craving.

Want to be the first to know when my monthly subscription Lawyers Only launches? Click here and sign up for the waitlist!

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. At the end of October 2023, I’m selecting five random listener reviews and giving a prize to each of those reviewers! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Some of the reasons we think we need to get closure.
  • Why you don’t actually need to get closure.
  • Where closure really comes from.
  • How you might be unknowingly depriving yourself of real closure.
  • My favorite thoughts to try when I’m feeling like I need to get closure on something.
  • How you can give yourself closure without needing to discuss it with anyone else.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 81. Today, we’re talking all about needing closure, and how you actually don’t. 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, friends, how are you? I hope you are doing well. I am really excited to dive in to today’s topic. I have what some people might say is a hot take on closure. So, I’m excited to introduce you to it, and to talk about it and go through some examples.

Before I do that, this is the last week of the giveaway that I’m doing for reading and reviewing the podcast. So, get in there, go leave me a rating and review. Tell me what you think. If you’re loving it, tell me you’re loving it. I can’t wait to hear your feedback.

I’m going to pick five. Not just one, but five reviewers, and I’m going to be giving away prizes, okay? They’re going to be good, because I like to give good gifts and not just mediocre ones.

Part of my self-concept, which I talked about on the podcast a lot, is that I am a good gift giver. I promise to over deliver if you go ahead and you do me that kindness, you go do me that favor. So, thank you so much in advance. Get those in there so I can pick a winner, and hopefully I pick you.

Okay, without further ado, let’s get in to the topic of closure, and really, whether or not you need closure. So, the hot take here, is that you don’t actually need closure. That is a thought that people practice and rehearse… One that we learn from other people, too. We hear a lot about it in movies. We hear it from other people, “Oh, I just need closure.”

But you really don’t. You don’t need closure. If you’ve heard me on the podcast before, you know that I like to say there’s only ever five things that you need to do: Eat, drink some water, sleep, breathe, use the restroom. That’s it.

If it’s not one of those five things, you don’t need to do it. So, you don’t need to have a conversation in order to get closure in that situation. you don’t need to have the talk; you don’t need to hash it out. You also don’t “need” closure yourself. I’m going to talk about that in a bit. But you don’t need closure.

It’s also always going to be an opinion that you hold whether or not you have closure. Like, you can decide that you don’t have closure. Someone else can decide that you do have closure, and no one’s right or wrong. It’s just a matter of opinion. Closure is subjective.

So, you get to decide, is the situation that I’m currently living in, is that closure enough for me? Do I actually “need” closure? And what facts would need to happen in order for there to be closure?

Thinking through that, here’s what I want to introduce to you, it’s what I want to offer you. The situation that’s been eating at you, the one that you think you need to have a conversation about, where you talk about what happened, where you explain your side, your position, your point of view, you think you need to have that talk.

But you’re wrong. No conversation is “needed” at all. All right? Now, I’m using air quotes. You can’t see me of course, but I’m using air quotes every time I use the word “need” because we don’t actually need closure, even if we tell ourselves that we need it. You won’t die without it.

You won’t die if you don’t have that conversation. You won’t die if you don’t get that thing off of your chest. If you don’t convince them. If you don’t get them to come around and see it your way. If you don’t explain yourself to them. If you don’t defend yourself to them. You won’t die. Okay? So, we don’t “need” to have these conversations.

Now, you might want closure. And you might be thinking that you need to have a conversation in order to get it, but you don’t “need” to have a conversation in order to get closure.

It’s easy to think that the conversation is what brings the closure, we hear that all the time. But the conversation isn’t actually what creates it. You know what brings closure? Your thoughts. Remember, circumstances don’t cause your emotions. Okay?

So, however you think you would be feeling when you “get” closure, that feeling… That’s the only reason we crave closure is because you want to feel a certain way, a way that you don’t feel right now. And you think that having the conversation is what’s going to create that feeling.

But that’s not how our emotions work, they’re not caused by facts. They’re caused by our thoughts about facts. So, you have the conversation, and then you would give yourself permission to think different thoughts. Then, those new thoughts would change the way that you’re feeling and give you that sense of closure, whether it’s feeling at peace or something like that.

So, think about it. That situation where you’re really craving having that conversation, you’re craving closure. What would you be thinking if you had the conversation that you keep telling yourself you “need” to have? Go ahead and find those thoughts.

Find the thoughts that you’d be thinking. Once you’ve said your piece, then find the feelings that you would finally get to feel if you were thinking those thoughts right now. Feelings, like I said a moment ago, feeling at peace, feeling acknowledged, and everyone’s favorite, feeling understood, the conversation doesn’t create those emotions.

Saying something to someone isn’t going to make you feel those feelings, it’s going to come from your thoughts. And you don’t need to have a conversation in order to cultivate those feelings, because you have the ability to create them for yourself with your thinking, with those thoughts. So, what would you need to think in order to feel those emotions? I want you to take a second and find those thoughts.

I think the most amazing thing about learning this is that you don’t need closure. And that if you want closure, it’s something that you can create for yourself, another person doesn’t create it for you. A conversation doesn’t create it for you. You create it with your thinking.

You can get access to those thoughts right now. There’s nothing standing between you and changing the way that you think about the situation. So, when you think, “How would I be thinking if I had the conversation that I’ve been craving? That I really feel like I want to have? That I “need” to have?” Of course, you don’t need to, you won’t die.

But if you were to have that conversation, what thoughts would you gain access to? Would you be thinking, “I’m right. I’ve said my piece. I’ve said everything that I have to say. I’ve said everything that I need to say. I feel complete. I am complete. I’m putting the situation behind me now. There’s nothing left for me to do.” You can think all of those thoughts right now.

I also want you to take a look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that make you feel deprived of closure, that have you craving the conversation. What difference do you think having that conversation would make? What would change if you had it? Do you think that you would change their mind? Do you think that they would come around and see things your way?

That typically isn’t what happens in these situations, and then you actually don’t get the closure that you’re seeking, you still feel unsettled. So, identify the thoughts that you would be thinking that would drive you to have this conversation, that make you feel compelled to have this conversation, and see if you can change them.

Rather than, “I need to explain myself,” think, “I don’t need to explain myself.” Rather than thinking that things would be different if you said something, if you got this off your chest, choose to think that things won’t be different, no matter what you say.

If you’re thinking they’ll finally understand you, that they’ll come around and they’ll see things your way, and that’s driving you to have this conversation, change your thoughts. Choose to think that they won’t come around, that their opinion and their stance is their stance, and they’re unlikely to change it based on whatever you present to them. Because they’re coming at it from their perspective, and you’re coming at it from your perspective.

Are you telling yourself that it shouldn’t end this way? That it’s a shame that it ends this way? That it should end better than this? If you’re thinking those things, you’re going to try and recreate a different ending, but it’s not changing the ultimate result, that the situation is coming to an end.

One of my favorite thoughts is, “Things don’t end on a high note. If they ended on a high note, they wouldn’t be ending.” Now, I don’t tell myself that thought in every situation. I actually think that my legal career ended on a high note. Because the last case that I handled, we had a really amazing outcome in, and I knew it was going to be my last case. I wanted it to be my last case for that reason.

But I don’t think that with relationships, I choose to think it’s going to end on a low note, otherwise it wouldn’t be ending. So, let’s talk about a few different examples where people crave closure, and they pursue it, they seek it, they chase it, really, to no avail.

A big one, the most obvious one, is of course breakups. I was actually just talking to a friend of mine who is going through a breakup, and she was really seeking closure because she just really can’t believe that this is the last time that she’s going to talk to the person that she was in a relationship with. That the last time she talked to them will be the last time that she talked to them.

And what I really see is as long as you’re craving this conversation you’re really preventing yourself from experiencing closure. You’re prolonging the time between you and the closure that you want to get.

What I explained to her is, “That even though you really want to have this conversation, where you tie this beautiful bow on everything, that’s not actually going to create closure. The breakup is the closure. You don’t need to have a conversation. You don’t need to talk about why things didn’t work out. You don’t need to talk about what was great about the relationship.”

You don’t need to do an evaluation with the other person. You don’t need to tell them how they hurt you. You don’t need to tell them what didn’t work, what they should have done differently. You don’t have to do any of that to create closure. The breakup is the closure. Silence is the closure. Moving on with your life is the closure.”

Same thing when it comes to quitting jobs. I work with so many of my clients, that upon quitting they want to go in and do this debrief with their management and talk about all of the things that they didn’t like about working there, and all of the things that the employer needs to change and do differently.

How they’re doing things wrong, and they could be doing things better. And if only they had done things differently and better, then they probably wouldn’t leave. But they’re already leaving. They’ve already decided to leave. What’s the point of having that conversation? Right?

You don’t need to go into your boss’s office and tell them how they’re toxic, and explain how they’re doing everything wrong, and tell them how hard you worked for them, and that they didn’t appreciate you. You don’t have to do any of that.

Quitting is the closure. Moving on with your life and going on to a different career, a different job, working for yourself, whatever transition you’re about to do, that’s the closure. The distance is the closure. All right? Cleaning out your office and moving on with your life is the closure.

Same thing with ending relationships, ending breakups, ending friendships. One of the best decisions of my life has been to end one of my closest friendships. It happened two years ago, and I had been unhappy in the friendship for a while. It wasn’t feeling like a fulfilling, rewarding relationship to me. I was a little resentful. I was often annoyed. I didn’t like how I was feeling. I didn’t like how I thought about this person anymore.

I just didn’t want to spend my time there. I didn’t enjoy spending my time with this person. I really thought long and hard about it, and we ended up getting into an argument. It was a rather heated argument at the time. We were driving in her car, and I actually had her pull over. I got out of her car, and I said, “I’m all done. I’m all done.” We never discussed it after that, our friendship just ended. It is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Moving on is the closure. The silence is the closure. I didn’t need to sit there and explain all of the things that I didn’t like about her, all of the things that I think she should change, all the things that she did that I didn’t like. I didn’t have to go through any of that.

I didn’t need to get her to see things my way. I didn’t need to change her mind. I didn’t need to defend myself. I didn’t need to explain myself. I didn’t need her to understand me. I made the decision that I wasn’t here for that friendship anymore, and I moved forward. Moving forward is the closure.

Now, you may be saying, “Olivia, I get it. I don’t technically ‘need’ to have this conversation, but I want to have the conversation.” And if that’s you, if you’re telling yourself, “I want to have the conversation we’ve already gone through,” with the fact that the conversation doesn’t create closure. So, that’s not why you want to have the conversation.

You can create closure all by your damn self, with your thoughts, by changing the way you’re thinking about the situation. So, if you still crave the conversation, I want you to be really honest with yourself. Why are you craving it?

In most cases, it is to do one of three things. To change the person’s mind. to change how they’re thinking about the situation. You want them to have a different opinion about it. You want them to change their thoughts. And you think by having the conversation, if they just listen to you, if they hear you out, will change your thoughts.

You also want to make them feel a certain way. You want to say things and you’re hoping that they’ll feel certain feelings based on the things that you say to them. You want to control how they feel.

Or lastly, option number three, you want to control their behavior. You think that if you have the conversation and you say the things, that they’ll do something differently, that there will be some different outcome. Maybe it’s that they’ll apologize. Maybe they’ll say what you’ve been waiting for them, to say maybe their behavior will change.

But our actions don’t control what other people think, how other people feel, or what other people do. So, your desire to have this conversation is really a desire to manipulate how they think, how they feel, and what they do.

And that’s not how humans operate. That doesn’t work. We don’t get to control what someone thinks, how someone feels, or the action that they take, that’s within their control. How you think, how you feel, and what you do, is within your control.

So, if you’re craving this conversation, to get them to change their mind, to get them to feel a certain way, to get them to do certain things, you’re not operating from a clean place.

Now, in very rare instances, I’ll have this conversation with clients of mine. I’ll ask them why they want to have this conversation, and it’s typically, the main answers are the reasons that I just gave you. They want to change what the other person’s thinking, they want to change how the other person’s feeling, and they want to change how the other person is acting.

In very rare instances, people just want to say something to say it. They’re not hoping for a different outcome. But it is very important for them to just feel heard. Now, you can’t control whether someone hears you, whether they’re listening.

But if you just need to say it in order to feel proud, to feel complete because it’s important for you to say what’s true for you, to say what’s on your heart just for the sake of saying it, not for changing the course of anything, and also not to create closure. If you just want to advocate for yourself by speaking up and saying the thing that’s on your mind, you get to do that. All right?

Most people, when we really work through this, they realize they can also do all of that on their own. They don’t have to have the conversation to feel that feeling. They get to just understand themselves. They just get to know that they’re right for themselves. They just get to have their own back.

They don’t actually have to say the thing in order to feel that way about their position, about their stance, they can just create that with their own thoughts.

When you realize that your motives aren’t clean, that really the only reason that you would want to have the conversation is to change what someone’s thinking, how they feel, or what they do, and you acknowledge that you don’t have control over those things, most people lose the desire.

They quash the craving to have the conversation. They don’t need to have it anymore. They don’t even want to have it anymore, because they realize it’s not going to accomplish what they think it’s going to accomplish. Okay?

So, if there’s a situation in your life where you’ve been craving closure, I want you to remember, you never need closure. But if you want it, you can create it for yourself, in your own mind, with your own mind. No conversation needed at all. All right?

Go give that a try. It’s going to really free you up from thinking about how you need to show up, what you need to do, what conversation you need to have, and the things you need to say to create closure. None of that’s necessary. You just get to create it for yourself. Have fun with that.

All right, that’s what I’ve got for you this week. I hope you have a beautiful 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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Episode 80: Email Inbox Insights

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Email Inbox Insights

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Email Inbox Insights

When you unpack your thoughts about your email inbox, what comes up? For most people, they don’t love how their inbox looks, but if you’re looking for a tactical strategy for reducing your stress around your email inbox, you’re in the right place. There are some best practices I always suggest to my clients when it comes to managing their email inboxes, and I’m bringing them to the podcast this week.

Just looking at your inbox can be really overwhelming, and there are some common mistakes a lot of people make. But when you follow my safeguards and processes for dealing with your inbox, as well as using the mindset shifts I’m sharing today, you can create a different experience of looking at your inbox.

Tune in this week for some valuable email inbox insights. I share practical strategies for making your inbox look how you want it to, the problem with working towards inbox zero, and I’m giving you tons of tips for keeping your inbox functional and organized in a way that works for you.

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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. At the end of October 2023, I’m selecting five random listener reviews and giving a prize to each of those reviewers! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How to get clear on your current thoughts about your inbox and what you want to change.
  • Why aiming for inbox zero might not be helping you.
  • How to decide what you want your email inbox to look like.
  • Why you always get to decide what you want your inbox to look like, for any reason you choose.
  • My best practices for handling your email inbox.
  • How to come up with a framework for maintaining an inbox that works for you.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 80. Today, we’re talking all about email inbox insights. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hey there, how are you? I hope your week is off to a wonderful start. I am so excited to talk about today’s topic. I talk a lot on the podcast about mindset, and we’re going to talk a little bit about that today, but this is going to be a really tactical episode.

I find that people get so much value out of the tactics that I teach when you’re just confused on the proper approach to take, and someone can just spell it out for you. It really does simplify your life. So, I’m going to do that on today’s episode.

We’re going to dive in and talk about some of the best practices that I suggest to my clients when it comes to their email. We’re going to talk about some of the mistakes that I see people make, how to safeguard against those mistakes, how to course correct if you’re making them, and a proper process to follow when it comes to dealing with your inbox. So, let’s dive in.

Actually, really quick, before we do that, I want to remind you, I’m going to say this at the end of the podcast as well, but I just want to remind you that I’m doing a giveaway this month. For anyone who leaves me a rating and review for the podcast on iTunes, you’re going to be entered into a giveaway. I’m going to give away five prizes to five different reviewers.

So, make sure you go do that; leave me a rating and a review. If you’re loving the podcast, tell me all the things you love about it. It means the world to me. It helps the podcast perform better, it helps me get this content in front of more people, and I want to help more lawyers live lives with less stress and far more fulfillment.

If you leave me a rating and review, it helps me achieve that goal. I want to thank you for your time, so that’s why I’m doing the giveaway. It ends at the end of the month, so make sure you get your reviews in before October 31st.

Without further ado, let’s talk about email. First of all, let’s just do a quick check in. What are your thoughts about email? Or your thoughts about your inbox? Are they positive or are they negative? Chances are, if you’re anything like my clients, you’re not thinking super positive thoughts about the number of emails that you receive, email in general, your inbox.

Are you thinking things like “I get too much email. I never know where to start when it comes to email. My inbox is never ending. I feel like I can never get to the bottom of it?” If you’re thinking those thoughts, you’re going to create a negative experience for yourself when it comes to how you interact with your inbox.

It’s going to be a source of overwhelm for you, not because email is inherently overwhelming, but because of the way that you’re choosing to think about it. So, you really want to check in with yourself here. What am I choosing to think about my inbox? What am I choosing to think about email?

Also, I want you to be thinking about, what’s my goal when it comes to email? I watch a lot of people focus on getting to inbox zero. And if that’s you, I’m not saying that there’s anything inherently wrong with that being your goal, but I really want you to check in with yourself. Why is that your goal? Why does that matter to you?

A lot of my perfectionists tell themselves they want to aim for inbox zero because it sounds good. It’s like this shiny gold star that is elusive and on the horizon, and they just want to keep reaching for it, but they can never quite get it in their grasp. Is that you?

You’ve got to check in with yourself here. Why do you want to aim for and strive for and work towards inbox zero? If you have a good reason for it, by all means aim for it. But if you’re just doing it because you think it’s what you “should” do, I just want to let you know it’s optional. That isn’t the gold standard. It’s not better than a different way of doing things. It’s just one thing to do.

Inbox zero is where you have nothing in your inbox. You either delete or file all of your emails that you’ve received. Now, much like a to-do list, my guess is you’re never actually going to get to inbox zero. And if you do get to it, it’s going to be fleeting because more emails are going to come in and then you’re going to have to process them.

So, what I like people to do, first and foremost, I want you to decide: Am I an inbox zero person? Is that what I’m striving for? Okay. And as part of that decision, you have to decide: What do I do with emails? If you’re an inbox zero person, they’re not just being read and staying in your inbox.

Now, quite frankly, that’s my preference. I don’t have the type of practice or business that requires me to file my emails, so I don’t file them. That’s my choice. I want to offer that as a choice that’s available to you.

If you work in a law firm setting, like when I used to work in big law, we did have to file our emails because they automatically deleted. So, if that’s you, you probably are going to strive for inbox zero, because you’re going to need to file those emails and save them to a particular client folder or a client matter.

So, you know what you’re working towards, you’re working towards a system of organization for your emails, so you know where those emails live, and you have a clear understanding of what goes where. It either relates to a client matter, or you might have a personal email file.

I had a personal email file on things that just related to maybe my Bar Association memberships, being licensed to the Michigan State Bar, things like that. That didn’t relate to any particular firm business, or any particular client matter. I had a file for that, where I could store things myself.

There might be newsletters that I would technically want to read, but I would never actually get around to it. But I had so much discomfort deleting that stuff that I would save it to a ‘read later’ folder.

So, you get to decide what you want your framework to be like. Do you want to be someone who saves things to folders? Or do you want to be someone who just lets things live in their inbox? Go ahead and decide that right now. Then make sure you really like your reasons for whatever it is you choose. All right?

Now, once you’ve made that decision, we can start to create a framework. I’m going to teach you my best practices for handling your email. One of the biggest mistakes I see my clients make is that they don’t factor time into their day for email. So, we need to start to do that. That’s a great place to start.

I want you to ask yourself, how much time do I spend on email? Email demands your time day in and day out. There’s some amount of time you devote to it. We want to know how much time that actually is. Is it one hour? Is it two hours? Sometimes it might be three hours or more.

It also might depend on what you have going on. If you’re working on a deal closing, you might be in your inbox all day long. You want to make sure you plan based on what your email is going to require of you. If your email on average requires two hours of your time, you’ve got to factor that into your daily plan.

I watch people day in, and day out, not factor it into their daily plan, which means at the end of the day, they end up feeling behind. Now why is that? Well, it’s because they planned eight hours of substantive work for an eight-hour day, and they didn’t afford any of the time that they were going to be spending in their inbox.

So, when they invariably spend two or three hours reading and responding to emails, they’re going to be that far behind whatever they planned to do for the day. Right? Because that time has to go somewhere. You can’t just fit three extra hours of emails into an eight-hour day when you’ve planned eight hours of work. Eleven hours will not fit into eight. It’s simple math. No matter how hard you try, I always remind people of this, you cannot fit 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound bag, it doesn’t work.

Which means, no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to be able to fit 11 hours of work into eight. It just won’t work that way. So, if you frequently feel behind, I want you to start getting better at understanding how much time you want to, and need to, spend on email.

One of the ways you can get a better understanding of this is by doing a time audit. I have a specific episode all about time audits. But what you need to do in order to complete a time audit is to keep track of how you spend your time all day long, all 24 hours of it.

And if you’re trying to get an understanding specifically as it relates to email, how much time you spend on email, you want to keep track of that. So, for the next two weeks, do that. Keep track of how much time you devote to it each day. It may change day in and day out.

It’s probably not going to change all that much. It’s probably not going to be a significant difference day to day. But you’re going to be able to calculate an average, daily average email time. And then, you can build that time into your daily plan.

So, if you average two hours on email each day, and you want to… don’t go under average, go over average… if you’re at two hours and 15 minutes, give yourself two and a half. Or if you’re at two hours and 22 minutes, give yourself an hour and a half. Don’t go lower, go higher.

What this means, when you’re factoring this email time into your daily plan, you’re going to create email blocks in your daily plan. You’re going to take that average, and then you’re going to find that time in your daily plan and calendar it; time slots where you only do email. Yes, you heard me right, time where you only do email.

So many people don’t set aside a specific time block for email. They just end up in their inbox in between everything else they’re doing all day long. And they end up being what I like to call “half pregnant.” Splitting their time between the substantive projects that they’re working on, and reading and responding to the incoming correspondence that they get. If you’re guilty of doing this a you’re not alone, so many people are guilty of doing this.

But I want you to know, it makes you so inefficient you end up wasting so much of your own time reorienting yourself between the projects that you’re working on and your inbox, you constantly keep interrupting yourself. You keep distracting yourself with the messages that are coming in.

This is a perfect time for me to mention that notifications on your phone and your desktop should be off. You don’t need those little messages popping up in the corner of your screen telling you that you just got an email from so-and-so.

You also don’t need that little number on the top of the email icon on your phone. If you can move your email to a secondary screen, not your main screen, that’s a great way to get it out of sight, out of mind, so you’re not constantly being haunted by the little red notification icon that shows you you have mail.

You want to make sure you really eliminate all of the notifications that you can so you’re only seeing that you have mail when you go in to check to see if you have mail. It’s really going to dial down that desire to jump from what you’re doing and scratch that itch because you received a notification. If we eliminate the notification, we eliminate a lot of itch.

And as you start to decondition your desire to constantly be checking your email, it’s going to get easier and easier over time to not check it. We conditioned ourselves to want to check all the time, and we create this relief/reward system where our curiosity and our uncertainty about what’s in our inbox builds.

Then that grows higher and higher and higher and more uncomfortable, and we ultimately check it. We feel that sense of relief, and we create a sense of certainty because now we know what’s there, whether there’s something new there or not. We have certainty on what is there, and then we feel relieved.

And the cycle starts over again. We go back to doing what we were doing, the tension builds, the uncertainty builds, the curiosity builds, and then we check it again, and we get relief. So, we create this reward cycle for ourselves. By doing that we condition ourselves into this habit.

All that means is that you can decondition yourself out of this habit by going longer and longer and longer periods of time without checking. It may be uncomfortable, very uncomfortable in the beginning. But the longer you go and the more you practice not checking, the more tolerant you’ll get of that discomfort, and the less it will bother you.

Now, let’s get back to talking about email blocks. We don’t want to be in and out of your inbox all day long. It’s just not a productive, efficient way to work. Instead, we want to figure out how long you need each day for email. I just talked about that. You’re going to get that average, and then you want to factor those time blocks into your daily plan.

Part of this requires you to define what “responsive enough” means to you. You have to figure out what your comfort level is, as far as it comes to how quickly you want to respond. Most people are operating with “responsive enough” meaning “as soon as possible.”

Or they also do what a lot of my clients do, which is, they say, “Well, it depends on what the message is.” If your standard is “as soon as possible,” or “it depends on what the message is,” then you’re always going to need to be checking your inbox so you can respond as soon as possible, or so you can see what the message is in order to make the determination about how quickly you need to respond.

We don’t want you doing that. We can’t have it be the “it depends” standard. I know they teach that to you in law school, that “it depends” mindset, but it really doesn’t serve you when it comes to email. If you’ve got the “it depends” mindset, you’re always going to have to be in your inbox to make those real time determinations of, do I need to respond to this immediately or can it wait?

Then, once you know that it’s there, it’s going to be much harder to let it wait, because now it’s this open action item that you really want to tend to. So, you’ve got to define what “responsive enough” is for you. Does “responsive enough” mean you respond within eight hours? Same day? Twenty-four hours? Four hours?

There is no right or wrong answer. This is just the answer that feels right for you. But I want you to decide what it is. If your answer is ‘an hour,’ then it’s an hour. Now, I don’t recommend that. I think that’s a little too frequent. It really robs you of the ability to plan focused work time blocks throughout your day. You’re constantly going to be jumping back and forth between things that you haven’t finished and your inbox.

I really like people to think how long would you be willing to go in a client meeting without responding to email, because you have to be fully present in that client meeting. Is there ever a time where you meet with a client for let’s say, two or three hours? Maybe you’re preparing for something. Maybe it’s a really long call, a strategy session.

Maybe you’re in a deposition and you’re out of pocket for four hours or eight hours, right? If you’re in trial and you’re gone all day, then let that be your guide. Let that be your standard, at least as a starting point. You can work up to longer periods of time.

If you would be willing to spend four hours with a client, or four hours at a golf outing entertaining a client, or four hours at a three Martini lunch… if they still do those. I’m sure they do somewhere… But if you’re willing to devote that kind of uninterrupted present focused time, then that’s a good, standard little bright line rule that you can start to use for what does “responsive enough” mean to you.

Now, depending on what your comfort level is, you’ll come up with your answer. And then, I want you to start to arrange your time blocks in light of that answer. So, I typically suggest between two to four email blocks a day. And again, that’s going to depend on your comfort level.

If you have less of a tolerance for a longer period of time between responding, you’re going to have more time blocks for email on your schedule. If you have a higher tolerance, and you’re more comfortable with going a little bit longer without responding, you can get down to two time blocks a day, or even one time block a day.

I have someone on my email list; she is like my hero; I absolutely love it. When I send out emails to my list I get people’s auto-responders, so I receive your ‘out of office’ notifications. Because I have a lot of people on my email list, I get bombarded with a lot of ‘out of office’ messages all at once. Because at any given time, a certain percentage of my list is ‘out of office.’

There’s this one woman, and her ‘out of office’ isn’t actually an ‘out of office,’ it’s just her default response. Whenever she receives a message, she informs people that she only responds to email once a day. I absolutely love it.

She acknowledges that it might be unconventional, but that it’s the best way for her to serve her clients. And if they need something immediately, they’re welcome to call her but that she only checks and responds to email once a day. That’s just her process. I absolutely love that.

Now, you can tell she has a higher tolerance and a higher level of comfort with taking longer to respond. I’m sure she had to work up to that. But she did work up to that, and she’s just an example of what’s possible.

You have to figure out what your comfort level is. Do you want to respond once a day? Do you want to respond twice a day? Do you want to respond four times a day? It’s up to you, but you want to decide and pick a number and stick to it. We don’t make up a new decision day in day out. You’re going to decide this one time and you’re going to stick to it. You’re going to have a clear understanding of how much time you need to spend on email.

And then, you’re going to figure out, how do I want to break that up? So, let’s say you need to spend two hours a day on email. If you were going to have to email blocks, here’s the proposed schedule.

You start work at 9. You do email for an hour. From 10-12 you’ve got focused work time. From 12-1 you eat lunch. At one o’clock you’ve got a client call. At two o’clock you’ve got a client call. From 3-5 you’ve got another block of focused work. And then, from 5-6 you do another hour of email. At six o’clock you stop working. How fun is that? How orderly and clean and systematic is that?

Now, let’s say you want to do three time slots a day: same thing. Start work at 9am with an hour of email. Another focused work time block from 10-12. Have lunch from 12-12:30. Email for half an hour from 12:30-1. Client calls at one and two o’clock. Another chunk of focused work time from 3-5:30. And then, another block of email from 5:30-6.

Okay? That gets you those two hours of email. If you need more than two hours, you can make that last block of the day a little bit longer.

If you wanted four time blocks for email, if you don’t want to wait until after lunch for that second email block, your schedule could look something like this. Email from 9-10. Focused work time from 10-12. Email for 30 minutes, from 12-12:30. Lunch from 12:30-1. Client call at one o’clock. Client call at two o’clock. Email from 3-3:30. Focused work time from 3:30-5:30. And then, email for 30 more minutes, from 5:30-6.

You can go to my website and see the transcript, so these time blocks are really clear. You can see them in front of you. You can copy and paste them if you want. All right? That option’s available to you. Or you can just rewind to this part of the podcast, slow me down, because I talk a little fast, and take notes. Pause where you need to, to sketch this out.

But decide for yourself which of these options resonates with you the most. Pick one and try it. Try it for 30 days, and see what happens. See if it works for you. See what doesn’t work for you. Learn what needs to change, what works, what doesn’t. You’ll start to come up with a system that feels most aligned with the way you want to work.

The choice is really yours. There isn’t one right way to do this. I recommend two to four time blocks a day, simply because I’ve coached enough people on this, and I’ve found patterns for what my clients tend to prefer. They either want to do it twice a day, three times a day, or four times a day. Those are the common answers.

Again, like I said, if you’re checking every single hour, you can do that. You could have a 15 minute block of time for email at the start of every hour, or at the end of every hour. But that’s going to be really disruptive. So, I’d love for you to give the two, three, or four time block options a try before you go to that instead.

Now, like I said, this is going to depend on your discomfort tolerance. What that means, is that you should not be alarmed if doing this, sticking to this, and honoring this schedule, honoring these time blocks, is uncomfortable at first. It is likely to be uncomfortable.

You want to get very clear on how exactly it’s going to feel uncomfortable. Are you going to have to feel constrained? Are you going to have to feel guilty? Are you going to have to feel worried that you’re not getting back to people fast enough, that they’re going to be upset, that people might judge you?

Yeah, you’re going to have to feel that type of discomfort. It’s going to be fine. Trust me, “responsive enough” is what I just laid out for you. You don’t have to be responding as soon as possible, or within 15 minutes, that’s not necessary.

If you’re a junior and you’re working with someone, feel free to ask them what they expect as far as responsiveness, in order to get an idea. You don’t have to adhere to their expectation. You can make up your own mind on what you want your expectation to be for yourself. But it does help to get someone to think that through so that you have more aligned expectations, and that you’re more closely on the same page than if you hadn’t had the conversation.

Now, like I said, it’s going to feel uncomfortable. That’s because you’re probably used to responding to people immediately. So, waiting to respond during your scheduled email blocks is going to feel unfamiliar at first. But once you get used to it, I promise you really will love it.

And you’re going to love it because you’re going to be so much more productive, efficient, and effective. You’re going to better serve your clients because you’re going to get to the meat and potatoes work so much faster, with so much more consistency, so much more regularity, than you currently are.

If you are guilty of setting out an ambitious plan for the day, then getting into your inbox and the plan goes right out the window, and you don’t get to even the second thing on your to-do list that you planned to do, following this way of emailing, and handling your inbox and scheduling your time for email is going to be a game changer for you.

You’re going to actually be able to complete what you planned. Do you know how good that feels? You’re actually going to get to the end of your day and not feel behind. Number one, because you planned intentional time for email instead of pretending like email doesn’t exist. And then, double booking yourself between the substantive work and emailing, because you know you’re going to be spending time in your email.

And you don’t get stuck in your email because you know you’re going to check it later. You don’t have to respond right now. You’re going to get to it, you have time set aside for it.

So, you can stay focused on the task in front of you, and work methodically through your plan for the day getting your most important work done, while trusting that you’re also going to have time to read and respond to the messages that you receive. Because you’ve made it a part of your plan.

This is going to help you be so much more productive, so much more efficient. It’s going to make your work feel less frenzied, less chaotic, and it’s going to make work more enjoyable. Chaotic, frenzied work doesn’t feel fun, right? So, this is going to feel really intentional, really methodical, and much more enjoyable.

Now, we’ve got a system for how to schedule our email. You need to get clear on the time that it takes you to email each day, your average amount of time, and then you’ve got to schedule time blocks for email.

But you might be asking yourself, “Olivia, what the hell do I do during those time blocks? I get so overwhelmed with my inbox I don’t know where to start.” If that’s you, I’m going to give you the framework that I teach my clients.

It’s a process for processing your emails, all right? For working your way through your inbox. At the beginning of this episode, I asked you to decide: Am I an inbox zero girl or guy, or not? That answer is really important because it’s going to inform part of the process that I’m going to lay out for you.

But before we dive into this specific process, I just want to say, if you feel overwhelmed by your inbox, it is likely because you don’t have a plan for how to process it. That’s basically a great rule of thumb whenever you feel overwhelmed by something, you probably just haven’t taken the time to come up for a plan of how to process it, whatever the thing in front of you is.

First, in order to make our plan for processing email, we’ve got to make decisions. First decision, like I said a moment ago, is: Are we an inbox zero person? Are we doing that or are we not?

The second decision that I want you to make is: Where do we start when it comes to email? When you’re going to work your way through your inbox? Let’s say you have 100 unread emails, where are we starting? Are we starting with the one that was most recently received? Or are we going to first in time?

I watch people not decide between those two options, then they spin, and they never make up their mind, and they never work through their inbox because they’re confused about which approach they should take. Same thing with inbox zero, if you don’t know. Am I filing emails or am I letting them stay in my inbox? What is it that I need to do here?

So, make up your mind right now. Do you want it to be first in time, or do you want it to be most recently received? What do you want your starting point to be for processing email? Are we saving emails to files, or are we just letting things stay in our inbox unfiled, marked red?

Once you’ve made the decision, you’re going to go through your email during your scheduled time block; one by one, email by email. For each email you’re going to make a decision. You’ve got four options. Delete it. Second option, save it/no response required. If you’re not an inbox zero person and you’re letting things stay in your inbox, it would be marked read/no response required. Instead of save it, file it. Okay?

Option number one is delete it. Option number two is save it by filing no response required, or mark it read/no response required. And then, option three is respond to the email immediately. If a response is required that will take you less than five sentences to send. Again, if you’re following inbox zero, file email. If you’re not following inbox zero, just let it be there.

And then, option number four is a response is required, but it’s not a response that you can complete within five sentences. Five sentences are just my rule of thumb. You can pick your own rule of thumb. It might be 10 sentences, or it might be less than five minutes. Make up your mind about what you want your standard to be. If you can’t think of a good one, use my rule: Five sentences, or shorter.

Option number four, if the response is longer than five sentences, then you’re going to add responding to this email as a task to your to-do list. You’re going to add it onto your to-do list, and then you’re going to schedule the time that you’ll respond, on your calendar. Okay? Then you’re just going to let that stay in your inbox until you go back and complete it at the scheduled time. Then you would save it or mark it as read.

Those are only four options when it comes to email. It is no more complicated than that: delete it, file it, no response required. Let it live in your inbox/no response required, that’s the second option. Third option, respond immediately if you can respond in less than five sentences. Option number four, if it requires more than a five sentence response, add it to your to-do list.

And when you’re making your plan for the following day, schedule time when you will respond and put it on your calendar. That’s it. That’s the process that you need to follow to process your email inbox.

Now, that’s not what most people do when they dive into their inbox. They just start diving in headfirst with no rhyme or reason. They either hop around reading things and only responding to what they want to respond to. They don’t add things to their to-do list, so they lose sight of things. If it’s out of sight, out of mind, and you forget to respond.

Or you dive in, and you just start answering every single email, without regard for how long that task is going to take you. You end up getting bogged down by typing out very meaty responses, that you can’t ever get through all of the messages that you’ve received. You don’t process them, so you don’t know what’s there.

Then you’re seeing this higher number of unread emails because you’re getting stuck on a really meaty response, so you don’t know that out of the 100, maybe 70 are deletes, saves/no response required. Right? That means you would only have 30 to get through. Maybe 25 of the 30 are ones you can respond to immediately.

So, if you’re following my system, you’re going to get a much clearer understanding of what is actually in your inbox, what your inbox is going to require of you, how much time it’s going to take you, and what you have to do in response to the emails that you’ve received.

When you create this clarity, by following this process and making one of these four decisions, you’re going to feel like you have such a better handle on your workload. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and stressed out not knowing what’s in the 95 emails that you haven’t been able to read through yet, because you got bogged down responding to email number four out of 100. This process helps you avoid getting bogged down.

It’s also helpful to decide, for lengthy responses, whether you want to send a short message that confirms that you received the email and that you’re working on it. I watch a lot of people not make up their mind about this, as well. They’re half torn between, ‘do I want to be someone who responds and acknowledges receipt? Or do I want to just send my substantive response later?’

I encourage people to confirm receipt. I think it dials down your anxiety, your stress, and your overwhelm. It dials down your guilt. It makes it less likely that someone’s going to send a follow-up email checking in on the status of something if you’ve acknowledged that you’ve received it.

Most of my clients hate receiving those follow up emails, so if you hate receiving them, I encourage you to send a quick “Got it. Looking into this. I’ll get back to you. I’ll get back to you soon.” You don’t even have to commit yourself to a specific timeline if you don’t want. All right?

So, make that decision ahead of time, too. Just like you’re deciding ahead of time if you’re inbox zero or not, if you start first in time or most recently received, and then do you send confirmation of receipt ‘I’m working on it. I’ll get back to you.’

Making these decisions ahead of time makes it so that you’re not confused when you’re going through and processing your emails. That means you’re going to work with more ease. The more we dial down the confusion, the easier we make it to get our work done. Okay?

I promise you; your email inbox does not have to be the bane of your existence. But the only way that’s going to happen is if you make these decisions ahead of time, you come up with a process. I highly encourage you, don’t reinvent the wheel. Just adopt mine. The one I just gave you in this episode.

And then, once you make these decisions ahead of time and you’ve got a process, follow it. You won’t do this perfectly at first, that’s fine. That doesn’t mean you need to go recreate an entirely new process; you just need to practice sticking to the one that I just offered you. Okay?

Doing that day in day out, and getting 1% better every single day, is going to be a game changer for you. It is going to make it so much easier for you to manage the messages you receive. And that’s what I want for you. I want it to be easier for you to manage the messages, that you get to read them, to respond to them, and then to get on to the rest of your work.

Email doesn’t have to be overwhelming; you just have to change the way you think about it and then you’ve got to alter your approach to it. I hope what I gave you in this episode is super valuable. Go give it a try and see how it changes the way you work. It’s really going to make a big difference. I guarantee it.

All right, my friends. That’s what I’ve got for you this week.

Remember, like I said at the beginning of this episode, I’m doing the giveaway for ratings and reviews of the podcast. So, go do that. Go give it a rating and review. Tell me what you think. Tell me that you’re loving it. It tells me that it’s been helping you out, making your life less stressful and far more fulfilling. That’s what I’m aiming for. That’s what I hope to hear from you.

When you do that, when you give me a little bit of your valuable time by leaving me a rating and review, you get entered to win a giveaway. I’m going to pick five reviewers and give away five amazing prizes as a thank you, to extend my gratitude for you taking the time to do that. All right? Go ahead and get that done.

In the meantime, 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.

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Episode 79: Can’t Thinking, Avoidant Behavior & Reward Systems

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Can't Thinking, Avoidant Behavior & Reward Systems

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Can't Thinking, Avoidant Behavior & Reward Systems

When you’re faced with big projects and decisions in your work, you’ll inevitably encounter resistance. You’re thinking you can’t handle what’s in front of you, and this leads to avoidant behavior. We often think we can’t force ourselves to do things. But the truth is, you literally can force yourself to do hard things, and that’s where the reward systems piece comes in.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, you might be rewarding yourself for your avoidant behavior. Whatever you’ve been avoiding, today’s episode is for you. You’re capable of much more than you currently believe, as long as you build the necessary skill sets, and I’m showing you how on today’s show.

Tune in this week to discover the problem with can’t thinking, how it leads to avoidant behavior, and why the solution lies in how you reward yourself. I’m discussing why you can always force yourself to do the difficult things, and how to change your thoughts so you can get things done and stop avoiding life, without needing to force yourself.

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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. At the end of October 2023, I’m selecting five random listener reviews and giving a prize to each of those reviewers! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why you need to be on the lookout for can’t thinking, especially if you’re a procrastinator.
  • How can’t thinking leads to avoidant behavior.
  • My standard for whether you can or can’t force yourself to do something.
  • How to identify the thoughts and feelings leaving you feeling avoidant and unable to take action.
  • A framework for changing your thoughts, so you feel capable and in control.
  • How to eliminate the reward cycle that keeps you procrastinating.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 79. Today, we’re talking all about “can’t” thinking, avoidant behavior, and reward cycles. 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 there. How are you? I hope all is going well in your neck of the woods. I am doing well over here, getting settled down in Charleston. I’m finally getting back into the rhythm of coaching my clients.

My first week here, there was construction right outside of my office on the porch in the place that I’m staying, and it was pretty disruptive to my coaching schedule. So, I’m getting back into the swing of things now. I am into my second full week of coaching my clients following my regular schedule, and something came up on a recent client call and it inspired today’s episode topic.

This is actually something that comes up pretty frequently with the clients I coach, especially the people that I work with who struggle with procrastination and avoidant behavior. So, I’ve talked on the podcast before about thinking that things are hard.

I recently did an episode about thinking that something’s big, that it’s a big project, that it’s a big deal, that it’s a big decision, and how we create resistance for ourselves when we’re thinking those types of thoughts. We drive up our avoidant behavior by thinking that way.

Another way that I see people drive up their avoidant behavior is by telling themselves that they can’t do something. This might seem really obvious, but I promise you, it is a really important thing to be on the lookout for, especially if you’re a procrastinator.

So, if you procrastinate, you probably do what a lot of my clients do, which is they tell themselves that they literally can’t force themselves to do something. When I coach people week in and week out on avoiding what they’ve planned to do, my clients come back to me and they’re like, “Olivia, you don’t understand. I just can’t force myself to do it.”

This is actually one of my favorite thoughts to coach on, because it couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is, you literally, you quite literally can force yourself to do something. All right? Now it has to be something that’s within the realm of possible things that you can do.

If I asked you to jump off of a 50-story building and fly without any machinery attached to you, you can’t do that. Humans can’t fly without being assisted by some sort of technology. But if it is something within your capabilities, your natural capabilities to do, then you literally can force yourself to do it.

So, the standard, and this is going to seem kind of drastic and maybe a little dramatic, but I do use the standard and I think it’s very, very helpful. It just provides so much clarity. My standard for whether you can or cannot force yourself to do something is, “If I put a gun to your head, and your life was on the line, would you be able to do it?”

If there’s an email that you’re avoiding sending right now, you know that there’s an email in your inbox that’s been there for a week and a half, and you just keep telling yourself, “I can’t force myself to respond. I don’t understand what’s wrong with me. I just can’t force myself to respond to it.” You keep dwelling on it and it’s starting to haunt you.

It’s sort of like “The Tell-Tale Heart” Edgar Allan Poe poem, right? It’s relentless, it won’t leave you be, it’s just lingering there hanging over your head, creating all of that extra stress and strife, and you’ve got so much dread that’s just building up inside of you.

We make matters worse by lying to ourselves and telling ourselves that we literally can’t do it. But if I put a gun to your head, and your life was on the line, and it was between you sending that email and you dying, you would find the willpower to send the email. You would write it probably quite quickly. You would be able to find within you that motivation, that drive, that determination, would come to the surface.

I’m not suggesting that we put ourselves in such dire situations as having a gun to our head. But what I want to highlight here is that if you are capable of doing it under such circumstances, then you’re always capable of doing it.

So, the opposite is actually true, you literally can force yourself to do it. Learning how to force yourself to do things is a skill set that we build, right? This is what I mean when I talk about developing discipline. It’s when you force yourself to do something simply because you committed to doing it, regardless of whether or not you feel like it.

But the only way that you can develop discipline is by no longer believing the lie that you can’t force yourself to do it. Because like I said earlier, the opposite is true, you literally can.

Now, I want to talk a little bit about what happens when we tell ourselves that we can’t force ourselves to do something. When you’re thinking about a task and you’re telling yourself, “I can’t force myself to do that,” you end up feeling really out of control and helpless, very powerless.

Then think about what you do when you’re feeling that way. You procrastinate, you avoid, you don’t force yourself to do it. So, if you’re thinking that you can’t force yourself to do it, I promise you, you won’t.

Now, when you change your thoughts to the opposite, to choosing to believe, “I literally can force myself to do this,” what changes? You’re going to feel completely different. You’re going to feel capable and in control. And when you’re feeling capable and in control, guess what you do instead of procrastinating and avoiding the task at hand? You do it.

I’m going to give you even more of a specific framework to follow. I want you to, when you’re telling yourself, “I literally can force myself to do this,” and you’re feeling capable and in control, I want you to start by identifying: What are the thoughts, the negative thoughts, I’m thinking? And the negative feelings that those thoughts cause me to feel, that are coming up for me when it comes to this task?

I want you to identify the specific T’s and F’s; the specific thoughts and feelings, okay? You’re going to identify those thoughts, and you’re going to make a little list. I call it an “allowance list” of the negative emotions that instead of avoiding, you’re going to force yourself to feel. You’re going to feel them on purpose, okay?

So, you’re going to find the negative thoughts and identify the negative feelings. And then, I want you to pick one thought that you’re going to think instead of all of the negative thoughts that you just identified. What’s the thought you’re going to choose to think instead? I love to think, “I literally can force myself to do this.”

Then I want you to find one additional thought about the task. One thought makes you feel a little bit more determined, a little bit more committed, a little bit more in control, a little bit more capable. What’s that thought?

And then I want you to make a deal with yourself. Remind yourself that you literally can force yourself to do this task. You’re going to say, “All right, I’m going to be willing to feel all the negative feelings that doing this task will require me to feel,” and then you’re going to gag-and-go through that discomfort.

So, when you’re believing that you literally can force yourself to do it, guess what? You end up doing the task. You end up forcing yourself to do it. And you get all of the relief and sense of accomplishment that comes on the other side of telling yourself that you literally can force yourself to do it, that it’s within your control, that you’re in control of yourself, rather than being out of control and not having any power over what you do and do not do.

Now, I want to also offer a few different suggestions for what you can do to really overcome your initial resistance. I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, but when you are feeling really resistant and you’re in an avoidant pattern, and you feel like you can’t bring yourself to do the task at hand, I want you to make a deal with yourself that you’re just going to do it for 30 seconds. If you can get 30 seconds into a task, you will work on it longer than 30 seconds. But you just have to get over that initial hump.

Another incredible trick, and I love this one. I actually learned this from Kara Loewentheil. She’s a coach, also a former attorney. She teaches people… Because one of the reasons that we end up resisting the negative emotion is we’re shoulding on ourselves. We’re telling ourselves we have to do something, and then we create this rebellion cycle.

You start to rebel because deep down you know you don’t have to do anything. You become sort of like a petulant child; really fighting yourself, going to war with yourself. You’re telling yourself you need to do something, you have to do something, and the toddler inside of you, the primitive part of your brain is like, “No, I don’t. You can’t tell me what to do.” Then you create this resistance.

When there’s resistance, then we want to rebel against the resistance. You end up rebelling by procrastinating, by avoiding the task that you keep telling yourself you have to do. While simultaneously telling yourself that you literally can’t force yourself to do it, even though you can.

So, the suggestion that Kara makes, which I think is absolutely brilliant, is she suggests if you’re going to rebel, because you just have to prove to yourself that you have free will, then rebel, but don’t reward yourself. Meaning, don’t do the thing that you said you were going to do, and also don’t do anything else.

Don’t scroll on Instagram, don’t go watch an episode of Seinfeld, don’t go grab a snack, don’t go work on something else that you weren’t planning to work on but seems more fun or easier to do in the moment. Literally do nothing else. When you confront this decision, this choice between doing the thing you plan to do or doing nothing at all, 99 times out of 100 you’ll choose to do the task at hand rather than squander that time.

The problem that we face when we’re in an avoidant pattern is that we reward ourselves by doing something more entertaining, more fun in the moment, easier in the moment, and then we reinforce this resist/avoid rebel cycle because we get a benefit by avoiding the task that we planned to do. We have to eliminate that reward cycle.

If you stop rewarding yourself by doing something else that’s more entertaining or easier or more fun, and it just comes down to wasting time or doing the thing you planned to do, doing the thing you planned to do will be less uncomfortable than just wasting the time. So, you end up choosing that because it’s preferable to the alternative. That will only happen when you take the reward, the more entertaining option, off the table.

You really are only comparing, “Do the thing that I planned to do, or do nothing at all?” But all of this starts with you believing that you literally can force yourself to do something.

So, I want this to become one of the most practiced thoughts you think, all right? Every time you tell yourself, “I can’t force myself to do this. I don’t understand why I can’t force myself to do this,” I want you to remind yourself, that it isn’t true.

“That’s just a lie my brain is offering to me right now to get me to avoid completing this task, to get me to seek instant gratification and comfort, temporary comfort in the moment. It’s just a lie. What is true, is that I literally can force myself to do this. I just have to be willing to feel some uncomfortable feelings, and that’s within my capabilities, that’s within my power and my control. I can feel those feelings and force myself to complete this task. I am strong in that way. I am capable in that way. That’s within my abilities to do.”

Every time you tell yourself you can’t you have to redirect your brain and remind yourself that that isn’t true, and that you can. You absolutely can force yourself to do something. I know it might not sound like a super exciting way to go through life, forcing yourself to do things that you don’t want to do, but I promise you, it really is rewarding.

You will feel so much more proud of yourself when you force yourself to do things you don’t feel like doing, simply because you promised yourself you would do them. All right? Give this a try.

Practice thinking this new thought, “I literally can force myself to do this,” and see what happens over time. It may not work the first time, or the fifth time, or the 10th time, or the 50th time, but if you keep practicing this thought, I promise you, over time you will build belief in your ability to force yourself to do things.

And, you get to start small, if you want to start small. Don’t start with the hardest thing on your to-do list. Start with the easiest things, the things you just have a little bit of resistance to, not a ton of resistance to. Okay? Remind yourself, “I can literally force myself to do this. If a gun was to my head, I’d be able to do it, which means I can do it anytime I choose. I just have to force myself to follow through.”

You can force yourself to follow through, you just need to practice. All right, get out there and go practice.

That’s what I’ve got for you this week, my friends. Short and sweet and to the point, but it’s a big game-changing shift in your thinking. From “I can’t,” to, “I can.” Go out there and go get things done.

I will talk to you next week. In the meantime, have a beautiful week. I’ll see 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 78: My Time Management Masterclass

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | My Time Management Masterclass

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | My Time Management Masterclass

As you may know, I host monthly webinars on a range of different topics, and I recently hosted a time management masterclass with almost 1,000 people in attendance. The feedback was incredible, and the content was so valuable that I have decided to share it here on the podcast this week. If you have ever wondered what it is like to work with me personally and how the stuff I share in these formats differs from the podcast, this episode provides a glimpse into both. 

This is the most comprehensive and easily digestible way you’ll hear time management taught, so if you need a refresher for managing your time, don’t miss this episode. I’m also giving you information on a lawyer-only opportunity to work with me and get coached on your personal and professional development.

Tune in this week for a masterclass on everything you need to know about managing your time. I’m sharing how to start working on your mindset around your time, some of the common mistakes lawyers make when planning and scheduling, and three key actionable steps you can implement right now to manage your time more effectively.

Want to be the first to know when my monthly subscription Lawyers Only launches? Click here and sign up for the waitlist!

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. At the end of October 2023, I’m selecting five random listener reviews and giving a prize to each of those reviewers! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The mindset required for managing your time.
  • How to gain awareness of why you currently struggle with time management.
  • Some common mistakes lawyers make when it comes to managing their time.
  • A special announcement you don’t want to miss.
  • How rules and discipline around your calendar will create freedom in your life.
  • The foundational skills that will set you up for time management success.
  • 3 key steps for managing your time.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 78. Today, you’re in for a treat. I’m doing something I’ve never done on the podcast before. 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’m so excited to share this episode with you. I haven’t done this on the podcast before. I’ve been thinking about doing it for a really long time because I host monthly master classes on a different topic every month, and I just got done doing one on time management, which happens to be one of the most popular topics that I coach on.

I would say, time management, how to set boundaries, and how to develop business are my three top topics that I teach. The most popular, by far, among my audience.

So, I just got done, at the end of September, recording my time management masterclass. I did it live. I did it in front of an audience of almost 1,000 people, the biggest audience that I’ve had yet at a webinar. The feedback that I got on this masterclass was incredible. People reached out to me, slid into my DMs, texted me, and emailed me right after the class was over. They said it was insanely valuable.

People have been dying to get their hands on the replay. The replay, if you want to watch it, is available on my social media. If you go to my Instagram, there’s a Linktree link on my profile, and you can watch the replay on Zoom there. But I’ve never done this, and I’ve been thinking about doing it.

Actually, this is inspired a little bit by Gary Vaynerchuk. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Gary V., but he’s an entrepreneur and he takes a lot of his keynote speeches and turns them in to podcast episodes. So, I got the idea, the inspiration, from him, to take my monthly masterclass and turn it into a podcast episode.

I teach a little bit differently during my master classes than I do on the podcast, so I wanted you to hear how I interact with my viewers in real time, and how we workshop through problems together. It really gives you a glimpse inside of what it’s like to work with me.

I teach my time management framework in the most comprehensive way that I’ve ever, ever taught it. You’ve heard me talk about my time management series on this podcast before. There are amazing episodes, I think it’s like Episode 26 or 28 through the mid-30s, all on time management. This is like one hour; everything you could possibly think that you would need in this one-hour masterclass.

I haven’t taught it this comprehensively, all in one place, in this short amount of time where it’s just easily digestible. And I wanted to give you a chance to have a refresher course. If you’ve been following along with the podcast for a long time and you’ve already listened to those episodes, amazing.

This is going to be the refresher that you really need if you’re still struggling with managing your time. If you’re new to the podcast, this is an amazing deep dive for you to get more familiar with what I teach.

At the end of the podcast episode, at the end of the audio recording for this masterclass, I talk about the monthly subscription that I’m getting ready to launch. I’m going to talk about that more on the podcast in future episodes. But I just wanted to give it to you now.

If you already heard me talk about the monthly subscription service that I’m starting, it’s for lawyers only. It’s a coaching subscription, where we’re going to meet each week, and just like Netflix, it just keeps recurring. So, you keep getting the support month in and month out for your personal and professional development. It’s just like Netflix, is how I keep describing it to people.

If you want in on that, as soon as I launch it later in October, I want you right now to head to bit.ly/lawyers only. Go there and sign up for the interest list, and you’re going to get a private invitation from me before I open enrollment to the public. It’s going to give you the first opportunity that you have to join this monthly subscription and to get to be part of the founding cohort.

It’s going to be so incredible. I talk a little bit about what the membership is going to be like at the end of the masterclass. So, make sure you listen to the whole thing. And, of course, you also want to listen to the whole thing because I can’t say this enough, this masterclass is incredible. It’s everything you need to know about how to manage your time.

So, tune in. I think you’re really going to enjoy it, and hopefully this inspires you to come to my next master class. I’m teaching you how to care less about what other people think. If you want to register for that, head to my Instagram as well. Click on the link in my bio, and you can register for my next masterclass there. I hope to see you on Zoom, and have you take part in the next one, and I hope you’ll enjoy this one. I definitely think you will. Happy listening, my friends.

Hello, hello. How are we? How is everyone doing? Welcome. So excited to teach this class today. I haven’t taught time management this comprehensively, I don’t think, ever. So, I am so, so excited to dive in and teach you all of the things about how to manage your time.

I’m going to give people a few minutes to get in here. As I do that, do me a favor. If this is the first time you’ve ever been to one of my webinars, welcome. I’m Olivia Vizachero. I’m a life coach for lawyers. One of the things that I teach on the most is how to manage your time.

If you have been here before, you know how I like to run my webinars. You know that I love a really active chat. So, do me a favor, if you’re new or you’ve been here before, just jump in the chat really fast. Make sure you switch it from “to hosts and panelists” to “to everyone,” and come on in the chat. Say hi, let me know if this is your first time.

Amy, amazing. First time, Laura. First time, Andy. First time… So good to see you guys here. So, I workshop with people, and we’re going to do a lot of that together today. We’re going to engage. I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions in the chat. I want you to answer me in real time. I do a really good job about reading as I go, because I really want this to be a conversation.

Even though we’re not together in person, I want it to feel like I’m in the room with you when you’re learning this, and I’m right there in front of you. So, the way that we do that…

Second time, Scott, amazing. Second time, Amy, good to see you again. Hey, Cassandra.

So, the way that we do that is by having this really engaging chat. The reason, and I call people out, the reason I have you switch from “to hosts and panelists” to “to everyone” is I want everyone else to see your amazing comments.

Sometimes people are afraid to speak up, and if I’m the only one who can read what you’re saying other people are going to be chilled and not want to participate as much. So, you’ve got to lead the way and make it comfortable for other people to participate and engage in the conversation.

The other reason that it’s important is it doesn’t make sense if I’m reading something and I’m responding to you, but no one else can see what I’m reading and responding to. It’s just a little confusing, right?

Hey, Elsa from Charlotte. Love it. Getting ready to move to South Carolina on Sunday, so I’ll be down by you. Hi, Jill. Hi, gorgeous. So, we’ve got a good amount of people here. Hi, from Boca. I love it. I love seeing where everyone’s from. Hey Christina. Good morning, from Scottsdale. So good.

We’re going to dive in and get started because we’ve got a lot to cover. Let’s talk about today’s agenda. I like to just level set expectations and let people know what we’re going to be talking about so they can follow along. First things first, we’re going to talk about the mindset of managing your time.

Mindset is so important. So many people struggle with time management because they skip this step. We can’t skip that step. Mindset is really, really key here. This is why, if you ever, with time management, feel like you know what you need to do, but you’re just not doing it. It’s because you’re not addressing the mindset and you’re just trying to learn tactics. Learning tactics isn’t enough, I’m going to explain why that is in a second.

So, we’re going to cover mindset for managing your time, then we’re going to lay a foundation for managing your time. I’m going to talk about a couple of things that you need to do at the beginning before we get into the three key steps to managing your time. That way you really prime yourself and lay the proper foundation to set you up for success. I’m going to teach you how to do that today.

Then we’re going to dive in and I’m going to very comprehensively go through the three key steps to managing your time. We’re going to talk about all three of them in detail. I’m going to teach you how to do it. We’re going to make some decisions here. You’re going to get a game plan together, so you leave here knowing what you need to do.

And then, at the very end, I’ve got a special announcement to make. So, please stay on for that announcement. I’m super excited to tell you guys about it. We’re going to get to time management first, and that I’ll save for the end.

We’ve got to start with gaining awareness. We always need to start with gaining awareness, because if we don’t know what we’re currently doing and we don’t know why we’re doing it, then we can’t improve. We’re definitely not going to make lasting change.

So, tell me in the chat, drop in the comments, how do you currently manage your time? Now, a lot of you might want to say, “I don’t manage it,” because you’re not managing it well. But I want you to tell me… “Poorly,” I love it, Sagia, what do you do, and what don’t you do?

Use a Google Calendar, shared Google Calendar, Outlook calendar… Great. To-do list, agenda, daily list, Live by Calendar, productivity calendar. “I make wildly unrealistic plans,” so good. I want to start writing some of these things down, so I use my calendar. That’s great. Maybe you make a to-do list, or you don’t. Maybe you do this inconsistently. If so, write that down. “Make unrealistic plans.”

Anyone double book themselves? I have a lot of clients that have a habit of doing that. Yeah, also do too many things. “Try to do too much in a day; double book.”

Maybe you don’t leave enough time in between things. So good, love that, “Practice and look at the calendar each Sunday to plan for the week.” So good, I do that too. “I try time blocking; sometimes successfully, often not.” “Time blocking.” And if it’s not successful, write out what you do. So sometimes, I honor it. Sometimes, I reshuffle. Sometimes, I procrastinate. Do we people please when it comes to managing our time? Say yes when we don’t have capacity?

“Drowning in emails.” Yes. So, maybe you will stay in your inbox all day. Think about what don’t you do. You don’t stick to the plan. “Always people pleasing,” Kathy, that just means you’re in the right place. We’re going to talk about that today.

“My key issue is not putting appointments in the calendar straightaway. And then I ended up double booking.” Amazing, Naomi, we’re going to talk about that too. I have a rule for that.

We’re going to create some rules today. If you just cringed when I said “rules,” we’ve got to reframe the way that we think about rules and decisions around our calendar. I promise you; it is going to create freedom in your life. Thank you, Cynthia, I do have tips for drowning in emails, we’re going to talk about it.

“No space between virtual meetings,” amazing. If you don’t like that, we’re going to change it. So, we’re figuring out what we’re doing right now that’s not working, right? It’s not working, and that’s why you’re here. Or, at least, some of what you’re doing is not working.

As you start to make your list of what you’re doing and what you’re not doing, we’re going to start to understand why we’re doing it. “Give me new rules, mine aren’t working.” I love it, Andy. So, we want to understand the problem. I love teaching this because it gets to be so simple. I don’t know about you, but I used to struggle with time management really significantly, and it used to feel absolutely impossible to me.

I’m going to tell you two things that are true, at least for me. Number one, it is really difficult because there’s so much emotion involved with proper time management. It is a masterclass in feeling uncomfortable, ‘gagging and going’ through that discomfort, and doing shit you don’t feel like doing anyways. We’re going to talk about that a lot today.

So, that’s why it’s hard. It brings up your desire to people please, it triggers your perfectionism, that avoidant behavior, it taps into our natural human conditioning where we seek temporary pleasure and avoid instant discomfort. That’s why we have a hard time with it. It goes to our core habits, and is counterintuitive to what feels protective in the moment.

However, with that being said, it is actually simple to improve once you understand the framework for how to do that. So, we want to understand the problem. This is the good news, you guys. There are only three reasons that you fail to manage your time.

I know it seems way more complicated than that. You’re probably thinking there’s a million reasons you don’t manage your time, mostly the circumstances that you encounter and other people’s behavior, but I promise you, that’s not the case. Okay?

There were only three reasons you fail to manage your time: Negative thoughts you’re thinking. Negative feelings that you’re avoiding. And intentional actions that you’re not taking. Okay? Once you’re able to identify them, I’m going to teach you how to identify them today, you’re able to course correct.

So, in order to get better at managing your time, you have to understand the causal connection between how you think, how you feel, and what you ultimately do; the action that you ultimately take. Okay? Knowing the actions to take, like I said earlier, it isn’t enough. The reason it’s not enough is because this is exactly why you say, ‘I know what I need to do, but I’m just not doing it.’

Because you’re not addressing the negative thoughts and the negative feelings. Okay? That’s what we’re going to learn to do today. We’re going to learn how to address those things. Now, I want to introduce you… this is the causal connection that I’m talking about. I want to introduce you to the think-feel-act cycle.

This is operating behind the scenes, and it drives and determines everything you do. It also drives and determines everything everyone else around you does, okay? We’re all having this operate all throughout the day as we’re going throughout our day to day lives.

What this is, the think-feel-act cycle, it just means that your brain serves you up thoughts, you think thoughts, and those thoughts cause your feelings. Your feelings are those one-word emotions that you feel like; overwhelmed, pressured, behind, panicked, guilty, stressed, inadequate, unprepared, confused, defeated, discouraged, disappointed in yourself.

Those are the one-word emotions that we experience, okay? Those feelings, our feelings, drive all the actions that we take. It’s our actions that produce our results, which ultimately means our thoughts create our results. Thoughts cause our feelings, feelings drive our actions, and action produces our results.

So, we want to understand our own think-feel-act cycles so we can leverage this causal connection in order to better manage our time. We’ve first got to figure out what we’re currently thinking, the feelings we’re currently avoiding, and the intentional actions we’re not taking.

Then, the solution, again, it’s threefold. You’ll notice that I like “rules of three.” We’re talking in threes basically all day today. But the solution is also threefold: You have to change your thoughts. You need to feel your negative feelings on purpose.

If you’ve been around me for a while now, you know I love the phrase “gag-and-go.” It’s going to make you feel nauseous to move forward. It’s going to be uncomfortable. But you’re going to gag-and-go through the discomfort anyways. And then, the third step, is to take the intentional action that you identified, and take it in spite of, and despite of, how you feel; in spite of, and despite of, that discomfort.

We’re going to do some examples of this, so you can see your own think-feel-act cycles. I want you to tell me what thoughts do you think about time? “There’s not enough time? Overwhelmed.” Yes. “I’m going to be late. Maybe stressed. I lack control over my time.” Yes. “Which normally makes us feel either helpless or out of control. I don’t understand how long things take.” Yes.

Maybe confused, or incapable. This could also be ‘I’m bad at understanding how long things take.’ “I take too long.” Yes. “They waste too much of it.” So good. You’re getting a good idea. Yes, to what Amanda said, “I always want to do the new thing in the inbox.” Amazing. You want to start to ask yourself why that is. It’s giving you something in the short term.

We were just talking in the group coaching program that I run, we were talking about it this week, how people get to feel heroic when they are putting out fires and they’re triaging that stuff as it comes in. Versus having to stay focused on what you plan to do and let that guilt bubble up by not triaging the thing that comes in.

“Inbox becomes the calendar.” Yeah, exactly. “I’m either avoiding or putting out fires.” Exactly. So, when you’re ‘thinking there’s not enough time,’ what do you end up doing? When you’re thinking that you’re going to be late, do you end up being late? When you think you lack control, do you end up giving up control?

If you don’t understand how long things take you practice estimating how long things take. Or do you avoid estimating and then you stay confused? If you take too long, if that’s the identity you have, you’re going to continue to take too long. If you waste your time, you’re going to keep wasting it. Now, that might not seem like it makes sense but I’m going to show it to you.

Take one of your thoughts; I’m going to do some common ones. These are three common thoughts that I really want you to walk away from this training practicing. Okay?

I love this. “You practice how long things actually take.” Yeah, it requires practice, you’re not going to get it right the first time. I just recorded a podcast episode on this. If you’re not listening to my podcast, it’s called The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, go give it a listen. I have a very comprehensive time management series and I’ve recently done a couple of episodes that also get into what you need to be thinking, and how you need to be approaching learning time management.

One of the things that I teach is that you have to let it be messy, you’re not going to be good at this right away. You’ve never learned how to manage your time. No one’s ever taught it to you. You don’t learn it in school. The places that you work don’t teach it to you. So, it makes sense that you’re bad at it, if you struggle with it, okay?

But that doesn’t mean that you’re not capable of learning how to do this. Learning how to do it is going to be a messy process, and you’ve got to know that going in.

“I’m having a hard time doing an actual inventory of what it is that I do, and thus how long each of those things take.” Erin, we’re going to address that today. So good.

Okay, so I want you to… These are three core beliefs. If you have them, we’ve got to get rid of them. They’re standing in your way, and they’re going to prevent you from managing your time well.

The first thought is, ‘I’m not in control of my time.’ When you think ‘I’m not in control of my time,’ you feel helpless or out of control, like I said, just a moment ago. Here’s what you do when you’re feeling helpless and out of control. You probably people please. You say yes when you want to say no. You take on more work than you have capacity for. You fail to set boundaries. You don’t plan your schedule, or if you do plan, you don’t follow it.

So, then you end up not controlling your time. You probably also let other people schedule for you. You cede control over your calendar to other people. You acquiesce, there’s a lot of that going on. Okay? You’re avoiding the discomfort that comes from planning, setting boundaries, and saying no.

You’re avoiding all that discomfort, so you end up not controlling your time, and you end up making really unintentional decisions. Instead of that, remember the framework: There’s a negative thought you’re thinking, negative emotions that you’re avoiding, and then, intentional actions that you’re not taking; these are the actions you’re taking instead.

Now, if you want to create the result of controlling your time and managing it well, we need to be thinking a different thought, right? Step one, we’ve got to change our thoughts. So, you need to think ‘I am in control of my time.’ I promise you, you are in control of your time, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

A lot of people have a habit of thinking, ‘I have to do this. I need to do this. I must do this. I can’t do this.’ But that’s not true. There are only five things you ever have to do: Eat, drink water, sleep sometimes, use the restroom, and breathe. That’s it. Literally, that is it. So many people like to challenge me on this.

Every other exercise of your time is a choice. You choose to show up to court. It might not feel voluntary, but it is. You choose to wake up in the morning and get your kids ready for school. Some people don’t do that, some people don’t take care of their kids. I’m not suggesting that you should try that. I’m just telling you; it is optional.

You are making a choice when you do it. You make a choice to go into work, you make a choice to go to your email, you make a choice to answer the phone, when someone calls you and it’s unscheduled. All of that is a choice. Okay?

So, you need to start believing that you’re making choices and you’re in control of your time. If you are believing that, you’re going to feel powerful and in control.

From there, what are you going to do when you feel powerful and in control? You’re going to follow the three steps that I teach: You’re going to control your calendar, you’re going to plan your schedule accurately, and you’re going to honor your plan. You’re also going to set some boundaries; say no when it serves you to say no.

You’re going to allow the discomfort of doing that. You’re going to feel guilty; you’re going to feel worried; you’re going to feel a little afraid, maybe nervous, or anxious, pressured. Instead of avoiding it or reacting to those feelings, you’re just going to sit with them.

Remember, change your thought, feel your feelings, take intentional action to produce a different result so you can control how you spend your time and make intentional decisions instead. So, this is the first thought that I want you to replace.

The second thought that I want you to replace is the thought, ‘I don’t have enough time. There’s never enough time.’ When you think this you will feel overwhelmed or rushed, and you will do one of two things. You will either shut down, freeze, procrastinate, and do what we call “buffer” in the coaching industry.

That just means you take some action where you seek temporary pleasure and avoid temporary discomfort. So, eat too much, drink too much, watch Netflix, scroll on Instagram or LinkedIn, go to Amazon, buy it now. Maybe you take a nap, you sleep. You can buffer with things that are seemingly good, to working out, cleaning, making lists, planning, clearing out your inbox.

Things that actually don’t move the dial but feel good in the moment. So, shutdown, procrastinate, buffer, freeze, or you react and take unintentional action. You don’t do the big ticket items. Maybe you’re multitasking, which is a really ineffective way to go about tackling your to-do list.

Studies show you waste up to 40% of your time when you’re multitasking because you have to reorient yourself to the task in front of you, and that loses you a lot of time and productivity.

Yes. Oh, my God, “Queen of buffer and procrastinating in South Asia.” Amazing, you guys are in good company, right?

So, you do one of those two things. Either take really unintentional action, or you shut down and freeze, and then you end up wasting your time. You don’t spend it wisely. So then, it seems like there’s never enough, right?

“Stress eating is a big thing for me,” totally, it’s very common for a lot of people. I tell my clients, “this is an incomplete thought.” I don’t like the word ‘lazy,’ but I do think this is a lazy thought. What I want you to do instead, is figure out whether or not this is true.

The way that we do that is we have to complete the sentence. So, “I don’t have enough time to do… by…” Okay? The answer is either going to be you do have enough time, or you don’t have enough time. We end up focusing on the math of it. So, “I don’t have enough time to answer 100 emails in an hour,” or “by 10 o’clock.” That may be true if it’s nine o’clock.

Now, if you say, ‘I don’t have enough time to answer 100 emails by the end of this week,’ that may be false. Right? It depends on what your availability is. But you’ve got to know that.

When you get clear on what the math is by figuring out what’s the specific task or tasks that we’re talking about, and what’s the timeframe you have to do them in, now we’re in a much different situation. We’re actually looking at the facts in front of us, rather than the dramatic story we’re telling ourselves, that may or may not be true. So, we’ve got to figure out what’s going on, what is actually true.

What I like people to switch to… I’ll just say this, if it’s not true, the solution isn’t to try and do it in the amount of time that you have available. The math isn’t going to work. So, the thing that has to change is your expectation of what you’re going to get done by when. That’s what has to change.

I say this to my clients all the time, “Y’all are mad at math. Y’all are mad at time.” We can’t be mad at time; time is not going to change. Time doesn’t care if you like it or not, or you think it’s fair, or that you think you should be able to get more done in a given period of time than what you actually can.

Between you and time, time is going to win the war every single time. Pun intended, with the time reference at the end there. But you’re not going to win. I have a client; I love her to death. I finally called her out on this one day. I was like, “You keep making unrealistic plans. Why are you doing this to yourself? You end every day feeling terrible. You feel so behind because of your unrealistic plan.”

She’s like, “I know, I just always want to get more done in a day than I can.” And I’m like, “Why would you want to plan that way?” The truth is, it’s because she wishes she could get more done in a day than she can. Right?

But just because you wish it, doesn’t mean that you plan in accordance with your wishes. We’ve got to plan in accordance with what’s actually possible. That’s totally what people do. It’s so, so common. But this is what I mean by ‘y’all are mad at time.’ Time’s going to win every day of the week, and twice on Sunday. So, you have to stop fighting an unwinnable war; that’s what I call those.

You’ve got to adjust your expectations. So, if the math doesn’t work, if you actually can’t do the thing by the time you have to do it, something has to change, and it’s got to be your timeline. “Yeah, I keep wishing.” Wishing is not going to get you anywhere. That’s the cold, hard truth.

I used to do this too, so I understand what drives this. But we have to be aware of it and we have to change it. So, instead of thinking ‘I don’t have enough time,’ we’re going to get clear on what the truth actually is. ‘I don’t have enough time to do… by…’ Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. If it’s not true, get to work. Get it done by the time that you have to do it, right? We’re going to talk about that later.

I like people to think this, and it’s not a super sexy thought but it is a good thought to think, ‘I can only do what I have time to complete.’ This is going to get you to feel very accepting, and you’re going to stop arguing with time, you’re going to plan accurately, follow the plan, and then you complete what you have time to complete.

I also think, another variation of this can be, ‘I can get through 10 emails by 10 o’clock,’ if that’s what you actually have time to do. That’s going to make you feel capable. ‘I can do this by then.’ Then, if you’re feeling capable, you’re going to get to work. You’re not going to be over here buffering, avoiding, or taking really unintentional action.

“But shouldn’t we try to get better at doing more or being more productive?” You can, over time, increase your efficiency. I like to really distinguish between productivity and efficiency. Efficiency is what you’re getting done in the amount of time that you’re working. Rather than just getting things done, which is productivity.

So, you can get more and more efficient as you cut out distractions, stop allowing yourself to be interrupted, focus, and don’t indulge in perfectionism and take too long to do things. You can definitely get more productive and more efficient.

However, there is… It takes me a certain amount of time to write out this flip chart for these webinars. It takes me an hour. If I try and do it in 45 minutes, I’m not going to complete it on time. That’s just the honest truth. It takes me 20 minutes to do my makeup.

If I only give myself 15, something’s not going to get done on this face; I’m not going to contour, I’m not going to have my eyelashes on, or I’m going to be five minutes late to something, because it takes me 20 minutes.

If you’re trying to shove 20 minutes into 15, and the thing actually takes you 20 minutes, you’re not going to get it into 15. You can’t shove 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound sack, time doesn’t work that way. So you’re going to get efficient, get efficient, get efficient, but then you’re ultimately going to get to a point where there is no more efficiency to gain out of what you’re doing. Unless you automate something.

But if you’re doing it, and you’re putting in the work, it just requires a certain amount of time. So, you need to accept that, and you need to be clear on what the math of that is.

You also might have this thought, and if you have it, we’ve got to replace it. What did Lauren say? “I keep planning to do low priority tasks and then reshuffling to use that time for higher priority tasks, to the point where the low priority tasks just don’t get done.” Totally.

“Will someone or something be permanently harmed if I don’t do this thing right away? If not, not urgent, and schedule.” Yes, totally good test, Ryan. I love that. My rule is, I want the default rule to be to not change your day of schedule.

So, you really have to get out of the habit of saying yes to same day turnaround. Anything that comes in should get scheduled, at the earliest, for the next day. If you do that, you’ll get through those lower priority tasks, okay? You also are going to have to feel guilty when that higher priority task comes in, saying no to it, or saying ‘No, not right now. I’m going to get to that tomorrow.’ It’s got to be uncomfortable.

You’ve got to gag-and-go through that guilt. You’ve got to gag-and-go through that worry, and create safety on the other side of it. The world doesn’t fall down, your clients still work with you; they will, it’ll be fine. You’ve got this narrative in your head that this is going to be a really big problem, and then you avoid advocating for yourself, saying no, pushing back, suggesting an alternate timeline, because of the discomfort of doing so.

Yes, the default rule is not changing the plan or the schedule. “Indulging in perfectionism. I think I’d be better if I was more confident in my skill/ knowledge.” Totally. You’re going to see how… We’re going to do a model in a second. You’re going to see how your lack of belief in yourself impacts how you approach tasks, right?

But you have to gag-and-go through feeling incompetent, through feeling confused, to feeling unprepared, to feeling not assured, insecure, unassured, if that’s how you feel. You have to take action and move forward in spite of, and despite of, that discomfort.

So, if you’re thinking that you’re bad at managing your time, you probably feel either ashamed or incapable or guilty. And then, you know what you don’t do? You don’t practice the three steps. You keep doing the same stuff. And you end up continuing to be bad at time management, right?

Thoughts create results. What I want to introduce you to… Yes, oh, you feel lazy. Yeah. None of you are lazy. All right? That’s just a default rule that I tell all of my clients, “You’re not lazy, it took too much work to get where you are. That’s not it.”

If you skip that, if it’s not laziness, what is it? Then you really start to gain some really incredible awareness as to why you’re doing the things that you’re doing. Okay? So, instead of thinking this, because we realize this doesn’t serve you, even if it feels true, you want to switch over this instead. ‘I’m learning to manage my time, and I’m getting better with practice’ or ‘I’ll get better with practice.’

Then you’re going to feel encouraged or capable, maybe determined, right? And then you’re going to practice the three steps: You’re going to let it be messy, allow your discomfort, and you’re going to learn and improve. I tell my clients all the time, when it comes to time management, we’re aiming for 1% improvement every day.

One percent improvement every day will absolutely change your life, okay? But you’re not going to wake up tomorrow morning and be a master at what I’m teaching you today. You’re just not. So, if that’s your expectation, you’ve got to re adjust your expectations to be much more realistic.

If you expect that of yourself, and then reality doesn’t match it, which I promise you it won’t, you’re going to feel so discouraged, so disappointed, so frustrated, and then you’re going to quit. So, you have to be setting realistic expectations.

Now, I want you to do these three think-feel-act cycle exercises with me so you can see it’s not just about your thoughts about time. But it’s also the thoughts that you are thinking about the work tasks you do, the interruptions that come your way, and planning your schedule.

Think of a work task that you’re really avoiding right now. The most common that I see with my clients… You can drop your answers in the chat… is, ‘I don’t want to do it.’ You can always ask yourself why, to get a little bit more insight.

To whoever said that they were talking about how ‘I’m already so far behind,’ you feel guilty probably, or ashamed if you think that. ‘I don’t want to do it’ will always bring up dread. You might be thinking ‘I don’t want to do it,’ because you don’t think you’re going to do a good job. That’s going to be that nervous, inadequacy, unprepared, incompetent feeling that we talked about a moment ago. That slows you down.

So, think about how you show up when you’re feeling whatever feeling that you’re feeling. When you feel dread we typically avoid, and we procrastinate, and we buffer. You’ll see, whatever thought you’re thinking about your task, causes you to feel a negative feeling and then you’re taking negative action.

If you’re thinking a negative thought you’ll feel a negative feeling, you’ll take negative action, or no action. If you’re thinking a positive thought you’ll feel a positive feeling, and you’ll take positive, productive action. The two never crisscross.

So, if you’ve got negative thoughts up here, you don’t have positive actions. Alright? That’s a way to check your math, so to speak.

“It feels like it’s a waste of time.” Totally. How do you feel when you think that, Elizabeth? Annoyed? Frustrated? Bothered? And then, what do you do? Yeah, we avoid when we feel annoyed, totally.

Think about what you think of an unscheduled meeting or call. Your phone’s ringing or someone sends you an email, ‘Hey, can you meet in an hour?’ And you had your whole day planned. You really needed that time to get some work done. You probably think, ‘I can’t say no,’ and then you’ll feel resigned or out of control, and you don’t say no.

‘I don’t have time for this;’ annoyed. But then, what do we do when we’re feeling annoyed? Probably allow the call but do it in a really negative energy.

“I try to think of it as a positive, ‘They want my help with something because they trust and like me,’ but at the same time, I think of it as a massive interruption.” Yeah, Aaron, it probably is a massive interruption. They might need your help, but you don’t have to make that your problem at that very moment. You can give them your help on a timeline that works for you.

Then I want you to tell me, what’s your thought about planning your schedule? I’d love to see what people think about this. Because if you’re not making plans right now, it’s because you have negative thoughts about doing this. “It’s pointless.” Yes. It’s pointless, might feel defeated or discouraged, and then you don’t make a plan. And you never see how amazing it is to have a plan. Why you want to do it.

Yeah, “I don’t like doing it because I rarely stay on track,” for sure. ‘I don’t have enough time to do it,’ that’s a big one. ‘It’s going to take me too long.’ Then we feel overwhelmed, rushed, and we don’t do it.

So, you can see, just like I told you a moment ago, negative thoughts you’re thinking, negative feelings that you’re avoiding, intentional actions you’re not taking. “Yeah, why do it if I’m not going to follow it?”

The solution, whether it’s thinking about time or thinking about it the circumstances that you’re encountering during your day, is change your thoughts, feel your negative feelings, gag-and-go through them, and take intentional action in spite of, and despite of, those emotions.

“Yeah, I’m afraid to be structured, as I’ve always prided myself on flexibility. But I realized this is self-defeating.” It totally is. I really want you to be thinking about how being more structured really gives you more freedom. Okay?

“Yeah, afraid of what I say to myself if I don’t do it.” Amazing, Claire, that’s such a good point. My perfectionists especially don’t like to make plans because if they don’t stick to them they beat themselves up. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to put a pin in the judgment. We’re going to put it on the shelf, and we’re just going to drop in and operate from curiosity.

We’re conducting experiments. You’re learning how to do something; it’s going to be very messy. That is okay. We’re just going to get 1% better every day. We’re not going to bully ourselves because we’re bad at something we’ve never learned how to do. It would be like, if you were trying to do calculus and no one’s ever taught you. Or you’re learning how to do it for the first time, you’re going to make mistakes.

Think about learning a language, you’re going to say some stuff wrong. You’re going to pronounce stuff wrong if you’re learning how to do it. Yeah, Amy, “I can’t quite get through the gag-and-go part. Maybe I’m dreading too big of a task; I choke and don’t finish.” You can break it up into smaller tasks, but you have to practice feeling dread and doing it anyways.

One of the things that I teach my clients in my group program is to pick something that you do every single day. A good example of this would be like clean the cat litter, or put the dishes in the dishwasher. Or maybe it’s a facial routine at night that you do, or make your bed, whatever. It’s one thing every day, that’s a really low lift, maybe it’s 10 push-ups that you can do without that much resistance. I have a whole podcast episode on this. It’s called “The F*ck It Point.” Go listen to that if you struggle with this.

You want to learn how to develop that discipline, so you can follow through and gag-and-go through the dread. Listen to that episode. I also have an episode totally on “Dread;” that’s the name of that podcast episode. It will touch on that. So, you see how mindset plays into this, right?

Now we’re going to lay the foundation. In order to master time management, you first have to know how you’re currently spending your time. How do you do this? You do it through time audits.

For those of you who bill hours, this is more than just tracking your billable time. Okay? When you do a time audit, it is a comprehensive audit of your schedule; of how you spend your time all throughout the day. So, you keep track of all 24 hours, how you spend it. You also want to be looking at why you’re making the choices that you’re making, each expenditure that you make.

Now, the things that you want to be looking for. You want to be looking for the length of time you spend on common tasks, what do you do day in and day out? How long do those tasks take you? Are there tasks that either could be reoccurring or are reoccurring? If what, what are they? Where do they fall on your schedule? When would you like them to fall on your schedule? How long do those things take?

What’s the time required to human? People significantly underestimate the amount of time it takes to be human. So, the amount of time it takes to be a parent. The amount of time it takes to just take care of yourself; shower, eat, sleep, all of those things, drink water, use the restroom, talk to a family member. So, what’s the amount of time required to be human?

Another thing I like people to really track is, how much time do you spend on email? Most people don’t know. They plan an eight hour day, and they don’t make any time for email. So, they’ll plan eight hours of substantive work, but they probably spend two hours on email a day. If you do that, you’re going to get to the end of the day, and you’re going to be at least two hours behind. Probably more, because you didn’t factor in time to eat lunch, time to human, all of that stuff. So, you’ll probably be at least three hours behind. You want to get clear on the time that you need to email.

Then you’ve got to build that into your plan. You also want to be paying attention, as you do your time audits, to what makes you behind. Is it interruptions? Is it procrastination? Are you reshuffling your schedule? Are you taking too long to finish things? Are you under estimating how long it takes to finish things?

We want to start to create some awareness there. I did a time audit when I prepped for this webinar, and almost all of my non-work time is going to parenting. Totally. Right? So, you’ve got to be cognizant of that. How much of that time does it take, and where are you going to put in other stuff that you have to do?

We want to create awareness through time audits. When you work with me you get amazing worksheets on doing a time audit. I have a worksheet that breaks things down into 15 minute tasks. You can create that yourself, but if you work with me you get it.

What you get out of that… You don’t need to make this overcomplicated. You don’t need to write down what you do every single second. I like to break it into… You could use tenths of an hour, or every 15 minutes, keeping track of what you do. That way you start to gain awareness as to how you’re spending all 24 hours of your time.

Once you’ve completed your time audit, now you get to begin simplifying your schedule. We do this in two ways. Number one, we practice constraint. The second thing we do to simplify your schedule is we make decisions ahead of time. So many people don’t make decisions one time and stick with them.

Instead, they wake up every day, and they remake the same decisions they make day in and day out. Constantly changing, constantly coming up with different ways to do things, when and what time you do things, how long you spend on something. You are constantly remaking the same decisions. Not only does this lead to decision fatigue, it’s just a waste of your time. It’s much easier, and much simpler, to decide one time and just stick with that.

Here’s some questions you want to be asking yourself in order to practice constraint and make decisions ahead of time. Looking at your time audit, what can you eliminate entirely? What can you eliminate entirely? Maybe you don’t want to watch YouTube videos anymore at night, because it doesn’t make sense and it keeps you up late. Or maybe you just want to reduce that, you only do it on the weekends.

Maybe you only watch TikTok on the weekends. Maybe you don’t like talking to family members during your workday, because it really puts you behind. Or maybe you have open office hours all day long, and you get a lot of interruptions. Maybe you want to reduce that to only being available from three to five for people to drop by.

You also can start to think about what can you put into time blocks. So, instead of being in your email all day long, can we put that into a time block? Where there are certain times throughout the day that you check email. I get your auto responders because I send out emails.

This one woman, I absolutely love her auto responder. All it says is, “Hey, this is unconventional, but I only checked my email once a day. So, you can expect a response from me after 4pm. If you send me an email after five, you won’t get a response for 24 hours. That may seem weird to you. But that’s just how I do it, and it allows me to really focus on my client work.” I was just like, that’s amazing. I love it.

So, what can you put into time blocks? How much do you want to work? Now, we’re starting to think about making decisions ahead of time. How much do you want to work? There’s no right or wrong answer to that, there’s only the answer that’s right for you.

But get clear, how much do you want to work? What would that look like on your schedule? When do you want to work? What are your desired start and stop times? What humaning activities do you do or want to do? When do you want to do them? When do you want to work out? What time do you want to go to bed? How much sleep do you want to get?

How much do you want to work? Two hours a day? Amazing, if that’s your honest answer, and you can swing it, you might be able to swing it. Some people can. If you can’t, we’ve got to align our expectations with what is realistic, right?

“I have that exact auto reply.” That is amazing, Shannon. It might be you if you’re on my email list. I don’t know if you are or not. But if so, that’s fantastic.

Okay, so when you’re going to do human activities, how long it’s going to take you? Then, really starting to think about, do you have a desired schedule for emailing, meetings that you have that you participate in, standing meetings with clients or team members? Are there certain times you’d like to do focused work?

Start to think about those things. What can we eliminate? What can we reduce? What decisions do we want to make ahead of time? It’s going to start allowing us to flesh out, basically a skeleton outline for your schedule that is really consistent and predictable.

To give you an example, my schedule is so easy, you guys. I wake up every day at 8:30am. I am not a morning person; I don’t care to be. I wake up at 8:30am. I work on LinkedIn. I write a social media post, and I engage for an hour to an hour and a half, and then I get ready at 10 o’clock. My first coaching call is at 11:00. Then I coach, basically five or six calls a day from 11:00-6:00 or 11:00-7:00. I have 15 minute breaks in between them, sometimes a half an hour, depending on the day.

At the end of the day I unwind for an hour, and then I figure out dinner. Typically, Monday-Wednesday at least, or Monday-Thursday, I do a little bit more work if there are things that I’d like to get done. For me, I have no problem working long days Monday-Thursday, because I want to be able to take Fridays off and enjoy my weekend.

But that’s what my schedule looks like every single week. Yeah, it’s inspiring. It is inspiring. I used to not be the person who was capable of doing this, but you can get there. It might look a little different for you. We’re going to give an example of it in a second, if you don’t have standing client calls like I have. But we’re going to create a schedule that works for you.

Now, we’re going to talk about the three key steps. Step one is reclaiming control of your calendar. “Yeah, my client calls are all over the place.” Yeah, mine used to be, too. We’ve got to consolidate that. You’ve got to make decisions about, what’s the one time slot that makes sense for me to fill next. Right? Don’t give them the option to pick whenever, only give them one or two options that work for you.

“When do you move your body, keep healthy, and keep that rockin bod healthy?” Thank you, actually I don’t work out. One of my priorities in the new year, I’ve already decided this, is to hire a personal trainer because I want to take better care of my physical health.

“The pressure to be making it rain in a pressed suit at 7am.” Only if you decide to make it rain in a pressed soon at 7am. Right? That’s a choice you’re making. You don’t have to wake up at seven and start working. Do you want to wake up at seven and start working? If you don’t, what do you want to do instead?

Claire, thank you. So sweet of you.

All right, step one, reclaiming control of your calendar. We’ve got to figure out where are you ceding control. So, I want you to tell me in the comments, where are you ceding control? To your clients? Do they email you and ask you to drop what you’re doing, and then you drop what you’re doing and triage, put out fires? Do you take unscheduled calls from them?

Do coworkers ask you to do something, and you drop what you’re doing, and you tend to that instead? Playing whack a mole. Are you multitasking? Do friends and family reach out and you give control to them? You let them interrupt you. You allow the interruption? Do you allow the interruption, or do you set a boundary? We’re going to talk about that in a second. Do you let people plan for you?

Think about the interruptions that you allow. Do you allow people to just swing by at any time? Do you allow people to schedule for you? If so, does that work for you? “Yes, my partner, it’s really hard to say, ‘I can’t help you.’” Totally. But we’ve got to start saying at least, “I can’t help you right this second.” Then, we work it into tomorrow’s plan.

I like to have people decide ahead of time what they’re going to say. You might just need to buy yourself more time and say, “Let me check my schedule, and I’ll get right back to you.” That way you can make an intentional decision and resist the urge to people please right in that moment. “It’s not a good time for me, not my best time of the day,” for sure.

So, who has power to schedule for you? Why do they have that power? How do you reclaim that power? Think about what changes do you need to make in order to reclaim control of your schedule? Do you need to stop people pleasing? Do you need to say no or suggest an alternative time? Do you need to set a boundary?

‘If you ask me for a same day turnaround, I will say no. If you ask me to work late on something, I will say no. If you email me after 5pm, I will not get to it till the next day.’ That’s a proper boundary.

Do you need to schedule standing meetings to head people off at the path, and control your calendar rather than having them spring things on you? If you schedule standing meetings, people won’t spring unscheduled calls or meetings on you nearly as much, because they know to expect that you’re going to be meeting with them.

Do you need to have a conversation with whoever schedules for you? Maybe it’s your assistant, and you need to get on the same page. We just had a conversation about that in the group program that I run.

Then, are there decisions ahead of time that you need to make? ‘No meetings before 9am. I only take my calls in the afternoons because the morning’s my time to do my most focused work. I don’t do back to back calls,’ because maybe something runs long. Figure out what changes you need to make and then make them. You’re going to have to feel uncomfortable, and allow that discomfort to be there in order to make those changes. That’s step one.

Step two, I’m so excited to teach you guys this. It is so comprehensive. I think people overcomplicate the living daylights out of time management. I have gone to work to make it as simple and straightforward, and fail proof, as I possibly can.

I don’t believe in separating things between urgent and important. I think that’s very confusing. All of my clients are like, “All of my stuff is urgent and important. How would I be able to decipher between the two?” So, step two is to plan your schedule accurately.

People do one of two things. Either they’re not making a plan at all, or they’re making wildly unrealistic plans that they’re never going to be able to accomplish. They’re trying to shove 24 hours of work into eight. Like we said earlier, that’s never going to work.

So, both of these approaches set you up to fail and fall behind on the work that you have in front of you. If you’re sick and tired of feeling behind all the time, we have to start planning your schedule accurately. Instead of not planning, or planning inaccurately, instead we’ve got to start by accepting that you can’t get nearly as much as you’d like to get done in a day. Okay?

You’re just not able to get that 24 hours’ worth of work done in eight. It sucks, I get it. But it’s true. I teach my clients to allow themselves to feel underwhelmed by what they can actually get done in a day. You have to process your underwhelm. It’s okay that you feel underwhelmed.

I wish I could do 24 hours in eight, you probably do too. It’s fine to have that desire, but once you recognize that you have the desire, like I said earlier, your expectation has to change. Once you accept that you can’t get nearly as much done in a day as you’d like, and you recognize that your daily plan isn’t going to be a wish list of what you wish you could get through, it’s going to get so much easier to actually plan your schedule accurately.

So, we’re going to focus on time management being a math problem. And through proper planning, by focusing on the math, you’re going to learn how to get the math right. Yes, “Again, reminding me that this is a practice.” It is a practice, 1,000%.

Here’s the process for how to properly plan your time. Number one… I said we were going to talk about all these things that you guys brought up earlier. Number one, rule of thumb, put all appointments on your calendar as soon as the need arises. As soon as the need arises. If you promise someone a time, and you’re waiting for them to confirm with you, go block that time and put it as a placeholder.

As soon as that time has a question mark, as to whether or not it will be available for you, you need to block that time off. It’s how you’re going to avoid double booking yourself and having conflicts that you later have to resolve. You need to do this, so we have a clear understanding of what your availability is, all the time, in real time. It’s got to be up to date.

This is a rule of thumb. Your brain is going to want to whisper to you, ‘Later, you can wait. It’s fine.’ No, no, no, no, no. Treat your brain like the toddler it’s trying to be, and help it course correct. Like, ‘No, we’re not doing that today.’ Because you’re not doing that today. You’re putting it on your calendar as soon as the need arises. All right? If you’re at home, say it with me, “We’re putting it on our calendar as soon as the need arises.”

Step two, you all are going to fight me on this, and I am ready for it. You need to make an electronic to do lists. No more written to do lists, they’re a waste of your time. I go so far as to say they are a masturbatory exercise. You do it because it feels good. But it doesn’t lead to the result you want it to lead to. It isn’t actually productive. You’re not producing anything with it.

The reason it’s not productive is that you have to keep remaking them. You cross some stuff off, now your list is messy, and then it gets too long, now you have to rewrite it, and you spend like 30 minutes at least once a week rewriting the same shit you already wrote down. We’re not doing it.

“Should the electronic list be the same format as the written list?” Yes. So we’re going to have only one list. I like it to sync with your phone and your computer. If you’re an Apple user, I use the Notes app in my phone. “I lol’ed for real. I adore you.” I love you, too. He’s so proud, right?

So, I want it to sync with your phone and your computer. If you’re a Mac user, I use my Notes app on my phone. I do not make it more complicated than that. If you use PCs, Microsoft’s To Do is really good. Wunderlist is another app. I have a client using Monday.com right now, I think that’s too complicated. I think there’s a lot of different features in there that just make it overly complicated. I want it to be as simple as possible.

If something has a court deadline attached to it, you can put a deadline. But if there isn’t a court deadline, I don’t want you to complicate it. Don’t make tasks switch from black to red. Then you have all this anxiety when you see that it’s red and you should have gotten it done already, and you’re picking timelines even though you don’t have a really clear estimate of when you’re going to be able to get to something. Don’t do that, just put the task.

Put enough information to where you’re able to identify it. Okay? So, we’re going to make an electronic to do list, one list, for all things personal and professional. We don’t keep two lists. I know the perfectionist hate that I just said that. I understand. I used to want all these pretty lists in all these separate places. You’re not going to maintain it.

You’ve got to trust me, I’ve coach on this thousands and thousands of hours, hundreds of clients, I’ve coached on time management. You will not stick to and maintain a to do list if you make the system too complicated. So, it’s got to be easy.

The next thing we’re going to do, we’re going to break projects up into tasks to help you get a better picture of what each task requires of you. So, instead of writing a ‘motion for summary judgment,’ that is way too big, that’s a project, we’ve got to break that project down by task. It would be Research issue one, Research issue two, Research issue three, Review the deposition transcripts, if you need to. Or Review case documents to make timeline. Summarize timeline and statement of facts, Draft introduction, Draft issues presented, Draft legal standard, Draft analysis; part one, part two, part three. Add citations, Write conclusion, Proofread, Send to client. All of these different things.

“Do you add things like ‘post Monday on Instagram’ to that list?” Yeah, mine’s on my calendar, I have that blocked in already. So, if it’s something that’s recurring, I don’t have to put it on my to do list because I know I’m living off of my calendar. Your to do list is really to put things on your calendar, it’s a reminder. So, if the recurring thing is there, you don’t need it on your to do list, because it’s already on your calendar.

However, if I am sending out emails for a launch of a program or to work with me, whatever, or a launch for this, I had specific emails that I wanted to write and send out, those did go on my to do list and checked them off as I did it. Because there were certain topics that I want to talk about. I record a podcast each week, but I don’t have that slotted in at a specific time, so that goes on my to do list and I have to find time for it in my week.

You want to break up projects into tasks, so you get a better idea of what each task requires of you. In planning this webinar: I have to outline it, make my flip chart, I have to order the flip chart, I have to send the email, I have to set up the Zoom, I have to get ready. And then, I have to do the webinar. Those are all things that are required in order to produce the webinar.

When I break it up, it gives me a better idea of ‘I need to make sure I have my whiteboards, my flip charts, before I can write my flip charts out.’ So you see what needs to go in what order, how long things take, when you need to make sure you have the things that you need, or have the time available to you so it all falls into sync. That’s step three.

Step four, you need to estimate how long each task is going to take you to complete. Next to, in parentheses, the task on your to do list, you should have an estimate. Do I think that’s going to take me .25, half an hour, an hour and a half, eight hours? Whatever it is, estimate how long each one of those individual tasks will take you.

In the beginning, you’re going to be terrible at this. So, my rule of thumb is double your estimate at least, just to be on the safe side. Estimate how long tasks are going to take you to complete, that way you’re starting to get an idea of how to plan your day.

Then you’re going to choose start and stop times for your day. Because we need to create book ends in order to get clear on how much time we have available. Once you choose them, calculate the total time you have available. You should already have all of your appointments on your calendar, then you’re going to plan your humaning. You’re going to have, from your time audit, an understanding of how long it takes you to human, put that in.

Then look at your to do list and plan less than what fits. If you are prone to lots of interruptions, I recommend people include a short amount of flex time in their schedule.

So, if someone calls you and they’re like, “Hey, do you have time to do this right now?” You’re like, ‘No, but I do at three o’clock,” so you don’t have to interrupt yourself, what you’re doing. You can complete it, but you have a little bit of time built into your schedule for something unexpected to arise. So, you plan less than what fits.

Then it comes time to implement the plan. Once you implement it, you’ve got to evaluate. I want you planning the night before. You use a different part of your brain when you plan the night before. You use your prefrontal cortex, instead of the primitive part of your brain that’s just trying to avoid the most immediate discomfort.

I want you to plan the night before and then implement the plan. At the end of your day you’re going to evaluate: How did the plan go? How did I do? We’re not going to operate from judgment, we’re just going to operate from curiosity. What worked? What didn’t work? What will you do differently?

You want this to be very, very specific. ‘I said yes to an unscheduled meeting, a last minute meeting, and I should have said no. I should have allowed myself to feel guilty.’ Remember, go back to: What thoughts, what feelings, and what actions didn’t serve me? What would I need to think? What feelings do I have to feel on purpose? What actions do I need to take instead? It’s that three problem framework I gave you earlier.

This is really important, once you figure out what didn’t work and what you need to do differently, you’ve got to apply the learning by doing tomorrow differently. You have to make changes. If you keep doing the same stuff, you’re going to keep getting the same results. Okay?

Here’s an example of what people typically do. They plan, ‘I’m going to work on a motion for summary judgment. I’ve got a 12 o’clock meeting.’ But the meeting runs long. So, if you had a call planned here, you end up canceling this call. Then someone comes in with an emergency.

And even though you were planning to work on the motion for summary judgment, now you do [inaudible] the rest of the day. While you were working on this you were checking your email. So, instead of having 8-12pm, four hours to work on that, you don’t have four hours anymore because you robbed yourself of two hours answering emails.

Then your meeting went long, so this got canceled and now you have to figure out where you’re going to do that call. All the time that you had planned to work on this, it didn’t happen, right? Does this sound familiar to anyone? This is what most people are doing day in and day out. You never get the work done. It’s how you start your day with a to do list, and then at the end of the day, you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything.

Now, what I suggest people to do, like I said earlier, make decisions ahead of time, practice constraint, figure out when you start your day. I don’t like to start until later. Maybe you don’t want to start until nine, so you’re just going to get ready in the morning.

We want to be realistic about how long email takes us. Now, you might want to start your day with a substantive project. But maybe you don’t. Maybe you want to do email, first thing, respond to what came in overnight. Give yourself an hour to do that.

Then decide if you take a lunch. If you do, maybe half an hour for lunch. Don’t tell me you eat lunch at your desk, it still takes you time to do that. Don’t double book yourself by under estimating how long this actually takes.

Now, you might want to have an email block right after lunch and maybe one before the end of the day. “This is taking up more room than it needs to.” Really, planning for the following day and evaluating can take five minutes. I just want it on your calendar.

So, if you do focused work, you’ve got two hours to get a project done. Maybe you’ve got a meeting here, and a call here. That’s a full day, but this is what it looks like. So, if you have focused work, you’d have to look at your to do list and figure out what can you do in two hours. Do you have a two hour task? Do you have two, one hour tasks? Do you have four, half an hour tasks? You have to plan only what fits in this time.

This is an example of what your day can look like if you’re planning the way that I teach you to plan. Okay? Yeah, “I don’t see this adding to eight billable hours a day.” So, you have to decide on that, right? If you’re emailing that’s probably one hour. Emails are billable, right? So, you’ve got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… What’s in flex time will probably be billable… 7, 8. See? It does add up to eight.

This has you ending at five, right? Which is so fun. “I love that emails are billable. I find that time hard to capture.” You just have to practice. Pay attention and check in with yourself. Are you avoiding feeling guilty by avoiding billing for emails? “I don’t want to live to email.” But you probably are living to email.

Now, you might not need this many email blocks, some people don’t. But a lot of my clients spend their entire day in their inbox, and if that’s you, we’ve got to create some blocks for it. “In my view, emails are associated with client files, so I only touch them when I work on the client’s file.” Amazing. “Email is life.” Yeah, so you’ve got to make time for it.

If it were me, I wouldn’t have a lunchtime block, I would want to create another big chunk of work, of focused work, down here. Or meetings and whatnot. I would just do email in the morning and email in the afternoon or in the late afternoon.

But a lot of people get too anxious in the beginning, so I let them include the email block in the middle of their day, just so they’re not going all day without it. I like you to define what “responsive enough” means to you. If you tell yourself responsive enough is responding within 24 hours, then two email blocks a day should be fine.

If you think being responsive is answering in two hours, then you’re going to have to set up your email blocks differently. This is an example of what it would look like in practice using my system.

Last step, step three, is everyone’s least favorite part. It’s the hardest part because it requires you to embrace discomfort. Once we’ve reclaimed control of our calendar, we’ve planned our schedule accurately, it comes time to honor your plan, the hardest part.

The way to do this, I told you I like rules of three in order to keep things simple, you’ve got to start on time, work without interruptions and end on time. You’re going to be bad at this, at first. But you want to practice.

When you’re doing your evaluations, ask yourself: Did I fail to start on time? Why did I fail to work without interruptions? Why did I fail to end on time? Why? You’re going to start to see what changes and tweaks you need to make to get 1% better at this every single day. Okay?

I also want you to keep a lookout… There are only four reasons that you don’t honor your plan. Either you don’t make a plan, so you’ve got nothing to honor. That’s one reason. Your plan wasn’t realistic, so you tried to get way more done, and you underestimated how long things would take. So, that’s why you didn’t stick to the rest of your plan. You started one thing, and you just took too much time to get through it. Or it took more time to get through than what you accounted for.

You reshuffled your schedule. So, you had a plan, stuff came in, and you jumped from what you were doing to attend to that. Or you procrastinated. This is it. When you’re evaluating, this is all you need to look for.

Now, your thoughts and your feelings are driving that behavior for sure. But you want to look, when you’re evaluating, did I start on time? How do I get better at doing that? Feeling the discomfort of starting, feeling that dread, feeling guilt to end a meeting earlier to start one on time.

Saying, “No, we’re not allowing interruptions.” Feeling the discomfort of that and ending on time. Feeling like you could put in more to a project but not letting yourself. Aiming for that sort of B+ work instead of aiming for the A+.

This is a really great framework to use for evaluations. It will help you honor your plan, and get better and better and better at that as time passes.

Last but not least, I just want to quickly talk about common mistakes that people make when it comes to managing their time. First things first, you plan best case scenario, okay? I don’t want you to do that. I want you to plan worst case scenario.

If it normally takes you 15 minutes to drive to the airport, ask yourself, what would it take with traffic? If you are going to a court hearing and you think it’s only going to be hour, but it could be three, because sometimes the judge doesn’t call your case until the end of the morning; plan for three hours. If you get back found time, amazing. It’s like finding $20 in your jeans, right? But you don’t want to set yourself up to be behind schedule.

Another thing I want to say about being behind schedule, I don’t believe in rollover behind. Okay. A lot of my clients torture themselves with rollover behind; think rollover minutes from like the early 2000s cellphone plans. I’m dating myself a little bit.

But people carry their behind from one day into the next day. I don’t believe in that. You cannot wake up in the morning already being behind schedule. Unless your plan was to wake up at eight and you woke up at 10am, then you are behind schedule. But you’re not behind from the day before.

Every day is a fresh start. You want to plan your start and stop times, plan what you’re going to do in your day, plan less than what fits so you’re planning really accurately, and if you get to the end of your day, you can be behind.

You might have reshuffled, you might have procrastinated, you might have taken too long on things, or underestimated how long stuff took. That’s fine. We’re going to evaluate and get better and better and better, to reduce the amount of time that we feel behind. But we don’t do rollover behind.

People double book themselves all the time. Stop doing this. You literally can’t be in two places at once. Don’t do that to yourself, all right? Also, when you notice that you’ve double booked yourself, people will avoid resolving the conflict immediately. That’s another rule of thumb: As soon as you notice the conflict, resolve it. It’s really going to save you so much emotional suffering.

I watch people indulge in perfectionism, so they don’t engage in this process because they feel messy, because they make it so complicated, like overcomplicating their to do list.

I also watch people quit the learning process because they don’t do it well right out of the gate. I want you to resist the urge to do that. You’ve got to stick with it. The only way you’re ever going to get better at this is if you commit to making those 1% improvements.

Chronic consumption mode, I watch this all the time. Rather than just coming here and implementing what you’ve learned today, you’ll go watch some YouTube videos on time management. and go listen to more podcasts from someone else who teaches it totally different than me. You’ll follow different people on Instagram, and maybe you’ll buy some new planners. Maybe you’ll read a book on it.

You keep trying all of this stuff, but you’re not really trying it, you’re just learning about it. You stay in consumption mode. You’ve got to get out of consumption mode, and you’ve got to get your hands dirty.

“Oops, pretty planners from Amazon cart.” Yes, you don’t need them. In fact, I discourage you from buying them, even though they’re pretty. I used to be a planner addict, too. It just doesn’t make sense. We live in an electronic world, you need to have the stuff on your electronic calendar, it syncs with your availability. We can’t do it in writing, it’s just too cumbersome.

Now, telling yourself that your schedule is unpredictable, don’t do that. When you tell yourself your schedule is unpredictable, you’re not going to spend any time predicting it. So, we don’t want to do that. We want you to believe that even if some things pop up and your plan changes, it’s still okay to have general rules of thumb, general structure, and you can make accommodations as they arise.

Not evaluating, it’s a massive mistake I see people make. You’re never going to learn if you don’t evaluate what worked, what didn’t work, what would you do differently.

Then, staying confused. The way people stay confused is they don’t get their hands dirty and try. So, the way to work through your confusion is to just get started, follow the steps that I taught you today, reclaim control of your calendar, plan your schedule accurately, follow that 10-step process I gave you, and honor your plan. Do it imperfectly, and allow yourself to learn. That’s the only way you’re going to get out of confusion and into feeling capable.

That’s what I have for you. I hope this was helpful.

Now, for my special announcement. I am going to drop a link in the chat. I’m so excited about this. I am getting ready to launch a new program, it’s called Lawyers Only. It is a monthly subscription service where we will meet weekly for coaching.

But there will also be courses. The first course is going to be all on time management. I’m going to give you the foundational basics to managing your mind, as well. So, those are going to be the first modules. Then I’m going to keep adding courses as time goes on.

It’s going to be a monthly program. Most of my programs are short, and in containers. So, you work with me for six months, and then you decide whether or not you want to keep going. This isn’t going to be that; it’s going to be a monthly subscription.

So, you’re just always going to have the support of my coaching and the community that I create. It’s going to be for lawyers only. So, only practicing attorneys who are dealing with the exact same struggles that you’re struggling with.

All of the stuff that I’ve offered before, whether it’s one-on-one coaching or my masterminds, have been what we call in coaching “high ticket offers,” four figures, five figures: significant investments. What I wanted to do is two things.

With the in-person event that I run, I realized that a lot of people want to work with me, and they want to learn the tools that I teach, but they don’t want to have to take off work. They don’t want to have to fly across the country.

They want to just be able to be in the comfort of their own homes, be on their laptops, and learn from me. Communicate with me through Zoom, not take time off work, not have to sort out childcare, not have to step away from their busy practices. They just want to be able to do it as part of their weekly routine.

So, I wanted to create the ability to do that with a monthly subscription. We meet each week for an hour, for a coaching call. Then there’s going to be a member portal with all of these amazing resources, a community where you can come ask me questions, ask your peers questions, learn from one another, celebrate, get unstuck, get out of your confusion, and figure out how to solve problems and move forward.

Then we’ll focus on all the different topics that I teach. Time management is going to be the first focus. But we’ll also cover how to set boundaries, how to develop business, how to delegate, how to get organized, how to relax; all those fun topics that you’ve seen me teach month after month through my webinars, if you’ve been coming to my webinars for a while. I wanted to make coaching more accessible to more people.

The way that the subscription will work, it’s just going to be $150 a month. It’s going to be just like Netflix, where it’s recurring. You get access to all of that amazing content, and I’m going to keep putting in new content, so it never gets stale. You’re always going to have new stuff to learn. And you’re always going to have a place to come and get support with whatever it is that you’re struggling with.

I’m going to launch this membership later in October. Okay, I’m going to be sending out, the first time I open enrollment, I’m only going to accept a limited number of people. If you are committed to mastering time management, you want to be in that first group. I dropped the link in the chat. That is an interest list. I want you to sign up.

If you’re interested in joining, I’m going to send you a private email inviting you to join, instead of you needing to wait for the public enrollment. So, by coming to this masterclass and spending this time with me, you’ve already shown that you’re committed to getting better at this.

So, I want to invite you to sign up for that interest list. Keep your eye on your email. Over the course of the next two weeks you will be getting an email from me inviting you to join the inaugural cohort of this monthly subscription, Lawyers Only. So, do that.

“It’s exactly what I’m needing.” Exactly. I’m so excited people have been started talking about it a little bit on social media. This is my first big announcement. I’m so excited to offer this to people. It is going to allow people to get my help, to learn the coaching tools that I teach my one-on-one clients and the people that have been in my mastermind, at such an accessible price.

It’s going to be the biggest overdeliver you can possibly imagine. It’s really going to change the way that you practice law, the way that you enjoy your career, the way that you enjoy your life. I absolutely can’t wait to launch it. So, make sure you’re in there. Make sure you’re going to be one of the first people to join.

I can’t wait to see you on our first call, which will be at the beginning of November. Keep your eyes on your email in order to sign up for that.

“Thanks.” You’re so welcome. “Great class. Thank you so much for sharing. Not a lawyer, unfortunately.” That’s okay. I hope you got a ton of value out of this, regardless of whether you practice or not. “Waiting for the paralegal course, as well.” “So fun.” “I’m going to stick with the podcast.” “Thanks so much.” You guys are so welcome. I hope this was valuable.

“Awesome class, as usual.” My absolute pleasure. I hope you have a beautiful weekend. Thank you so much for spending time on your Friday. And I look forward to seeing you. “Sounds like a great program, no question.” Thank you so much.

I’m so excited about it. It is going to be a game changer for people. Make sure you go sign up, that way you can sneak in there before anyone else gets access to it. “Miss you.” Miss you too, Carol. So good to see you.

“Thanks, Olivia. Have a great weekend.” You’re welcome, Samantha. All right, you guys. Bye, Vivian. Bye, everyone.

Have a great weekend. I’ll talk to y’all soon. Have fun managing your time.

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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