Episode 49: Determining Your Capacity for Work

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Determining Your Capacity for Work

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Determining Your Capacity for Work

How do you know when it’s right to take on more work, and when you need to start easing off? Just like many areas of legal practice, nobody teaches us how to determine our capacity for work. We’re left to fumble through and guess, and most of us get it wrong, to our detriment.

Determining your capacity for work is about more than calculating how many hours you have in a day. Working every available second is going to leave you burned out, but when you’re truly clear on your capacity for work, you’ll get a better handle on everything that’s overwhelming you about your workload and your to-do list.

Tune in this week to discover how to calculate and determine your capacity for work in a way that serves you where you are right now. I’m sharing my own system for determining how many hours I can work, how to deal with the discomfort of saying no, and how to measure your capacity according to your specific business model.

Early Enrollment for the next round of The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind opens May 12th, 2023, with the next live event running from August 23rd through 26th 2023. Spots are limited, so if you don’t want to miss out, I highly recommend you sign up for the waitlist here!

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why determining your capacity for work will help you reduce your overwhelm and stress.
  • How I’ve mastered determining my own capacity for work since starting my coaching business.
  • What I do differently to people operating legal practices that helps me understand my capacity at a high level.
  • My own calculations for determining my capacity for work and how I reached these conclusions.
  • How different times in your life and business call for differing capacities for work.
  • Why there is no right or wrong answer for how many hours you can work in a week.
  • How to adjust the way you calculate your capacity for work in a way that doesn’t leave you burned out, and honor that capacity.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 49. Today, we’re talking all about how to determine your capacity for work. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Well, hello there. How you doing today? I’m so excited for today’s episode. This is a topic that I get asked about all the time. How do people determine their capacity for work? When should you take on more work? When should you turn work away? All of those things.

Like so much that comes along with legal practice, this is one of the things that no one ever teaches us how to do. You just have to fumble around by yourself, figure it out, kind of guess your way through it. And, most of us end up guessing wrong. We end up taking on work when we really don’t have the capacity for it. That’s one of the ways that we end up overwhelming ourselves.

So, this ties directly in with maintaining the “work/life balance” you want. I don’t love that term, because I think we have one life and work is a part of it. It’s not that they’re separate and in competition with one another. But if you use that term, this is a way that you can help maintain the work/life balance split that you want to have.

It also helps you reduce your overwhelm. It’s going to help you have a better handle on your workload and getting through the tasks on your to-do list. It’s really going to help maintain your stress levels, reduce your stress levels, so you feel more in control and capable and accomplished as you go throughout your weeks.

Now, I actually didn’t learn how to measure capacity when I was still practicing law. This is something that I’ve mastered since I started my coaching business, because my coaching business operates a little bit differently than most legal practices operate. I have such a clear understanding on what my capacity is in my current business.

I started to see the differences between the way I operate my business, and the way my attorney clients operate their law practices. And, I started to see what I do differently that allows me to have such a clear understanding of my capacity, versus what they do. They really don’t have a clear understanding of what their capacity is.

So, since seeing this difference, I’ve really been on a mission to come up with a framework to give the attorneys that I work with. To have them be able to use it to measure their capacity and to work within their capacity, rather than continuously and consistently working outside of their capacity and overwhelming themselves.

I did an inventory on how I operate my business, and I came up with the best practices to give you for how to measure your own capacity. So, that’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s episode. First, I want to explain how I measure my capacity in my business. If you’re an attorney and you’re in a billable hour model, this will probably not be how you measure your capacity.

But I want you to have the background context here, and give you an example of a different way to structure your business if you’re not in the more traditional billable hour model. Maybe you have a subscription service; that’s a really nuanced way to charge people. Maybe you do flat-fee work. There are just different ways that you can structure this, depending on the services that you provide people.

If you’re a much more of a counselor role rather than a litigator or doing transactional work, this might really work for you. It might be a little bit more akin to my coaching business. But I work with people… I have two offers. I work with clients one-on-one and then I have my group program, The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind.

The bulk of the hours that I spend in my business each week are my one-on-one coaching hours. I spend, roughly, at any given time, I normally have between 22 and 24 clients, and my sessions are an hour long. So that’s max 24 hours in a week.

And then, I have my group program, which is also an hour. I spend several hours in our Facebook group outside of that, so we can round up to 30 hours there. That’s just the client work. And then, in addition to those 30 hours, I do marketing work. I do a minimum of two hours a day on marketing.

I tend to do a little bit of marketing on the weekends, as well. I do some social media. I normally do my Ask Me Anything, anonymously, questions on Instagram. So, all-in with marketing, I’ll also go ahead and include me recording my podcast episodes, me doing my monthly webinars. And then, I do some consultation calls and some networking calls throughout the week, as well.

So, all-in I’m probably at around 50 hours a week for work. Now, I am single, and I don’t have any kids. Those are the hours that I prefer for this stage of my business. I am not suggesting that you work 50 hours a week. I’m not suggesting you work 60. I’m not suggesting you work 40 or 30 or 20, you get to decide. There is no right or wrong answer. Okay?

Now, I also structure my days, so I don’t take any calls before, it used to be 10am. I’m switching it to 11am. I am not a morning person. And, I like to wake up a little bit later in the morning. I start my day with social media. I normally draft a social media post for LinkedIn, between 8:30am and 9pm. Then I post that, and then I engage on LinkedIn for a while.

Then, I get ready for my day, and I start my calls by 10am or 11am. And then, I have relatively back-to-back calls with short little breaks in between, from whatever time I start until 6pm or 7pm. Then, I normally just chill. And then, I might do a little bit more marketing in the later evening, after I eat dinner, after I’ve had a chance to relax with the cats.

So, that’s what my schedule looks like Monday through Thursday. Fridays, I don’t do calls anymore. I normally do some behind-the-scenes stuff, and I’m working to eliminate that altogether, so it just really is a day of leisure for me. And then, on the weekends I don’t do any coaching calls at all. I just do a little social media stuff. That’s what my week looks like.

The reason I wanted to give you this breakdown is for a couple of different reasons: Number one, you’ll notice that I spend a lot of extra time in my business that isn’t devoted to just client work. And I want you to keep that in mind, as well.

How much of your time, each week, do you have to devote to client work? How much of your time do you have to devote to other stuff; marketing, administrative work, anything like that, billing, back-end stuff? You want to know these numbers, okay?

Rather than just guessing at them, or scrambling and making time when something is really urgent or emergent. I don’t want you doing that. I want you to have a baseline, so you know, how much of my week do I need to devote to this part of my practice? How much of my week do I need to devote to this part of my practice? And then, you plan that way accordingly, rather than just crossing your fingers, hoping for the best, thinking, “Well, hopefully, I’ll have the chance to make time for it all.”

I also am very clear about the number of hours I’m going to spend on client work. That is not an elastic number for me. I have capacity for 24 clients, or 22 clients, or whatever my number is at the time. I’m slowly reducing that, so by the middle of the year, that should be down to 18. And when I’m at 18, I don’t take more clients. All right? That’s what I want you to get a better understanding of.

Now, I’m going to explain what you’re going to measure, because you probably won’t have a business structured like mine. So, for me, I spend an hour with each client, each week. I cap it at whatever number I’m willing to take at that time.

And when I’m full, if I continue to do consultations with clients, I don’t just add them into my schedule and make my days longer, which is what most attorneys do. I don’t do that. I wait until I have a spot opening, one of the 24 spots, and then they get that spot when it becomes available. So, I’m never exceeding the number 24. All right?

Now again, I’m just giving you the background here. This is going to be a little bit different for you. I’m going to teach you how to adapt it to your legal practice, but I want you to understand how I measure my capacity first, so you have all the context.

The main takeaway here is that my days do not become elastic. Okay? I start my calls at 11am. I end at 7pm or 6m, depending on the day. And, there’s a certain number of slots each day. When all of those are full, my answer is that I do not take more work. I postpone someone’s start date with me until a spot becomes available.

Rather than taking it on and working on the weekends or working earlier in the day or working later in the day. All right? My schedule, my capacity, the limit that I set for the number of people I’m going to work with does not move.

Learning to honor my capacity was one of the hardest things that I had to do as an entrepreneur. When you start a business, you are really in the hustle and grind mode of getting clients and creating money, right? It’s a very different skill set, and it requires you to allow very different discomfort to turn away business. Or, to tell someone, “Yes, you can work with me. But not quite yet.” Okay?

That is very mature entrepreneurship, to be able to say that and to be able to trust that there’s enough work that’s coming your way. That you know how to create and develop more business. And that it’s okay for someone to go to someone else, rather than work with you right this second if they’re not willing to wait, trusting that other people will come.

This is an exercise in allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable and tolerating that discomfort and honoring your capacity, anyways. I know it sounds like a walk in the park, really fun, but this is another example of an instance where you’re going to have to gag-and-go through the discomfort. You’re going to have to feel worried. You’re gonna have to feel a little scarce. That’s okay, you can survive all of those emotions.

You might even have to feel guilty. I sometimes feel guilty when I know a client is really struggling with something and they want to start right away, and I just don’t have the capacity for them to fit into my schedule at the time. So, they have to wait a couple months to begin to work with me. It’s uncomfortable, and I don’t change my capacity to fit them and squeeze them into a schedule that’s already full.

If you have a business model for your firm, for your legal practice, that’s more closely aligned with mine, where you’re counseling clients, rather than working on different projects or different matters for indeterminant lengths of time, then you might be able to structure your capacity just like mine.

Where I plan the amount of hours a week that I want to work. I have a clear breakdown between the number of administrative and marketing hours, and then client working hours. You can limit and put parameters around those client working hours, and you only take that.

Now for me, I know when spots are going to become available in my client capacity schedule, because I work with clients for six months. So, we commit to working together for six months. And then, they either continue to renew with me and we work together for another six months. Or, they go off on their own and they prosper, and I have an open spot that becomes available for a new client.

For you, if you’ve got a subscription model, I’ve seen attorneys do this, where it would just be a recurring income, right? They continue to work with you until they decide to not work with you, there is no end point. But you would be clear on what your capacity is. And you might be able to grow and increase your capacity by adding additional team members to service your clients, so it’s not just requiring you to interact with these clients. That’s one way to grow.

But you would know what your capacity is. And then, the clients would just renew, that subscription service would renew each month. Once you hit your capacity, you’re full until a client decides not to work with you anymore. Then you’d have an open spot become available and you could sell it.

Now, I am cognizant that most legal practices are not set up this way; you’re probably not in a subscription model. And, you’re not going to be in a scenario where you’re only interacting with a client one hour per week. Where you’re having one call with them a week or something along those lines. Very similar to my business or the subscription counseling model that I just described.

Instead, you’re probably, whether it’s flat-fee or hourly billing, you’re working on matters. Different projects that require different lengths of time to complete. You’ll finish one project on a matter and then it’ll be done for a little while. And then something else will need to be done on that matter. And then, you’ll finish that, and there’ll be a little bit of a respite. And then, something else will need to be done on the matter, and so on and so forth. Right?

If that is how your practice is set up… This is also great if you’re in-house or have another type of job that isn’t like the private practice legal model. Then here’s what you want to do instead, in order to measure your capacity.

First thing’s first, you have to decide how much you want to work each week. You have to pick a number. Right now, you’re probably not picking an upper limit on the amount that you want to be working each week. Instead, you are letting your workload dictate how much you work each week. You’re creating a situation where your weekly hours become very elastic.

If there’s more work to do, and in the practice of law there will always be more work to do. When there’s more work, you let your hours each week expand. You probably start your days earlier, you end them later, you cram in work on the weekends; your time each week becomes elastic. We want to eliminate and remove the elasticity from your weekly schedule.

So, I want you to pick, decide right now how much do you want to work each week? What’s that hourly breakdown? And again, there’s no right answer to this. There’s no wrong answer to this. Once you have your answer, whether it’s 30 hours a week, 40, 50, whatever you choose, I want you to get really clear on how much time you have to do non-client related work.

How much time do you need for administrative stuff? How much time do you need for marketing? Anything on the back end of operating your business? I always like to break this down. There’s a difference between working in your practice, which is working on client work. And then working on your practice, which is all of the other ancillary things that you need to do, you need to complete, in order for your firm to operate effectively.

Okay, so once you get this number, you’re going to make a to-do list. And you should already be doing this if you’ve listened to my time management series on the podcast, which was so good. If you haven’t listened to that yet, and you struggle with time management, I teach you all the stuff that you need to know in order to master managing your time. So, go give that a listen.

But I would have explained, as part two of my three-step process for managing your time effectively, you need to plan your schedule accurately. And in order to plan your schedule accurately, you need to make a to-do list. I like this to be electronic, because we live in an electronic world these days.

I want you to be able to delete cut, paste, move things around, rather than having to constantly rewrite your list. So, you’re going to have an electronic to-do list with every task that you need to complete on it. Okay? Everything from the big things to the small things, and everything in between.

For each task, you’re going to estimate the amount of time it will take you to complete it. Now, if you are new at this, as humans we are horrific at estimating how long a task will take us. So, what I want you to do is whatever your initial guess is, I want you to double it. So, you’re on the safe side, and you’re not under estimating how long it’s going to take you to complete something.

You make your list, you put everything down, and then you estimate how long it will take you. Let’s say the number of hours that you want to spend in your practice each week is 40. And you do 10 hours’ worth of back-end administrative stuff, and you do 10 hours of marketing. Now, you’ve got 20 hours left over for client work, okay?

Now, with your to-do list, you should have a total. You’re going to add up all of that work, all of the tasks that you have to do. And if some of it is administrative, you can separate that out, and then all of the client work that you have to do. So, you’ll have two numbers; the total amount of admin work, and the total amount of client work.

Let’s say, when you make your list, you have 60 hours of admin work, and 120 hours of client work. What that would mean, is that without adding anything else new to your plate, to your schedule, to your current workload, you would have a full six weeks of work to do; 120 ÷ 20 hours each week for client work, breaks down to six weeks, right?

Same thing with the administrative stuff; 60 hours of work ÷ 10 breaks down to six weeks. So, your next six weeks would be completely full. Now, you get to decide what your comfort level is for having new clients to sign up with you, or existing clients giving you new work matters. You get to decide what your comfort level is for postponing the start.

You might decide you’re totally fine having someone wait six weeks to begin working on their matter. Then you wouldn’t be at your capacity yet, and you could sign that client up. Tell them that you’re not going to start on it until six weeks from now. Everyone’s expectations would be level set from the beginning. And, we don’t have a capacity issue.

Where we would encounter a capacity issue is, let’s say, you decide that you don’t want to add any additional client work or take on a new matter, a new matter, or a new client, when you have more than three months’ worth of work. Let’s say the number wasn’t 120hrs, and when you list everything out, you actually have 240 hours’ worth of client work to do.

Which, I know these numbers probably sound really high, but think about it. A lot of firms have monthly billable hour requirements that are in the 166 range, 160, 170, right around there. So, it makes sense that you actually would have this much work on your plate.

You make your task list, you add it all up, and you see that you have 240 hours’ worth of client work on your plate. That would be three months’ worth of work, based on the current breakdown that we’re doing with these; 40 hours a week, only 20 reserved for client work, 10 for marketing, 10 for back-end business stuff, administration.

If you’ve decided that you don’t take new clients, when you can’t get to their matter in a shorter amount of time than three months, then you would be at capacity. And you wouldn’t add a new client until your number got down lower; until that 240 was like 160 or something like that.

Whatever your limit is, you get to decide, when do I sign clients? When do I want to be open for taking on more work? Is it when I can get to a new matter in six weeks? Is it when I can get to a new matter in four weeks? Is it when I can get to a new matter in two months or in three months? There is no right or wrong answer.

Again, you get to make these decisions. It’s all going to be about what your comfort level is. Now, I’ll tell you this much, my comfort level has drastically increased over time. In the very beginning, I wasn’t comfortable having people wait. I wanted everyone to be able to start working with me immediately. And it was coming from fear, worry, guilt. I was definitely in people-pleasing energy. I would just want to get started as soon as possible. I thought that they would be upset with me if I made them wait.

And then, I just became so, so full with clients that I didn’t have another option. I mean, I guess I technically did. I could have worked mid-nights or weekends, but I wasn’t willing to do that. So, I ended up putting people off.

In the beginning, it was, “Oh, you have to wait two weeks to start with me.” And then, I was full even with that situation. So, it was a month, and then it was two months, and then it was three months. And then, now, sometimes people have to wait almost five or six months to start working with me, depending on my schedule and when I have spots becoming available.

I had to increase my tolerance for that discomfort, but it was really worthwhile work to do. Now, you can’t increase your tolerance for this, if you don’t set the restriction in the beginning with the number of hours you’re going to work. Okay?

For me, I set the number of clients that I’m going to work with at a given time. You can do that, but because you’re not selling individual hours per clients each week, it’s not going to work the same way that mine works for the way my business is set up.

So, you want to create that cap on the number of client hours you’re going to do, even if it’s not broken down per client. But max 20 hours a week or 30 hours a week, whatever your number is, on client work. That’s step one.

Then, the second decision you have to make is how comfortable are you with making people wait for you to start working on their matters.

Now, you’re going to be tempted to take on new work and reshuffle your schedule, and let new matters cut the line of that to-do list; of that 240 hours’, that 160 hours’ worth the client work. You’re going to want to put people in higher up in the rotation out of that sense of fear or worry or guilt. That is another way that our work becomes really elastic.

That limit that you have on when you are full, and when you’re not full, just becomes elastic. And that to-do list keeps getting longer and longer and longer, and pushed out further and further and further away from today’s current date.

Instead of letting your time be elastic, you want to make these decisions: What’s the max amount you’re going to work each week, of that number? What’s the total number of client work that you’re going to do? It’s gonna be a fraction of your total number of hours. And then, with all your to-do list items added up, what do you consider full? Where are you at capacity? When do you hit that point? At what point will you know that it’s time to say no to new work until you get back under that capacity?

The perfect example of this is 40 hours a week max, 20 hours of client work or 25 hours of client work. You get to decide what that number looks like for you. And then, whatever amount of time that you’re comfortable with making people wait is what your capacity will be.

So, if you’re over that, if people can’t have their matters get worked on within the next two months, that means you’re at capacity and you tell them, “No, not right now. Not until my number gets below that.” All right?

I hope this makes sense for you. I know it’s a little nuanced. I’m getting really specific in today’s episode. But I have people ask me about this all the time. And I wish there was a simpler, less clunky way to do this. There are quite a few steps involved in this process. You’ve got to make the to-do list; you’ve got to add it all up.

Hopefully, it sounds simple to you. I painstakingly went through and I wrote this all down, and I kept working through it because I wanted to get it as digestible for you as I possibly could. But I really want you to have a handle on your own capacity so you know when you should take work on, when you should turn it down, when you should make people wait. That way you don’t overwhelm yourself, overwork yourself and burn out.

All right, my friends, have fun making these decisions for your own practice, for your own work: Total number of hours each week. The amount of time you want people to wait before you start working on new matters. Those are the two ultimate decisions you have to make.

And then, honor it. It’s going to be super uncomfortable. You can gag-and-go through the discomfort; you will survive it, I promise. And reach out to me, let me know how this goes. I’m so excited for you to have an understanding of what your own capacity is. And to begin working within it, rather than constantly exceeding it, and experiencing the stress and the overwhelm and the pressure and all of that discomfort that comes with it.

Remember, there’s always discomfort both ways. I always suggest, choose feeling the discomfort that gets you the life you want. All right? In this case, it’ll be with choosing your capacity and honoring it and working within it, rather than exceeding it day in and day out.

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

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

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Episode 48: Want Lists & Goal Stacking

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Want Lists & Goal Stacking

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Want Lists & Goal Stacking

How are you currently approaching the goals you want to accomplish? Do you get FOMO and feel the desire to pursue a plethora of different goals all at once? Are overwhelm and indecision front and center for you as you try to tackle your goals? Are you making very slow progress, or not pursuing anything at all?

If any of these strategies resonate with you, you’re in the right place. It’s time to put your dreaming cap on and imagine all the outlandish things you want in your life while being intentional and pragmatic. I’ve got a plan of attack that you can use to achieve the goals you have for your life, and it’s a combination of two exercises: want lists and goal stacking. 

Join me this week as I introduce you to the concept of want lists and goal stacking. Learn how these two exercises combined will help you clear up any confusion or overwhelm about what you want to focus on as you daydream about everything you could experience in your lifetime.

Early Enrolment for the next round of The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind opens May 12th, 2023, with the next live event running from August 23rd through 26th 2023. Spots are limited, so if you don’t want to miss out, I highly recommend you sign up for the waitlist here!

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What a want list means, and what I’ve included on mine. 
  • My tips for creating a list of everything you want to accomplish in your life. 
  • How to create your goal stacking exercise. 
  • The power of prioritizing one goal at a time. 
  • 3 ways you might be attempting to achieve your goals right now, and why they’re not working.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 48. Today, we’re talking all about want lists and goal stacking. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hi, my friends? How are we? I’ve got to be honest, babes. I am missing Charleston, now that I am back in Detroit. I am meant to be I think what they call, is it a snowbird? Yes, I want to be a snowbird. I am over winter. It’s not for me. I’m missing the warm weather.

My cousin, Emily, and I were remarking when we were down there how the worst it gets is kind of like fall, like October in Michigan, I am missing the warmer weather, being able to walk around, the sunshine. If you are from the Midwest, or a northern state, you know it gets pretty gloomy during the winter. So, it’s definitely like that here right now.

And now that I work from home, I really struggle in the winter more than I ever have. It affects my mood more and more and more. I’m noticing a pattern year in and year out, I think it’s called a seasonal affective disorder. I’m totally diagnosing myself, but I think this is a real thing. I think I have it. I don’t do a great job of getting out into the sunshine during the winter months because it’s cold. And I really, really, really hate being cold.

It’s super convenient, I can just work inside. I hibernate exactly like a bear with my cats during the winter. And I know that this just isn’t me. A lot of people struggle with this, but it is getting real. I am ready for some sunshine. I think the writings’ on the wall, I really just need to move. So, that’s kind of what’s going on with me lately. I hope you’re in a place that’s sunnier and warmer and more enjoyable than February in Michigan.

Alright, enough about me. I want to give you a little bit of an update about something that I did this week. And then, I want to use it as the premise of this episode. So, this week, for The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind, we had our first call for the new round. After we were all together in Charleston for the live event, we take a week off. And all of the learning and development that we did in person gets a chance to sink in and people get back into the swing of things in their normal everyday lives. And then we get to meet for the first time. So, we take a week break and then we meet.

This week, on Tuesday, we met for the first time. I did this really awesome exercise that I absolutely love doing with my clients. Really, it’s like two exercises combined into one, and they go together. We create what I call a “Want List”.

And then, we do what I call “Goal Stacking”. Where you take the want list items that you identified, and you put them in order, so you know what it is you’re going to focus on. You’ve basically got a plan of attack for everything you want to accomplish in your life.

Today, I want to talk to you about creating your own want list and then completing a goal stacking exercise so you have a lot of direction in your life. You dismantle or clear up any overwhelm or confusion about what you want to focus on and what you want to achieve right now, where you want to put your attention and your intention. And we’re also just going to daydream a little bit. It’s going to be so fun.

Okay, so for those of you who don’t know me super well, this might seem a little bit surprising. It might shock you a little bit, but I am absolutely a dreamer. Like, big picture, day dreaming, pie in the sky; very inventive imagination of what I want for my life.

And legend has it that this has something to do with me being a Pisces. My birthday is about to come up in March. So, I’ve heard that this is a thing that Pisces do. I don’t know whether that’s true or not. But whether or not it is, it is true that I am a big time dreamer.

Now, a lot of people who know me see me as being really intentional and pretty pragmatic. So, that is also true, I am both of those things. Which is why, me self-identifying as a dreamer who’s a little fanciful might seem a little misaligned or it authentic. But I promise you, I am both of these things, I am all of these things.

Completing these two exercises, creating a want list and then goal stacking, what you add to your want list, it’s a great example of how I blend these qualities about myself together. It’s such a good example of how you can be two things at once. How you can hold two things at once.

I always love to use an intentional use of the word “and” you can be a dreamer, “and” you can be intentional. You can be a dreamer, and you can be really pragmatic and methodical. Alright?

So, I definitely am both of those things. You don’t have to be either/or, all or nothing, one or the other. You get to be really dynamic. I think that’s one of the most fascinating things about being a human, we get to be so dynamic. And we get to be a little combination of whatever we want to be.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen those TikToks or those Instagram reels where people pour in water, and they label the water. They’re like, “When God made me he put in this much charisma, and this much sass, and this much intelligence,” or whatever. But it’s kind of like that. We get to be whatever we want. We get to consist of whatever we want.

And there’s always room for nuance. You get to be whatever magical, incredible, insane combination you want to be. So, for me, quite a bit of a dreamer. And I’m really intentional and pragmatic. I’m all those things, roped into one.

In light of that, I’ve paired these two exercises to really bring in that dreamer part of me, and bring in that intentional part of me. I do this exercise with my clients to bring out the dreamer part of them and the really intentional part of them.

Also, I’m giggling to myself right now. I just talked to a friend of mine who also has a podcast. And she was talking about how she talks with her hands when she records the podcast. And you guys, so do I; full-on Italian mode over here. When I record these episodes for you, I’m talking with the hands, plural, the entire time.

And one of these days, I’m going to have to record video of me recording the podcast, just so you guys can see what I’m talking about. My cousin Emily always yells at me for not creating the video content when I record these anyways. But it’s just funny, I talk with my hands so much.

So, I’m, on one hand, intentional. On one hand, being a dreamer. And every time I say those words, I’m moving my hands to and fro. But of course, you can’t see that. Anyways, I digress.

We’re going to bring out the dreamer in you today. And we’re going to bring out the intentional, pragmatic side of you, too. Okay? We’re going to combine those two things. First, we’re going to start by creating a Want List. I just want you to go grab a piece of paper. Or, you can break out your phone and create… If you’ve got an iPhone, go in your Notes app, or whatever the Android equivalent of that is.

You’re going to make a list. I want you to label it your Want List. I love to date mine, just so I can see what I wanted at a certain period of time in my life. And now, I want you to put your dreamer hat on, okay? I want you to make a list of all of the things you want for your life.

What are all of the things you want to accomplish? Write those down. What goals do you have? It doesn’t just have to be for this moment in your life, it can be for your entire life. What are the things you want to accomplish? What do you want to achieve? What are the things that you want to do?

That’s the second question I want you to answer. You might notice that some of the questions might overlap, or you’ll have similar answers, depending on what the question is, that’s okay. Don’t duplicate, but we’re going to add some nuance to different questions here, just to pull out and make sure we catch every single one, that we want to make sure it gets on your Want List.

So, what do you want to accomplish? What do you want to achieve? What do you want to do in your life? What experiences do you want to have? Where do you want to travel? What do you want to learn to do? Where do you want to live? What do you want your life to look like?

Go ahead, pause this episode, and make your list. Go through and answer all those questions one by one and see what comes up for you. If, after you’ve taken a few minutes, you’re really struggling to identify things on your list. And I want you to at least write down 20 things. Okay? It can be as long as you want it to be, but strive for at least 20.

They can be small. They can be huge. They can be the Goldilocks version, in between. Totally doesn’t matter. Like I said, they can be goals that you want to achieve this year or this quarter. They can be things that you want to accomplish 30 years from now, it does not matter. They can be things that will take you a very long time to accomplish. They can be simple, little things. Whatever you want for your life, I want you to include on this list, okay?

Now, if you really struggle with coming up with responses to the questions that I just gave you, I have another prompt for you. That normally kind of sounds negative, but I do think it’s really effective at helping you identify the things that you might want for your life.

So, instead of asking yourself, what do I want? Which people aren’t always practiced in being able to answer skillfully with ease. I want you to do an inventory, and ask yourself, what is it that you envy that other people have? What are things other people do that you envy? That you wish you had that? You wish you could do? Alright?

Now, this isn’t meant to create a compare and despair situation where you’re measuring yourself up to other people. Where you’re using their achievements or their experiences against yourself, feeling badly about your own life and what you’ve done so far. That is not the point of this exercise.

There are always two directions that you can go when you’re looking at someone else’s achievements. When you’re looking at the things that they have in their life that you really appreciate or enjoy or envy, you can use it against yourself to feel terrible; highly don’t recommend that. Or, you can use it as inspiration.

One of my favorite quotes is that success leaves clues. I got that from a friend of mine, Maggie Reyes. And it’s so true, success does leave clues. So, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we get to crib ideas from other people, and include it in our own want list. I’m going to share my want list, what’s on mine, in just a second, so you can use mine as inspiration if it helps you at all.

But I also just want you get a flavor for what can be on a want list because that might inspire you. Your list might not be identical to mine, and that’s totally fine. You want your list to be bespoke to you, of course. But I do want to offer it to you as a bit of inspiration.

So, make sure you get your list. Don’t worry about putting it in an order yet, you just want to do a brain dump. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to achieve? What are the things you want to do? What experiences do you want to have in your life? What do you envy? What do you want to learn? Where do you want to live? Where do you want to travel to? I also feel like I kind of want to include, who do you want to be? But really what do you want your life to look like?

Now, quick sidenote here, if you wanted to engage in a gratitude practice, you could make a whole list of the things that you want in your life that you currently have. That’s a really fun exercise, too. But that’s not what we’re doing today. Really, the focus of today is to put that dreaming cap on. To really think bigger and more expansive than you typically do. Alright? What are all the things that you want for your life, now and to the end of your days?

Alright, without further ado, here are some things on my want list. So, you’ve probably heard me talk about it already before on the podcast, but my goal for my business this year is to make a million dollars. That’s front and center on my want list. I also want to learn how to do a bunch of things, like in the hobbies department. I want to learn how to play the guitar. I want to learn to speak Italian. I want to take dance lessons.

I want to start working out with a personal trainer. One of my goals is to get in the best shape of my life and I want to celebrate that. Hopefully my parents aren’t listening, but I want to celebrate that by wearing a completely outrageous bikini, probably a thong bikini, in South Beach. I love Miami.

And that is just a once in a lifetime thing. I’m pretty modest. I’m a typical one-piece girl. But it is something that I want to do before I get older and feel less comfortable in my skin. So, I want to take advantage of that while I’m still in my 30s. I want to work out with a trainer.

I want to really master driving a stick-shift; my dad taught me years ago, but I’m still not an expert at it. So, I want to become an expert in that. I also am taking another page out of my dad’s book, and I want to learn how to fly a plane. My dad recreationally flies helicopters. I’ve gone with him before; he’s taught me a little bit about flying helicopters. It is very challenging for me. The three-dimensional aspect of it is a little confusing for my brain.

So, I don’t know that I’m ready for that yet, but I do want to learn how to fly fixed-wing aircraft. I want to learn how to fly a plane. I just think it’s such a flex for a girl to know how to fly a plane. That’s definitely on my want list.

I also want to renovate my house, the one that I just moved out of. That is a goal, so I can figure out what I want to do with my house. But that’s on there. I also want to pay it off if I decide to keep it. Which I’m pretty sure that I will keep it; I want to pay it off. And then, I also want to achieve the goal of being debt free.

After I went through my year of poverty, after I left my last law firm job and I started this business, I have paid off almost all of my debt, but I still have some to pay off. So, that is definitely a goal of mine, to be debt free.

Speaking of houses, I want to move out of Michigan. And if you’ve been listening to the podcast recently, you already know Charleston, here I come. But I don’t just want to live in Charleston, I want to hop all over. So, I want to live in Italy at some point in my life, preferably also in my 30s. And I have a dream of living in New York City. I want to have a place that overlooks Central Park.

I am absolutely fascinated by Central Park, and just the fact that it’s been protected and conserved all of these years. I’m really in awe of it, and I would love to have that be my view waking up in the morning. How amazing would that be? So, that’s also on my want list.

I also want to get married, that’s on my want list. As for travel, this actually came up in our Tuesday call in the mastermind. Someone else in the mastermind said that they wanted to see the Northern Lights. And that’s on my list, as well. I want to see the Northern Lights.

I also want to do some traveling with my parents. I want to take my dad to Africa. He is fascinated with Great White Sharks. So, I want to take him to South Africa to see the Great Whites. And then, we also want to go on safari. I want to stay at the giraffe hotel, which is probably super basic girl stuff, but I don’t care. It looks amazing. So, I want to do that with my dad.

And I want to take my mom to Disney. We’re not Disney people, at all. But there’s some history behind this, and it’s really important for me to do this in my lifetime. I want to take both of my parents to Italy. My mom’s family’s from Scotland, so I would like to take her there as well.

What’s really neat about having a want list, once you create it, you just get to keep adding to it over and over and over again. So, as you’re inspired, and as you get other ideas, you just get to pop them on your want list, to constantly be adding to it, which is so fun.

I was just talking to my mom this weekend, actually. And she asked me if I had any interest in doing the Turner Classic Movies Cruise that they do. I’m a huge movie buff. I love old black-and-white films. I’ve been a movie buff my whole, entire adult life. I think, even as a teenager, I was really into them. And Turner Classic Movies, TCM, is one of my favorite channels. I love all the classics, especially like 1930s, 1940s films. Those are the films that I love.

TCM hosts a film festival cruise, and it’s so incredible. It has famous people from the movie industry, and a lot of the older actresses and actors have passed away, unfortunately. But they still find great talent who are in some of the movies that they feature. And they do panel discussions about old Hollywood. It’s so up my alley. And it’s a really glamorous ship.

So, my mom just asked me if I wanted to go, and it’s been on my “bucket list”; your want list is essentially a bucket list. I just like the name Want List better. I don’t like the whole idea of ‘kicking the bucket’. That’s just like, no, thank you. I’m not fine with that name.

My mom asked me if this is something that I wanted to do, and I said, “Oh my goodness, yes. Absolutely. Let’s look at the dates.” And I just added that to my want list this weekend. So, that’s on there now too.

In addition to travel and trips that I want to take, I also have some huge goals, like long term, lifelong goals on my list. One of my goals is I want to speak at the Staples Center. And then, I also want to go to culinary school, and I eventually want to own a restaurant. That’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid.

Many decades from now, I’d like to run for Senate. Senators have so much power, so I would love to run for Senate. And I also, this is actually, probably, going to come before my Senate run, but I would love to become an actress and get cast in a movie. I’m going to fit that in somewhere in my 30s. I haven’t figured that out, exactly when yet, but that’s also on my want list.

You should be getting the picture here, right? Everything from small things to big things. Things that you can accomplish fairly quickly, maybe with just a tiny little bit of planning, or you just have to make one decision. And then, other ones will take a ton of work, right? A lot of intentionality, a lot of planning, a lot of focus. That’s not a problem, you just want to know what is it going to require of you.

Okay, now, once you have your Want List, you get to start putting it in order. This is what I call “Goal Stacking”. You literally stack your goals, one by one by one, on top of each other. You create the order in which you’re going to approach them. In which you’re going to tackle them. In which you’re going to accomplish them. Okay?

You can do all the things. I am never going to be the person to tell you that you can’t do all the things that you want to do. I wouldn’t be a very good life coach if I was giving you have limiting beliefs about what you can accomplish. So, you can do all the things, you just can’t do them all at the same time, alright?

Unfortunately, and I always joke with my clients when I say this, unfortunately, time is finite. It just is what it is. Now, I’m underwhelmed and a little disappointed by that if I’m being completely honest with you. If you’re like me, and you’re also a little underwhelmed and disappointed with the truth, that time is finite, listen, I get it. I’m right there with you.

But you want to not be at war with that. I just did that podcast episode on the wars that you’re waging, the unwinnable fights that you engage in, and that is often one of them for people. They’re wishing that they could do more things at a given time than they can. So, you want to accept the reality that your time is limited, and there’s only so much you can do within a given period of time.

What I like to do is really constrain my focus to prioritizing one goal at a time. This allows me to put all of my intention, all of my energy, all of my action into accomplishing one thing, which helps me get so much further faster. It really increases my ability to achieve things in a rapid manner.

I learn more because I take more action. And then, I can evaluate and rather than jumping from one thing to the next, I’m able to just really obsess. But in a positive way, not a negative way. I obsess over the thing that’s right in front of me, the goal that’s right in front of me, the accomplishment that I’m working towards achieving.

That’s what I want you to do with your want list. I want you to put it in order; in the order that you want to achieve it in. Okay? We’re going to stack these goals. That way, you have a very clear framework of what you’re going to focus on right now. And then we’re going to focus on later, after you accomplish what you’re going to focus on right now.

You can do this from now until the end of time, essentially, right? Some of my goals, like owning a restaurant or going to culinary school or running for Senate are not goals that I have any interest in even pursuing for decades. That doesn’t matter. That’s okay. They get to be on my Want List still; they’re still there in the back of my mind. I know to look forward to them, and I don’t have to spin out about not working towards them now because they’re built into my plan.

Alright, now, I know people always say when you make a plan, life happens. I agree. This isn’t set in stone and completely inflexible. But it does help me get out of the FOMO that comes up when I want to pursue multiple things at once.

Maybe you’re like me. And if you’re a dreamer, you get FOMO too, because you want to achieve and do all the things all at the same time; as in, like, right now. Okay, if that’s you, your FOMO probably has you freezing and spinning out.

And you’re either doing one of two things. You’re either pursuing everything all at once with a lot of unintentionality, right? You’re not doing it with intentionality, you’re pursuing a plethora of different goals in a very unintentional, kind of chaotic, messy manner. That’s one way that you respond to having a ton of focuses all at the same time.

The other way people tend to respond is that they just freeze, they spin, they don’t make a decision. They are really overwhelmed. They don’t know where to start so they’re feeling overwhelmed and confused. And then, they don’t get started so they don’t achieve anything. Okay?

So, you’re either making really slow progress because you’re pursuing way too many things all at the same time, or you’re not pursuing anything. There’s also kind of a subtle third option here, where you start with option one, you’re pursuing doing all the things, and it just becomes too much to maintain. So, you eventually quit and then you don’t pursue anything.

It’s like you start and then you freeze. You don’t just freeze from the get-go. You get started, and then you freeze, because it’s too hard to maintain that much focus and that much consistent intention with so many different goals.

So, check in with yourself. Which camp do you fall into? Are you pursuing a lot of different things all at the same time? And if you are, because you’re afraid of missing out, because that FOMO comes up for you, because you’re just really passionate about so many different things all at the same time, do you slow yourself down? Do you get started and then quit? Or, do you just freeze all together? You want to know.

Now, by goal stacking, you’re going to constrain your focus, and you’re going to start to prioritize what you care about in the immediate future. What do you want to accomplish this week, this month, this quarter this year? Start to get clear on that, alright? And then, what are some things that you don’t really need to accomplish right now?

I did this with a former client and a good friend of mine. She really wants to go to grad school, but she’s also working on building a successful business. I asked her, “You can definitely still go to grad school. But is that something that has to happen in 2022? Or, can that be like 2025? Would that be okay for you to pursue that later?”

I think she wants her doctorate, that’s what it was. Is that something that you can do a couple years from now? And we decided together that that was something that she was okay with pursuing a couple years from now. So right now, she’s prioritizing her business. And then later, she’s going to prioritize that graduate degree, that doctorate degree.

Don’t come at me if I’m mixing up the two. I don’t mean to insult anyone. It’s a doctorate, I know deep down that’s what she wants to achieve. So, I’m not trying to belittle or diminish anyone’s doctorate degree by calling it a graduate degree, just scratch that part.

Now, what’s fun about goal stacking is you may see that there are some things on your list that are just really easy to cross out. You can make those more immediate if you want. We’ll use an example from my Want List.

Seeing the Northern Lights is very easy to accomplish. That’s just booking a simple trip, right? So, I could prioritize that pretty immediately. But if I wanted to prioritize something else, I can just put that further down on my goal stacking list.

There might be other things. Another thing on my want list is that I want to have a housekeeper who comes at least once a week. I could just hire that person right now. I’m not going to, it’s a financial investment that I’m not completely committed to making right this second, that level of frequency. But that’s a next year goal. So, that’s going to be not too far down on my want list and my goal stacking list, but not at the tippy top.

Same thing for you, okay? If there are some really low-hanging items on your Want List, as you’re goal stacking you can put those a little bit higher up, if they’re really easy to just tackle them and get them out of the way.

If there are other things that take a bunch of planning, like I said earlier, you might want to put those a little bit lower on the list. Or, it can be your main focus. You just want to know that’s what’s getting your focus right now, it’s not going to be that and 15 other things from your Want List. We’re going to take it one at a time. It’s how you get the furthest fastest. It’s how you make the most progress in the shortest amount of time.

Now, clients always like to fight me on my advice that they constrain to one goal at a time, and I get it. I would love to be able to actively and successfully pursue a million different things at once. But I have coached so many people on this, and this has been my own personal experience as well.

You will do so much better and your success rate of achieving what you set out to accomplish will be so much higher, if you constrain your focus to one goal at a time. I get it, I know you want to be able to do more things at once. And our brains love to tell us that we can, that we’re capable of multitasking this way. It’s just really inefficient.

I coach people on this. I see it day in and day out. And it is so fun to watch my clients have this epiphany because they will try to pursue a lot of different goals or even two goals at the same time, and they will struggle to maintain the intentionality and the discipline required to pursue a goal. Whether it’s building a habit, or achieving another type of goal that they set, they wish that they could maintain the discipline, the focus, and the intentionality, but it really does require a lot from you.

So, I find that people have a much higher goal achievement rate when they constrain their focus to one thing. Again, this is just a war that I don’t want to be waging. I’ve just made peace with it; I’ve come to terms and accepted it. And now, I hack my own brain, and I just focus on one thing. I let myself build up wins. I let myself build up momentum. I get so much further faster when I do this because I start to see progress immediately.

And then, I get more encouraged to stay the path, to take more action, to continue to pursue it until I cross the finish line. And that’s what’s going to happen for you, too. So, we just want to be honest and admit that we don’t have the bandwidth to pursue everything we want, all at the same time. Whether you want to be bummed, sad, disappointed about that reality is up to you. But you do want to make peace with it.

And then from there, you’ve stacked your goals and you know, the hitlist that you want to attack them in; in the order that you want to pursue them. So go ahead, and whatever item number one is, you want to… And this is called reverse engineering your goals and creating a result roadmap, which is something that I teach inside the mastermind. But you want to identify all of the different actions that you need to take in order to achieve that result.

And then, when you’ve got that plan, you get to follow the yellow brick road and take the first action that you need to take and then the next one and the next one and the next one after that, all the way until you crossed the finish line. During that process, you’re going to be taking action. You’ll be evaluating. You’re going to take an audit of what you’re doing, figure out what’s working, what’s not working, and decide what you’ll do differently.

So, you’re constantly in a state of winning or learning. Constantly improving until you get where you want to go. Okay, as part of this, you don’t just identify the action that you’re going to take. You also want to make sure you’re cultivating the mindset that you need to have. That means the thoughts that you need to be thinking, and the positive emotions that you need to be feeling, in order to take the action that you want to take, to produce the results you want to have.

But that is a whole other podcast episode in and of itself. And it’s something that we take to the next level inside The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. So, if you complete today’s exercises, you go through and you make your Want List. And then you go stack; you go ahead, and you prioritize the goals. You put them in the order that you want to achieve them in.

And then, you’re ready for having an immense amount of support as you pursue these goals, as you work towards them, as you go about tackling them. You want to make sure you join the mastermind, okay? Make sure you go to my website, TheLessStressedLawyer.com/mastermind and get on the wait-list for when enrollment opens for the next cohort, okay?

Enrollment is going to open May 12. You want to make sure that you’re on the waitlist, so you get the first opportunity to enroll as soon as doors open. If you’re on the wait-list, you get a chance to join before the general public gets the chance to join. And spots are limited every round, so you want to make sure you’re on the wait-list.

You don’t squander your opportunity to get the support that you’re going to want to have as you knock off these items on your Want List. As you goal stack, and pursue them one by one in that really intentional manner.

Alright, my friends, reach out to me and tell me what you identified on your Want List. I would love to hear about it. You can DM me on social media, on LinkedIn or Instagram, or feel free to even email me at Olivia@thelessstressedlawyer.com.

I would love to see what you come up with. It’s so fun learning about other people’s want lists; what they have on theirs, what they want for their lives, even the things that they envy, that they’re inspired by from other people around them. I love hearing all about this. So, reach out, tell me what’s on your Want List.

Tell me if you were surprised by anything that came up, and then tell me what you’re prioritizing. You went through the goal stacking exercise, you put it in order, I want to know what’s the number one item at the top of your goal stacked Want List, okay?

All right, my friends, that’s what I’ve got for you this week. Go put your dreamer cap on. Step into that big dream energy. It’s a different type of BDE, now that I think of it. I love to talk about BDE, which for those of you who don’t know, it’s big dick energy. That’s what that means. I love to channel that and bring it into my life, but this is a little bit different, big dreamer energy.

Okay, I want you to go tap into your big dreamer energy. Think about landish things to put on your want list and then put them in order that you want to achieve them. All right, have fun doing this, my friends. It’s such a fun exercise.

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

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

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Episode 47: Asking for What You Want

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Asking for What You Want

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Asking for What You Want

When a client comes to me with a situation where they’re feeling something negative about someone because they didn’t do something, I always ask the same question: did you ask for what you wanted? And if you didn’t ask, why not?

It’s super common that we don’t ask for what we want and we just expect people to read our minds. But if you want something, you need to ask for it and deal with the initial discomfort of asking. So, if you want to be able to ask for exactly what you want from other people, this episode is for you.

Tune in this week to get my specific framework for asking for what you want. I’m showing you how to get clear on exactly what you want from others, why you want it, and how to set your expectations in a helpful way, and then I’m giving you the step-by-step process you need to start asking for what you want and feel amazing about it.

Early Enrolment for the next round of The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind opens May 12th, 2023, with the next live event running from August 23rd through 26th 2023. Spots are limited, so if you don’t want to miss out, I highly recommend you sign up for the waitlist here!

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why we often don’t ask for what we want from other people.
  • How your human free will means you can always ask for what you want.
  • My best practices for asking for anything you want.
  • Where people go wrong with getting clear on exactly what it is they want from others and why they want it.
  • The importance of asking from a place of integrity.
  • A framework for you to follow when asking for what you want, knowing that the answer might be no.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

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

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 47. Today, we’re talking all about asking for what you want. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Well, hello there. How you doing? I am so excited to talk to you. I feel like I haven’t talked to you in forever. Last we spoke, or last you listened, from the last episode that I did, I was in Cabo. I had a little bit of a toe catastrophe. I told you all about that. But I haven’t had a chance to speak to you since I headed to Charleston to host The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind live event.

And let me tell you, I want to give you all a life update. Also, I’m saying “y’all” now because I spent enough time in Charleston that it stuck. But I want to give you all an update and just tell you all about it. It was so amazing. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing the people that we have in this round are; they’re absolutely incredible.

First of all, they’re so supportive of one another; just to watch the way that they’re bonding with one another. We have a Facebook group for the mastermind. Since we’ve all returned home, to see them support each other in that space, as well as in the room, in person, down in Charleston, it’s really miraculous.

And I love the people in this room. They have the most diverse backgrounds; people from all parts of the legal industry, in-house counsel, solo practitioners, people from big law, and people who have transitioned into professional development within law firms. All different types of backgrounds. People that used to practice law and are now entrepreneurs running legal adjacent businesses. That’s so nice.

So, it’s truly people at all different stages of their careers, all different ages, and all different life experiences which makes for such a rich community. It’s really amazing to see everyone add their own spice to the room and to the experience. I’m just blown away with the incredibly dynamic group of professionals that we have in the mastermind.

Now, if you’re thinking about joining, I do not want you to use that against yourself. If you’re like, “You know Olivia, I really want to be there. But I don’t know if I’m impressive enough,” I promise you, A. you are, and B. you’ll fit right in. This room is just going to like wrap you up and give you a big hug, and welcome you with open arms. So, if you’re contemplating being in the next round, definitely don’t let that deter you. These are definitely your people.

We were together for four full days, and it was really next level. We had the welcome reception the first night, which was so fun. People were coming into the room. Some people had already known each other from the last round of the mastermind. So, it was like a big reunion, which was so fun. And then, the new people coming in getting introduced to everyone, and starting to form connections; that was so incredible to see.

The space was so beautiful, and the food was amazing. And then, we had three full days of learning and coaching. I added an extra day this round because I really didn’t want to pack too much into two days and have it feel rushed. I wanted it to feel luxurious and steady and grounded and calm, to really help people foster their learning and their development in a way that felt like the right pace for the room.

And as the room gets bigger and bigger, this round is double the size almost of the last round. As the room gets bigger and bigger, the transformation happens faster and faster. And the exchanges and the dialogues as we’re coaching and working through different issues, it’s so rich, and people get to add their own experiences. You’re learning from such a diverse set of situations that it really expedites all of the growth that’s happening in our container, which is so fun.

It was also amazing to see people return and see how they’ve grown over the past six months and how they bonded over the last six months. I was talking to one masterminder, and she pointed out that it felt even more incredible to be at this live event because the returners… And they actually have a name for themselves. They call themselves the OGs, which I’m just obsessed with. I love it that they named themselves that.

But the OGs already know each other, and they’ve spent the last six months learning and growing together and transforming their lives together, so it just makes for a warmer experience. Like you’re coming into a room that’s already fostered connection, and it’s already a warm space with really enriched relationships and communities.

So, as other people are coming in, it’s not like you’re walking on eggshells, or the ice needs to be broken; the ice has already been broken. People already have strong friendships, and you just get to become a part of that. And those bonds get to deepen and grow, which is so fun.

One of the OGs was saying to me that you could feel how connected people already are because they’ve known each other for a while. And you could sense that as soon as you came in, even at the welcome reception. It just expedited everyone’s bonding over the course of the next three days, which was just really incredible.

And as for the coaching, which is what we’re all there for, there were too many breakthroughs to count. We talked about all the things. We talked about time management, and planning your day, and procrastinating, reshuffling your schedule, not setting boundaries around your calendar, overworking, working nights and weekends.

We talked about business development and setting boundaries, both professionally and personally. We talked a ton about the expectations we have for other people in our lives and how we experience disappointment when we set expectations that go unmet, and how we navigate those situations.

We talked about conflict and navigating difficult relationships with our spouses, with our friends, with other family members, with clients, with our colleagues, all of it. How you want to show up in those relationships. How you handle and respond to behavior that maybe you don’t appreciate.

We talked about food and weight loss, and health. We talked about overcoming impostor syndrome and navigating self-doubt and failure. We talked about entrepreneurship and practicing constraint and marketing, business development, and all of that stuff. How to sign clients, how to believe in what it is that you’re offering, and how to network. We talked about so many things.

I taught everyone who was there all of the life-changing foundational concepts that I teach inside the mastermind, and we went to work on mastering them. That was really my goal this round, for this live event, to help people master the tools I teach. So, they can think the way that I think, not the way that I think is the best; I’m not trying to say that. But it is very freeing, and it provides you with so much empowerment in your life.

So, if you want to feel really in control over your emotional experience, the action that you take, and the results that you produce, you probably do want to think like me. And that’s why people hire me. That’s why they want to be in the mastermind. They want to learn how to examine and approach the world in the way that I teach, and that is what we spent three days mastering.

And then, we capped it all off after just three days full of transformation with this excellent farewell dinner. We had the whole place to ourselves. It was so, so intimate. And the conversations were just so incredible. You could feel the vibe in the room; it was just so rich.

There was just this energy, and it was, I don’t know, just delicious. You could feel the bonding that had taken place over the past three and a half days. You could get the sense of community. People were so engaged; they were so connected. It was just really beautiful to see.

And you know, I’m going to toot my own horn here. I pick the best places for my live events. Charleston was absolutely amazing. It’s the most charming city. If you were there with me, you know what I’m talking about. The food scene is incredible. It’s such a walkable city. It’s just so adorable and welcoming. I have a favorite restaurant there, and it’s called Magnolias. Their bouillabaisse and their sangria are just life-changing. I got to go there while I was in town.

And then I also found this incredible Italian restaurant called Melfi’s. I had this duck ragù that was also life-changing. I am terribly missing all the food now that I’m back home in Detroit.

I’ve been planning to move down there. I was going to wait till the fall, but now that I’m home, I’m a little homesick for Charleston, if that makes any sense. I think I’m going to head down there before the fall. So, if you’ve got thoughts on this, DM me on Instagram or something. Should I move? I’m thinking I should. I think I should do it ASAP.

Now, if all of that sounds just delicious to you and amazing, I want you to mark your calendars for the next one. Okay? I do these live events every six months; that’s how the mastermind works. It’s a six-month program, and it kicks off with a live event in a new location every six months. So, the enrollment, early enrollment for the next one, opens May 12. I want you to not only mark your calendars, but I also want you to sign up for the waitlist.

If you go to my website, TheLessStressedLawyer.com, you can click the menu button for the mastermind, and you can sign up for the waitlist there. That way, you stay up to speed on all the details for the upcoming enrollment, and you’ll get the first opportunity to enroll.

I actually do an early enrollment period, and you have to be on the waitlist in order to enroll during that time. So, it’ll be the 12th, the 13th, and the 14th of May when the people on the waitlist get to enroll before I open it up to the general public. There is a max on the number of people that I’m going to allow into the next round. So, if you want to make sure you don’t miss out, you want to make sure that you’re on the waitlist.

I also want you to mark your calendars for the next live event. Because one of the things that people say to me constantly is, “Oh, my God, I’d love to come, but I have a conflict.” So, I want to avoid scheduling conflicts for you, so I want to give you the dates as early as possible. The dates for the next live event are August 23 – August 26.

If you are like me, and you want to make your travel experience to wherever it is we’re going really seamless, I suggest you come in a day early; the welcome reception will be on the evening of the 23rd. But I always like to come in a day early and just give myself a leisurely amount of time to get acclimated to my new environment. If anything bad happens as far as travel, you give yourself a little bit of a buffer space to figure out a plan B. So, August 23 – 26, mark your calendars. All right?

Okay, enough about the amazing live event. I just had to rave about it a little bit; it was so much fun. I’m missing everyone terribly. I can’t wait to see them on Zoom when we start our weekly calls. We start that this week, which is going to be so fun to see everyone’s faces again. But I just wanted to give you all a little behind-the-scenes peek at what it was like and what the experience was all about. And to give you the information to make sure that you’re in the next round.

Now, as for today’s episode topic, I wanted to talk about something that actually came up at the live event. I coached one of the masterminders on a situation with one of her family members. She wanted her husband to do something, and he didn’t end up doing it. And through the course of the coaching, I asked her, “Did you ask for what you wanted?”

Because it’s always important to start there. It helps me get a full picture of the circumstances that we’re dealing with. Like, did you ask, and they didn’t do it? Or did you not ask? And if you didn’t ask, why didn’t you ask? So, in this instance, I asked her, “Did you ask for what you wanted?” And turns out her answer was no; she didn’t ask for what she wanted. That’s not a problem; it’s just a data point. I wanted to make sure that I had it in order to continue coaching her.

But it really inspired a huge thread that we kept picking up on throughout the course of the three days that we were coaching together in person, for the mastermind. And as many of us do, she didn’t ask for what she wanted. She was just expecting him to do it on his own. To kind of be a mind reader and figure it out without having to ask. And that’s super common. It normally doesn’t lead to anything good, but it is super common.

Anyways, this line of coaching prompted a whole conversation about our, and when I say “our,” I just mean people’s ability to ask for what we want from others. And it ended up becoming a theme throughout the three days of the live event: That sometimes you can literally just ask for what you want. And lo and behold, you can get it.

The particular masterminder that I was coaching, when I asked her, “Did you ask for what you wanted?” She was a little surprised. She was like, “Wait, you can do that?” Sometimes it works, and it doesn’t always work. Let me be really clear; it doesn’t always work. But you can always ask for what you want. And sometimes, it’s the easiest route to get what you want because it’s not a problem.

I’ve done this a couple of times, with friends or family members. I’ve had a preference, and I’ve just asked for what I wanted, or even to have them stop doing something, and they’ve complied. So, I wanted to talk today about asking for what you want. And I wanted to give you a specific framework to follow for how to do it.

Now, you always get to ask for what you want. Even if you don’t follow the framework that I’m about to give you. I want to be really clear on that. Because you’re a human and you have free will just like the rest of the humans. So, you always get to ask even if you don’t follow the framework.

But consider this framework like a best practice when it comes to asking for what you want. The first step is for you to get clear on what you want. A lot of people skip this part, and it’s not to be skipped. You want to get really clear on what you want. So, you can be really clear on what you’re asking for.

When you’re not clear on what you want when you ask for something, it gets really muddy. Or, when you’re expecting something from someone but you’re not really clear on what it is that you’re expecting or what it is that you want, it leads to a lot of disappointment and resentment. So, I want you to get really clear on what you want.

Then, I want you to get clear on your reasoning for wanting it. That’s step number two; what are your reasons for wanting it? And as a sub-step to step two; do you like your reasons? Okay? Now, as a reminder, you always want to know that your reasonings are the thoughts and feelings driving a particular course of action.

So, if you’re going to make a request of someone, that would be the action that you’re taking. And there are certain thoughts and feelings driving you to take that action; you want to know what those are, and those are your reasons.

If they’re super negative, if it’s a lot of “should” thinking, that someone shouldn’t do something, and you’re feeling really frustrated, or angry or resentful, or disappointed, or irritated, you may want to take a deep breath and slow down and examine whether or not you want to make a request from that space. I’m going to talk a little bit more about that in a second.

All right, step three, you want to check in with yourself. You’re clear on what you want, and what you’re going to be asking for. You’re clear on your reasoning. Step three is checking in; is this something that the other person can actually do?

I know this might seem super obvious, but a lot of times, we want people to do things that aren’t actually in their power, right? So, you want to just check in and make sure it’s something that the other person can actually do.

Step four is a little bit more nuanced. Is it something that they’re going to want to do? Now, this one’s a little tricky. You still get to ask them and make your request. Even if the answer to this question is no. Even if the answer to this question is, it’s probably not something that they’re going to want to do. You still get to ask them to do it.

It’s just an important question to think about. Because if you think that they’re not going to want to do whatever it is that you’re asking them to do, you want to check in with yourself; why are you asking someone else to do something that they’re probably not going to want to do?

And a better question here is, are you operating from a place of integrity? I always go back to this famous cherry pie example. I think I’ve talked about it on the podcast before. But I was dieting and abstaining from alcohol for a while, and I was going out to my parent’s house to eat dinner on Sunday nights.

I didn’t like the menu that my mom was cooking most weekends because it was pretty carb-rich. And I was trying to abstain from eating carbs like that, like pasta, or a lot of bread. Now, for several weeks, I did ask my mom to cook something different. She allowed me to cook; actually, that was kind of the compromise that we had. But I was able to control the menu. But one week, I asked, and she insisted on cooking pasta.

After dinner, she ended up eating this cherry pie that she had purchased. And there’s more to this story. I had gone into the basement. I came upstairs, and my mom and my uncle were eating this cherry pie, which happens to be one of my favorite desserts. And I thought that they were doing it behind my back.

I ended up getting super upset about the whole thing. Obviously, the cherry pie was not causing my feelings. I was causing my feelings with my thoughts about the whole scenario. Which was, my mom doesn’t care about my weight loss goals. She’s making this harder on me. I can’t believe she bought the cherry pie. Like, I was really in a state of emotional childhood and victimhood with the cherry pie.

I stayed mad for a couple of days. And then, I finally coached myself on the situation. I was trying to get myself to a much cleaner place. And one of the things that I realized, when I was self-coaching, was that what I really wanted to do was have my mom feel deprived, so I didn’t have to. I wanted her to abstain from buying and eating the cherry pie, so I didn’t have to be triggered and crave it by seeing someone else eat it in front of me.

And when I thought about that, what I would have been asking at that moment was to have my mom not buy or eat a cherry pie, right? That wasn’t something that she was going to want to do because she likes desserts. She likes sweets. And I was asking her to feel deprived, so I wouldn’t have to.

When I noticed that, I realized that I wasn’t really operating from a place of integrity. I was asking her to feel uncomfortable, so I wouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable. And I think that’s a really great litmus test from; are we operating from integrity? Are we asking someone else to feel uncomfortable, so we don’t have to?

When the answer to that question is yes, I think it’s such a great opportunity for us to do our most meaningful work. For us to inquire, what is it that I would have to do? What kind of discomfort would I have to feel? How would I need to manage my mind in this moment, in order to navigate this situation without needing anyone else to do anything to protect me from that discomfort? Without needing anyone else to be different?

So, for me, my work was to just feel deprived and manage my mind around other people eating sweets when I was abstaining from them. In this scenario, with my client at the mastermind that brought up this whole topic of conversation, she wanted her husband to do something that would have been uncomfortable for him, so she wouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable setting a boundary, asserting a boundary, or saying no.

And it’s just fascinating to know that. Again, you totally still get to ask someone to do it. Even if that is your reasoning that you’re trying to escape discomfort and you’d rather have them feel uncomfortable than you. But you want to know that that’s what you’re doing. And ask yourself; by doing that, are you operating from a place of integrity?

You know, one of my cardinal rules, and I got this from my mom, is that you don’t inconvenience someone else’s life to make your life easier. And I feel this is very similar to, you don’t ask someone else to be uncomfortable, so you can avoid feeling uncomfortable. If that’s the situation that you’re dealing with, your work is to just navigate feeling uncomfortable.

Now, once you answer this question, is it something that they’re going to want to do? And are you operating from a place of integrity? Based on your answer, decide what you want to ask for and if you still want to ask for it. If you do still want to ask for it, you can move to step five, which is, prepare yourself for their response.

I’ve really been thinking about this so much since the live event. You can absolutely ask for anything that you want from other people. But my best practice recommendation for you is to only ask if you’re okay with receiving their honest answer, especially if that’s a no. So, prepare yourself for the response and be honest with yourself, are you going to be okay if you receive a no from them?

If you’re not okay with receiving a no, my recommendation, my best practice for you is to not ask because it’s going to send you into a tailspin of negative emotion, resentment, frustration, disappointment, anger, outrage, and righteousness. None of that’s going to serve you. So, if you’re not okay with receiving a no, you’re not in a clean place to ask for what you want.

Now, you don’t have to listen to me on this. But if you aren’t okay with their no, you’re not asking from a clean place. You’re likely in a state of victimhood, and you want to be really aware of that. I don’t recommend asking for anything from that state of victimhood.

If your first answer to this question is that the answer’s no, you’re not prepared to receive a no; you can get yourself to a place where you’re prepared to receive their no. How can you take care of yourself, how will you talk to yourself, how will you think about the situation if you get an answer that you don’t want?

I just had a friend of mine; she’s a coach. She just posted she was doing something in her business, and she said, “The worst thing that could possibly happen during this experience, is how I talk to myself during and after.” And I thought that was so beautiful because it’s true. The worst thing that can happen is how you talk to yourself during and after.

If you ask, and you’re mean to yourself the entire time you’re asking, and you’re mean to yourself afterward, it’s going to be a really unpleasant experience. But you can make it such a pleasant positive experience if you talk to yourself in a really supportive, understanding, compassionate way. Alright?

So, make a plan. How will you talk to yourself, how will you take care of yourself, what will you do if the answer’s no? You want to make sure you’re prepared for that to happen. And that you’ll be okay if it does. I guess I just got ahead of myself a little bit.

Number six, step number six, is for you to make a plan for how you’ll take care of yourself if you do get a no. What will you do? How will you think? How are you going to want to feel? You can plan all of that ahead of time.

Now, step number seven is to get to a clean place. Make sure you’re not asking from a place of frustration or resentment or anger or disappointment or outrage or righteousness or feeling justified. It’s a recipe for disaster, and it will come across like bad perfume or bad cologne when you make the ask.

So, make sure you’re not operating from those emotions. You’ve got to be really honest with yourself here if that’s why you’re operating and making the request. If that’s the emotion that’s driving you and fueling you as you make the ask. You want to get yourself to a clean place. You want to be asking from a calm, grounded energy. Feeling really in control of your emotions. Feeling really safe and secure, no matter what their answer is going to be.

Ask yourself, how do you need to think about making the request in the first place, and what the person says in order to feel calm and grounded? All right?

And then, once you’ve gotten yourself to a clean place, and you’re asking and being fueled by the right energy, by the right emotions, you get to make the ask. And then, whatever the answer is, don’t argue with it; respect it, honor it. And follow that plan that you made for yourself ahead of time. Take care of yourself in the process. Focus on what you can control going forward. Honor their response, honor their answer, and then focus on what is within your control.

When you follow this formula, when you trust yourself to handle the response no matter what it is, you can ask for anything you want, and control your emotional experience no matter what the response is. It’s such a powerful way to go through life. I’ve been thinking about this nonstop since the live event. That if you are able to handle whatever someone’s response is, there’s literally nothing you can’t ask for.

If you’re willing to honor their no, if you’re willing to respect their answer and their autonomy and their agency and their free will… Which I always joke with people, unfortunately, people have free will, right? I’m kidding with the unfortunately part. But it can be a little frustrating sometimes.

We can be frustrated that people have free will, and they don’t always just do exactly what we want them to do. And the truth is, it’s okay that they don’t, all right? But if you’re able to take care of yourself on the back end, and handle the response no matter what it is, there’s nothing you can’t ask for. There’s so much that you can make available to yourself if you’re willing to ask for it. You would be amazed at what you can get if you just ask.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I actually met someone in Charleston, a man, when I was out at dinner. We exchanged contact information, and I was like, “You know what? I think he’s interested in me. I’m just going to ask if he’s available. And if he is available, I’d like to go to dinner with him.”

And the reason that I was willing to ask is that we live in different states. I didn’t know if he would think that it’s crazy, or maybe he thought dinner just wasn’t possible, but I’m pretty spontaneous, so I will travel for dinner. I talked to myself beforehand, and I was hemming and hawing, should I ask, or should I not ask? Am I being too forward? Am I going to look like an idiot? Just going through all the normal human thoughts, right?

I finally decided, what’s the worst that could happen? And the worst that could happen is that he is single, and he says, no. I decided ahead of time, what will I do if that’s the response that I get?

And I realized, I’ll be fine. I can handle the no. I’ll be able to accept it and honor it. I’m not going to get mad. I’m not going to make it mean anything about me. I’m not going to get defensive. I’m not going to feel rejected. I’m just going to be able to ask and appreciate an honest response. It’ll be fine. I’ll be able to take care of myself.

So, sure enough, I asked, and turns out, he’s not available. And that’s totally fine. I was able to handle the response and not make it mean anything and accept it and move on. And I saved myself so much mental spinning over, should I ask? Should I not ask? What should I do? Is anything going to come from it? I just got to an answer really quickly. And I freed my brain up to focus on other things, which was such a gift I gave myself.

So, if there’s something in your life that you want to ask for, maybe it’s not a date, and sometimes it might be a date. It can be a really amazing answer, or you can be a little bummed, and you can trust yourself to handle the bummed. All right?

But maybe it’s not that, maybe it’s asking for a raise. And if you want to ask for a raise, or you want to ask your law firm or your boss to change their compensation structure in order to give you origination credit and incentivize you to develop business, you totally get to ask. You just want to be okay, getting a no.

And that doesn’t mean you don’t leave and go somewhere else if what you ultimately want is to get origination credit or to work someplace with a compensation structure that rewards you for developing business. That’s totally fine to want that. But you can be okay with getting the no and leave. Both things get to happen.

You also, if there are boundaries that you want to set in your life, with family members, with friends, with clients, with colleagues, think about those boundaries. And whatever the boundary is, if you want to ask for it before you set the boundary, right? So, a boundary, remember, is always, “If you blank, I will do blank.” It’s always about what you will do.

But if you want to ask someone to do something before you set a boundary, like, “Hey, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t come over unannounced. Can you not come over unannounced?” Or, one of the things that I’ve done in my life. My mom used to make comments about my makeup, I’ve asked her not to. Or if you want people to not email you after a certain time. Or if you want someone to not talk to you a certain way, right?

You get to ask all of these things of people. They get to say no because there are humans with free will. But you get to ask them. And you just want to make sure, before you ask, that you’re comfortable getting whatever the response is. And if you can handle it, by all means, go ahead and ask for it.

You will be amazed with what happens. It won’t be a perfect record; you won’t win 100% of the time. You won’t get the responses you want to get 100% of the time. But you’ll have a batting average better than zero, I bet. So, it will likely be worth your while. Following this formula is the way to do it and prevent the most disappointment, prevent the most upset, prevent the most outrage. Okay?

If there’s something you want to ask for, walk through these eight steps, follow them, and you’ll create a much more grounded, in-control, intentional experience for yourself. And you might just get exactly what you want. Imagine that.

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

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


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