Saying “No”

Logically, most of us know that we should be saying “no” far more than we are. Most us want more time, more balance, and more space. We know that saying “no” is an obvious step in the direction of those goals. But why is saying “no” so hard and so painful? What is it about setting that boundary that makes us cringe?

When we operate from our prefrontal cortex (the grown-up part of our brain that’s good at planning, strategizing, and anticipating challenges) it’s easy for us to see where change needs to happen. It’s easy for us to identify areas of our life where a new boundary would be helpful. We can look at our To Do List and the tasks that we take on and easily come up with things that we could take off our plates. Logically, this all makes sense but executing is where the battleground begins.

Once we’ve started something we have a hard time backing out. Once we’ve developed a pattern of saying “yes” we struggle to develop a new pattern. Even if we know intellectually that a new pattern will benefit everyone in the long run.

When we know that we need more “no” in our life, the only way we are going to get there is if we can deconstruct the rationale that got us to the place of overloaded to begin with. The next time someone asks you to take on an additional project or to sit on an extra board or help them through a problem, whatever it may be, we must pause in those moments and ask ourselves what rationale is driving us to accept these requests. It likely sounds something like this:

I should help

It’s the right thing to do (meaning, if I say “no” I’m not being a good person)

I don’t want to disappoint anyone

If I don’t say “yes” there will be a negative consequence (I won’t get anymore clients, I will lose out on work, people won’t trust me, people won’t like me, etc.)

All of these thoughts are incredibly persuasive in the moment. All of these thoughts are also rooted in fear. We worry that if we don’t help, others will judge us. We worry that others will think we’re not a good person or we’re not a team player. We worry that something bad will happen if we don’t follow through on all of these requests.


Sound familiar? Setting boundaries and time management is a huge part of my work with my clients. If you want to change the way you respond to requests and manage your time, grab a free consult and let’s get to work. You deserve better!


Those fear-based thoughts spring from our fight or flight brain that wants us to continue our usual routine of saying “yes” and chasing the endorphins of people pleasing. When we consider saying “no” and deviating from this pattern, our survival brain goes on the defensive. It starts offering to us all the reasons why this new approach will be catastrophic for our lives and our reputations. Knowing this, we must look at all of those fear-based thoughts and challenge them (using our prefrontal cortex).

I should help.

What does that even mean?! How do you know when you should help?! Who decides? Would everyone agree with that?

When we tell ourselves that we “should” help we often get ourselves into scenarios where we’re overloaded and we do a poor job in the end. In fact, it would be more of a service to the person making the request if we actually didn’t help because it’s possible they would find someone with more capacity who could do a better job. In other words, when you find your brain telling you that you should help the exact opposite is typically true: you should not help. Back away! Let them find someone else who will be more engaged and more available for the task.

It’s the right thing to do.

Again, says who?! What does that even? Is it right to help people when you don’t really want to? Isn’t that just dishonesty in a prettier outfit? Besides, when it comes to the “right thing” to do, shouldn’t your wants, needs, and sanity be the primary driver of those decisions?!

I don’t want to disappoint anyone.

The only way we disappoint people is when we overcommit ourselves, overextend ourselves, and do not show up in the manner that the requestor knows we can provide. When we say “yes” even though we mean “no,” we set ourselves on a clear path to likely disappoint not only the requester but other people who have similar requests already sitting on our plates.

Similarly, when we tell ourselves something bad will happen if we don’t say “yes,” it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are likely to take on something that we don’t have capacity for and we do a bad job and create a negative consequence simply by doing a bad job and not being able to show up as our best selves. It’s a lose-lose scenario.

All of these thoughts are red flags that we are setting ourselves up to create the exact opposite result than what we’re wanting. More failure, disappointment, and chaos await us when we allow those thoughts to drive our actions.

Rather than allowing ourselves to be persuaded by these thoughts, we must remain rooted and grounded in our commitment to ourselves, our balance, and our happiness. We must reconnect with our prefrontal cortex that knows we already have enough on our plate, we’re already overextended, and some things just have to start coming off the list. Allow our prefrontal cortex to make those decisions ahead of time and go into the day knowing that any new request will be met with a simple “no”.

That is power.

That is having your own back.

That is putting yourself in a position to show up as your best self every time and ensuring that when people rely on you, you will have the time and energy to rise up and meet those expectations because you’re caring for yourself first.


Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

Finding Your Voice

Have you ever found yourself fantasizing about that conversation you want to have with your boss (or partner, or client, or staff)? The REAL conversation you want to have? The one where you are completely honest and say all those things you have only whispered under your breath?

As attorneys, we are hired to advocate and be the knowledge voices of our clients–why do we struggle to advocate for ourselves?

During our lives…

We learn to walk.

We learn to ride bicycles.

We learn to cook for ourselves.

We learn how to navigate new cities.

Our lives contain so many examples of how we have overcome failure to learn new things. Babies fall repeatedly as they learn how to walk. We all had a few bumps and bruises as we learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. I conducted numerous pathetic and indigestible kitchen experiments whilst learning how to cook like my mom. I nearly died the first time I drove in a big city.

When I was in high school, I moved to the state capital to work as a page in the House of Representatives. It was the first time I had lived on my own and the first time I had to learn how to navigate a big city. I remember the first few times I made a wrong turn onto downtown one way streets. Where I came from, we didn’t have one way streets! We barely even had stoplights! I wasn’t used to paying attention to those things and I quickly learned all the new rules that come with inner city driving. I didn’t give up and decide living in the city wasn’t for me. I just did it. I kept trying and learning and not letting the fear about dying in a fiery car crash keep me stuck.

But isn’t everything else in life the same way?

I often find that my clients want to stand up for themselves and advocate for what they want–better balance, more flexibility, different work, a different supervisor, etc. They struggle to work up the courage to show up and ask for what they want because it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes, it’s because they’ve had bad experiences in the past where their honest requests were met with criticism. Whatever the case may be, they struggle with the discomfort of not being good at using their voice in an authentic and vulnerable way.

What we fail to see is that we are not going to be “good” at using our voices right out of the gate.

We are going to make some wrong turns and have some experiences that might feel like driving into oncoming traffic. But that doesn’t mean we have failed. It simply means we are learning something new.

Today, commit to using your voice in a way that is authentic to you–ask for what you want, say what you mean, say “no” when you want to.

It’s not going to feel good.

You’re going to be uncomfortable.

With practice, it will get easier.

Allow yourself opportunities to learn and fine tune that skill so that in the future, when it really matters, you won’t hesitate because it will be as natural as riding a bike (or navigating one way streets).

One of the things I do with my clients is develop a plan and strategize around asking for what they want. We experiment and practice with different methods until we find an approach that works best for them. If you struggle to say “no” or ask for what you really want, invest in developing that talent. Work with me and start living in your voice (schedule a free consultation now and reconnect with your voice and your power).


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When You’re Worried

A story about how a stranger on the street got me thinking about life and worry.

This morning, an old man approached me on the street and started talking to me as I was unloading some donations from my car. His clothes were ragged, he was missing most of his teeth and he was wearing coveralls and a flower covered baseball cap. As I was unloading my things into a donation bin, he started to tell me about his life. He told me about how he had gotten hit by a car as a child and that he had been in a coma for weeks. Years later, he said, that accident impacted his mental capacity. He continued to chit chat while I was going from door to door, unloading bags and boxes of donations. When I finished, I was going back into my car to leave he said he wanted to share something with me. He looked at me and he said,

“Regret looks behind, trouble looks to the sides, and faith looks up.”

As I left I got to thinking about what he had said and the truth of it. Whenever we invite regret, guilt, frustration, or anger into our lives, our focus is on our pasts. Those emotions are often rooted in a judgment and examination of people and events that have come and gone (what people said, what they did, etc.).

When we feel troubled, our focus is on some unknowable future. We are continually looking around ourselves and off into the distance, expecting something to jump out of the bushes and sabotage our plans.

When we are living in belief in ourselves and have faith in the path, we can allow ourselves to be present and truly in the moment, giving thanks for the experience and trusting our ability to keep moving. We “look up” because we are present with gratitude and giving thanks to the god of our understanding for getting us to where we are.

If our life was like a race, looking behind us or frantically looking around ourselves would not be helpful. In fact, those actions would likely drain our energy and bog down our progress. While it might seem most useful to scan the horizon anticipating obstacles and indulging in some worry, that approach is only useful if your worries are accurate and help you avert a crisis–but how often does that happen?!

When we indulge in worry about the future, we imply that we have some capacity to foretell our futures; to know exactly how something is (or isn’t going to pan out). What’s more, when we indulge in worry, it removes us from the present moment and all that is available to us in that space. It’s like running a race, worrying that the road ahead is going to be flooded and washed away and you’re so focused on that possibility that you don’t realize that you are running right past a life raft that could safely carry you across the path, if needed.

When we are stuck in worry, we ignore the gifts and solutions at our feet.

Worry is such a tempting emotion because it feels so important to our primitive brains. The part of our brains that is designed to keep us safe latches on to those worries and expands upon them. Suddenly, our thoughts about a washed out path, morphs into a hurricane and fire breathing dragon up ahead. When we allow ourselves to put energy behind those worries, we are often persuaded to stop running altogether, to change course, or to take a break until you figure it out. But we forget that those worries are only half of the possibility of what lies ahead–what if there was no hurricane or dragon up ahead and the path ahead is smoother and flatter than the path behind? Indulgence in worry overlooks the fact that it is equally possible that our worries are completely unfounded.

If life was like a race, isn’t our best approach to remain in the present moment not only so that we can see all the gifts currently being offered to us but so that we can focus our energy on the task at hand? We must stop looking behind, around or far ahead of us and instead allow space for us to consider–where am I even running to? When worry or regret drive the bus, it distracts us from the reason we started running to begin with. We forget why we started and instead lose all our energy to fruitless wanderings.

What is the benefit of the race if we can’t find space to be grateful for what we have, what we have learned, and to consider what we want next?

Today, challenge yourself to stay present, stop worrying about the future and instead reconnect with your WHY. Why are you running this race and where are you going?

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Finding Balance

Nearly every client I work with has a hard time disconnecting from work.

Their minds are constantly re-hashing conversations, reconsidering strategies, worrying about what’s in their email.

The build-up of anxieties drives them to obsessively check their emails to see whether they have missed anything or gotten any feedback on their most recent projects.

Every time they check their emails, they are either “rewarded” with radio silence–Wahoo! I can relax for a minute!–or they receive more evidence that they cannot, ever, disconnect–Good thing I checked my email and can respond to this emergency right away!

Over time, this pattern disconnects us from our friends, family, and loved ones and creates an obsessive compulsive relationship with our phones and our jobs.

My clients want to be able to disconnect. They want to be present with their loved ones.

They want to enjoy a nice meal with their spouse and talk about something other than work.

They want to silence the chaos in their minds and focus only on what is happening in that moment.

They want to be able to put down their phones and make time to relax every day.

They know that if they don’t stop this pattern, every relationship outside of work is going to suffer and their mental well-being will erode.

But they BELIEVE they can’t stop. They BELIEVE disconnecting isn’t an option.

Sound familiar? Work with me and learn the foundational steps to protect your well-being and learn how to disconnect.

In order to fully commit to our profession, it means also making a commitment to show up as our best selves. It means investing in rest and life outside of work so that we can be fully engaged when we are working. To do otherwise is to cut our careers off at its knees because what we create is not sustainable.

Obsessive commitment to anything is not sustainable.

Recognize where your life is out of balance and endeavor to find pockets of rest and disconnection. Allow your brain to freak out every time you step away but honor yourself and your long-term wellbeing by making disconnection a priority. It WILL get easier with practice.

Your future self will thank you.

When we don’t practice disconnection and rest, we instead practice NOT disconnecting and NOT slowing down. We strengthen those muscles which ultimately makes any kind of balance even more difficult.

Today, I encourage you to find a pocket of space to reconnect with yourself.

You are not the job.

You are so much more than that.

Spend some time with your real self today. She might have some things to say to you.


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Being Authentic

When I was in private practice, I had a client that called me all the time. Constantly. He would call to talk through new ideas. He would call every time he wondered about some new aspect of the project. He called to vent. He called just to chat. He called when he was frustrated with his team and other times he called to let me know how happy he was how things were going. It was constant. How I showed up in that relationship changed everything about how I set boundaries in my relationships, personally and professionally.

I got in the habit of ignoring most of his calls unless I had the time or was in a good space to chat with him. I would often send him brief follow-up emails —

Saw I missed your call, I’m tied up for most of the day but if you send me a note, I can get back to you between meetings.

Which is really code for: If you’re calling just to chat, I’m busy. If you’re calling for legal support, I’m available. Even when I ignored his calls, I was irritated and distracted afterwards — Why does he DO THAT?! I’m not his buddy, I’m his lawyer!! (But dealing with the peccadillos of other humans is another challenge I had to sort out later on. Another story for another time.)

I didn’t ignore his calls and incessant messaging because I didn’t like him, it was because the calls were unnecessary and inefficient. They interrupted whatever else I was working on and they didn’t further our primary goal which was to GET THE JOB DONE. Usually, he was just calling to vent or talk through something. He liked to work through things verbally. As an introvert, I do not. I believed strongly that by screening his calls, I was allowing myself the opportunity to do a better job than I would if I allowed myself to be constantly interrupted.

After a while, I started to feel guilty about constantly putting him off. My brain was badgering me: He is going to get upset with you…He is going to think you don’t care…He is going to complain about your service…He’s going to say you are always unavailable.

One day, I gave in to those nagging thoughts.

He called me. I declined the call. Then he IM’d me about 5 minutes prior to my next meeting: Give me a call when you have a second. I decide to call him. No, rather, I concluded that I should call him. So, I called him. I called him because I believed that I should and I was irritated about it. When he answered, I instantly regretted it. I was not engaged; I was defensive, abrupt, and annoyed. It was evident. After the call, I felt terrible. I was everything that I was trying not to be in that relationship!

After thinking through the exchange, I realized that acting from “should” never yields me the results that I want. Forcing myself to do things when I’m not in the right mindset, when I’m feeling rushed, or when I’m acting from a negative emotion, never drives me to act in a way that I’m proud of.

Instead, I choose to believe that no one is going to fire me for being busy and I can ask people to interact with me in a way that is most effective and efficient for me (boundaries, anyone?). People might not like this approach and people might get frustrated but I am committed to being available in a manner that allows me to show up at my best and I would rather have people frustrated with my communication approach than be frustrated with me for being a jerk.

I choose to believe that I never have to answer a call if I don’t want to.

I choose to act when I want to and not because I believe I HAVE to.

I choose not to concede my schedule and my time to anyone other than myself.

Feel like your days are at the mercy of someone else? Schedule a free consult and get support to set (and execute) better boundaries.

I anticipated the possibility that he might be put off by this approach so I scheduled regular, brief check-in meetings that provided him an opportunity to talk about whatever was moving him that day and I could anticipate that interruption. After the project concluded, the client raved to everyone in the company and at my firm about our partnership. That’s how it is supposed to work, he told everyone. Not because I was at his beck and call 24/7 but because I put in the work to show up as my best in that relationship despite my discomfort and nagging worries.

It’s not about pushing people away. It’s about honoring yourself and your needs.

It’s about being committed enough to the relationship to be honest in the moment — no, I don’t want to talk right now — so that you can show up as your best in that relationship. It’s about being so committed to the relationship that you are willing to do something unpopular. In the end, it’s about being willing to be your authentic self in all of your relationships and letting go of any other notion of how you are “supposed” to act in relationships.

In sum, when we show up authentically, relationships flourish.


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Boundaries

Most of the attorneys that I work with do not believe that it is possible for them to create happiness within their current environment. They come to me unhappy and overworked. They believe that the only way things are going to get better is if the firm finally changes. Or if they leave. Part of the work that I do with my clients is helping them to start setting boundaries and flexing their “no” muscle.

Saying, “No, ” is always an option available to us to make more time for ourselves. To make time for the things that actually matter to us. So that we can find some space and happiness. We know, logically, that if we want more time, more balance, and more peace, boundaries are part of the deal but we are reluctant to flex those muscles because we fear the consequences.

There is a difference between not knowing how to resolve a problem and being afraid to implement solutions you know exist.

When my clients consider the possibility of not responding to an email at 8:30pm on a Wednesday night, it doesn’t seem like a real option. Their brains tell them that those kinds of boundaries will get them fired, demoted, judged, and “into trouble.”

Possibly.

We set boundaries because we know what is good for us; that doesn’t mean others are going to like it.

But let’s explore that. My clients that are learning to set boundaries and say “no” continue to meet their hourly obligations to the extent those obligations are clear. They continue to do good work, often times even better work. They continue to be a team player. And with these changes their attitude and energy change dramatically as well. Is it reasonable to believe that a firm is going to fire someone performing in this manner simply because they are not willing to be a doormat, on call 24/7? It’s possible. But it’s also possible that the firm will swallow that pill even though they don’t like it.

If this resonates with you, grab a free session and commit today to start living differently.

Furthermore, when we tell ourselves that setting these boundaries, pushing back and saying “no” is going to cause us to get fired, I don’t believe that result differs from the alternative. I work with attorneys all day long, every day. Attorneys who are burnt out and unhappy. Attorneys who have implemented the rage quit or attorneys who are tap dancing on the edge of it. What I submit is this:

If we continue the path that we have historically been on, where we ignore our boundaries and forget how to say “no,” the ultimate result is that we leave. We leave burnt out, unhappy, and disillusioned, believing that practicing law is just not right for us. That path may take several years to trek but ultimately the lack of boundaries ends with a sad exit.

In contrast, we can choose a path where we speak our truth. We’re honest about our availability, we set clear boundaries and make time for what’s really important to us. If that path were to result in us being terminated, we must also ask:

Is that so much worse than the alternative?

How long do you think you could flex those “no” muscles, set boundaries, stand up for yourself, and make more time for what’s really important to you before the firm steps in and decides that they no longer want to employ you? Six months? A year? What would that time be like for you? To have more time, more balance, to have the ability to workout and spend time with your family instead of constantly feeling on the edge and on call. Wouldn’t that six months or one year of balance and peace serve you in a much better manner than those years of burnt out frustration?

The ending is the same most certainly but the person at the end of either of those journeys is absolutely not the same person. And the sacrifices each of them would make during those journeys could not be more different. The choice is yours. What do you have to lose?


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Are You Living in Fight or Flight?

For many of us, when we are practicing and things get hairy, we unknowingly slip into survival mode and our days are spent living in fight or flight. We lose touch with our rational thinking and have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. We are convinced that there are no solutions available to us and we just want to keep our heads above water. We are surrounded by a negative cloud and we tend to believe the worst case scenario is waiting for us around any corner.

We can’t ask for what we want because everyone will judge us.

They will pull work from us if we complain.

They will say we’re not partner material.

They will fire us.

It will never change.

There’s no point speaking up.

They’re never going to let me lighten my workload.

That’s just the way it is.

There is no fixing it.

While all of this thinking could certainly be true, when we are living in fight or flight mode, flitting from project to project just trying to make it through the day, we start to believe that all of those statements are factual. We start to believe that those are the only truths available to us.

When we are living in fight or flight, our brain operates from negativity bias.

It sees everything on the horizon as an animal that is ready to kill us and it sees any deviation from the norm as a high risk. For these reasons, it becomes very difficult for us to realize that all of those statements, while they could be true, the opposite could also be true. It becomes very difficult for us to see that we are only looking at one possible outcome.

This is why so many of us just. keep. going. hoping that someday it will change.

We forget that we cannot tell the future and that while the worst case scenario could certainly happen, the best case scenario is also equally possible. When we are in the middle of a crisis at work feeling overwhelmed and overloaded, it is very difficult to generate any feelings other than resignation and hopelessness. It’s no wonder it feels like an impossible task to make changes or to ask for what we want.

Our brain is not wired to look for positive potential outcomes when it is fighting to survive!

When we find ourselves overwhelmed by negativity and overcome by the challenges before us, the only thing we can do is watch our survival brain at work. Watch our brain convince us that the worst case scenario is the only possible outcome and recognize that our brain is not offering us any other alternatives but to just keep going. This awareness can be all it takes to raise us out of the negativity overwhelm back to a neutral state where we can make clear-headed and unbiased decisions. We have to recognize what our brain is doing and realize that what it is offering to us is only 1/2 of the possibilities before us.


Many of my clients put in the work to shift out of panicked, fight or flight practicing to create a strategic path toward balance and clarity. If you want to stop drinking from the fire hose and take back your own agency, join us. This work changes everything.


Once we start seeing that there is, in fact, more than one potential outcome, and more than one path forward, we take back our power. From that space we can start to see and evaluate clearly the options ahead of us. At the same time we move out of victim mentality and stop believing that everything is happening to us and recognize our own power in the moment. We can choose to believe that things just might work out, that we can use our voice, live authentically and just maybe everything will be okay.

(Because drinking from the firehouse day in and day out never ends well for anyone. )


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Perfectionist Tendencies

Many of my clients embrace perfectionism in one way or another. Outwardly, they appear successful and confident but their inner dialogues are filled with self-judgments and a whole host of “shoulds” — things they should have done better, perfectly. As we unpack those patterns of negative self-talk and begin redirecting our brains to more worthy thoughts, it opens up yet another opportunity for self-judgment.

It’s not working.

I can’t stop the negative thinking.

This just the way that I am.

This isn’t worth the effort.

When those old negative patterns come back around and take the wind out of our new, intentional thinking, it can be incredibly frustrating. It starts to feel like it is never going to work; we’re never going to “fix” our brains.

Consider what it would be like to commit to writing with your non-dominant hand. There would be time when you would forget about the experiment — you might reach for your pen with your dominant hand, you might even write a few words before realizing your mistake. It would be frustrating. There would be times when it would feel like a fool’s errand and a waste of your energy.

Why not just forget it and go back to the way things were?

When we experience set backs on the path toward our goals, it can be demoralizing. It can feel like it’s never going to work. But, in our example, most of us wouldn’t be surprised when you automatically grabbed your pen with your dominant hand or when you simply forgot you were making efforts to change the practice. We wouldn’t be shocked when our automatic, unconscious impulses kicked in, of course they did!

This is the same thing that happens with our brains and goal-ing. Those old negative thoughts will come back. They will try to rain on your parade. They will creep in when you’re tired and out of gas at the end of a long day.

But what if those “slips” were part of the deal? What if those “mistakes” were there to teach you something?

Transitioning to new, more high vibrational thoughts will include some slippage and likely will never completely eradicate old patterns; however, the back and forth dance is an opportunity to embrace our own imperfections and challenge the concept of perfectionism. It’s an opportunity to recognize that change is never going to come easily and that it will require not only commitment but compassion for yourself and your imperfections. Practicing new beliefs and experiencing those challenges often forces my clients to come face to face with their own perfectionist tendencies. It forces them to accept their slips, have compassion, and keep going. It forces them to see that perfectionism is just a pretty excuse for treating themselves terribly and setting unrealistic expectations.

What if we could translate that practice to all aspects of our lives?

What if we were willing to embark on any task, knowing and even anticipating, that we were going to mess up along the way but committing to do it anyway?

Simple thought work often reveals a microcosm of my client’s relationships with themselves. It sheds light on all our self-deprecating tendencies and requires us to face them head on in order to make progress. Those small steps develop a skill that will last a lifetime and will allow you to do away with perfectionism and embrace your dreams.

Our minds can be adapted and renewed. Developments in neuroscience tell us that the brain is capable of establishing new neural pathways, healing and building new brain cells. To do this, the brain simply requires direction and repetition — it requires a commitment to change and push through the discomfort and the setbacks that will inevitably come.

Are you in?


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The Art of Delegation

As attorneys, many of us are accustomed to “handling” all of the things. We are not trained to delegate our work to others and most of us struggle to let in support, that includes the people you are paying to support you. We would rather do things on our own. Our own way. At least then we know it will get done correctly! Besides, it’s faster just to do it ourselves, right?

On the contrary, one study showed that 53 percent of business owners believe that they can grow their business by more than 20 percent if they delegated 10 percent of their workload to someone else.


(AND more than 80% of those business owners agreed that they need help to achieve successful delegation. Sound familiar? Grab a free coaching consult and let in support to free up your schedule through the art of delegation.)


Could delegation be the key to allowing yourself and your team members to make their greatest contributions? Because isn’t that the whole point of having a team — each person making their own, unique contributions in a meaningful way?

Some thoughts on delegation to challenge our “go it alone” antiquated thinking….

Delegation is more than just passing down work

When you delegate you create opportunities for others to learn new skills, gain more experience, and have more confidence in their abilities to contribute.

Get clear on where you spend your time

There are not enough hours in your day to “do it all.” Evaluate your reasoning for everything you do in each moment. Which tasks are you willing to let go of in order to free yourself to make your greatest contribution?

Recognize that delegation is crucial for YOUR success

When we don’t see the benefits of delegating, we don’t delegate. We have to focus on why delegation is important and what it will gain us. Most of us want more time and energy to make our greatest contributions in which case delegation is essential.

Recognize that others are capable

People tend to perform in alignment with the expectations that others put on them. The greater our expectations of others, the greater probability that they will perform at an even higher level. We often see others as not being capable simply because it is something they have not done until now. Seeing other as competent is not only key to your success but their development.

Develop your team to free up even more of your time

In order to develop others and free yourself up for your higher priorities, we must consider delegating anything that someone else can do 70% as well as you can. Remember when you first performed the task you were not likely a master either. When we delegate these tasks to others, we provide them the opportunity to become their own master.

Check your ego at the door

We often think “I could have done it better” or “I could do it faster” or “I don’t want to look bad if this other person fails.” These are normal thoughts and may be true but at some point in your life you were not as fast or as masterful at a given task. You learn through your experience and mistakes. Don’t let your ego prevent others from having the same opportunity to grow and develop in the same ways that you have.

Allow room for growth

Mistakes are inevitable! Remember that you made mistakes before you had mastery of a skill. When you notice an error, give the person who made it an opportunity to correct it. When we continue to clean up others’ mistakes, we deprive them of the opportunity to learn and grow. Then mistakes will continue and you will use it as your justification to stop delegating.


It is not sustainable for us to “do it all.” We must become skilled at the art of delegation and letting in support if we want to have a meaningful place in the professional world. Open yourself up to delegation by challenging “your way” of doing things with the above counterarguments.

Chew on these reasons for delegating and if you need support putting together a delegation action plan, work with me and let’s get to work finding you more time so that you can make your greatest contribution and your team can grow and thrive.


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Difficult Choices

In every moment, of every day, we are making decisions. We decide where to direct our attention, we decide when (if) we should take a break, we decide whether to answer phone calls or respond to emails. Most of us make those decisions automatically, without much thought. But what about the decisions that really FEEL like decisions? The types of decisions that keep you up at night with anxiety or rob your afternoon of several hours spent fretting over the options. When it comes to big decisions, what is the best approach?


Decision-making is a huge part of my coaching practice. I work with all of my clients to examine and execute on big decisions including whether to file for divorce, quit the job, fire the paralegal, or take the big leap. If you are contemplating a big decision, schedule time with me to get support and clarity.


We have talked about decision-making in several contexts but today I want to focus on actual steps to evaluating and making a decision. But first, let’s recap:

Step 1: Take the Decision off the Pedestal

Many of us have struggled with decision paralysis from time to time because we put these decisions on a pedestal. We allow them to loom ahead of us like giant crossroads in our lives. We have to first recognize that we are making this decision WAY TOO powerful. One decision will not make or break your entire life.

In order to move forward you have to separate from the facts from your primitive-brain-thinking. You have to first recognize the thoughts you are choosing as just that: thoughts. Focus on the facts of the situation and examine how else you could be thinking about them.

For example, consider these thoughts:

I need to figure out my practice specialty this year otherwise I will fall behind.

I need to figure out whether to hire another attorney before everyone gets fed up and quits!

When we scour those sentences for cold hard facts, I find none. Those sentences reflect our internal catastrophizing and dramatizations. Neither of which are helpful. When we can get clear on the facts, the frenzy in your brain calms considerably. We are left with:

I am thinking about narrowing down to a specialty this year.

I am considering whether to hire a new attorney.

Simple. Factual. Nothing to see here.

Step 2: Take a Hard Look at Your Worst Case Scenario

Whenever we are avoiding a decision it’s because we have convinced ourselves that there is a right and wrong path ahead of us and if we choose the wrong one, our world will fall apart. When we look at our worst-case scenario, we can see that it is really comprised of only two things: obstacles that you can navigate and negative self-talk you can address. We don’t have to allow our brains to tell us that if we make the wrong decision not only will everything fall apart but it proves something negative about ourselves: we aren’t good enough, we aren’t smart enough, we can’t do this, this will never work out, etc. Instead, take a long hard look at your worst-case scenario, decide how you would handle it and decide what you would make it mean. In doing so, you rob it of all it’s power.

Again, this is just a recap! More on Steps 1 and 2 is available here.

Step 3: Get Clear About Your Why

In any choice that we make, there will be pros and cons. There will be consequences of many varieties, even when the opportunity seems too good to be true. In those instances, we have to consider what we gain by acting. When we have clarity about what is at stake with every new decision, that clarity will light the path when things get murky (because they will). That clarity will allow you to keep moving.

More on Step 3 here.

Step 4: Embrace Fear

Fear, self-doubt, and guilt are all parts of the bargain when we choose to make changes — those feelings do not mean you are making a wrong decision.

More on Step 4 here.

Step 5: Commit to Having Your Own Back

Part of the reason we avoid making decisions is because of how terrible we are to ourselves when a decision doesn’t work out how we imagined. We beat ourselves up, we judge our past actions, we rewrite history to make ourselves feel even worse. If you can commit to making a decision and having your own back no matter how it plays out, what is there to be afraid of?

More on Step 5 here.

Having worked through Steps 1 through 5, we are ready to make a decision…but how?

How to make the decision

First we have to take a look at the options we are considering and set forth our justifications for each option.

Why would we go that route?

What is the benefit?

What is motivating us?

Why is this decision hard?

This step is critical and must include some serious introspection. Are you wanting to keep that paralegal because you don’t want to have to deal with the discomfort of firing her? Are you saying yes to that new project because you’ll “feel bad” if you say no? In this step, we have to get brutally honest about our reasoning. Ask yourself why the decision is hard. Consider all of the thoughts swirling around–are we worried about what others will think? Are we forecasting the future?

Once we have all the justifications set out for each options available to us, I recommend reviewing those lists and highlighting only the justifications that are factual. “Difficult” decisions are often soaking in drama. We have to get really clear about what is the true and what is just dramatizations.

For instance, we might believe that if we fire our paralegal we will “devastate” her or “ruin her financially.” But we don’t know if that’s true. What if she really hates the job but was too afraid to quit? What if she knew she wasn’t the right fit? Or instead, we think that if we say “no” to a project/engagement offered to us, the other person will be disappointed or angry. What if that’s not the case? What if they really don’t care they just asked you because you were the first person they saw?

This part of the process can be helpful in distilling our justifications down to the meat of it. Usually justifications surrounding “difficult” decisions are rooted in avoidance of some negative emotion–we don’t want to feel bad if others are hurt, sad, disappointed, etc. While we can recognize that they might not be any of those things, our fear around how we will feel if others are hurt by our decision can keep us paralyzed.

Now the magical part:

You just decide.

Seriously.

You look at each list of justifications and you pick the list you feel most strongly about.

That might mean that you don’t fire you your paralegal because you don’t want to upset her but at least now you will be very clear that the real motivation behind that decision is because you don’t want to feel bad if she’s upset. On the other hand, you might decide that you don’t feel good about that justification. You just have to ask yourself–do I feel good about my reasoning for selecting this option? That’s it.

There are no right answers. The only thing that matters is making a decision for reasons that you are honest about and for reasons that you feel good about.

Then we circle back to Steps 1 – 5 and execute, paying close attention to Step 5 where you commit to having your own back. We commit not to second guess, back down, or shoulda, coulda, woulda, ourselves later on.

“Every decision brings with it some good, some bad, some lessons, and some luck. The only thing that’s for sure is that indecision steals many years from many people who wind up wishing they’d just had the courage to leap.”

Doe Zantamata

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