Timelines

As an unmarried woman tap dancing around 40, timelines are often a topic of conversation. People LOVE to talk timelines at me — baby timelines, marriage timelines, “when will you start acting like a grown-up”-timelines. We make timelines for marriage, kids and the white picket fence. We are acutely aware of the impact time has on our bodies, our skin, and our metabolism.

Our career trajectory has its own timeline and our days are constantly at the mercy of the clock in 6 minute increments. With all this focus on time, we have to take *time* to pause and reflect on all this rigidity.

Are the timelines we adopt in our minds really timelines or are we sacrificing our peace to arbitrary metrics?

Many of my clients speak of a mystical timeline for attorney-success. There seems to be some notion of when we are *most* marketable and when we lose that marketability. This timeline puts pressure on the decision whether to get serious about partnership or begin examining other alternatives.

Practicing law, like all professions, will certainly come with its own unique decisions to be made. Unless utilizing the ostrich approach to your career, you are undoubtedly going to have to decide whether partnership is something you want. You will be exposed to other opportunities. You will likely be courted by headhunters as your skillset is sharpened. You will have choices to make.

But these choices are yours to make. In your own time. As you see fit. PERIOD.

When we acknowledge that we have choices but then pile on arbitrary deadlines, the decision-making process becomes compressed and our emotions become heightened. Your legal career is not borne within some hourglass that tracks your marketability and viability. We are not counting embryos here. You get to decide when it’s time for a change. You get to decide what your path looks like.

There is nothing wrong with never making partner. There is nothing wrong with working at a firm for 9 years and then moving on. There is no expiration on your value and the contributions that you can make. When we buy into the notion that our marketability has an expiration date, we are selling ourselves short. We ignore all that we have learned thus far and make ourselves the victim to some arbitrary standard.

When we buy into beliefs the our choices (our FREE WILL) has an expiration date, we compound the difficulties that are inherent in life. It is hard enough to decide what we want to do with our lives, why add an arbitrary deadline to it?

What I often see are young attorneys who have concluded, after 3-5 years of practice, that they MUST make a decision about what they want long term. They visit with me in hopes that I can provide them with some clarity about the right path for them.

While there are a variety of factors that will play into the decision to leave a firm, expiration of your value should not be one of them.

I have seen senior attorneys, without any book of business, get hired to build their own practice group. I have seen tenured in-house attorneys, practicing 20+ years, return to big law practice. I have seen associates start their own firms after practicing for 1 year. There is no limit on your value and there is no deadline for determining your next step.

If you could believe that you were under no deadline make a decision, what would you do? That is the only relevant inquiry.

If you are investing in some sort of timeline–for your career, your relationship, marriage, procreation–I invite you to explore how that timeline came to be? Is it founded in “good law”? Is it serving you? Don’t let dramatics cloud your judgment and your decisions. This is your life. You get to make the timeline, no one else.

The majority of my clients are driven to find a coach because they are looking to make a change in their career–they are either seeking to show up differently in their current environment or they are looking for  a dramatic overhaul. If you are looking to make some changes, schedule a free consult and let me support you in gaining clarity.

Pretty Little Thoughts

In my house this year, the holidays involved boxes, pizza, and beer galore. Rather than ringing in the new year in sequins and confetti, we celebrated in sweatpants and dust bunnies as we crammed our belongings into moving boxes and hoisted them into moving trucks. I had long lost track of clothes that weren’t sweatpants and didn’t manage to find any makeup until we unpacked a few days later.

Moving can be a lot of work and, like most humans, it left me feeling a bit frazzled and frantically searching for that one thing that “I know I put it in a box somewhere…”

Upon returning to work, I found myself struggling to focus. Every request for support or input ruffled my feathers and made me want to go hide until 5pm. I felt like I was crawling out of my skin…If I don’t get out of here and get some time to relax, I’m going to jump out this window…

In lieu of leaping from a tall building, I sat down and did some self-reflection. Why was I feeling so irritable? Why couldn’t I focus and enjoy spending a day NOT lifting boxes or cleaning our old house? Wasn’t this a nice respite?

I did a quick thought download and started working through each thought, quickly discovering the culprit: I am just so tired. It was like my mantra…I am just so tired. I just need a break. Over and over, I kept returning to those thoughts.

Admittedly, I was a bit physically taxed: my muscles ached, and my back was screaming but after a few visits to the company masseuse, I was really feeling pretty okay. I had gotten plenty of sleep and had made an effort to enjoy some nice long baths at the end of each moving day. So why was I feeling so irritable?

Because I kept telling myself I am just so tired.

When I sit with the thought I am just so tired, it makes me feel hopeless andd it creates an avalanche of similar thoughts: I have so much to do, I can’t handle this today, I don’t want to do any of this stuff, I just want to be left alone, etc.

Whenever I feel hopeless, it creates a lot of indecision. I spin out, second-guessing how to spend my day, agonizing over my to-do list, trying to figure what to do next, then I remind myself that I’m just so tired and then the feelings of hopelessness resurface along with all the other ugly thoughts and the day just falls apart.

In the end, my thinking I’m just so tired, created a cycle of indecision and unproductivity that made me feel worthless at the end of the day because I didn’t accomplish anything. I just spent my day spinning in mental misery, beating myself up and mentally wearing myself out. I was exhausted at the end of those first few days because I wasted so much energy in this cycle, going in 1,000 different directions and carrying around indecision, self-judgement and heavy hopelessness.

After this realization, I acknowledged that, while I may be physically tired, carrying around the thought I am just so tired was making me absolutely miserable and was truly making me exhausted at the end of the day. It wasn’t that I was “so tired” I couldn’t be productive and focus, it was the trajectory I created for myself when I kept telling myself I am just so tired. Physically tired or not, that thought was not serving me; it was making my current state even worse. Seeing this, I tried on another thought:

I can do hard things. I can be a good employee and a good partner during this transition period. I have done harder things before.

We all have days when we are tired and operating with a low tank of gas but when your thoughts compound that physical tiredness, it is a recipe for disaster.

Don’t let your thoughts compound an already difficult situation. Use your thoughts to shift from a meltdown to a triumph.

So many of our thoughts seem innocuous and others like I’m just so tired, can seem like hard facts. That is rarely the case.

Thoughts like this can seem so lovely and founded in self-care yet create all sorts of emotional chaos and stunted action. Only by examining your thoughts can you truly get to the root of the problem.

For me, it wasn’t physical tiredness that was bogging me down, it was tired thoughts and the feelings those thoughts created.

If you are feeling like you are in a funk or just can’t seem to get it together, just one coaching session can make all the difference. Check it out. I promise you won’t regret it.

Not sure yet? I get it. Try out a free coaching consultation to see if I’m a good fit to help you create the life you’ve always wanted. I would love the opportunity to meet you and see what we can do together!

Failing Hard

Have you ever asked yourself why you aren’t doing something or why you aren’t taking action toward your goals? What I have found is that most people simply are afraid to fail. If you are going on a diet and plan to lose 50 pounds, do you tell your friends? Do you put it on Facebook and declare it to the world? Probably not and here’s why: no one wants their failure to be up for public scrutiny. As humans, we prefer to fail quietly and privately or not fail at all. If we succeed, great, THAT we will shout from the rooftops. But if we keep our failures privately, it’s like it never happened. No unmet expectations of others and no disappointments other than your own. But what is so bad about failure after all?

The fear of failure, the fear of embarrassment, the fear of how we will feel if it all falls apart, is at the heart of it all. Here’s what our friend Merriam-Webster Google has to say about fear:

an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Let’s break this down…

Fear is an “unpleasant emotion” caused by a “belief”. Beliefs are choices we make in our brains based upon thoughts we hold to be true. So fear is an uncomfortable emotion caused by our thoughts. That is all that is holding you back from taking action, from making that move, from leaving your soul-less job. You are letting your brain ruin all the fun.

If you want to lose 50 pounds, don’t let an unpleasant emotion hold you back, don’t be afraid to fail. So what if you fail? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Embarrassment? It’s just a feeling caused by what you are thinking. How you will feel after a failure is driven 100% by what you make that failure mean. We all do it. You set a lofty goal and then when you miss the mark you think “I’m never going to fit into those pants again” or “I’m never going to get promoted” or “Why do I even bother trying.” Ugh those thoughts are dream-killers. You are choosing to think that garbage and it is making you feel terrible.

If you have a lofty goal that you are not pursuing, ask yourself why. What is the worst that could happen? You don’t achieve it? So what? What is it about that failure that is so scary? 99% of the time we are afraid of how we will feel once we fail. We are afraid of feeling disappointed in ourselves. So instead, we put our little dream on the shelf and feel disappointed in ourselves for not trying. Don’t you see that we are already feeling those things we are trying to avoid!? Instead of trying, failing, and feeling disappointed. We are not trying, not failing, and feeling disappointed all the same. People, this is some kind of crazy.

I am challenging you to try and fail, despite the fear. Try and fail and feel those feelings having known that you actually tried. If you’re going to feel crappy you might as well do something first to feel crappy about. Don’t feel crappy about your inaction. You don’t deserve to feel crappy about your situation unless and until you have actually tried and failed.

But let me challenge you even more. I submit that, if you try and fail and continue to try and fail, despite those feelings, you will win every time. Every single time you try and fail, you will develop yourself. You will learn how not  to achieve your goal, you will learn alternative methods to try and achieve your goal. You will learn how to manage those feelings of shame, fear, embarrassment, etc. You may not even have the same goals on the other side of all the trying. I do not believe that someone can try and fail to achieve a goal repeatedly and gain nothing from the process. It’s impossible.

If you are not trying and failing on a regular basis, my guess is that you are already sitting with those ugly feelings you are trying to avoid by preventing failure. If you are not trying and failing at something all the time, I am begging you to examine what it is that is holding you back. Shame? Embarrassment? Those are all just feelings. Driven by your thoughts. Driven by what you are making your “failures” mean! Failure doesn’t have to mean you are hopeless and destined to be unhappy. Failure can mean that you are dedicated to learning and evolving. To challenging yourself and learning to manage your brain. Are your dreams really worth ignoring because you don’t have what it takes to experience uncomfortable emotions? Take that leap.

What is the worst that could happen?

Coach with me and learn the skills to fail forward.

Finding Your Purpose

So many of my clients come to me telling me that they are confused. They feel lost. They don’t know what they are supposed to do with their life. They come to me looking for answers and my response is always the same: I offer them a mirror.

We have been taught from a young age that our purpose is the same as our job. What’s the most common thing people ask children?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

As if these kids are supposed to have any idea. What’s more, there is a tremendous amount of pressure and judgment that accompanies that question. If the child says “I want to be a lawyer,” people automatically think wow, the parents must be doing something right, good for them. If the child says, “I want to be a trash collector,” the parents cringe and the audience tries to keep their faces neutral while they smugly think good luck with that one, big dreams there, kiddo, my kid wants to be a doctor, etc. So convoluted.

Your purpose often times has nothing to do with your day-to-day job.

Your purpose should be what gets you out of bed everyday. Your job should be what pay the bills so that you can have time to enjoy your purpose. Sometimes those two things merge but only when they merge organically: when the purpose is pursued with honesty and love. Trying to force your purpose to pay the bills is a good way to ruin that joy your purpose used to give you. Enjoy those things that light you up and see where the path takes you. Don’t contaminate it by trying to make it something it doesn’t have to be (e.g., a formal profession).

This then begs the question, how do you find that purpose? Your purpose is what makes you tick. What makes your heart sing. That is not something anyone else can find for you — hence, the mirror.

When my clients are unsure about their purpose, I offer them an experiment. Years ago, I was struggling with life inside the machine that is a corporate law firm and I just couldn’t put my finger on the problem. I didn’t hate my job but I didn’t love my job. I was feeling blah about the whole thing and I couldn’t figure out why. I was completely unmotivated, just going through the motions.

So, for one month, at the end of every day, I would spend 5 minutes thinking about my day and writing down the things that made me happy that day and the things that got my blood boiling. After doing this for one month, I realized that the things I loved the most about my days were the moments that I was able to spend connecting with the young associates — talking to them about their challenges, their goals, their development. I relished the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with them, to learn about them and their struggles, to offer them support and gentle guidance. That lead to a larger evaluation of myself. I realized that this fit into my disdain for small talk. I hate it and I’m terrible at it. The way I see it, is that if we aren’t going to talk about something deep and meaningful, I would rather not talk at all. Let’s not chit chat about work and the weather. Let’s talk about what moves you, what excites you. So naturally, I love those people who overshare within the first 5 seconds of a conversation. Those people who put it all out there right away for public examination, the good, the bad, the ugly, the inappropriate. I LOVE skipping right over the pleasantries and diving right into real life and getting our hands dirty. I LOVE having deep and meaningful conversations with perfect strangers about their struggles and challenges.

You can see how this realization lead me to where I am today. That woke me up. I realized that those true connections and partnerships were the only part of my job that I was truly loving. So, I switched jobs to enjoy a steadier and less all-consuming career so that I could make space for my purpose. This purpose. I realized what moved me and I made room for it. I have never looked back.

So here’s your challenge . . . For one month, spend 5 minutes every day thinking about what you liked about your day. Were there parts of your day where you felt alive? Where you were excited about something? What parts of your day sapped your energy and left you feeling drained?

Only you can find that for yourself but you won’t find it outside of yourself. Do the work. Spend time within yourself. You will be amazed at what you discover.

Need help finding your path and taking that next step? Sign up for a free coaching session with me and let’s see what we can do together.