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.


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!

Making Peace

Sometimes we set goals and we make the plan and we just can’t seem to get any traction. We are acting but nothing is coming together. We are doing all the things but it just doesn’t seem to stick. Hopelessness and frustration set in and it becomes more and more tempting to throw in the towel. When our steps forward are harder than they should be and we find ourselves just forcing every action, we have to ask ourselves what is going on behind the scenes? Is there an opportunity to make peace and release some dead weight?

What we miss in those instances is the opportunity to pull up all that baggage that is keeping us stuck.

During our lives we have so many experiences that teach us about ourselves. From those experiences we start to draw conclusions and formulate all the beliefs that mold our understanding of ourselves.

I’m an awkward runner. I don’t like to cook. I’m not good with small talk. I don’t like to step outside my comfort zone.

Those thoughts are all based upon empirical evidence from our past experiences — someone once told me I run really awkwardly, I botched a homecooked meal for a date once and it was horribly embarrassing, etc.

Now we add to those thoughts additional perceptions about our life experiences —

I shouldn’t have done that, I should have known better, how could I have let myself gain this much weight, how could I have been so reckless?

Our self judgments and criticisms relating to our past experiences are also in the mix. We look at past experiences, decide how the experience was “supposed” to go, and then we pile on the blame on ourselves for the bad thing that happened. We punish ourselves for events based upon some manufactured notion of how things were supposed to have played out.

When we use our pasts to criticize ourselves we are fighting our truth. We are pretending like there is some master plan that is comprised of nothing but unicorns, daisies, and margaritas. We imply that our plan is not supposed to include dark nights, mishaps and challenges. This sounds ridiculous as I write it down and I suspect it is striking you as ridiculous too — but this is what we do! Any time you believe It shouldn’t have happened that way you are suggesting that the bad thing was never “supposed” to have happened.

What if the bad thing happened exactly as it was supposed to?

What if that experience was meant to be part of your path?

What if it was supposed to teach you something critical?

It is so much more empowering to own that negative experience and use it as a learning tool than it is to try and erase it, bury it, and beat yourself up over it. You are never going to win your battle with reality — it happened. Period. Why waste any energy thinking that it shouldn’t have happened? What is that getting you?

If you find yourself plugging away toward a goal, going through the motions but not getting anywhere, it might be a good opportunity for some introspection. What is going on behind the scenes that is keeping you stuck? What energy and belief do you need to face and make peace? For my weight loss clients, peace often comes in form of learning to love their body in a new way. It means letting go of their guilt and disdain for themselves and approaching weight loss from a place of compassion. For those of us who have had experiences with abuse, it’s about learning to forgive yourself.

When we blame ourselves and beat ourselves up for our past choices (whether the cake or the marriage!), it is the most insidious kind of judgment.

We deny trust from ourselves. We deny compassion for ourselves. We deny ourselves the insights that could come from that experience — that were MEANT TO come from that experience.

Those quiet self-judgments might not be at the forefront of your mind in every moment of your day but they are there and they are keeping you stuck.

If you buy into the belief that you are a failure who has no follow through, you are never going to lose weight. If you blame your past relationships traumas on your poor judgment, you are never going to open up to new experiences. When you see yourself as the cause of all your problems, past and present, you are always on edge waiting for yourself to do it again. You will expect your past “failures” to repeat in every new opportunity, every new relationship.

When all you have is a hammer, everything will look like a nail.

When all you have is self-judgment, every new experience will look like a new opportunity for you to fail (again). There is no way you are ever going to succeed with any goal if you don’t believe at some level that you are good enough, that you can do it and that you are right where you need to be.

That’s the crux of it: you are right where you need to be. Everything in your life that has happened has brought you to this place. Stop begrudging where you are and start looking for the lessons. Be an anthropologist of your life — what were all those hard lessons supposed to teach you? See the kernel of good in all that has happened and make peace with your past.

You can’t berate yourself into success and you can’t just go through the motions ignoring your baggage. Success only comes from within so you might as well start there.

I am a certified life and weight coach and I help women all across the country create a better relationship with themselves. I am passionate about helping women find their power and start creating the life of their dreams. I would love to help you too. Check me out by signing up for a free coaching session, your life is waiting.


Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

Getting Clarity

In today’s hectic world and in our chaotic practices, it can be easy to get swept up in the action of it all. When we lose ourselves to the momentum of our lives, we often overlook the most important question we need to focus our energies: what do you want?

Starting a legal career is much like a mad dash toward a finish line. We spend years working and stretching and pushing to get there. But when we finally get there, we don’t stop. We just keep running. We don’t even realize we are doing it. We just keep going without asking: what’s next?

In order to truly own our power, we must, in every aspect of our lives, pause and allow ourselves to set our course — where are we going?

It’s jarring to wake up one day and realize that we don’t know what we want next. We have gotten so good at following the orders provided to us. We received a recipe for becoming an attorney and we executed. We have long forgotten how to sharpen our tools of agency. We have become disconnected from ourselves and our wants! We crossed that finish line and we just kept going without considering where we wanted to run to next.

It has been far too long since we stopped and asked–where to after this?

No one wants to run a race without knowing where they are going. We set a destination, plan a course, and run until we get there. When we go grocery shopping, we have a list based upon what we want to prepare. We don’t hop in our cars and just start driving aimlessly unless we are running away from something — are you running away from something by aimlessly allowing your career and life to run on autopilot without a destination?

Why is it that in the most important aspects of our lives, we fail to set a course? We don’t try to see the bigger picture. We are running without a destination.

There is only one rule:

When asking yourself what you want and where you are going, don’t allow yourself to be confused. There are no right answers in life. There is no secret path you need to discover to find your way to happiness. When we indulge in confusion, we implicitly believe there is a right or wrong answer. That confusion keeps us stuck until we can know with certainty what’s next. It keeps us running blindly–why stop running if we’re confused about where to go next?

The name of the game is growing, evolving and challenging yourself to become the best version of yourself. You are not going to evolve or challenge yourself when you are operating automatically.

Identify your why — why are you in that relationship? Why do you stay in that job? Where does your current experience fit into your overall plan?

Nothing has to be set in stone and you can change your answers any time you want. The point is that we need to give ourselves some direction. Why? Because to do otherwise is to allow other people, events, and circumstances to run your life.

Failure to identify where you want to go next places your life at the feet of those around you — your boss, your spouse, your kids, your partner. When we don’t set our own course, others WILL step in and fill that void for us.

Do you really want them to determine where you are going?

Your free will and ability to make your life anything you want it to be is the greatest gift you have been given; don’t squander it by floating in the breeze. You are better than that. You are in the driver’s seat.

Every day, reconnect with your whys and wants. Get clear on what you want from life so that you can set your sights on your true north. To do it any other way is to surrender all of your power.

When I work with new clients, the first thing we do is set that intention–what do they want? What is their dream? From there, we start taking massive action to making that dream reality. Work with me and start creating your life from a place of intention.


Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

Excuses

Whether we admit it or not, we all make excuses from time to time. Lately, I have been seeing so many more excuses founded in the pandemic. It’s easy to blame the pandemic for our weight gain, bad habits, and not taking action. It’s easy to buy into these statements and carry them with us as our justifications for not taking action. But the pandemic is not to blame for your inaction. None of your excuses are factual. They are simply opinions; opinions that are keeping you from living the life you really want.

I’m waiting for the pandemic to be over before I get back into working out, it’s hard to eat healthy because I don’t want to go to the store too often, networking is too hard when everyone is working remotely, it’s just not a good time to look for a new job, no one is hiring right now

We provide ourselves all these reasons why we aren’t acting but as we chip away at each of these excuses, what we often find is that it has nothing to do with those reasons–we just don’t want to do the hard things sometimes.

Admittedly, there is certainly some shade of truth in these beliefs that makes these excuses appealing. Things ARE different. Our approach to certain things is going to have to be different.

But since when does different necessarily mean harder?

Since when we did we decide that different meant stop?

Before you allow yourself to put your goals on hold while we wait for life to “normalize,” we must get honest about what’s really going on. Does it matter that you don’t want to go to the gym because you are limiting your public activities? Can you work out at home or find another way? Does it matter that networking is now virtual? Does that really diminish the connection and make it more awkward?

Just because we can’t do things the way that we would want to, does not mean that we shouldn’t take action in the ways that we CAN.

If you have a goal that is important to you, it is likely that the goal requires some change from your current state. It might require you to get up earlier to write your book or get in a workout. It might require you to operate outside of your comfort zone.

It is going to be uncomfortable. If it wasn’t, you would already be doing it.

Recognize that any goal worth having is going to challenge you. In challenging you, it is going to bring up that part of your primitive brain that wants to keep you safe and in the cave; safe in your cozy routine. Your brain is going to craft all sorts of reasons why you shouldn’t be acting.

Whether it is the pandemic or something else, your brain will develop roadblocks for your dreams. It will advocate for the comfort of your present state. KNOW THIS and do the work anyway.

Don’t allow this pandemic to pile on to those excuses. When the pandemic is over, you will create new excuses and you will allow those excuses to derail you too because you are really good and believing excuses. When you allow the pandemic to convince yourself to stay put, you are practicing inertia. You are practicing your current state. You are really good at it. The better you get at your present state, the harder it will be to ever make lasting change.

If you want something else, you are going to have to get really good at strategizing around those excuses and doing the hard thing anyway.

What are you using your pandemic time to become good at? Don’t let excuses and avoidance be one of your pandemic skills. Set the goal. Strategize the obstacles. Get moving. Your life is not on pause during this pandemic, why are you acting like it is?

Want support to kick it into gear? Take advantage of a free session and get back to work.


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The Grind

I’m a firm believer that life is yin and yang. Good and bad. Not all days are will be your best days. While that is easy to accept logically, when you are in the middle of the grind, this 50/50 concept takes a backseat. Instead, we find ourselves wondering Is it supposed to be THIS hard? Maybe I went the wrong way. When you are stuck in the grind and your passion project becomes a chore, how do you know when it’s time to course correct or stay the course?

“Doing great work is a struggle. It’s draining, it’s demoralizing, it’s frightening – not always, but it can feel that way when we’re deep in the middle of it.”

― Ryan Holiday, Ego Is the Enemy

When you are working toward a new goal, there will be days when the goal seems unimportant. When the path you chose to the goal seems like a mistake. You can start to doubt your prior decisions and it seems logical to take a break and reassess. It is in those moments that having a good coach can make all the difference because your task must then become separating your fears from your good logic. It is those moments of breaking through the morass that will set you apart from all others who gave up and went home.

We set goals and we make plans. That is the easy part.

We have something we want to attain so we identify it and we get to executing. We make choices about how to best achieve that goal and we take action on those choices. But then, days/weeks/months later as we continue holding steady with those prior decisions, we start to second guess. We start to doubt and question whether we made the right decision. That questioning might be founded in good deductive reasoning but most often that questioning if fear-based.

We agonize over whether we made the right decision.

Whether we chose the right approach. Whether we should be spending our time elsewhere. NONE of those thoughts are founded upon the results of your current experiment. None of those questions are based upon your current course. They are all rooted in fear and self-doubt. Fear about making the wrong choice, fear about squandering your time, fear that it should be EASIER THAN IT IS. None of those fears are rationale but when they bounce around your head all day long, they are damn persuasive.

So how do you know when you are letting fear drive the boat or whether it really is time to make a change?

You have to ask yourself why you want to make a change midrace. Are you frustrated that it’s not going well or that it’s not as easy as you hoped? Are you feeling unmotivated and uninspired? Those are NOT REASONS TO CHANGE YOUR COURSE! That is part of the bargain. It is supposed to be hard!

When we believe that our path to a goal should be inspired and we should be filled with passion and motivated every step of the way, we are setting ourselves up for failure. We are denying the reality of yin and yang! From that space the only option is to abandon ship every time it gets hard. We spend our lives chasing happiness and running away from challenges. That course will never bring your dreams to fruition.

The take away here is this: if you want to change your course, do you like your reasoning for doing so?

Would your future self agree with your rationale?

What would it be like to stick it out a little longer–what will that gain you?

What will it cost you to change course?

Whenever we set goals, I encourage my clients to make them very measurable and clear. If you are going to start a website and a blog, identify the steps and tell yourself how long you are willing to commit to a particular course of action. Maybe you will commit to trying to make it all on your own for 3 weeks. After that point, you can decide whether it might be best to hire a web designer. The point is to trust yourself enough to commit to a course of action that makes sense to you.

Give yourself the opportunity to either fail or succeed in taking action toward your goals. Don’t leave room for half/a attempts. Don’t give space to commit for a few days and give up when it gets hard. Expect that it will be hard. The grind will come and commit to riding that path through it. Don’t allow yourself to quit during the grind! Decide how long you are willing to commit to you selected path and just. do. it.

Make a decision and have your own back.

After you have pushed through the grind and honored your prior decision-making enough to power through, THEN you can re-evaluate how to best proceed. At that time, not only will you have identified one approach that does not (or does) work but you will have also fostered trust in yourself. You will have developed confidence in yourself that you can make commitments to yourself and execute, even when it gets hard. You honor yourself and your decision-making when you stick to the plan. After all, there was a reason you decided to take that approach–give yourself the benefit of the doubt and stick with it even when it gets hard.

Unsure about whether it is time to change course? Get some free coaching today. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective to see things differently.


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Giving Away Our Power

As a basic premise, we as humans have the right to determine how we spend our time, where our energy goes, who we have relationships with. We have complete autonomy over our lives. We know this at our core but when it comes to implementing it and OWNING it every day, we give away all of that power.

With my clients, I most often see this happen when we start envisioning changes they want to make in their life.

Making commitments is easy. Following through on them is what distinguishes successful people from the rest.

Many of my clients have similar items on their wish lists —

I want to make time to workout

I want to spend time playing with my kids

I want to have a date night with my partner

I want to leave work at a reasonable hour every day

When it comes down to implementing and executing on those wish lists there are a mountain of reasons why it never happens–I’m just so tired at the end of the day, I just don’t have enough time, it’s just not a priority, something always comes up.

Any of those sound familiar?

You have the freedom to make your life whatever you want it to be.

If you don’t want to workout everyday, want work late every night, and want to rarely have one-on-one time with your family, that is absolutely your right. But let’s get one thing very clear: you are CHOOSING do to do those things. You are CHOOSING not to play with your kid when you get home, you are CHOOSING not to go to the gym, you are CHOOSING not to make your self-care a priority.

In order to get serious about creating the lives we want, we have to start getting honest with ourselves.

This life is not just happening to you–you are creating it.

You have to take ownership for the choices you are making every day.

Being tired at the end of the day is not a universal justification for not going to they gym. You are choosing not to go to the gym. People do all sorts of things every day when they are tired. YOU are doing all sorts of things every day even though you are tired. You are simply choosing not to make the gym one of those things.

When it comes to work, it is no different. You are choosing to answer that phone call right before you were supposed to head to your kid’s soccer game. You are choosing to work late and honor that last minute deadline.

You do not have to honor any deadlines.

Seriously.

You do NOT have to honor any deadlines.

Ever.

You are CHOOSING to do so. Maybe you believe that if you don’t you will get fired or you will lose the client, whatever your justification may be, there is likely a reason you are doing it.  A reason that you believe you HAVE to do it. But the truth is, you are simply making a choice. People blow off clients and deadlines and bosses and phone calls every day. You are choosing not to and that is your right. Own it and stop blaming your choices on everything else. Take ownership of the decisions you make in every moment.

Recognize the reasons for your choices and own them for what they are–choices you are making for whatever justifications you decide are important.

I pay my taxes every year not because I “have to” but because I choose to. I choose not to commit tax fraud. I choose not to violate the law. That’s my choice. Many others in this world do not make that same choice.

Sometimes, I choose to disregard my schedule completely and make something else a priority. Whenever I get a call from my family during business hours, I answer immediately and drop everything else. That is my choice. In that moment, I remind myself “You are choosing to do this, you do not have to do this.” I don’t let myself be a victim to circumstances outside of my control. I choose to blow up my schedule and best laid plans if I want to. Because that is my choice. It’s as simple as that.

When we stop telling ourselves we “have” to do things or when we make excuses for not acting, we are ignoring the simple truth of it all–we are choosing to do or not do those things.

When we take ownership of the choices we are making in every moment of every day, it allows us to hit the reset button. It allows us to ask whether that is a decision we WANT to make. A decision we would make again.

In every moment of ever day, you are making choices. Do you like the choices you are making? Are you blaming someone else for your decisions?

When you look at your life and your days as a series of choices, you take back all of your power.

You reclaim your ability to decide how you want your day and your life to play out. Don’t allow yourself to believe that your life is at the mercy of anyone other than you. Live on purpose and choose consciously how you want to spend your time.

We struggle to make ourselves a priority. We are really good at not choosing to put ourselves first. Make an investment in yourself and your life.

What do you have to lose?


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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

Contrails (Your Past is Stalking You)

When someone says to you: “Tell me about yourself.” How do you respond?

Most of us take this to mean the trifecta: What do you do? Are you married? Do you have kids?

The interesting thing about how we respond to these lines of questioning is that our responses almost invariably describe our pasts.

I am married (Read: 10 years ago, I took a vow to another person.)

I have 3 kids (Read: Over the past several years, I have given birth to three humans.)

I am an attorney (Read: I went to law school 15 years ago.)

I don’t know about you but who I am today is only a small fleck of the person I was 10 or 15 years ago. All of those responses describe our past actions. Our past selves. None of this is who we are today.

What if you had to answer that question but could not reference your past in doing so? What would your response be?

Hard, right?

What gets really interesting is when we take it one step further:

I like to read.

I am not good at basketball.

I am an introvert.

I don’t like to be in large crowds.

I am not a good dancer.

I like to snow ski.

All of these things we use to describe ourselves we treat as factual. As if they just are. But in reality, these things describe our past experiences. Our past likes and dislikes. Our past successes and failures.

I used to like to wear my brother’s clothing and I never wore makeup.

That is not the case anymore! I have changed, and my likes/dislikes and self-expression have changed as well.

So often in our lives we drag our pasts with us in ways that we don’t even recognize:

I’m not good with relationships (because I am divorced)

I am not good at public speaking (because I had a really bad experience at a conference 2 years ago)

I don’t really like to try new sports (because I broke my ankle snowboarding for the first time)

Whatever it is we are telling ourselves and others about ourselves is often past-focused. We look to our past to describe who we are. To define ourselves. We look to our past to forecast our future self:

In the past I had a bad relationship and so that means I am bad with relationships today and will be in the future. I’ve tried, and it didn’t work out so that’s just my lot.

When you do this, when you look to your past to describe who you are today, you are investing in your past failures and limitations. You are looking to those past experiences to create your future.

For instance, so often people identify themselves by what they do for a living. That characterizations can limit how we see ourselves today and in our future. Who cares if I became an attorney decades ago? That has no bearing whatsoever on who I am now and where my future is going! So what if you didn’t go to college?! That has nothing to do with whether you will go to college next week, so why bother bringing it up? What you wanted to do for a living when you were in your 20s is irrelevant today.

When crafting your future, do not limit your dreams to what you have accomplished in the past, it will only limit you. Your past is no indication of who and what you can be tomorrow, next week, next year.

We carry our pasts with us like the contrails from a plane. Stop doing that! That doesn’t exist anymore unless you let it. Don’t look to your past to define yourself today and envision your future. It is irrelevant data. The only thing that matters is what you want in your future; that has nothing to do with where you have been.

The next time someone says to you “Tell me about yourself,” I hope that you will pause and consider the question anew. Don’t limit who you are by what you did 5, 10, 15 years ago. Let you past rest and start creating the person you want to be today.

Every. Single. Day. Is an opportunity to create the life and the person you want to be.

I love helping my clients dream about their future and move away from their past limiting beliefs. I would be honored to support you as well.