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

The Biggest Lie You Tell Every Day

I don’t know. Have you ever noticed how often we use that phrase? When we think about verbal pauses, many of us immediately think of “um” and “uh” but we often forget about this funny little string of words that we throw around to fill awkward silences or to deflect our discomfort. In honor of the close of the ultimate year of uncertainty (2020, for those of you not following along), today I want to consider how these three little words, when used unconsciously in this manner, can rob you of your credibility and make you a liar.

When you ask a child what they want to do when they grow up, they will quickly offer all sorts of fantastical imaginings. Flying to the moon, raising a gaggle of unicorns, and becoming a fairy princess seem to be fairly obvious responses (both then and now — who doesn’t want to fly to the moon on a unicorn dressed as a princess?).

What is most interesting about fantastic childhood plans is not the plans themselves but a child’s commitment to making them happen.

Have you ever asked a child where they plan to find a unicorn, let alone an entire gaggle of unicorns, or how they plan to fulfill their lifelong dream of raising unicorns in every color of the rainbow? Such a question may be met with a variety of unique and interesting answers but, amongst those answers, you will not hear a child respond: I don’t know.

Kids don’t care about the how. That is an adult problem that we have gifted to ourselves.

Kids don’t care about how they are going to accomplish their dreams. They simply commit. When pushed, they brainstorm all sorts of ideas as to how they might accomplish this goal. Their little eyes squint with focused effort and their little brains hum away offering all sorts of solutions to the problem. They get to work solution-ing the problem, without hesitation or doubt.

The beautiful thing about watching a child do this is that it is a living reminder that we too are wired in this way. We too have the ability to solution all of our problems. The trick is that we must stop investing in the phrase “I don’t know.” Those three little words slam the door – no eye squinting with thought-exertion, no brain humming away to work. Just pure silence. Dream foreclosure!

Using those three little words suggests that we must know how something is to be accomplished before we can get to work doing it. In what realm does that make any sense? Why does it matter that you don’t know how to accomplish something?

Isn’t it simply enough to want it and chart your course from there?

(Get support charting your course by taking advantage of limited free coaching sessions that I offer every week.)

Our world is not filled with problems that have secret, solitary solutions that must be discovered. Our world demands that we must get to acting and crafting potential solutions before we know what will work. We must acknowledge that we don’t know the how and get to work sorting that out.

Not knowing “how” is not a stop sign, it’s the starting line.

We know this intellectually but yet our brains freak out whenever we are tasked with something significant that we have never done before. That freak out sounds like this:

I don’t know.

You DO know. You may not know the exact right solution but without a doubt you can brainstorm your first step. If you force yourself to imagine what you would do if you DID know, you will develop a first step. You will start learning what might work and what won’t work. In contrast, if you resign to a world of I don’t know, you will most certainly continue to not know because those words never spurred anyone to action.

In a world of balance — yin and yang, up and down, good and evil — everything has its opposite. Everything has its counterpoint. Wouldn’t it then follow that where you are “not knowing” there also exists in you the corresponding “knowing”? 

When you use IDK as a means to fill the space and avoid taking action, you discredit yourself and your resiliency. You communicate to yourself and those around you that you don’t have the ability to brainstorm like a 6-year-old child. Furthermore, you communicate to those around you that it matters that you don’t know the precise solution to the challenge at hand. It doesn’t matter! The only thing that matters is your investment in acting to discover a solution.

Lean into solution-ing like a child and give yourself space to be the problem solver that you are. No one is hiring you because they want you to know everything. People hire you because they trust you to craft a solution, no matter what it takes. That leaves very little room for “I don’t know.”

In sum, stop staying I don’t know and give yourself space to offer what you DO know. That is so much more truthful than “I don’t know.”


Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Doing the Hard Things

I have always wanted to be a yogi. It always seemed to “fit” with my personal vision for myself–I meditate every day, do some yoga-lite stretching, I am a reiki master, a meditation instructor, I love all this woo woo…. It just seems like a love affair that was meant to be! The problem? I just don’t want to do it. At all. I will do anything to avoid it. I will put it on my calendar and plan to go to a class and when it comes down to that make it or break it moment, I bail out.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my daily stretching routine that I lovingly think of as yoga-lite. I love connecting with my body and taking that inward time before I sit in my daily meditation. Whenever I muster up the fortitude to dive into a yoga class, I feel so good afterwards and sometimes I even enjoy it – the WHOLE time. I know it’s good for me and I know I always feel better once it’s done. So what’s the problem you ask?

I simply don’t want to do the hard things. I am in love with the IDEA of being a flexible, lithe yogi but, put simply: I don’t want to do the work.

I don’t want to hold uncomfortable poses for long periods of time. I don’t want to go to a yoga class. I don’t want to put my leg there or twist in such a way. There is something about it that I really detest. And yes, I know deep down that I should see this as a signpost that yoga is hiding something delicious for me. Somewhere within its depths is an awakening, a realization of some sort that I must find. But, here I am. Not a yogi. Barely a yogi-lite. Annoyed at the thought of it all.

I am in love with the dream but not willing to act on it.

I don’t want to do the hard work. I am rebelling against the discomfort. That’s it. There is no magic here.

I share this story because we all do this! We are so good at identifying all of the things that we want that we don’t have. We have laundry lists of skills and accomplishments that we want to attain or achieve. Most of us rarely chip away at those things because when it comes down to it, we don’t want to do the hard work. We just want to wake up one day and realize that the accomplishment was simply waiting to be unearthed all this time, it was always ours for the taking. All we had to do was wake up, go to that yoga class and suddenly the heavens would open up and rain down our dream.

We want the dream but we want it to come easily. We don’t really want to do all the work that necessarily precedes it.

This is why we don’t achieve our dreams. There is no secret here. We just don’t want to do the work.

Once we see all the work that comes with the achievement, we continue to *want* the thing but we stop taking any action to get there. Instead we resign ourselves to dreams of longing. I wish I could climb a 14-er…I wish I could play the piano…I wish I was really good at yoga. We are more than happy to lament our lacking. Rather than figuring out how to do the hard thing, we resign ourselves to being the victim of our circumstances, as if others were simply blessed with these gifts that we don’t have. For them, it was easy but for us, we just can’t do it. We live our lives with a laundry list of things that we want or wish that we had. If only we had more time…more money…more innate ability….

The truth is while we want these things, it is not our misfortune that we don’t have them: it is our unwillingness to do the damn thing.

I’m not saying that if you decide to climb Mt. Everest and wholeheartedly commit to doing all the work that comes with that endeavor, you will inevitably be successful. What I am saying, instead is this:

Wouldn’t it be so much more gratifying to say: I trained for a year to climb Mt. Everest but eventually opted for a summit where people die less frequently.

Or

I’ve always wanted to climb a mountain so I’ve recently started training for it. 

Those statements are so much more FUN and illustrative about our lives than to say I would love to climb Mt. Everest some day.

Why carry dreams around with you that you aren’t willing to put in the work to accomplish?

The next time you catch yourself expressing a wish/hope/desire for some unattained goal, stop yourself. If you aren’t willing to put in all the hard work that comes with that particular goal, is it really true that you want it? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to state:
 

Climbing Mt. Everest sounds amazing but I am just not interested in going through all that training and the risks!

Even THAT sounds more authentic than all that wishing and hoping and lamenting!

Why is this important? When we offer empty wishes and dreams to the universe without any commitment behind them, we slip into victim mentality. It’s as if we are wishing that we could be so lucky to accomplish such a thing. If only we had been so similarly gifted. Implying: we weren’t blessed with luck or gifts. We just don’t have what it takes. It is an energy of lack. An energy of dissatisfaction with one’s life and place. Is that really the energy you want for your dreams?

Dream from a place of abundance. A place where your words are more a forecast for your future than a condemnation of your present. Where your dreams are at your fingertips and not some vague hope.

The first thing I do with all of my clients is cast the dream: what is it that you want from life? From there we start planning and taking actions to bring that dream closer and closer. Interested in getting some clarity for your future? Ready to dive into some righteous discomfort? Sign up for a free session before they are all gone!

“I Wish…”

I was thinking today about all the phrases we use in our daily lives that bog us down. Those little sentences and thoughts that seem so innocuous but also important:

  • Some day when…
  • I can’t…
  • I don’t know how…
  • I’m not sure…
  • I would like to…
  • I wish…

Whenever we chew on these thoughts, we are investing in their truth. We are allowing ourselves to believe that there will be a day when….or that our abilities are limited…or that there are things we want to do but aren’t doing. Lastly, when we start a thought or a statement with “I wish…” we are arguing with our reality and lamenting our circumstances.

What good is it to think “I wish…”? Has that wish ever come true simply by wishing it?

Dreams don’t come true simply because we release them into the universe. Dreams come true because we choose to stop wishing and relinquishing our control. Dreams come true because we stop wishing and start acting.

And I’m not talking about grand banana dreams here, either. I’m not talking about wishing for world peace. I’m talking about wishing that our day-to-day lives would be different.

I wish my boss would treat me differently.

I wish I enjoyed my job more.

I wish I made more money.

THOSE types of little, every day wishes are toxic.

When we allow ourselves to daydream about how we “wish” our lives were different, we are implicitly giving up all of our power. We are suggesting that the only way our circumstances could be different is if a fairy godmother plucks our wishes out of the ether and makes them happen for us.

“I wish” statements are not powerful. They are weak.

They suggest that there is nothing to be done other than sit around and wait for our wish to be granted by a benevolent god.

It’s like that parable of the lottery ticket.

A man prays to god repeatedly and hopefully, asking god from the bottom of his heart to let him win the lottery. He offers that prayer every day for years and years on end. He never lost hope or faith that it would be answered and every day he humbly submitted his request. Every day, his prayer went unanswered and the man died poor and alone. When he met his god in the afterlife, he asked god why all of his prayers went unanswered and god replied “You never bought a lottery ticket.”

The point is this: we play a role in our dreams coming true.

We cannot simply offer up our wishes to the universe and sit back and wait for them to come true.

We have to act. We have to invest in our dreams.

Wasting your energy wishing that things in your life were different is living the life of the man in the parable. It offers the universe the energy of lack and dissatisfaction with life and that energy will only attract more lack and dissatisfaction.

When you start taking action to make your wishes reality, it requires a shift in perception. All those wishful thoughts become something much more active and invested —

I’m creating the life I want

I can take steps to improve my work life

I can improve my relationship with my boss

I can take action to be happier every day

These thoughts are powerful and take ownership over your life. Those thoughts will propel you to start taking action to convert those wishes to reality. Rather than living in a space of lack and dissatisfaction, your energy transforms into positivity and faith in your ability. This allows so much more positive energy to enter your life. And who knows, your wishes just might come true.

You have to start investing in those wishes yourself before you can expect the universe or god to partner with you to make them come true.

When you find yourself wishing that your life were different, it can be difficult to turn the corner. It’s easy to exist in wishful thinking; it’s hard to take ownership and start taking action. Sometimes all you need is a little support. Don’t be afraid to ask. (Psst, it’s free.)


Photo by Fineas Gavre on Unsplash

No, It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

Many of my clients are well-respected attorneys, educated, and successful. They seemingly have it all but they are constantly grappling with the question

Is this sustainable?

Do I want to live like this forever?

They dream of a practice with better culture, fewer hours, a place that is more women-friendly, family-friendly. A place where the co-workers and clients act like civilized humans rather than tantrum-y children and junior high bullies.

Early on, many of us realize that working 70 hours/week does not create a happy life, no matter the paycheck. It is not exactly the life you dreamt of. We hate that having a family is often seen as a detriment to our career. We struggle with the notion that our personal lives must be planned taking consideration where we want our career to go. We stew and we ponder:

How can I make practicing law more live-able?

For many women, these thoughts eventually get drowned out by the rest of life. They continue their precarious balance, never truly happy or comfortable with the life they have chosen but willing to just keep going. They are good at it. They know that life. It is familiar. And it pays well. Leave it alone. Some weeks it’s okay, some weeks it’s hard to get out of bed. So be it.

We are not wired to voice our needs or ask for something better.

Our brains are designed to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and maintain efficiency. This means that whenever we begin to wonder and question why things can’t be different, what can I do to make this work for me? We are forcing our brain to take a pit stop and examine these matters. Our brains promptly remind us that

We make plenty of money.

We are well-respected.

This is just how it is.

You aren’t going to change it.

Don’t rock the boat.

Don’t be a trouble maker.

Your brain reminds you why those worries and thoughts and dreams aren’t important. Your brain wants you back on the hamster wheel, running the same routine we are so good at. This is your brain playing it safe. Keeping you in the cave. The very notion of rocking the boat triggers two of your biological responses–stay safe and be efficient. Don’t challenge authority and keep doing what you know. Stick to the plan, kiddo.

When we decide to do something new or scary, our brain’s survival mechanisms kick in.

While we may be saying to ourselves, I’m going to start leaving the office at 4:30 everyday, our brains start screaming

RETREAT! Stay with the herd! Don’t challenge the norms! Don’t rock the boat! You’re going to get in trouble. They will cut your pay. The Board will hear about it. You’re going to have to explain this!

I recently had a mini-session with an attorney and her big dream was to start her own firm. In response to her ambition, her brain was telling her

You can’t do this. You haven’t practiced long enough. No one will hire me. You won’t figure it out.

Those thoughts were her brain’s version of “Retreat! Stay in the cave.” None of those thoughts were true. None of them were factual. They were optional sentences her freaked out brain was offering her.

This is normal. This is biology.

This does not mean you are doing it wrong. In fact ,when you experience fear or anxiety while you are taking action toward your dream, you can rest assured you are doing it right. That discomfort is proof that you are forcing your brain to run a new pattern–no more of this lemming crap, forge your own path. No more of the old thoughts and routines.

This is not how is has to be. You can stimulate change and ask for what you want.

If you want to start leaving a 4:30 every day. Ask for it. If you want to be allowed to run your own cases. Ask for it. If you want to take the big deposition on your own. Ask for it.

It’s going to be awkward. It’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to force you to use muscles you haven’t used before. Decide what you need to do to grow your practice, to develop, to make your life more manageable and start thinking

How can I make this work for me? How can I ask the firm to support me in making this sustainable for me? What do I need to do to develop?

What is the alternative?

Waiting for someone to read your mind and offer you exactly what you want and need? When do you suppose that will happen? Why are you giving them all the control?

If there was a way for me to teach you how to get law firms to give us what we need, I would teach it to you but it doesn’t exist.

You are going to have to find your own voice.

If you have a big goal and your brain is not freaking out, your goal isn’t big enough. If you aren’t uncomfortable as you are building your practice and making your dreams a reality, you are not trying hard enough. You are not dreaming big enough. You are just a hamster on a wheel with a brain that is content in the cave.

Change is supposed to be hard. Change requires you to do things and think things you never have before. It requires you to evolve. It requires you to become a different version of yourself.

Are you choosing to be stuck?

Are you choosing a life of comfort and familiarity?

What is that costing you?

Is this what you want your story to be?

We must set big goals to grow. Doing this will make us uncomfortable. It will trigger our biological responses to run away. Anticipate that resistance and do it anyway. It doesn’t “have to be this way.” Let’s shake it up a bit.

Life is whatever you choose to make it.

What are you choosing? Do you like your reasons?


Photo by Semina Psichogiopoulou on Unsplash

Perfectionism

AKA the most common way we hold ourselves back.

I recently had a mini-session where my client was telling me that she needed an entire day to complete one of the tasks on her action plan. When I challenged her to constrain herself and do it in half the time, we discovered that her reasoning for this conclusion was it would take an entire day to “do it right” and to make sure that it was “perfect.”

We do this all the time. We convince ourselves that we must complete something to perfection before we can move on to the next step.

We can’t ask for a raise until we are able to conduct our work with perfection. We aren’t going to offer to speak at a conference until we have a full mastery of the underlying material. We don’t want to take that expert deposition until we have done simpler depositions perfectly.

We carry around this faulty belief that there is no sense in doing something unless you can do it flawlessly.

Can you imagine where we would be if everyone followed that logic?! If everyone was afraid to massively fail on the way to success?

Consider Thomas Edison and his endeavors to create artificial light: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

The real motivation behind this perfectionism is the avoidance of failure.

If we believe we can’t act until we can do it perfectly, then we don’t have to do anything until we know we can do it without failure. We don’t have to face any criticism of our imperfections until we have a foolproof plan to avoid criticism. We can spend our entire lives building up to those perfect skills and never getting there: we never take any risks so we never fail.

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

Perfectionism is a way to stay stuck. To convince yourself that your efforts are noble. You simply want to do it right and you can’t move forward until you do that. It seems valid. It seems reasonable. But this is simply fear masquerading in a more “honorable” outfit. The fear of failure, dressed as perfectionism.

Perfectionism is for scared people.

The truth is that you don’t want to face any criticism.

It’s easier to tell yourself you are only going to do it if you can “do it right” than it is to be honest with yourself and admit that you don’t want to experience failure or criticism. Most people avoid criticism because they have a practiced habit of endorsing the criticism. They agree with the criticism and interpret the feedback to mean that they are a failure.

When you allow criticism to mean that you can’t do it, of course you are going to try and avoid criticism!

Enter the myth of perfectionism to distract you from what’s really going on.

Don’t jump teams and join your critics by default. Don’t let failures mean anything about you. Don’t let the words of critics hold you back. Criticism from others has more to do with the other person than with you!

You can decide to receive criticism however you want. Consider allowing it to mean that you are learning and always improving (because you are a human and “to err is HUMAN”).

If you committed to doing everything 80% and moving on, how different would your life be? How much more could you accomplish?

People may criticize your B+ work. People may NOT criticize your B+ work. You won’t know until you stop trying to manufacture A+ work before putting anything out there. You can always go back and make something better but you won’t know what is “better” until you start trying and learning.

Besides, just because you conclude something is perfect, doesn’t mean no one will criticize it. Spinning on things until they are perfect, does not “save” you from criticism.

That is a lie you are telling yourself to keep you safe. To keep you stuck.

Don’t convince yourself that perfect is something to strive for. It’s all subjective.

Don’t allow the myth of perfection to keep you stuck.

Success only comes from trying and failing repeatedly. Not from sitting on the sidelines theorizing about how to best do something.

Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection. ― Kim Collins

Get out there are start failing. You can’t learn how to handle critics if you never do anything noteworthy.

Think your perfectionism is serving you? Let’s see what’s really going on. What are you afraid of?

Photo by George Becker from Pexels

Your Legal Career: Having Your Own Back

When trying to make a big decision, so many of my clients get stuck in the quagmire of indulgent emotions.

Indulgent emotions are those emotions that seem really important. They feel like we should pay attention to them. They suck us into their black hole and keep us from moving forward.

They are indulgent because we linger and stay with those emotions for far too long; we allow those emotions to take over and before we know it, we have been out of the game for weeks. We’ve been “busy” worrying.

Worry, overwhelm, boredom, confusion, and indecision are all indulgent emotions — dream killers.

I had a client who was feeling “stuck” because she couldn’t decide what kind of malpractice insurance she wanted to buy for her new firm. Naturally, she was arguing all the options, seeming to wait until absolute clarity would sweep in and bless her decision.

Decision lightning!

(It doesn’t exist!)

Failing to make decisions keeps us stuck. It allows us to spin in this world where there is only one right answer and we need to make sure we figure it out.

If we don’t get it right a whole parade of horribles will march through our homes and destroy everything; all will be lost.

What if you just made a decision and had your own back?

One decision is not going to make or break your legal career. We have to ditch the drama we build up around these decisions and stop making them so monumental.

If we don’t like our decision later on, we can regroup, make a different decision and grow from the experience. Is that such a big deal?

You won’t lose all your clients if you have to rebrand in three years.

The sky won’t fall if you decide maybe you don’t want to be at that firm.

There are no perfect choices.

At some point you have to recognize that indulging in worry and indecision is keeping you stuck–if you want to move forward, you simply have to make a decision.

What if you just decided not to believe that there was only one right answer?

Maybe all the roads lead to the same place?

Isn’t that a better place to be mentally than imagining you there are two roads–one leads to sudden death and one leads to rivers of gold?! That is what you are doing when you indulge in worry, fear, doubt, indecision. You are believing that one option is perfect and one option will destroy you. The pressure you are putting on that one small decision! How terrible that must feel.

Skip the drama around the decision. Make a choice and move forward. That’s the first step.

The second step is having your own damn back.

If you decide to change your mind in the future, commit to having your own back.

This means that if your choice doesn’t pan out the way you wanted it to, you aren’t going to indulge in GUILT (another indulgent emotion). You aren’t going to wade through your past….shoulda, coulda, woulda-ing yourself to death.

Have your own back. Be a good partner to yourself.

You have no idea how those other options would have panned out. Don’t use this an opportunity to soothsay. Don’t pretend that you “knew” this wasn’t going to work out and start berating yourself.

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?

Don’t allow indulgent emotions to side-track your dreams and keep you stuck. Be a good partner to yourself. Honor your ability to make a decision and be kind to yourself as you make the journey.

Need help? Free support is available here.

Selling Yourself Short

I have been thinking a lot about our emotions and how it is so amazing that those subtle, invisible vibrations in our bodies drive everything we do.

Everything we do is because of how we think it will make us feel.

Everything we don’t do is because of a feeling we are trying to avoid.

We don’t quit that toxic job because we don’t want to experience the negative emotions that might result–fear, confusion, doubt, embarrassment. We don’t leave bad relationships because we want to avoid the fallout–loneliness, remorse, regret, sadness. We want that big firm job because we think it will make us feel happy, confident, worthy, respected. We want a partner in life because we think it will make us happy.

Everything we do in this life is because we are chasing some emotion.

We are chasing the vibes.

Fortunately, all of our emotions are generated by thoughts. They are not implanted into us when we quit our jobs, get married, or blow a huge presentation.

They are created by the thoughts we have when those things happen. Thoughts that we are worthy, NOT worthy, a failure, we are good enough, etc.

How amazing is it to truly own our power and our ability create any emotion in this very moment?!

Unfortunately, we are so much better at generating negative emotions (hello, negativity bias, thanks, biology)! Our brains are incredibly skilled at thinking negative thoughts that create negative emotions.

Want to feel sad? Start thinking about that friend/relative/dog you lost and how much you miss them. I miss their laugh, I miss the funny messages they would send on my birthday, I miss their companionship.

What to feel inadequate? Think about that time you botched that big presentation in college/high school/law school. Think about that time you totally blew that important deadline, forgot your mom’s birthday, got fired, got overlooked for a promotion you really wanted.

If we tell our brain to get to thinking about our inadequacy, it will get to work coming up with all sorts of evidence to demonstrate that you are, in fact, inadequate.

Whenever you choose to allow a thought into your head, you are giving your brain instructions to invest energy in that thought. Dear brain, today, we are going to chew on the thought, “I can’t do this” so please start explaining to me why that is true.

Realizing this alone, can transform your life.

If spend any ounce of energy thinking I will never lose weight, I don’t know how to do XYZ, I will never make a million dollars, I can’t get that job, I will never make partner, you are setting yourself up for failure. You hired a mercenary (your brain) to sabotage your dreams. If thoughts were fuel that could propel you toward your dream, you just dumped chocolate syrup in your gas tank.

That fuel will only take you to the land of lost dreams.

When you allow dis-empowering thoughts to entertain your brain, you block your innate wisdom.

Any energy your brain could have spent showing you how you could lose weight, how you know more than you think, how you could make more money, how you could totally get that job, make partner, and live the life of your dreams, is lost.

Instead of putting your brain to work showing you how much wisdom, talent, skill, and power you currently have, you allow your brain to provide you with a bunch of BS and you send it off to run the motions that keep you stuck.

The next time you catch yourself chewing on some disempowering thoughts, consider what it would be like to believe the opposite. To allow your mind some space to get to work showing you something new.

I can figure out how to lose weight

I can figure out how to do it

I know how to make money and I can learn how to make more

I am qualified for that job

I can absolutely make partner

Empowering thoughts allow you to access your innate wisdom.

Empowering thoughts allow you to examine whether those ugly thoughts are actually true. After all, they are only true if you choose to make them true.

The next time you think I don’t know how to…. Stop and ask your brain If I did know how to do this, what would I do first? …… You will be amazed at what your brain will offer you.

What type of fuel are you choosing to create the life of your dreams?

Whenever you are ready to take this work to the next level, join me in one of my 6-week programs that will show you how to create more happiness in your life, how to find balance, and how to start creating the life of your dreams. Sign up here.

Bravery

When you approach your present state through the lens of your future dream, taking action isn’t scary, it is simply the next logical step.

I recently had a client who is just getting started building her dream business. She has all the tools she needs for success, she is developing a following and she knows exactly how she wants the business to grow and progress. The problem? She still has a successful, prestigious full-time job that pays the bills. She is straddling both worlds and desperately trying to keep her “side gig” a secret. She is constantly worried that her current employer will discover her secret and she will get into trouble or get fired. So she keeps playing small. Keeping her side business under wraps and limiting its growth. She is not taking the actions she knows she would need to take to move things to the next level. She is consciously sabotaging herself.

When I work with clients in the space, I take a journey with them into their dream. When we project ourselves into our future self, into the person living the dream, we gain clarity for our present self. When you imagine yourself living your future best life, you can unwind that success and evaluate the steps that you would need to take at each point along the way. You can slip into the thoughts that created the confidence that moved you to that place of success.

That exercise allowed my client to see that her path to success would require her to be bold. To be afraid of the consequences but to take the actions anyway. Her future self would tell her to stop playing small. Her future self would tell her that she built her success by taking action toward her dream despite the risks and despite the fear.

We must approach every day as a page in our success story. When you look at you dream and your path to achieving that dream, where does today fit? Where does next week or next month fit? What steps were you taking at this stage of the journey?

We all have fears that are keeping us stuck—that convince us that we should play small. Consider the impact those choices are having on your ultimate dream?

Is your dream worth being afraid but experiencing the fear and doing it away?

Achieving our dreams is not easy. It is not without fear and personal risk. That is why so many of us relegate our lives to playing it small. If you could have a chat with your future dream self, what advice would you give yourself today? I suspect that advice would be simple:

Be. Brave.

Take the next steps in your adventure. Let me coach you toward your dream.