Being Treated Differently

Humans will be humans. They will make terrible mistakes and bad choices. And sometimes, even “good” people make bad choices about the things that they say or choose to believe. These thoughts are often unconscious. Habitual, automatic thinking.

These automatic, programmed thoughts and ideas don’t make them a bad person it just means that they have bad thoughts that they haven’t examined through the lens of implicit bias….the jokes that people make or that people laugh at, the automatic judgments they make about others without questioning those judgments. The reason this matters is because those small actions, those unconscious reactions, and judgments are what are keeping so many segments of our society from moving forward. It’s not necessarily explicit hatred of another group but it is implicit bias masquerading in a prettier outfit.

Most of us have our own experiences being treated differently. I remember a few years ago, I was attending an early morning meeting where I was the only woman. As background, I have two white Shiba Inu pups and anyone who knows anything about dogs knows that a person who owns more than one Shiba Inu is a masochist. A masochist who loves having dog hair all over every article of clothing they have as well as in their icebox, refrigerator, underwear drawers, deli meat, and attics. I ALWAYS have dog hair on me.

On this particular day, I was wearing a long black pencil skirt. As I approached the breakfast bar to grab some coffee and a bagel, I felt a presence close behind me. Then I heard an older gentleman speaking in a low, private voice right into my ear, I think your dogs left you a present on your skirt this morning. Embarrassed and confused, I turned to look and saw that my backside was covered in the white hair of my beloved pups. As I thanked him and turned to leave the room to redress the situation he smiled and said you have no idea how much I wanted to wipe that off for you. You just have to let an old man have his fantasies.

WTF

I was immediately floored by his comment but I told myself He’s harmless. He’s a goofy old man who doesn’t think before he speaks…I was so shocked and startled and I wasn’t sure how to respond but I knew I didn’t want to make a scene at 7:00 o’clock in the morning in a room full of men.

After the meeting wrapped up, I went back to my office and tried to put the strange encounter out of my mind when I heard a knock at my door. I looked up and found the same old gentleman standing sheepishly in my doorway and waiting for me to notice him standing there awkwardly.   This time he was apologetic and thanked me for not getting upside with him, “just an old man,” and the “stupid things” that he says. He begged me to tell him if I was upset by what he had said. I brushed it off, told him it wasn’t a big deal, and we moved forward with the relationship and our days.

At the time, I found myself confirming that, if someone else had made the same comment, someone that I thought intended to be suggestive or probing, I would have reacted very differently. I was so focused on the individual and my knowledge that he didn’t mean anything by it….he was a kind and goofy old man with no malice. But why did that matter?

Through this work, I now realize that my response is part of a larger problem. I was focusing on the intent driving the individual to act that way, allowing space for his ignorance. People’s actions are just as important as their intentions. This gentleman did not intend to sexually harass me but the fact of the matter is, his conditioned thoughts and his words went there. He was thinking of me and my presence in a way that was not acceptable or safe. Even if he wasn’t seeking anything out of line, his words communicated to me that as a woman, I will always, in part, be seen as a sexual object. By brushing it off and not acknowledging the problem with his words, I was trading his discomfort for my own. To avoid making him feel uncomfortable by calling out his actions, I swallowed the pill and felt uncomfortable enough for both of us.

I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable but it was okay for me to be uncomfortable.

Why? Because my predominant thought was “Let’s not make this a big deal….I don’t want you to think I’m overly sensitive or can’t take a joke.”

But the truth was, it was a big deal. The fact that I can still recall that moment so vividly and point to it as one of the many moments when I knew I did not belong is significant.

Those thoughts did not serve me at the time and they are not serving any of us today. Anyone who acts or speaks in a way that indicates you are not an equal in the workplace is a problem. It is not acceptable to stifle our concerns in favor of not making waves.

Instead of retreating in fear of confrontation and drama, I could have made better decisions and clung to better thoughts.

I want to feel angry when I feel like I am being discriminated against. I do not want to feel like “It’s okay.” I want to be open to the discomfort that comes with taking a stand and speaking my peace. These are essential emotions. I don’t want to feel good about these circumstances. I don’t want to pretend to be okay to avoid these negative feelings.

In those moments, I want to believe: This is an opportunity for me to be honest and develop my relationship with this human. I am not a victim, I am simply shining a light on the situation.

I am not trading my truth for your comfort.

The fear-based, glossing-it-over approach is not working. What does work is looking at people’s actions and challenging those actions where you see them. Rather than focusing on the person’s intent and formulating thoughts from there, shift your focus to the larger goal. I can address this and be honest with this person about what I think about what they’ve said or done. Demeaning words and actions, even ones that lack explicit malice, are indicative of tired thinking that begs to be challenged. If we keep condoning the actions and focusing only on the intentions, we sacrifice diversity of thought. We sacrifice honesty in our relationships.

In my experience, none of the people I have worked with were intentionally sexist/racist/homophobic. However, in my experience, many of those colleagues made sexist/racist/homophobic comments. They did not harbor hate but they did harbor ignorance and unacknowledged bias.

As humans in this world, we all have a role to play in fostering the evolution of thought. While that might mean we have to place ourselves in uncomfortable situations and call out actions that we know are not mal-intended. Unless we’re honest with people about how their words or actions impact our abilities to show up, to stand up, to speak up, we will never make the progress that our world so desperately needs.

Having trouble finding the words to speak your truth? Don’t make the same mistakes I made. Develop the tools to stand up for yourself and those around you. Coach with me and let’s make this journey together.

We need in every bay and community a group of angelic troublemakers. The proof that one truly believes is in action – Bayard Rustin

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Wanting it to be Different

I have been thinking a lot about investments and how crucial it is that we care for and nurture the investments that we make in our life. Not only the investments we consciously make but also the things that are important to us – relationships, education, health, etc. We all know that we have to invest time and energy in what’s important to us but many of us forget to apply that logic to ourselves.

When we find ourselves wanting things to be different, there is only one way to bust out of that plateau and build a life that will blow our own mind: intentional investment of our time, energy, and resources. Because wanting it, is never enough.

I recently invested in a personal trainer for the first time in my life. I’ve always been really fit and active but I finally got to a point where my health and fitness seemed to plateau. My weight wasn’t changing, my body wasn’t looking any differently, I wasn’t excited about working out; I realized that it was time for me to mix it up. I went to the gym anxious about the meeting and not committed to purchasing anything. As someone who’s always been into health and fitness, I figured that they could just give me some pointers and I can figure out the rest from there.

As we made our way through the session, I had a rude awakening. The workout was grueling and painful (and moderately humiliating!!!). At the end of the session, I realized that maybe I didn’t have it all figured out. Maybe it would make sense to bring in some support. So we sat down in the cubicle in the middle of the gym floor and started crunching the numbers. And I was completely floored! It was significantly more expensive than I had expected, and it was significantly more money than I had intended to spend on that particular afternoon. At that moment, I realized I was experiencing the same thing that many of my clients experience:

I wanted to change but I was hesitant to commit to doing the hard work.

My reptile brain was freaking out, objecting to this new possibility….when will I find the time…it’s too expensive…I can do it on my own…I don’t need this….it won’t work…, etc. As my brain spun out of control, I realized in that moment what was happening. I realized that it wasn’t really about the money, it was about my level of commitment to making an actual change…to signing up to do the hard thing…to spending a ton of money on myself in furtherance of a goal. To spending a ton of money knowing that I would HAVE TO show up to justify the expense! I didn’t actually believe that it wouldn’t work. I had clear evidence I wasn’t figuring it out on my own and I knew that I could find the time. None of my brain’s thoughts were the truth.

The REAL truth was that I wanted the transformation but committing to the work was freaking me out.

At that moment, I gave my reptile brain the middle finger and signed up. It was something I wanted and this was the first step to making good on that commitment to myself.

After I left the session several dollars lighter than I began, I realized that this is the challenge that many of my clients go through. No one gets excited about spending tons of money on personal training. People don’t get excited about spending thousands of dollars in therapy sessions. And many of the people I encounter are not excited about spending money on a coaching relationship. Why?

Because we’ve gotten along on our own for so long.

What more could these people possibly offer?

It’s not sexy. It’s not fun. It’s not a new purse that we can show off to our friends. It’s something that will require more of us. It requires us to put our money where our mouth is. To do something more than WANT THE CHANGE. Do we want it badly enough to submit to a process that will demand more of us and that will push us to take a hard look at where we really are? After I left my training session, I realized that just maybe I wasn’t in as good of shape as I thought I was.

Just maybe I had some things that I needed to learn. And just maybe I need a little bit of humility about what I was capable of and how badly I really wanted things to change.

When we choose to make an investment in ourselves or not make an investment in ourselves, it is never really about the money or the time. It’s really about our humility and our willingness to recognize that we can’t do it all alone; that we aren’t getting there on our own.

I like to think about our investment in our professional lives and careers, in the same way, I think about buying a house. In both scenarios, we spend THOUSANDS of dollars on the investment. Both investments will provide for us and our families, will protect us, and give us stability. But the main difference is that when we buy a home, no one ever believes “that will be the last money I spend on that!” We know there will be upkeep and maintenance costs. We will make improvements and changes. When it comes to our homes, it seems we are always spending money to care for them and improve them.

But when it comes to our careers, we are much more reluctant to spend our own money on upkeep and maintenance. It is no wonder that for so many of us, our careers are run down and abandoned houses, left to wear away on their original foundations. Just like a run-down, decrepit house, treating your investment in that manner will never provide any return!

If you want your career and your life to blossom, you have to care for your original investment.

Professional athletes are the best in the world at what they do and they all have coaches. They acknowledge that there is room for growth, there is value in the different perspectives that those coaches offer. In order to create the life of your dreams, you must be open to the possibility that you aren’t seeing everything clearly. That just like me and my personal trainer, maybe you have more room to grow if only you had someone to push you.

I’m here and ready to push you out of your plateau. Are you in?

Do You Have “It”?

I was recently coaching a new client and I was explaining to her why I do this work. For those of you who have heard this rambling, let me summarize. When I was at my first, nationwide law firm out of law school, the shine eventually wore off. I was working all the time, struggling to find balance, and I became incredibly unhappy. At the time, I didn’t have the tools that I have now and I didn’t understand how to “fix” my situation. So I left. I cracked open the exit door just a few inches and I was quickly drawn out by another opportunity. I was hired by a rival firm to build a practice group from the ground up.

At that time in my life, I was roughly 29 years old. I had been practicing for about four(ish) years. I had a solid foundation and I knew enough to be dangerous but to start a whole practice group–pure silliness. What kind of maniacs would take that risk on me?! Despite it all, I sold them on the idea and I gratefully leapt from the arms of one task-master to another.

As I settled in and started to take an inventory of everything that went along with “running” a practice, I realized that I was going to need some support. I already felt myself bristling at the tired mentalities and structures that I disliked at my last firm and I could tell that many of the challenges I had run away from at my last firm would be waiting for me in this new place. So I hired a coach–a female attorney who had successfully built her own firm. I wanted someone who got it. I wanted someone who understood the subtext, the struggles, and the environment without my having to explain it.

(If you are interested in that kind of support, grab a free session now.)

In working with her, I was able to see and deconstruct many of the patterns that were following me into my new firm. I was able to shift into a different mentality — a space of confidence and unwavering belief that I COULD do it. That I did have what it takes. We worked through the imposter syndrome that many of us carry with us especially those of us that didn’t come from professional, college-educated homes.

Working with my coach, I was able to build a practice that was bursting at the seams within one year. Within one year, I had so much work and garnered the confidence and trust of so many large and demanding companies that I was drowning in billable hours. We hired two partners from opposing firms to come and join me…partners that were 20 and 30 years my senior and had been practicing for many years to great success without the oversight and wisdom offered by this 30-something little girl. So naturally, with that change, came all sorts of new challenges.

During that time, I was traveling all over the country selling our services to clients. Every day, my calendar was jammed with breakfasts, lunches, and happy hours where I was selling and schmoozing without end. I was asked to teach at a business school and then to also teach at a law school and I was constantly presenting at one conference or another.

My practice was thriving and I had done what I set out to do. I loved every minute of it.

The last time I related this story to a client, she asked me whether I thought my success was attributable to skills I had developed or whether I just had “it.” “Do you really think that is something I can do? I just don’t think I’m the type,” she explained.

This, people, is why I do this. There is nothing magical about my success.

“I am nothing special, of this I am sure.” – Nicholas Sparks

The only reason people aren’t going out and creating the life of their dreams is that they believe they can’t do it. Because they, like this client, allow themselves to consider that there is some innate “it” and you either have it or you don’t.

Let’s level set here. I am an introvert and I do not love to speak publicly. Prior to joining that firm, I hadn’t spoken publicly since COLLEGE. At my prior firm, I wrote the speeches, I prepped the slides but I was the silent partner — speaking was never permitted for associates. I was good at my job but I was not (and am not) any kind of a legal prodigy. Aside from leading bar crawls during my sorority days, I had never “led” anyone other than a secretary and a paralegal. I had no idea how to set budgets or project income, how to “sell” legal services, how to talk to partners who weren’t pulling their weight, and the idea of presenting my business plan to a Boardroom full of men made me sick to my stomach.

If there was some special “it” that made this stuff easy, I didn’t receive that gift.

I created my success because I INVESTED in myself. I put in the work. I allowed my coach to push me to do things that made me very uncomfortable. I got really good at uncomfortable conversations, I got really practiced at humility, and I learned how to “sell” myself authentically. Does it come easily now? No. It still doesn’t. But I have done it so many times despite the discomfort, I understand now that’s just part of the process for me.

I came to understand that in order to create a different career for myself, I had to do things differently. I had to take time to actually work on myself and that meant I had to get comfortable spending my hard-earned money on the fluffy stuff. I had to invest my money differently. I needed to acknowledge that, in order to create a different future, I was going to have to completely revamp my approach to practicing and that meant getting a coach on my team.

She pushed me to do things I didn’t want to do; things I WOULDN’T have done but for my respect and commitment to her. She helped me to see things about myself that were holding me back and she helped me to find my voice in a world where many of us just put our heads down and “accept” the legal profession with all its warts.

I wanted to share this with you today because I want to dispel this notion that we can’t all have the lives of our dreams. There is no magical “it.” You have what it takes and we have to stop considering that we aren’t enough. Instead, I implore you to consider —

What if you are wrong — what if you have EXACTLY what it takes?

Quick Fixes

We all want to be able to “fix” the problems that we see in our lives. Once we understand what is causing chaos and suffering, of course we want to fix it. It’s only natural to want to resolve it as soon as possible. What we overlook in this worldview is that when it comes to ourselves there is no such thing as a quick fix. Not only does it take time and effort to transform your relationship with yourself and reconfigure your automatic thinking,

The desire for a quick fix truly ignores the most important work that must be done.

Even before the pandemic, I would characterize myself as a bit of a reclusive introvert. I love my time alone. And I have managed to find a partner whose 24-hour shifts afford me ample opportunity to enjoy my time alone at home. What this also means is that I tend to avoid going out in public if I don’t have to. Again this was still me prior to the pandemic…now it just seems I have more people in my club. I have all my groceries delivered and I do as much shopping as possible online. I have my favorite liquor store delivery resources and my go-to grocery delivery resources. There are very few things that require me to actually leave my house. Everything is available at the click of a button. If I want an extra bottle of wine for my dinner party it can be at my door in less than an hour. If I wanna get extra pool floaties for my dogs I can order them on Amazon and have them at my house tomorrow. Feeling like sushi at 11:00 PM on a Tuesday? No problem, it will be there in an hour.

In today’s society, we are so accustomed to getting what we want immediately without having to wait for it. We are so wired and used to the quick fixes; however, there are aspects of our life that are not conducive to a quick fix no matter how much we want them to be.

This desire for a quick fix often comes up when I find a client in a rush to make a big decision or implement a big change. They just want to get it done, they want to file for divorce, quit their job, rip the band-aid ASAP.

Whenever you find yourself acting in a rush or a frantic kind of manner I urge you to stop and ask: what am I trying to get away from?

What is it in my current experience that I’m wanting to stop?

For many of us, we will experience transitions between jobs at some point during our professional careers. Once we open our minds to the possibility of leaving and start engaging in the search, the desire to leave becomes incredibly persuasive. It almost develops this weird urgency especially when your present state is unhappy, toxic, or stressful. We consider leaving and then suddenly are brains scream YES, this is the answer to all our prayers. This will solve everything. Let’s get out of here and NOOOOWWWWW!!

This drive to leave is your biology trying to keep you safe, running toward the closest exit. Your brain is not loving the current vibes and just wants it to stop — this sense of urgency happens because we don’t want to experience our current experience any longer. But when we act from an urgent panicked space we don’t often make the best decisions

Furthermore, we foreclose the opportunity to learn what’s available to us at that moment.

Whenever we are experiencing something negative that’s so intense we are driven to run away from it and rush into something new. When we do this without questioning the response, we ignore the pattern that we’re creating for ourselves. That negative experience is largely created by ourselves and our thinking. If we don’t utilize that opportunity to explore what’s really going on and work to clean up the panic, we overlook an opportunity to grow. You develop a pattern of running away from discomfort instead of facing it.

Anytime we feel rushed to make a decision or execute a plan it’s often because we’re running away from some type of negative emotion and feeling. Is that the kind of pattern you want to create for yourself? You will be challenged again; you will be uncomfortable again; wouldn’t it be better to develop skills to experience those emotions rather than run away from them? Whatever thinking you contributed to your current negative space will absolutely come with you into the next.

There is never better than here.

Because where you go, there YOU are.

Frantic acting and that desire to get out as quickly as possible assumes that once you get out, things will be better….that THERE will be better than HERE, that the grass will be greener on the other side. That is never the case. Your challenges will be waiting for you, no matter where you go because they are challenges you are meant to work through. Running away from them won’t change that.

While the fast order, quick-fix society that we find ourselves living in certainly has its perks, there are aspects of our life that will require the heavy lifting from us. While it’s certainly OK to reach for the quick fix at 11:00 PM on a Wednesday when you really want some sashimi, it’s not OK to run away from a challenging conversation into a new job with the expectation that you have “fixed” the problem.

Quick fixes in our emotional lives are never truly fixes, they are just delays.

To truly resolve anything in our personal lives, we have to dig into the ugly. We have to dig into the thinking that contributed to our present reality and try to understand it. Only then can we deconstruct the pattern and truly make “there” better than here but only because we have done the work to show up differently there.


Photo by ♾ MathDudels.com from Pexels

Trouble Being Still?

As women and as attorneys we are really good at executing. We multitask, we take on more than we should, we always say yes and we are often uncomfortable saying no. Admittedly there is a part of us that thrives in the chaos of practicing law. The unexpected will happen. Things will fall apart. Every best-laid plan will implode. From a biological perspective, this calls us to spend most of our waking moments living from our primitive brains. We’re always in fight or flight. Putting out fires. Running from one drama to the next. And we are really good at it. We have flexed the chaos muscle for so long that sometimes I find my clients have forgotten how to simply

be.

still.

Once we decided that we wanted to be attorneys, the journey was not that difficult. There’s a list. There are instructions. There is a long checklist of things that must be accomplished and done in order for this dream to take place. Once we get our first job, the instructions become even simpler. Say yes to all the work that comes to you. Do a good job. Don’t make waves. Just keep executing and don’t ask questions. So we spend even more years continuing to live in this fight or flight mode where we just move from one challenge to the next. Inevitably, we come to a crossroads where we catch our breath for a moment and start to wonder

what’s next?

Many attorneys come to me for coaching support because they don’t know what to do next. They are overwhelmed with the possibilities for their life and they want to know how to figure out where to focus their energies now that they have come so far. Having a law degree affords us many opportunities as to what we can do with our life. We can go down the partnership track…. counsel track….teaching at a law school….go in-house….go into business…..start our own firm…. When we start looking at all the options available to us it can easily become overwhelming.

But when we find ourselves stressing about where are we “supposed to” go next, the more important question we can be asking ourselves is

Is there anything wrong with just being where we are without having a plan for what’s next?

I recently found myself in a coaching session with a woman who was overwhelmed with the possibilities for her life and the decisions that needed to be made at some point in the future. In the future. Not now. There was nothing pressing. Despite this fact, she was incredibly overwhelmed and uncomfortable with not knowing what her long-term plan looked like. After exploring various possibilities and trying to get a sense of what resonated most closely with her, I finally asked her what if nothing is wrong here?

At that moment everything seemed to click for her and she realized that this need to have a plan and this desire to know the end result was creating a tremendous amount of discomfort for her. She had spent her entire life and her entire career living in fight or flight mode getting things done and now that she had found some space to breathe, she was uncomfortable just being where she was. No pressing decisions. Nothing urgent that needed to be done. Just a regular job. No family matters to attend to. No drama. No chaos. The calm following the storm of chaos that had comprised the early years of her career was causing her a tremendous amount of anxiety. She was uncomfortable just being in this space and not having a plan. In that quiet space, her brain wasn’t accustomed to being still, instead, it kept telling her that something wasn’t right, it needed a plan…she should be doing something more.

All those shoulds are indicative of how we value ourselves. Those shoulds come from our historical patterns where achievements and checking things off the list meant that we were doing well. It meant that we were good enough and that we were successful.

But when the list runs out and the goals have been achieved, we are left in this open space where we have to reexamine our worthiness.

In that space and on those plateaus where our brain starts telling us all the things we should be doing, it reveals a need for us to reexamine our worthiness and where we place our value. It is not a time to create a new goal and a new plan and something else to strive for. There will come a day where you will run out of plans you will run out of checklists and you will only be left with yourself. Those plateaus and spaces between the items on our checklists afford us the opportunity to work on that relationship because ultimately, that is truly the only relationship that matters. Those spaces force us to stop running and take a look in the mirror and that can be terrifying.

(Sound familiar? Grab a free session now and get support during your times of plateau.)

When our brains are used to living in panicked, fight or flight mode, it can be difficult to understand WHO we are if we are not busy accomplishing. It can be difficult to recognize our value if we aren’t busy checking things off a list. What’s more, for many of us it’s been so long since we’ve had the opportunity to explore that aloneness. To really consider our relationship with ourselves. We have lost sight of that relationship and so when we have reached this summit and find ourselves alone with no one other than ourselves, we panic. We feel like we have to develop some other goal and something else to strive for so that we don’t have to sit here in this stillness and take a long hard look at who we really are when we’re not focused outwardly. It’s easier to have something to be striving toward; it’s harder to do the work on yourself. It’s harder to challenge that voice that’s telling you that you should be doing more you and that you should be wanting more.

That’s the beauty of coming to these plateaus.

That’s the beauty of the stillness.

It reminds us that we’re not a long list of things to do. We are not achievements and we are not defined by our long-term plans. Where are so much more than that and once our current plan reaches that plateau rather than jumping into a new plan I urge you…no, I implore you to take that time to be with yourself and learn how to be still. At the end of the day when the race is over the only person standing next to you will be yourself. Those plateaus afford us the opportunity to rekindle that relationship and learn how to see our innate worthiness, without all the fluff.

Sometimes it’s okay to just be where you are.

If you find yourself uncomfortable taking an hour to relax on the couch or uneasy that you don’t know whether or not you want to make a partner it’s an opportunity to ask yourself

What is wrong with just being where I’m at? What is it about this place that makes me so uncomfortable? What judgments am I lobbying at myself when I am not frantically achieving and checking things off my list?

That my friends is truly where the work begins.

Wanting It Is Not Enough – Part 2

This is the second of a two-part series on getting it done. In part one, we explored our baggage and took a hard look at our list of “To-Dos.” The key takeaway was simply this: It is not enough to want it. First, you have to decide whether it is a priority. If it’s not a priority, put it on the list for a future date and move on.

What I challenge my clients to do is to take all their wants and to-dos and write them down. We have to start getting very serious about the things that we ask ourselves and the things that we tell ourselves we want to accomplish in his life. Many times the things that we put on this to-do list and allow to pile on the pressure are things that we don’t really want. Pipe dreams. Things that we really aren’t committed to doing but we are really good at telling ourselves we need to do. We have to do. We should do. None of this is true.

When we start getting really honest with ourselves about the bag of burdens that we carry, and we eliminate the pipe dreams, we are left with what is really important at this moment — our priorities.

Now, the second step is to decide to either develop a plan (or stop carrying that junk around).

We have to develop a plan. This is what distinguishes people who accomplish everything we want from those who spend their lives carrying around a long list of to-do’s and dreams.

It’s not difficult to accomplish things in life; the only difficulty is following through on your commitments to yourself.

You must first sit down and get very clear about what you want, develop a plan to get there, and follow through. For me, most of my planning requires me to sit down and focus on my calendar and what is on my plate in any given week. The only thing that makes it on to my calendar are priority items. Everything else is up for debate and the whims of my fancies once everything else is accomplished. I might decide during an afternoon where I have two hours of free, unallocated time to seriously consider where to hang that chandelier. But that’s for me to decide; that’s for me to determine how I want to use that free time and whether or not I want to look at any of my other low-hanging wants in those moments.

Need help getting clarity around your to-do list and taking actions on your goals? Get free support now, you have so much to gain.

My to-do list is not something that I need to carry around and remind myself of every day to use as a sword against myself. Instead, my calendar reflects my priorities. If I want to go to the gym two times a week, the only thing I have to do is put it on my calendar and allocate the time of preparation beforehand to ensure that I can accomplish it. I anticipate the obstacles. I know that my brain is going to tell me that my bed is so cozy, my muscles are sore from the last workout, or I didn’t sleep that well last night.

My brain is going to offer me all sorts of reasons why I can’t do this.

In these situations, time can also be a barrier. I have three dogs and oftentimes one of them wants to go outside and then the other one will want to go out and then suddenly they want to be fed at 6:30 in the morning rather than waiting for me to get home and feed them after the gym. Never mind the fact that I can never figure out what to wear to the gym and that constant agony of “I have nothing to wear today!” drags on the entire process in the morning making me feel hopeless before I even get out the door.

I know these obstacles will come I know these challenges will happen. So I anticipate them and I strategize around them. I plan my workout clothes the night before I decide whether I am going to feed the dogs before I leave or whether I will feed them when I get home and I stick to that decision. If I decide the dogs need to go out before I leave, it is the first thing I do when I get up before I start getting ready to go to the gym. I have to know the things that are going to pop up to try and keep me stuck. This is not complicated. This is not rocket science.

We identify obstacles to our goals and we strategize around them. We expect the worst so that we can be at our best.

What does that look like? All it looks like is deciding how you’re going to get it done and deciding what might keep you from acting. From there, we can strategize how to guarantee the accomplishment and ensure that we are in the best possible position to accomplish that task and check it off on our to-do list. We can then give ourselves a pat on the back and consider it a job well done.

When we allow our days to operate on a whim out of control and without planning, it makes it more difficult for us to tackle the things that we really do want to accomplish in our life.

It might seem overly regimented and stringent to put all these things on your calendar and live by that. But it’s actually freedom. I know that everything I want to accomplish in my life I will accomplish and I don’t have to worry, or stress, or stew about it. I just have to show up. I have it on my calendar. I have a plan. I have a strategy. I just have to do what it tells me and not question it. That’s all it takes. My days are more efficient, and my focus is clearer when my head is no longer jumbled with all of the things that I want to do and all of the shoulds bouncing around making me feel terrible.

For any day, I know exactly what I will accomplish, what I have accomplished, and what I can do next.

That is what it means to do more than just “want” it, because wanting it is simply not enough.

In order to transform our life from a list of dreams to a list of accomplishments, all we have to do is sit down, plan, strategize, then show up. From there they only this you have to do is honor yourself and honor your commitments.


Wanting It Is Not Enough – Part 1

When there’s something that I want to get done or something that I want to accomplish, instead of ruminating on that dream and thinking about it all the time and wondering when I’m going to make time and how I’m going to get it done, I ask myself one important question:

Is this something I’m willing to make a priority in the immediate future or in the long-term future?

We all have a laundry list of fantastical things we want to do in our lives. For me, this list includes getting scuba certified and going on a diving trip. I absolutely want to do that and will absolutely do that at some point but for now, it is not a priority. That will be a priority in another year.

Those things that are priorities for another day are placed on my calendar for that other day. That means scuba certification will sit and politely wait for me on my calendar 12 months from now when I will revisit it again. For items that I am not willing to characterize as a priority, the conversation ends. I am not giving that “want” any more energy.

Many of us walk around with a bag of wants and to-dos like we are Santa Claus. A bag full of tricks and nothing to do with them! When the list of unrealized dreams and long-term goals continues to grow, that bag becomes incredibly heavy. The burden becomes more and more difficult to bear as we pile on more and more unsatisfied dreams and goals.

The more significant the burden, the easier it is for us to feel hopeless and disregard everything we have piled on.

It’s easier to stay put because we have created this mountain of to-dos that is overwhelming. It’s difficult to know where to start.

This pile-up of wants and dreams paralyzes us from taking ANY action. That is why the first step is unpacking that bag and getting rid of the pipedreams and saving them for a later date. For now, we stick to priorities.

“The first step to success is knowing your priorities.”

Aspesh

It’s easy to want to go to the gym four times a week. It’s easy to want to start your own business and daydream about it all the time. It’s easy to dream about having a cleaner home. The hard part comes when actually sitting down and asking yourself how to accomplish it.

It’s easy to want to do things.

When we start getting really honest with ourselves about the bag of burdens that we carry, we then have to start being very honest with ourselves about everything on the list. At this point in time, we start taking off the pipe dreams and eliminating those from the burdens that we carry.

For example, I have this beautiful chandelier that I inherited from a quasi aunt figure who passed away several years ago. She was a wonderful human being and every time I see the light sparkle through that chandelier it warms my heart. It reminds me of her zest for life her warmth and her ability to light up an entire room with her laugh. She was a good person. She was vibrant and exciting and adventurous and I love having something in my home that makes me think of her. But as many of you may know, a year ago my significant other and I bought a house together. After the moving in and combining of households was settled, we still have not decided where we want to hang that chandelier. So it sits safely tucked away in a guest bedroom until I can decide exactly where I want to home it and exactly how I want to go about getting that done. This is on my To-Do List.

This is something that’s easy for me to carry around in my bag of burdens, telling myself it’s something I need to do. I

it’s easy to beat myself up and tell myself that this should be important.

That I should be making this a priority. That I need to get this done. None of those are true. They are just an easy opportunity for me to beat myself up and tell myself that I’m not doing enough. These are the types of things that we carry around in our bags of burdens that make us feel so miserable.

None of these things need to be done. None of these things are a priority at this time.

There may be a time in the future hanging that chandelier may become a huge priority for me and a joy to accomplish. But that time is not now. So why carry that burden and all those shoulds with me and allow it to compound everything else that is bouncing around inside my brain? It’s not useful!

For many of those pipe dreams, I often reserve spaces on my calendar six months in the future. This allows me to reevaluate my priorities and consider whether it is finally time for that to-do to become a number one action item. But for now, I will remove that from the bag of burdens and focus on what is actually important in the short term.

As we unpack that bag of burdens we have to get very clear on what is truly a priority and what is just simply garbage that we like to use to make ourselves feel terrible and tell us that we’re not accomplishing enough. We always have to be aware of the things we tell ourselves and how those thoughts make us feel. What often happens is those thoughts compound that feeling of hopelessness and our inability to overcome this task. So we do nothing.

So step number one is to start removing the pipe dreams from this bag of burdens so that we are left with are real priorities. Whatever that priority to-do list item may be, this is the part where we move out of the camp of humans carrying bags of burdens into the camp of humans who actually get things done.

Next week, we will learn how to take this list and turn it into a summary of your accomplishments. Cheers!


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Snap Out of It

I love a good juicy, gossipy story. Unsurprisingly, I love terrible reality tv. I suppose this speaks to our human tendency toward the negative but there is something about having a good ranting and raving session with your girlfriends about the terrible thing that happened to you or someone else. It’s cathartic! But catharsis aside, when spending too much time extrapolating on the negative aspects of our lives, it can quickly devolve into what behavioral psychologists call the drama triangle.

Have you ever had that moment when your dramatic rant is abruptly halted by someone suggesting that the problem might just be YOU?

Blasphemy!

When we’re accustomed to dripping in negativity about our bosses or our jobs, it is jarring and somewhat offensive when someone suddenly stops playing along in favor of some new perspective.

It’s like that group of single girlfriends that spends every Saturday night together bashing their love interests and blaming them for their lack of happiness and then one night, one of the friends interjects, “What if the problem is us, not them?” Battle lines are suddenly drawn. The mere suggestion that the group perception of reality is skewed and subtly suggesting that they are co-creators of their imperfect reality, is blasphemous. It challenges the very foundation of their friendship and their understanding of who they are in their worldview.

Although the pursuit of a career is not the same as the pursuit of a meaningful relationship, our tendency to fall into certain patterns remains constant, no matter the circumstances. Our tendency to see ourselves as the victim and others as the villain is commonplace and often pervasive in professional environments. Overgeneralizations about dating like “all men/women are dogs” turn into “my boss completely ignores me.” In either case, we are playing a role in what Stephen Karpman calls the “drama triangle.”

Karpman’s drama triangle examines the connection between personal relationships and power in conflicts. The triangle identifies three characters that play a role in conflicts: the persecutor, the rescuer, and the victim. The victim is the primary character who interacts with the persecutor whom the victim blames for their suffering. Then, there is the rescuer who periodically steps in to try and alleviate the victim’s suffering.

In the complicated world of practicing law, I often see my clients vacillating between the victim role and the rescuer.

In the former scenario, their partners/clients/bosses are the persecutor and in the latter, they become the rescuer to the poor planning/demands/needs of their persecutor. 

In one role, we are angry and suffering in our victimhood, and in the other, we are energized by our action as we imagine that our rescuing will “mend” the relationship with our persecutors.

On the one hand, we blame the persecutors for our experiences but then we shift to rescuers, aiming to please our persecutors and seeking some kernel of appreciation from our villains. The dynamic is incredibly toxic and co-dependent and many women that I work with feel compelled to seek out that positive feedback from their persecutors. They spend their entire career aiming to please the seemingly impossible to please persecutors–they are perpetually “rescuing” others in hopes that their value will one day be recognized.

The solution to the drama triangle is the empowerment dynamic developed by David Emerald Womeldorff. The empowerment dynamic asks the victim to take ownership of their lives. To creatively solution their problems and start focusing on what they want and what they can control. Similarly, the rescuer shifts to a coaching role where the codependency is broken and they offer detached support, no longer making the victim’s problems their own These shifts are the only solution to the drama triangle.

In either case, resolution of the drama triangle requires us to take ownership of what is ours and let others take ownership for what is their own. Period.

I work with women every day to recognize the roles they play in the power dynamics of their careers. My work supports women to take back their power and take control over their careers. We may not be able to fix the difficult personalities attendant to practicing law but we can stop blaming them for our unhappiness; we can take control and start taking active steps to create the life we want, the life we deserve.

The goal isn’t to find a perfect workplace, the goal is to do our best to make it work; to actively invest in our own happiness, and stop giving them all the control. Your happiness is worth it.

Sign up for a free consultation today and get the support you need to live empowered and escape the drama. 


Photo by Annie Gavin on Unsplash

How to Make Any Decision

We are all given so many opportunities in our lives to take action in a big way. One of the challenges that come with those opportunities is the fear that this action will dramatically change things.

When we are faced with a choice that could have lasting repercussions, how do we know when to take the leap and when to stay put?

While I am not a soothsayer and I do not pretend to have any answers for anyone’s life other than my own, what I can offer is what I have seen so many women grapple with as they sort out big decisions. When new opportunities come to our door, they often bring the same party favors with them: self-doubt, fear, and guilt are common accompaniments.

We worry that we won’t have what it takes, what will happen if it doesn’t work out. We feel guilty for contemplating decisions that might upset those around us.

When all of those fuzzy feelings come to the door, it can be very difficult to think clearly and decide whether to act. In those instances, I work with my clients to start getting very clear on what it will cost them to act or not to act. 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.

What could we gain if we try and end up failing?

What could we gain if we end up succeeding?

What does it cost you to NOT act?

The answers to these questions are something we all must answer for ourselves but these questions force us to look beyond the negative feelings that accompany change.

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

But we must set those feelings aside and focus on weighing the costs. For instance, when we know with certainty that staying in our current job or relationship will stifle our development and we can see what taking a risk will force us to grow and develop in new ways, we then have the assets we need to push through those negative feelings and take the leap.

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.

So when all those wonderful feelings meet you at the door of opportunity — self-doubt, fear, and guilt — invite them to sit down at the table because they will most certainly be coming along for the ride.

That is simply the price of evolving.

We have to ignore those feelings in the short term so that we can truly focus on and weigh the options ahead of us and make an intentional rather than an emotional decision.


Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

Standing In Your Own Way

I’m a firm believer that everybody needs to be doing this work. Why is that? Because we all have ugly thinking that we are carrying around with us that acts as an energetic ball and chain keeping us from creating the life that we really want.

To illustrate this point, I’ve been thinking through accomplishments in history where it’s clear that the champions were able to challenge the thinking of the time in order to create something great.

One thing that most readily came to mind was the concept that our earth is flat. And yes, I have seen the Netflix documentary Flat Earth exploring those of us who continue to subscribe to the belief that our earth is, in fact, flat. Flat Earth people aside, let’s consider the thinking that led to the discovery that our earth is actually round. In order to take the actions that ultimately confirmed the earth’s spherical shape, early thinkers from Pythagoras, Eratosthenes, Aristotle, Plato, Columbus, etc. had to be open to the possibility that the current thinking about the earth was wrong. They had to consider the possibility that everything we had always thought might not be the absolute truth. At the time, these men might not have known how right they were but at least they were open to the possibility.

We cannot do great things while carrying with us opposing beliefs.

These historical figures could not have generated the confidence and curiosity to challenge the theory of the earth’s flatness while being equally invested in the belief that the earth was flat. They had to shake that belief loose and consider the possibility that it might not be absolute. They were open to challenging the predominant certainties.

While this may seem an obvious and unnecessary exploration of history, I point this out because so often my clients are unwilling to dive into the ugly parts of their own brains. They want to develop the pretty thoughts and motivating thoughts or the thoughts that will generate action for them. They don’t want to spend time rolling up their sleeves and looking at their negative thinking and challenging those beliefs.

This is counterproductive and will serve only to create greater cognitive dissonance for my clients as they try to move forward. It’s like stretching a rubber band until it snaps back together — sure, you can make progress in that direction but the progress is never permanent; you always end up right back where you started. You simply cannot generate new action and new results from the same set of beliefs — you have to start thinking and feeling differently.

This requires us to challenge our existing thinking. 

In order to take action in a new direction, we need to generate emotions that will drive new actions and new explorations in recognition that a different truth may exist. Where we have conflicting beliefs that we continue to invest in and give energy to we’re never going to be open to equally investing in a new belief that will generate the energy needed to create the action that we want in order to create a new result.

In sum, unless and until we dismantle pre-existing belief models we will never have the energetic capacity to create new actions and results.

The conflicting, outdated beliefs will act as a ball-and-chain keeping the new beliefs from gaining traction. We will only be partially invested in the new belief, thus the emotions and actions that belief can generate will be restrained. The result is that we will never fully create what we want because we have always hedged our bets by holding onto our existing beliefs.

When we try to breathe life into new beliefs without dismantling our old operating system, we stifle our efforts.

We cannot shift to prettier thoughts and create better feelings and results while at the same time equally investing in opposing beliefs. It’s like putting on a pair of shoes that are 10 sizes too big and trying to run a marathon. It just doesn’t work. Those aren’t your shoes!

The majority of the women I work with want to be more confident. They want to believe they can do it, that they are doing a good job, and that they are good enough. They want to live and act from that space. The problem is they aren’t facing the reality that parts of them are still persuaded by beliefs that they aren’t good enough and that they aren’t going to make it. They are still holding on to the possibility that what they want to believe is not true.

Unless and until they unpack that circus, they will never be able to act from a genuine place of confident beliefs.

We have to look at those existing beliefs and get to a place where we can see them as just that. Choices were making and things we’re choosing to believe. We limit ourselves because we are not coming to new beliefs from a place of investment; rather, we are coming to a new belief from a place of uncertainty and exploration because we’re still committed to believing something else. We cannot create the life we want if we show up every day believing that law firms are unfriendly places for women, places where women can’t succeed as easily as men. That belief is never going to stop sucking part of your energy away from the true intended goal of building a practice you are happy in. That belief will always creep in and reinvest your energy in hopelessness.

If you are truly seeking success in your law firm, we have to start thinking about the law firm life differently.

We have to be open to the possibility that what we have been believing all along is not necessarily true. It’s just our opinion. It’s not factual and it is not serving us. In other words, we cannot shift any beliefs until we find ourselves in a place where we can see the old beliefs as what they are: bad choices that you’re no longer going to make. Not facts and clearly not places we choose to our energy. Only from there can we shift our energy to something new and start creating something new. To do otherwise is to divide our efforts and divide our energy and handicap yourself from the very beginning.

So there it is my friends, get to work looking at your ugly thinking and work on yourself from a place where you can see that all your beliefs about the situation are optional perceptions. You can choose something else. You can be open to the possibility that your perceptions are not the only truth available to you.

Work with me; schedule a free consult and let’s start dismantling your “thought” balls and chains so you can start creating lasting change.


Photo by Joey Kyber from Pexels