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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Episode 14: The Labels You Assign

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Labels You Assign

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Labels You Assign

 

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

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

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

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

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Episode 13: The Truth About Your Thoughts

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Truth About Your Thoughts

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Truth About Your Thoughts

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

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

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

 

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

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

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

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Episode 12: Should Thinking

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Should Thinking

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Should Thinking

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

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

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 11: Reverse-Engineering Results

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Reverse-Engineering Results

The Less Stressed Lawyer | Reverse-Engineering Results

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Episode 10: The Self-Coaching Model

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Self-Coaching Model

The Less Stressed Lawyer | The Self-Coaching Model

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

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

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

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the Show?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

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

Full Episode Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 8: Defining Enough

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Defining Enough

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Defining Enough

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

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

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

 

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

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

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

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

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 8. We’re talking all about defining enough. You ready? Let’s go.

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

Hey there! How are you today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whatever that means for you, you just want to make sure you’re able to check the box: Does this constitute more organized? What did I mean by that? Same thing as with progress, you want it to be measurable, so you know whether or not you’ve achieved it. Whether you’re at that spot, or not.

Lastly, my favorite. What, on Earth, do you mean by “good enough?” How do you measure that? How will you know when you’ve arrived there? Listen, I’m a recovering perfectionist so one of the things that I actively strive to accomplish is A- or B+ work. My coach, Brooke Castillo, introduced me to the concept of doing B- work, and I was like, “Whoa! That’s way too low. There’s no way I’m ever going to feel comfortable aiming for that.”

Even with my clients, when I introduce them to the concept of doing B+ work, they tend to cringe. If that’s you, you’ll just want to know that you’ve probably got some work to do in this area, when it comes to your perfectionism.

This is still a little vague and unclear. What do we mean by A- or B+ work? How do I know when I get there on a particular project? I identify it in one of two ways.

One question I ask myself to determine whether or not I’ve arrived at A- or B+ work is, “Can I say that I’m proud of the work I’ve done? Can I say that I was thoughtful about it?” If the answer is yes, I’ve done a “good enough” job. It’s not perfect. It could probably be better if I spent more time on it, but can I say, “I’m proud of it?” Can I say, “I was thoughtful in going about how I accomplished it?” If I can answer yes, I’ve done a “good enough” job.

Another way I determine whether I’ve done an A- or B+ work and done a “good enough” job… This is going to sound a little silly, but I ask myself, “How do I think I did?” If I can get to a place where I can say, “Eh, not bad. Pretty good.” For me, that’s that A-/B+ standard.

This is different than if I said, “Eh, this is not very good.” That “Eh” vs. “Eh, not bad,” I know is a very slight distinction but it’s how it feels in my body, right? One feel pretty proud, accomplished. The other one feels like I’m still missing the mark. It feels inadequate. I let the feeling drive whether or not I’ve reached that “good enough” mark. I know it’s a bit less concrete than the other examples we’ve worked through today, but it’s still more specific than just using “good enough,” which is so ambiguous and elusive.

All right! That’s what I’ve got for you for this episode. Go through each of these terms and figure out what each one means to you, in a way that is measurable. If you do this, you’ll feel much more satisfied and accomplished because you’ll be able to work towards and achieve the progress you want to make. The path to get there will become so clear.

Oh, and a reminder. Don’t miss out on the Mastermind, you guys. It’s going to be out of this world. It’s going to be such a transformative experience. Both the in-person event with me, and the 6-months Masterminding together with me and your mastermind peers. Go to www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com. Don’t forget the “The.” www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com/Mastermind to learn all about it.

All right. Have a great week. I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 7: Practicing Constraint

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Practicing Constraint

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Practicing Constraint

If one of your goals is to feel less stressed and overwhelmed, the fastest way to make this a reality is to simplify your life. When it comes to our work, we often want to take on as much as possible. And while this may have served you when you were starting out, it’s not a long-term strategy. So, in this episode, we’re talking all about practicing constraint instead.

So many humans mistakenly believe that the more options we have, the better. We think keeping busy and having numerous tasks on our plate gives us the freedom of choice. However, one of the biggest issues my clients and attorneys in general struggle with is feeling overwhelmed, and the main reason why they’re overwhelmed is they’re not practicing constraint.

If you’re overwhelmed and you’re just over it, tune in this week to discover how practicing constraint allows you to get further, faster. We’re discussing intentionality around the things you consume, the things you create, and how to see exactly what practicing constraint will look like in your professional and personal life.

 

If you’re interested in taking the coaching topics I discuss on the show a step further, enrollment for the Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind is officially open. This is a six-month group coaching program where you’ll be surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals from the legal industry, pushing you to become the best possible version of yourself. We kick off with an in-person live event and you can get all the information and apply by clicking here

If you enjoyed today’s show, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review! 

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why a lack of constraint in any area of our lives leads to overwhelm.
  • How overwhelm shows up and why ignoring or fighting it is never the answer.
  • Why practicing constraint will immediately reduce the overwhelm you experience.
  • Where to look to discover the areas of your life you need to practice more constraint and simplify your life.
  • The importance of being intentional about how you spend your time and pursue your goals.
  • Where I’ve constrained and simplified in my own life, so I can show up with a more powerful presence where it matters.
  • How to identify and start practicing the kind of constraint that moves you forward, reduces stress, and creates freedom.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, episode 7. We’re talking all about practicing constraint today. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.

Hello. Welcome back. How are you all doing?

I just got back from my coaching school’s annual Mastermind event, in Austin, that I mentioned last week. My goodness, was it incredible! I can’t say enough about being surrounded by like-minded people who inspire you, and push you to be the best version of yourself. That was definitely my experience last week. I can’t rave about it enough. It’s such an opportunity to create community, bond with my peers, and up-level myself in so many different ways.

Having so recently experienced my own Mastermind experience, that I was a part of, as a client of a coaching school, it’s made me all the more excited than I even was before, to launch my own group coaching program: The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind.

Enrollment for that just opened up. It’s a six-months-long group coaching program and it’s going to kick-off with an incredible in-person live event. I absolutely love in-person events. That was so important for me to include when I designed this mastermind. I wanted to give people the opportunity to come together, meet their peers, bond with them, create community, inspire one another, learn from one another. All the things I just got to myself in Austin.

I want to give that to my clients. I designed it to be part of the process. I can’t wait for people to experience it for the first time. It’s going to be incredible. Make sure you stick around to the end of this episode. I’m going to give you the specific details that you need to know, so you can learn all about Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind and how to enroll in it.

We’ll put a pin in that for a second. Now, I want to turn to today’s topic. It’s another one of my favorites. Today we’re talking all about practicing constraint.

What is “practicing constraint”? Basically, it’s where you create a limitation or a restriction, that you put on yourself. You do this because it simplifies your life. This may look like eliminating or subtracting things from your life. Or, it may look like constricting the choices you give yourself, or the options that you make available, that you have to choose from. You basically just put-up parameters, in certain areas of your life, and you live within those parameters as a means of making your day-to-day life easier.

Why do we want to practice constraint? Simply stated, because it helps us simplify our lives. One of the biggest issues that my clients and other attorneys, as well… One of the biggest issues they struggle with is feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelm is often caused by a lack of constraint. You see, we mistakenly believe that having options is amazing. Like, the more options we have, the better. We love thinking that we love having options.

That’s actually a thought error. Because having too many options or having too many things to do, leads to overwhelm. Oftentimes, it causes confusion. We don’t know where to get started. We don’t know what to focus on first. Were to turn our attention. It leads to a sense of overwhelm. It’s not as ideal as we tend to think that it is.

When we have a lack of constraint or we fail to practice constraint, we tend to feel overwhelmed. This tends to be a problem. What’s the problem with feeling overwhelmed? Well, first and foremost, it just feels uncomfortable, right? Who likes to feel overwhelmed? Experiencing that feeling is, in and of itself, unpleasant. If one of the reasons you’re tuning in to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast is to feel better on a daily basis, if that’s one of your goals, one of the fastest ways to accomplish that goal is to reduce the extent of the overwhelm that you experience.

Also, take a second and think about how you show up when you feel overwhelmed. You tend to do one of three things: You either resist it, avoid it, or, react to it.

When you resist feeling overwhelmed and you pretend it isn’t there, first of all, it ends up bubbling to the surface later. Because, what we resist, always persists. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s so true. Also, resisting or bracing against negative emotions, like overwhelm, is exhausting. Think about how tired your arms get if you hold a beach ball underwater. You’ve got that resistance coming up. That beach ball wants to pop-up to the surface, so it requires a lot of your effort to keep it pressed down, submerged, under the surface of the water.

Another example of this, imagine carrying an hors d’oeuvres platter around at a party. I did this one time to help a friend out of a jam. She worked for a fine dining establishment. This was when we were a lot younger. She asked me to be a cater waiter at the cocktail reception of a wine tasting event, a wine auction. I had to walk around all night long with an hors d’oeuvres platter. It looks super easy, right? How hard can it be?

But you have your arms extended, sort of at a ninety-degree angle, so that tray can be right in front of you, you can offer it to the guests. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be as heavy as it is, but as twenty minutes, thirty minutes, forty minutes, an hour goes by, it starts to get heavier and heavier. You start to notice it and it becomes really grueling to keep your arms in that position and to continue to hold it upright. You want to drop the platter. Or, at least, I did.

Again, it requires a lot of effort. It ends up being much more exhausting, much more of a strain. In that sense, it was a physical strain. When we resist negative emotions, emotions like overwhelm, it becomes emotionally straining, emotionally taxing. Tiring, so to speak. Resisting negative emotions, like overwhelm, will make us feel emotionally exhausted.

When we avoid overwhelm, what we do, is we either distract ourselves by doing anything else that brings us that instant gratification or that temporary pleasure and we don’t accomplish what matters most. Maybe we procrastinate when we do this. Or we sort of spin in the overwhelm and we don’t take any action. We slip into paralysis and shut down. All of that slows us down. It prevents us from getting further, faster when we avoid.

Sometimes we react to feeling overwhelmed. If you’ve ever felt like you were overwhelmed and you ran around like a chicken with your head cut off, taking a really reactive approach instead of a proactive approach, to whatever it is you want to do… You’re reacting to the overwhelm. You know when you react in that manner, it doesn’t create the desired results. You might hit the low-lying fruit instead of focusing on the thing that really moves the dial. You’re not being intentional with how you spend your time and with the action that you take.

Reacting in that way is not going to help you accomplish the goals that you’ve set out to accomplish. Ultimately, whether you are resisting, avoiding, or reacting to overwhelm, responding to overwhelm in any of these ways, keeps you from doing your most meaningful work. If you’re experiencing overwhelm, and you’re totally over it, you’re going to want to master the art of practicing constraint. Alright? That’s what we’re talking about today.

Just like I’ve done in some of the other episodes, I’m going to give you several examples of what this looks like in practice so you can take inspiration from those examples, and come up with different ways you can practice constraint in your own life, in order to simplify your life.

Before I do that, though, I want to explain one more thing. Practicing constraint is going to look a lot like making decisions ahead of time, which I discussed in Episode 5 of the podcast. Making decisions ahead of time and practicing constraint are two different concepts. They work in tandem, but they aren’t identical.

Constraint focuses on limiting your options. Creating those parameters that you proceed to operate within. You can make a decision ahead of time about the ways you will constrain, how you will constrain, what you will constrain to. Then, you follow through that decision ahead of time, by practicing constraint. Constraint is a little different. Again, it goes back to creating those parameters, setting those limitations for yourself. They’re similar, but they aren’t identical.

With that said, let’s go through some examples on how to practice constraint. In the broadest sense, there are tons of ways that you can practice constraint. You can practice it when it comes to what you do, when you do it, what you give your attention to, what you consume. The options you allow yourself to have. The goals you pursue. There are so many different areas in which you practice this concept.

As far as examples go, I’m going to start with discussing the practice of constraint as it relates to constraining what you consume. I think this is such an important area in which to practice constraint because we spend so much of our time in consumption mode. Ask yourself; what am I consuming right now? I don’t mean “right now” as in the second that you’re listening to this podcast. That’s exactly what you’re consuming right now, right? What I mean is, in this season of your life, what are you consuming?

Do a quick audit, take an inventory. What do you listen to? What do you consume? Where do you get your information? What goes through those ears of yours, or your eyeballs? What goes into that brain of yours? What information are you taking in? Where do you get it? Is that information positive or negative? Do that audit and think about the news that you consume; the TV that you consume; movies; sources of entertainment; podcasts. What do you consume on social media? Who do you listen to; public figures, friends, family members? All of those sources. Who do you have conversations with? Maybe it’s co-workers, colleagues, other people in your industry.

Are these sources positive or negative sources? If you aren’t sure if they’re positive or negative, ask yourself, how do you feel when you interact with these sources of information? When you consume from them or when you engage with them, is it a positive feeling or a negative feeling? Do you feel more discouraged? Do you feel more worried or anxious? Stressed? Overwhelmed? Defeated? Maybe angry? Maybe righteous? Outraged? Emotions like that. If you’re consuming information from sources and you find yourself emotionally worked up, emotionally charged so to speak, you want to take note of that.

If you’re more inclined to experience negative emotions, after you consume information from these sources, it’s going to be a negative input for you. That consumption is going to have a negative effect, a negative impact. You’re going to want to limit that consumption as much as possible. One of the tricks I’ve learned, is that I tend to have a more negative response from watching TV news as supposed to consuming my news in print format. So, I switched to print. I constrain my news choices to print sources.

I also noticed that if I’m watching too much news, I’ll be a little overly negative, more so than I am normally. I’ll constrain with how much news I consume: When I check it, what times of the day I check it, what sources I check. Some don’t cause me to have a significant emotional response as others do. I will also make a decision to counterbalance if I’m consuming news. I’ll want to consume something that’s a little bit more positive because news tends to want to startle you, worry you. So, you continue to consume it; worry tends to beget more worry.

That’s done intentionally by news organizations. I’m really conscious of this. I know it’s not going to be a positive consumption source for me, so I’ll counterbalance it with something that puts me in a better mood. Makes me feel more motivated, more positive, things like that.

You also want to take inventory with who you engage with or converse with. Are those people negative? One of the things that I started to realize, when I found coaching and started to adopt the coaching principles that I’m teaching you through the course of this podcast, is that a lot of people in my life were really negative. They had a negative outlook on the world. They complained a lot. I used to be one of those people.

A lot of the conversations I had were complaintive conversations. I call those “zero-dollar conversations” now because they really don’t get you anywhere. A lot of people dwell, they rehash things, they live in the past, they focus on what they can’t control, and they tend to argue with it. All of that tends to be really negative.

If you’re listening to other people complain… If you’re listening to them sit in their own victimhood, that’s not going to be useful for you. I like to tell people, “You want to focus on solutions, not on problems.” If people in your life are focused on the problems that they’re facing, and they’re not being resourceful, they’re not solutions oriented, you might find that is a negative consumption source for you. You will probably want to practice constraint and reduce, or all together, eliminate your exposure to that source of information or engagement.

This applies even to those sources that are closest to you, the people who are in your inner circle. You might find that they are negative. You might want to constrain how much you interact with them. How you interact with them, what you talk about, things like that.

Even if it’s not inherently negative, you want to ask yourself, “Is what I’m consuming supporting or hindering my long-term goals?” Think about this in terms of consuming educational content versus content that is purely for your own entertainment.

What’s your split like? Is it 50/50? Or do you consume entertainment much more than educational content? If your split is uneven, you’re going to want to get that closer to 50/50 or have the bigger focus be on educational content. That’s going to support your growth and help you uplevel, help you work towards and accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself. As opposed to keeping you stagnant, maintaining that status quo.

When we focus on entertainment versus education, we tend to stay stuck. Ask yourself, “What’s my split like?” You many need to constrain some of the entertainment you consume.

Who do you take your advice from? I’ve got a rule in my life: I only take advice from experts. Only certain experts, at that. I actually have a rule about this. I never take advice from people who haven’t done what I want to do. I highly encourage you to adopt the same rule for yourself. Practice constraint in that way when it comes to receiving other people’s inputs. Stick with the experts, only. Maybe you’ll want to constrain two specific experts, at that. That’s what I do.

I don’t listen to everyone. Sometimes, experts have competing viewpoints. That can lead to a ton of confusion. I constrain the specific experts I listen to, I listen only to them, and I follow through with what they teach, what they advise. And I apply it. It really streamlines my goal accomplishment. I’m able to implement so much faster because I reduce confusion by practicing constraint, in this way.

One of my coaches, Brooke Castillo, also teaches constraining to doing one course at a time. If you are a chronic consumer, and like to buy a lot of different things, invest in a lot of different programs, surround yourself or immerse yourself with a bunch of different resources, but you never seem to complete a program, or follow through to the finish line, you may want to practice constraint in that way. Do one thing at a time until you reach the end. Until you complete the process. Then, you can give yourself permission to move on to the next one.

Another question you can ask yourself, when it comes to practice constraint, is how much do you consume versus create? Again, it’s sort of like the education versus entertainment question; if you’re split is way out of whack, you can practice constraint here, too. You want to make sure your consumption versus creation split is at least 50/50. That you’re in creation mode the same amount of time, preferably more, that you’re in consumption mode.

Consuming will always be more comfortable than creating. That’s really important for you to remember. It’s because consuming requires less of you. The problem here, though, is that it’s not going to get you to where you want to go. Ultimately, the only way for you to get the results you want in your life, is to be in creation mode. The more time you spend in creation mode, the better. You want to constrain how much you consume, and what exactly, you consume.

I’ve done this in my own life. I used to be a chronic consumer when it came to podcasts. I could not listen to enough of them. I just consumed, consumed, consumed, consumed. Finally, I realized I wasn’t taking any action. It was so much safer to keep learning from other people. I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready to take action, yet. I just kept playing it safe.

When I finally became aware that I was engaged in this bad consumption habit, I pumped the brakes on all the consuming. I constrained to what podcasts I would listen to, when I would listen to them, and the rest of my time I then devoted to creating in my own business. I started putting out my own content. I started taking more intentional action to create my desired results. If you have a bad habit of consuming way more than you create, I highly recommend you practice constraint in this way.

When it comes to work, a great way to practice constraint here, is with the type of law you practice or the services you provide. People love to be a jack/jill of all trades. They love casting a wide net because they slip into scarcity mindset when it comes to generating business. They worry they’re going to leave money on the table by constraining. That’s not the case at all.

If you want to build your expertise in a particular area, or build your reputation in a particular area, constraining your offer is a game changer. Think about it this way, if you’re new to practicing criminal defense and you want to gain a ton of experience, rather than focusing on all felonies and misdemeanors, if you constrain to one particular area… maybe drunk driving cases or assaultive crimes or drug possession cases, things like that.

You’re going to get so much experience, in that particular area, so much faster. It will help you increase your self-confidence and self-concept in that area of expertise. You’ll also become known for practicing that type of law faster, by the people in your network. They’ll be able to refer you more business in the area that you’re already an expert in. It makes everything about your practice simpler.

You could also do this with the industries that you serve. If you do transactional work… Focus on constraining to a particular sector, or section of the industry. Maybe you only work with start-up companies, or you only work with cosmetic companies that are start-ups, that’s very specific. Super niche. Constraining in that way, your name is going to become more well-known throughout that industry. You’re going to be seen as an expert in that area. You’re going to get further, faster, when you constrain in that way.

Another way you could constrain is in how you accept payment. I worked for people in the past, when I was still practicing law, where we took payment in any way you wanted to pay us. That might seem intuitive, but it’s really not. It doesn’t support your success. You might be scrambling to accept in-person payments. You go meet clients in person. Your record-keeping system ends up being cumbersome and overly complicated. If you practice constraint, rather than accepting payments in a million different ways, you can just accept them in one way.

Streamline the process. Make it easy on yourself and for your clients. Make it repeatable. It will also make record-keeping a breeze. See how when you practice constraint it simplifies everything? That’s exactly what I’m talking about here. You can only take meetings or calls at certain times of the day. Or, on certain days. That’s another way to practice constraint. You free up your other time for doing your most meaningful, substantive work. The stuff that really requires your full focus, energy, and mental capacity.

You can constrain when it comes to checking your email. I think I mentioned that in the “Making Decisions Ahead of Time” episode. Most people spend their day bouncing back-and-forth between the work that they’re working on and their inbox. When we do that, we slow ourselves down. Multi-tasking is not efficient or productive. You can constrain when it comes to checking your email in order to streamline your work, and be more productive during the hours you’re working.

You can also constrain the hours that you work. If you tell yourself that you will work weekends, if you “need” to, you will end up working them. I promise. Same thing goes with evenings. If you leave that as a stop-gap or an overflow area, you will fill it. I call this “scope-creep.” If you constrain to, “I only work nine-to-five, or ten-to-six, or ten-to-five, or ten-to-four,” whatever it is that you choose. If you constrain to those hours, you’re going to be more efficient and make better use of your time. You will take as long as you give yourself to get the work done. You can constrain in that way, too.

I also love constraining when it comes to my calendar. I only use one calendar. I used to use multiple calendars; one for my personal life, one for work, things like that. Now I just constrain to one. I do this because it simplifies my life so much. Everything syncs. Everything is in one place. I don’t have to check multiple sources in order to figure out whether I have a conflict, or not. Everything is always accurate. It’s all in one place and it’s up to date.

Another awesome area to practice constraint are the social media platforms that you choose to market yourself on. I do this. There are so many different platforms available to us, but when it’s just you, it’s hard to show up everywhere. If you attempt to do that, you dilute your efforts. I’d rather have you be in one place, ubiquitously, versus trying to be everywhere but showing up nowhere because you show up infrequently.

I constrain to two platforms: LinkedIn and Instagram. There are plenty of others. I just constrain to those two so I can show up with a more significant presence. It’s a great way to get faster results on the platforms you do choose to show up on.

Speaking of marketing, I also constrain with the actions that I take as part of my marketing efforts. As you’re working to develop your own book of business this is something you can do, too. Rather than trying to do all the things, and not doing any of them well or consistently, you can constrain to doing a few things and doing them well. For me, in the very beginning, I only posted on social media. Then I added my monthly webinar series. Once I did that consistently, and it felt dialed in, I added a weekly email that I send out on Fridays. That’s a little inspiration right to your inbox.

Finally, once that all felt dialed in, I chose to add the podcast. I’ve wanted to the podcast for a long time, but I was practicing constraint so I could get really good at what I was already doing. I only added a new thing once everything else felt mastered and dialed in. That’s another way you can practice constraint when it comes to business development.

Another important area to practice constraint is when it comes to setting and working towards goals. You want to focus on no more than three goals at a time. You can break this up into two different categories if you want to: three short-term goals and three-long term goals. It does not have to be three, it should just be no more than three. Sometimes, I only like to constrain to one goal at a time because I know that practicing constraint, in that way, I’m going to see more progress in a shorter amount of time.

When you’re working towards fifteen goals, all at the same time, chances are you’re going to get really discouraged because you’re only able to devote so much time and energy to each one. Your progress is going to be slow. You’re not going to see that you’re making much headway, and it’s going to be easy to get impatient, feel discouraged or defeated, and slow down or ultimately quit.

If you want to motivate yourself, you’ll want to constrain and you’ll see success a lot faster. You’ll be more encouraged to take massive action towards accomplishing those goals. Once you accomplish one, you can move on to the next one, and so on and so forth. This is a great area in which to practice constraint

A couple of other areas to practice constraint in your personal life… These are some examples that I’ve come up with that I practice myself. What stores do you shop from? It makes clothing shopping so easy if you constrain, “I only shop in these places. I know that they’re going to have what I like.” You only go there.

Dinner reservations is another great example of this. If friends are trying to make plans, I just constrain; I don’t need to micromanage what it is they are going to choose. I just tell them, “Go to Yelp if it’s; Italian, a steakhouse, tacos, or American prends-nous. If it’s four stars or higher, I’ll love. I don’t need to look at the menu. I trust you implicitly.” When I constrain that way, it makes it so much easier to select.

This is also why you’ll see on interior design shows they’ll give the homeowners three options to choose from. They practice constraint with the options they make available to them, so they’re not overwhelmed with all the different design choices.

I do this when I make dinner plans for friends of mine, too. I will select three, or so, restaurants and I’ll send them those options to choose from. It just makes everything easier. It really reduces the overwhelm and the spinning.

Another area that I practice constraint is the airline I fly. I live in Detroit, and we have a Delta Airlines hub here, so I always fly Delta. I don’t need to go to different websites and compare/contrast rates. I just go straight to my Delta app. It makes making travel arrangements super simple.

I also constrain when it comes to travel websites. When I’m booking hotels. There are so many different options out there available to us. I’m sure plenty of them are great, I just don’t like to spin in the overwhelm and indecision that comes from having too many options. I only use Booking.com, HotelTonight, or I book directly through the hotel website. Those are the three options that I give myself.

Another great way… and I talked about this in “Making Decisions Ahead of Time,” people hate making decisions when it comes to what they’re going to eat. You can constrain, substantially, when it comes to what you eat at specific meals, when you eat them. One of my rules, during the weeknights for dinner, is to keep it simple, protein and a vegetable. I can grill that, I can use my air fryer, I can sauté something, roast it, any of those options. But it’s going to be a vegetable and a protein. That simple. That’s a great way to practice constraint and reduce the overwhelm or decision fatigue.

Those are plenty of examples to get your gears moving. To get you to start thinking of how you can practice constraint, in your own life, in order to overcome the overwhelm that you experience and make your life simpler.

Practicing constraint might sound easy-peasy, but people really struggle with this concept when they go out and try to put it into practice. Let’s discuss the obstacle you encounter when you try to practice constraint.

You guys can’t see me right now because, obviously, this is an audio format; it’s a podcast. But I just said “try” in air quotes. The reason I did that, first and foremost, is I absolutely hate that word. You’ll hear me say that time and time again, and explain why, throughout the course of this podcast. Ultimately, trying just means not doing. That being said, when you go to practice constraint, here are some of the obstacles you may encounter that cause you to simply try and not do, because you abandoned your efforts to constrain, and you don’t follow through with practicing it.

Obstacle number one: The negative thoughts that you have about practicing constraint. When I use the word “constraint” with my clients, I see them cringe. They think that it is the worst. They think thoughts like, “It’s hard.” That they’re being controlled. That they’re limited. That it’s restrictive. They just don’t like the sound of it. They have a negative association with the concept of “constraint.” If you think about constraint in this way, you will not do it because those thoughts are going to make practicing constraint too uncomfortable.

That’s the other obstacle when it comes to practicing constraint. Your discomfort avoidance. You aren’t going to want to feel those negative feelings that come from the negative thoughts that you think about practicing constraint. Negative feelings like; feeling constrained, feeling controlled, restricted, maybe bored, limited, deprived. Or I know this doesn’t sound like an emotion, but I’ve decided that it is one, you’re going to feel that sense of “FOMO,” right, the fear of missing out.

When you think about experiencing any of that discomfort, it sounds too awful, so you don’t practice constraint. That’s your comfort entitlement making an appearance again. I talked about that in Episode 4.

In order to practice constraint and the reap the benefits of practicing it, you’re going to have to do two things. You’re going to have to change the way you think about constraint. And, you’re going to have to allow yourself to feel the negative emotions that come up for you, when you practice it.

I want to offer you… You can choose to think about practicing constraint as; the more you constrain, the more freedom you have in your life. That’s how I think of constraint. I equate constraint with freedom. I think of it as a gift I give myself. It’s the best thing I can do in order to create the life that I want. I know that constraining sets me up for success. If that feels like a stretch for you, I want you… You can re-wind that part of the podcast and go back through to ask yourself, “How might that be true?” “How might Olivia be right about that? That constraint equals freedom. That it leads to success. That it supports the vision I have for my life. How might that be accurate?”

You also must allow yourself to feel negative emotions like; feeling constrained, feeling controlled, restricted, bored, limited, deprived. That sense of FOMO. Yeah, there’s going to be some FOMO, and some deprivation, and maybe, some boredom by constraining your options. That’s okay, you can survive those negative emotions. I’ve talked to you guys about that before.

Allowing yourself to experience those emotions is how you get further, faster. That will always be the case. It might require some sacrifice. You might have to feel uncomfortable, that’s okay.

Also, always be sure to remind yourself that FOMO is actually, a lie. You think you’re missing out on the options that you’ve eliminated. That you’ve set outside of the parameters you’ve set for yourself. That isn’t accurate. The truth is, you miss out either way. You miss out if you constrain and you miss out if you don’t.

If you don’t constrain, you don’t focus on what matters the most to you. You miss out on experiencing those things, the ones that matter the most. You miss out on the progress you would’ve gained had you practice constraint, and focused all your energy and efforts on one thing in particular. You’re missing out either way. I strongly suggest you don’t choose to miss out on the things that matter most because you don’t want to feel deprived or restricted. Practice constraint and make sure you miss out on the unimportant stuff, not on the important stuff.

That’s that, as it relates to practicing constraint. Take a few minutes today and ask yourself, “Where can I practice constraint? Where can I practice constraint when it comes to work? Where can I practice it in my personal life? When it comes to what I do? When I do it? What I consume? What goals I set? How many goals I set? What I focus on?” Where can you practice constraint in your life. And again, if you struggle, just ask yourself, “In what areas would I be able to simplify my life, if I practiced constraint?”

One more thing, nope, two more things. Actually, I lied; three more things. That’s it, I swear. First, I want to say thank you to all of you who have taken time and left me ratings and reviews for the podcast, so far. I appreciate it so, so much. Every so often, I’m going to highlight one of those reviews as a way to say thank you and shout out one of the amazing listeners in the audience.

This week, I want to thank Momof2Ewes. That’s the handle this listener used on the Apple Podcasts app. They wrote, “I am loving this new podcast. I can relate and feel like Olivia talking to me. I’m excited to take action and already starting to see a positive shift in my mindset. I feel like there is reduced stress in knowing there is a goal and action plan. I’ve got a long way to go, but finding myself repeating the first three episodes and hearing something new each time.

Such an awesome review! Thank you so much! Honestly, it absolutely means the world to me. Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, it would be so amazing, if you would take a moment to go rate and review the podcast. I would love to know what you think, and let me know if there’s anything that you want to hear. I’d be happy to cover it in a future episode.

In order to give that rating and review, if you want step-by-step instructions for that, just visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com/podcastlaunch. It will give you all the details to walk you through how follow, rate, and review.

Lastly, like I promised at the beginning of this episode, if you’re interested in taking coaching concepts, like today’s topic and the other topics I’ve talked about in previous episodes, to the next level and learning to master them… If you’re craving community within the legal industry, you’re going to want to join The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind. Enrollment just opened.

You’re going to want to make sure you enroll. The Less Stressed Lawyer Mastermind is the room where big things happen. It’s the room where transformation happens. Where breakthroughs happen. Where inspiration happens. Where community happens. Where support happens. Where bonding happens. Where trust happens. Where belonging happens. And, where thriving happens. It’s also where accomplishing the seemingly impossible, happens. You’re going to want to make sure you’re in that room. You’re in that Mastermind.

How do you secure a seat in that room? Go to www.Mastermind.TheLessStressedLawyer.com and apply now. Make sure you do that. Spots are limited. They’re going on a first-come-first-serve basis. I want to make sure that you make the most of this year and get yourself in that room so you can really thrive in the best way possible.

Alright, my friends, that’s what I got for you this week. I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

Enjoy the Show?

Episode 6: Unofficial Job Descriptions

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Unofficial Job Descriptions

The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast with Olivia Vizachero | Unofficial Job Descriptions

When I talk about unofficial job descriptions, I’m not referring to your responsibilities, what was posted on the listing when you applied, or the title you hold. It’s the unwritten standard you hold yourself to when it comes to your job. Now, I find with my clients that they subconsciously craft these unofficial job descriptions, and then they use these definitions against themselves.

We often hold ourselves to completely unattainable standards. If you go through your day-to-day work life feeling constantly pressured, stressed, overwhelmed, or even inadequate, chances are that you’ve come up with an unofficial job description, and it’s not serving you. So, if this sounds familiar, I want you to listen in and come up with a standard that supports your wellbeing instead of dialing up the stress.

Tune in this week to see where your thoughts about how you should be showing up in your work are stopping you from actually doing a good job. I’m showing you how to rewrite your unofficial job descriptions, so you can hold yourself to a high standard at work without getting in your own way.

 

If you enjoyed today’s show, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why so many people use unofficial job descriptions against themselves.
  • How to gain awareness of your unintentional job description and how you’re using it against yourself.
  • Real-life examples from my clients about their unofficial job descriptions and how they’re negatively impacting their work.
  • Why you are 100% in control of whether you’re doing a sufficient job.
  • How to decide on an unofficial job description that is empowering and supportive of your wellbeing.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

  • I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review
  • Via 313

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, episode 6. We’re talking all about unofficial job descriptions today. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.

Hello, hello, hello. How are you doing today? I am so good. I am in Austin, Texas right now. I got into town a few days ago. And I came in a few days early for this mastermind event through the Life Coach School, which is the coaching school that I’m certified through. And it is just one huge reunion here. It’s so much fun. It’s so good to see everyone after being cooped away the past couple of years.

I’ve actually been dying to get to Austin for a while now. I’m a big foodie and I know that they have a great food scene. I’ve been exploring some restaurants and one place it’s definitely on my list I’m going to tomorrow night is owned by a friend of mine. In a past life I used to be a bartender. And I got my first bartending opportunity from a man named Brandon Hunt.

And a few years later, after he hired me, he moved from Detroit to Austin and started a Detroit pizza company. And it’s become a huge success. He has several locations in the city of Austin, and they’re expanding outside of the state of Texas, him, and his business partner. So I’m going to be taking a ton of my coaching colleagues tomorrow night to dinner at one of his locations.

It’s called Via 313, which is the Detroit area code. And I want to introduce a bunch of my coach friends to Detroit style pizza, which is amazing, and in my opinion, much better than Chicago. I’m sure I’ll offend some of you who might love that. But if you haven’t tried it, definitely try it. And I will report back on my experience at Via 313. I can’t wait.

Anyways, enough about Detroit style pizza and Austin. Let’s dive into today’s topic. We’re talking all about unofficial job descriptions. Now, what do I mean by that term? I’m not talking about what’s on your firm website. I’m also not talking about the title you hold, or the name of your position, or the type of law you practice.

So unofficial job descriptions aren’t about whether you’re an associate, or a partner, or of counsel. Or whether you practice as a criminal defense attorney, or some type of civil litigation, or you do transactional work. Okay? It’s not about that. What I’m talking about is the unwritten standard that you hold yourself to when it comes to your job. I find that with my clients, they unintentionally craft these unofficial job descriptions and then they use these definitions against themselves.

Why does this happen? Normally, it’s because the standard that they set for themselves is completely unattainable. So if you go through your day to day work life with an immense amount of pressure, constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed, or maybe you feel inadequate, as though you’re missing the mark, chances are that you’ve come up with an unofficial job description that you’ve written for yourself unintentionally, and that definition is not serving you.

So what we want to do is gain awareness here as to what that definition is and how you’re using it against yourself. And if it needs to change, you’re going to want to redefine your job description in a way that supports your wellbeing instead.

The best way for me to explain and teach this topic is for me to give you plenty of examples of some of the unofficial job descriptions my clients have come up with that they’ve written for themselves because you’ll probably be able to relate to a few of them. And if you do see yourself in any of these unofficial job descriptions, what you’re going to want to do is get to work on rewriting the job description in a way that serves and supports you instead, okay?

So the first example is a client of mine, she does trademark law and she’s a litigator. And when I asked her a while back what her job description is, how would she define her job? She said to me, well, it depends on whether or not I am representing a plaintiff or a defendant. And as someone who used to practice civil litigation myself, I said, of course, I completely understand that. Run me through both examples.

And she said, okay, well, if I’m representing a plaintiff, then my job is to make sure the plaintiff gets 100% of the requested relief. I said, okay, great. And if it’s a defendant? She said, if I’m representing a defendant, my job is to make sure the plaintiff gets 0% of the requested relief. I said, awesome. How often do either of those outcomes happen? That’s the question that I asked her. And she goes, none of the time, cases always settle. It’s never that all or nothing result.

I said, great, do you see, like of course, you’re super overwhelmed because you’re defining your job in a way that’s completely unattainable. No wonder you feel terrible every day when you go to work. You’re making it impossible for you to do a “good job” by the way that you’re defining what doing a good job is. So you’re constantly going to feel like you’re missing the mark if that’s how you’re thinking of your role in that litigation setting, right?

Another example that comes up for clients of mine all the time is they say that my job is to win. And first and foremost, that’s really vague. What we mean by winning isn’t always clear. But if it’s, again, in the litigation context or maybe you’re doing transactional work and you’re trying to get a specific term negotiated, something like that.

But if you’re defining your job as my job is to win, and a lot of times you don’t win, like I used to do criminal defense work and we would lose frequently because we would have bad facts and there would be a lot of evidence against our clients. So if you are only giving yourself permission to think that you’ve done a good job and to celebrate the work that you do on the moments where you win, you’re going to feel pretty awful most of the time.

The other problem with having an unofficial job description that is focused on winning, is that the result is out of your control, right? Think about judges, we can’t control judges or what opposing counsel says or does in a negotiation process. So we define our jobs in a way that we don’t actually have control over which, again, is going to make us feel really powerless and really discouraged and defeated when we’re not able to control the outcome in a specific scenario.

So instead of defining your job as “it’s my job to win” you’re going to want to rewrite your unofficial job description in a much kinder way. That might look like saying my job is to advocate for my clients, right? That is in your control, you can do that. It doesn’t rely on anyone else, it doesn’t outsource your success to anyone other than you, okay? Which is what we want, we want you being in complete control of whether you’re doing a “good job” or a sufficient job, or that you’re just doing your job, right? We want that to be completely within your control. 

Another example of an unofficial job description that doesn’t serve people, this just came up with a new client of mine. He said that he was really experiencing almost paralyzing stress on a daily basis and that his job feels really overwhelming and heavy. And as we started to flesh this out and I asked him, you know, how do you define your job? What’s your job description? You know, tell me what you think your job is.

And he goes, I know this isn’t possible, but I see myself that it’s my job to be a lifesaver for my clients. And he also referenced like to unscrew up what’s already become a screwed up situation, right? Kind of like trying to put the genie back in the bottle, which, of course we know we can’t do. There are certain things that we have control over, but traveling back in time and preventing a bad situation from occurring isn’t one of them.

So even though he knows that he can’t save lives, and he’s not representing criminal defendants in capital cases. He does civil litigation work, so he really isn’t needing to be a lifesaver, but he’s defining his job that way. So of course he feels immense pressure on a daily basis. So that’s another example of a definition that’s not serving you, right?

Maybe that resonates with you. Maybe you see yourself as being a lifesaver to your clients. And if you do, that probably feels really heavy and stressful.

One of my other clients just answered this question when I asked, how do you define your job? Explain to me what you think your job is, kind of the unofficial definition of it. And her response, which I find to be very common, she told me, my job is to manage other people’s perceptions of me. And so many people that I work with are doing this on a daily basis. They’re so consumed with other people’s opinions, obsessing over micromanaging what everyone else thinks about them.

And, of course, we don’t have that ability, right? Other people get to have whatever opinions that they want to choose to have about us. They’re in control of that, we are not. That’s outside of our control. They get to think whatever they want, they might choose to think really wonderful, marvelous thoughts about us, or they might choose to think negative thoughts about us. But that is their business, we don’t actually control other people’s opinions of us.

So when we try to control other people’s opinions of us, when it’s something that we just lack control over, we’re going to feel really powerless on a daily basis. We’re going to feel very worried all of the time because we are defining our job as controlling other people’s perceptions of us. But we’re also going to feel very out of control because it is something that is out of our control.

So if that’s you, if you think your job is to manage other people’s perceptions of you, maybe it’s the partners that you work for, or a supervisor that you work for, or to manage your clients perceptions of you, you could do an excellent job with the substantive work that you’re doing, and people can still have a negative opinion of you. That’s on them, right?

So if you’re taking that on yourself, and making that your business, your chief concern, you want to check in with yourself there and ask is that serving you? Or is that creating a lot of heaviness that you carry with you on a day to day basis as you attempt to go about completing your job?

Another really ambiguous definition that a lot of my clients have is they say, well, it’s my job to get the best possible outcome for my client. And the problem with this is what in the world do we mean by best? That definition, what constitutes best, is going to be different for everyone.

And I find that best is normally pretty synonymous with a perfect job, getting a perfect outcome. Which when I confront people with that they say, oh, of course, we can’t ever achieve true perfection. But that’s pretty much what we mean when we say best.

Either we haven’t defined it at all so we can’t even figure out if we stumble upon achieving that best outcome. We still will feel like we’re missing the mark because we haven’t defined what best outcome means in a given situation. But oftentimes, the best outcome is sort of like the first example I gave you, that 100% requested relief achieved for the plaintiff or 0% of the requested relief if you’re representing the defendant.

It’s that very polar opposite extreme ends of the spectrum, that’s what we’re normally referring to when we’re using a term like best outcome. And if you are using that, again, you’re going to frequently feel like you’re missing the mark. So you want to check in with yourself there. And if you’re using that, start with defining what do I even mean by best outcome, and is that best outcome attainable here?

Also a similar example or for instance of this is when you say my job is to get my clients the outcome that they want or to make sure my clients are happy. Again, this is sort of similar to example number four as far as managing other people’s perceptions of you. We don’t control whether clients are happy or not. I know that seems counterintuitive to what we’re frequently taught, but you could do an exceptional job and a client could still be dissatisfied. That’s within the realm of possibilities.

So if you’re defining whether you’re doing a good job or not based on someone else’s happiness level, you’re going to feel really out of control. Also, depending on the type of law you practice you probably know this, sometimes the outcomes that clients want, they’re not possible.

So if you are defining your job, the only time that you give yourself permission to think that you’ve done a good job is when you get an outcome that your client wants, that might not be happening in a lot of the cases or matters that you work on. So again, you want to check in with yourself there and see if you’re using that type of unofficial job description against yourself. If you are, you’re going to feel really pressured and really unsuccessful.

I had this come up for me on one of the last civil cases that I handled before I switched to coaching full time. I was representing someone, and I was going to send over a demand letter with a drafted complaint. And I was hoping to settle the case before having to file the complaint and avoid all the discovery and pretrial litigation process.

And in preparing the demand letter and the complaint, I had, of course, talked to my client about the outcome that he was hoping for, how much money he was hoping to receive in a settlement. And we had come up with what we thought was a really fair figure, that he would be pleased with for it to be resolved for that amount.

And, of course, I didn’t have control over opposing counsel, they get to counteroffer at whatever it is that they counteroffer at. And they countered, and they came in really low. And I communicated the offer to my client and much to my surprise, he was actually really okay with it. He wanted the matter to be resolved very quickly. He wanted to avoid any risk of not having a favorable outcome if the case was dismissed.

So he agreed to accept their counteroffer and I noticed myself getting really bunged up about accepting their counteroffer. I felt really dissatisfied, I was feeling like I hadn’t done a good job. And it was because I was using the standard to get the best outcome possible, which certainly wasn’t the counteroffer that we had been presented with. I was also defining my job, or a job well done, as getting him close to, if not exactly the number that we had previously discussed.

And again, whether that was going to happen or not was completely outside of my control because I’m not opposing counsel, so I can’t control what offer they make us. I’m also not the judge, so I can’t control finding in our favor or, you know, jurors if it went to a jury trial instead of a bench trial. I don’t have control over any of that.

And I noticed, here I was I wanted to counteroffer really badly, I almost blew up the negotiation process and ended up going through that pretrial litigation, discovery, all of that because I wanted to achieve this unofficial job description of getting the client the outcome that we had previously discussed.

And I realized, whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s not my job here. What my job actually is, is to communicate my client’s position to opposing counsel. To advocate on his behalf. And then to communicate the counteroffer that we received from opposing counsel to my client. Advise on the risks involved with accepting or with denying, and explaining the process and just presenting my client with those options.

That’s what was required of me in that moment. It wasn’t to get the best outcome. It wasn’t to make my client happy. And it wasn’t to get him the outcome that we had previously discussed because, again, that’s out of my control. My job was simply to communicate information both ways, to opposing counsel and to my client, advise on the different possibilities and the risks associated with all of those, and then to get a decision from my client and communicate that decision back to opposing counsel.

And when we start to change the way we define our jobs and we make them so much more attainable, so much more within our control, we substantially dial down the pressure. We dial down that overwhelm, that stress. And we make it so much easier for us to satisfy a job well done, for us to achieve the standard that we set and feel good about the work that we do.

So if you feel frequently like you’re missing the mark, you’re going to want to check in with yourself here and figure out how are you defining your job? So start there, take a second and ask yourself, how am I defining my job? What exactly is it your job to do? Finish that sentence, my job is to do… Take a minute and see what comes up for you.

Maybe you think your job is to manage other people’s perceptions of you. Maybe you think your job is to win all of the time. Maybe it’s to get that 100% requested relief or to negotiate the best possible agreement for your clients. To get in every term into the contract that you want to get, or that you’ve previously discussed with your client that you think would be the cat’s pajamas, as my dad would say, right, the best case scenario.

Now, once you do that and you’ve come up with what your current unofficial job description is, you want to ask yourself this next question, is it even attainable? Is that standard possible for me to achieve? And if it’s not, you’re going to want to rewrite that unofficial job description that you’ve created for yourself, okay?

Now, even if it is attainable, you might still want to rewrite your unofficial job description. And we can do this, figure out if that’s the case for you by asking yourself this next question. Is my unofficial job description serving me? And if you see, like any of the examples I gave a few moments ago, that it’s creating undue, unnecessary pressure, you’re going to answer that question, no, it’s not serving you. And you’re going to want to bring yourself back to the drawing board here and rewrite that unofficial job description.

Now, when you do this, when you go back to the drawing board and you rewrite your unofficial job description, what you want to focus on is answering the question, what is within my control on a daily basis? What feels attainable for me? What can I accomplish? What’s a definition or an unofficial job description that feels kind to myself? And come up with that answer, define that as doing your job, or define that as doing a “good job.”

A couple examples of this, I have a client, she’s a trial attorney. We worked this through and rather than making the best possible argument in court, we’ve redefined her role as during trial her job is to bring all relevant documents to court and to ask questions that highlight the good facts and minimize the bad facts. She can check the box that she has done those two things. Ask questions that highlight good facts minimize bad facts, and bringing all of the relevant documents to court. That’s totally within her control.

You can define it sort of like I did on that last civil matter that I worked on. Communicating my position to opposing counsel and relaying counter offers to my client. That’s completely within my control, I’d be able to check that box and say, yes, I did that, I have accomplished that. Rather than, again, arguing a motion successfully which is outside of your control because you can’t control the judge.

You might just define it as my job is to argue the motion. My job is to draft agreements or negotiate terms of a contract. My job is to present my client with all of the available options, advise about the risks associated with each option, and allow my client to make a decision, right?

These are really neutral ways that we describe our roles that are completely within your control, which is exactly what we want. We want you to make sure that your unofficial job description is completely within your control, that’s how you’ll go from feeling insecure and inadequate on a daily basis to feeling assured and accomplished.

Which, who doesn’t want to feel that way, right? We, of course, all want to feel assured and accomplished as we go through our professional lives. Feeling that way is totally within your reach, you just have to tweak your unofficial job description, okay?

So go out and identify that unofficial job description that you’re currently using, possibly against yourself. And if you are using it against yourself, rewrite it in a way that supports you and serves you, okay? All right, that’s what I’ve got for you today. I will talk to you in the next episode. In the meantime, have a marvelous week.

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