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.