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!


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Standing In Your Own Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This requires us to challenge our existing thinking. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Why We Procrastinate (and how to stop)

Procrastination much? We all do it from time to time and, with effort, we can develop different habits. Dare I say, we can stop procrastinating for good? I rarely procrastinate anymore and many of my clients have developed better planning skills and tools to combat the urge to procrastinate but we’ve done that song and dance so we aren’t going there today. Today, we are exploring the rationale behind our procrastination.

First and foremost, let’s blame biology.

In brief, as humans, we are hardwired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. This means that when our brains perceive danger, rightly or wrongly, our brain will begin crafting an escape route. This biological wiring is designed to keep us out of the mouths of hungry lions.

So where does this danger come in? For those of you living in the thick of your practice, you might be thinking that some of your partners and clients actually resemble hungry lions out to rip your throat out and that’s actually not too far off…. When we have something that we are avoiding, the REASON we are avoiding that project is because we have some underlying fear associated with the project. There is something about the project that is arousing your biological flight response. It might sound something like this

I’m not going to get this right and she is going to be so pissed at me.

I don’t know how to figure this out and he is probably going to fire me when I mess it up.

I cannot stand working for this client, they always leave out crucial facts.

I am so nervous, I cannot botch this project.

I hate working for this partner, I really don’t want to do this.

This is going to be miserable.

All of those thoughts will arouse some type of fear-based response. All of those thoughts trigger more negative thoughts and on and on it goes until we have built up this project to be cruel and unusual punishment that must be avoided at all costs. We are afraid of the consequences of not getting it right, pissing off the partner or the client, or we simply dread the perceived misery of the project.

In either case, we are being driven by some unacknowledged fear.

No problem, says the procrastination fairy, Starbucks has a new latte you need to try, and have you checked out your ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page lately? Then we indulge in our other biologically motivated response–seek pleasure! Gobble up endorphins wherever you can find them!

This routine will stretch on only until another, larger, and more critical fear enters the dance floor:

the deadline

Suddenly, the fear that we won’t get the project done in time looms larger in our minds and drowns out the earlier fears of failing the project. We start to imagine the SHOUTY CAPS emails raging over our missed deadline or failure to respond. Our mind is abuzz with a full-on parade of horribles showing us what will happen if we don’t stop shopping on Amazon and get. to. work.

Off we go, motivated by fear once again.

But this time, our earlier procrastination has likely set us up to fail in the exact same manner we were afraid of failing to begin with. We work frantically, our thoughts are scattered, and our work is filled with a chaotic sense of urgency. Ultimately, we end up beating the project to death with the procrastination stick until it is unrecognizable. We make mistakes that are completely out of character because we are rushed and panicked and now even MORE convinced that the partner is, in fact, going to seriously impede your survival at the firm. When we work from that mental space, motivated by fear, we do not do our best work. We miss things we would not normally miss and we overlook basic things that we KNOW. In sum, we fail ourselves and show up much less than our best.

This whole routine is tethered together by one small similarity: fear. We procrastinate because we are avoiding some negative emotion; we are afraid of something about the project. Then we procrastinate until a larger fear gets us moving. Ultimately, we end up creating our own self-fulling prophecy where we do the really terrible job that we feared we would do in the first place.

So what do we do?

We have to start getting honest with ourselves about why we are procrastinating to begin with. Once we get to the root of fear, we can ask whether we like that reasoning. Furthermore, we can acknowledge how this story will end if we choose to invest in that fear and go down the Facebook rabbit-hole instead. Combating procrastination only requires one thing from you: honesty. Honesty with yourself about your actions and your justifications. From there, all you have to do is ask yourself whether you like your reasons for acting or not acting and make a new, informed, honest choice about your next steps. Those are the choices that will determine the type of person you become — one who procrastinates or one who doesn’t. The choice is ultimately yours and all that matters is whether you are comfortable with your reasoning.

“Following-through is the only thing that separates dreamers from people that accomplish great things.”

Gene Hayden

Start taking actions towards your goals and stop letting fear derail your progress. Sign up for a free session and stop procrastinating today.


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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.”


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Asking for Help

By nature (or creation) most attorneys are notoriously terrible at asking for help. We are conditioned to do it all on our own and figure it out and so far, it has worked out well for ourselves. In the practice of law, however, this reluctance can not only be detriment to ourselves but also our clients.

In my opinion, this starts with the study of law. Law school and the pursuit of lawyer-dom is a solitary pursuit. We spend hours and hours alone, reading casebooks, working on our outlines, and reviewing class notes. It’s not that the solitude of legal studies is unique from other kinds of scholarly pursuits but it is unique in that, becoming an attorney means becoming a business of one. People hire an individual attorney based upon their knowledge and skill set.

There is some expectation that we, standing on our own, will have the answers.

Pair that implicit expectation with the study of law and those long hours of solitude and drop in the competitive gauntlet of the legal job market. Everyone is competing for positions at the top firms or clerkships; you have to lock down a job before your last year of law school even begins lest your career be over before you even graduate.

This solitary, competitive realm breeds attorneys who are silo-d. We get really good at the grind and problem solving. But this environment also breeds attorneys who are not very good at asking for help.

There are going to miscommunications and disconnects between you and the rest of your team. Partners will omit essential information and facts when giving you assignments. People will make false assumptions about your background or skills. When we resist asking for help or seeking additional clarification, we are ignoring all of those truths.

When we don’t ask for help we are choosing instead to believe that we have been provided all of the facts, communication was clear, and no one made any assumptions.

We ascribe absolute perfection to others involved in the project and assign absolute imperfection to ourselves. The wildest part about these scenarios is that we KNOW, logically, that the partner or assigning attorney is far from perfect. They may have a habit of omitting pertinent information or forgetting to provide key documents or they may simply have a reputation for providing terrible direction. But in the heat of the moment, we are so busy focusing on ourselves and our failures in the situation that we overlook the roles of others involved.

We provide no room for compassion toward ourselves. It’s so much easy to be hard on ourselves!

When you fail to ask for help it is usually because there is some nasty thing you tell yourself in that moment. You make asking for help mean something negative about you. The next time you find yourself spinning your wheels in confusion, ask yourself what you are making it mean if you went to ask for help or clarification? Do you believe that it means you aren’t good enough? You should not be an attorney? The partner is going to judge you and think you’re an idiot?

You are none of those things. You already are an attorney. If you weren’t able to do the job, you wouldn’t have made it through the LSAT, 3 years of law school, the bar exam, and landing your first job. Don’t let something as simple as a miscommunication or misunderstanding erode all of that value.

Approach the situation with curiosity–why am I struggling? Why am I confused? What am I missing? And get to work sussing out that information.

That may require you to seek some additional support and follow-up with the assigning attorney. Remind yourself that the other attorney is not perfect either and it is possible they omitted something or miscommunicated something. In fact, that is more likely true than the possibility that you are an idiot who shouldn’t be practicing law.

Open yourself up to alternative possibilities and stop making it all about you!

Your team and your clients are counting on you to put aside your ego and get the job done.

Take advantage of an opportunity to take this work deeper and apply it directly to your practice. Sign up for a free one-on-one coaching session with me. I would love to help you reconnect with your value and get your career back on track.


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Living Authentically

As women in the legal industry, we have the unfortunate “opportunity” to be treated differently. Sexually suggestive comments, demeaning remarks about women in general, getting mistaken for a secretary, being compensated unfairly, just to name a few. One recent study concluded that sexual harassment in the legal industry is at epidemic proportions. Sadly, I have never met a woman in the legal industry who has not experienced some of these challenges.

Yet, despite our ability to clearly articulate ourselves and zealously defend others, so many of my clients and colleagues shy away from defending themselves.

Why is that? 

Many of my clients relate stories to me about their work environment that remind me of my experiences in an abusive relationship. It is difficult to deny that sometimes our work relationships are not all that much different than controlling and toxic romantic relationships.

What is also similar about the two is that in both instances, we have the opportunity to stand up for ourselves, set boundaries, and re-write our story but many of us decline to do so.

If you are living in a work environment that you believe is “toxic”, now is the time to take back your agency. Erase the victim mindset and start taking control of your life. This will likely require you to have some uncomfortable conversations, it might require boundaries, and it most certainly will require you to start re-thinking your life.

We cannot overcome challenging relationships if we believe the relationship is happening to us and we just have to accept it.

When it comes to unhealthy romantic relationships, we are often quick to judge those women who stay too long or “put up with” too much. But how is staying in an abusive and toxic working environment any different?

Whether it is our personal life or our professional life, we have the power to make choices.

We get to decide what is acceptable for us. We get to decide whether to stay in the relationship or not. If you believe that your boss treats you poorly or you feel taken advantage of, silence in that aspect of your life is akin to tacit approval of such mistreatment in your personal life. So why is it that we are so quick to accept things professionally that we would never accept personally?

Because we are wed to faulty beliefs:

This is just the way it is

I can’t change it, why make a fuss?

I have to take it, he gives me all my work

If I say something, they will think I’m being emotional or a complainer

These thoughts are riddled with problems.

First, they are neither true nor factual. They are simply opinions. Opinions that form the basis for resignation and silence. We treat them as absolute facts but they are not. They are things we have chosen to believe.

Second, those beliefs justify our willingness to accept treatment that is not consistent with who we are. We end up pretending to be someone we are not, accepting things we are not actually okay with. We end up lying to all those around us; giving them a false impression of what’s important to us.

Third, you are sacrificing your values and dignity in an attempt to control how others think of you.

I’m not going to say anything because I don’t want to be seen as a complainer.

You are being silent because you are trying to manipulate how others see and think of you. This never works. What I often see happening is that eventually the façade becomes too heavy to bear and women abruptly quit their jobs with little to no explanation given. The firms are either shocked or completely confused by the result and any opportunity for positive change and honesty is eclipsed.

Make a commitment to be authentic in all or your relationships.

If we continue to believe that the legal environment is “just not for us”, we will continue to drop out of the fight without putting on our boxing gloves. If you believe you have been mistreated or you believe that there is room for improvement in your working relationships, commit to having those uncomfortable conversations. You never know, you might foster change for the next generation of women in your position.

Promise yourself that when and if you leave your firm there will be no confusion about your rationale for leaving.

There will be no confusion because you will have voiced your concerns and thoughts openly and honestly during your tenure. The reasons for your departure will have all been clearly laid out for them already.

When we are silent about our struggles in the legal industry we handicap ourselves and we allow bad behavior to continue.

Find your voice and start living authentically, it’s so much more fun than the alternative.

Not sure how to have those difficult conversations? Get some free support today. The silence isn’t worth it.


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“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.)


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How to Know When It’s Time for a Change

No matter what profession you are in, there will be times in your career where you will wonder if it’s time for a change. One of the most common phrases I hear in coaching is:

How do you know….

When it’s time to quit your job

When it’s time to find a new firm

When it’s time to ask for a divorce

When it’s time to change professions

When faced with these questions from clients, we work through a three step process:

myths, justifications, and so whats

The myth: there is no predestined “right time” that must be known before we can make big decisions.

What is the benefit of that line of thinking?

It’s like handing your life over to some unknown scheduler, hoping that they will let you know when you can move on. It assumes that there will be a time when the change you are questioning will be easy. It also assumes there will be a time when you can act without any fear or reservation.

Instead, this wait and see approach simply keeps you stuck. It keeps you in the safe familiar. It justifies your unwillingness to do the scary thing and gives you an excuse for not taking control over your life: “It just doesn’t feel like the right time.”

In my experience, those of us that wait to find some certainty that the time is finally “right” to make that big decision only end up getting beat over the head with their own truth.

The truth that they have known all along but that they kept ignoring, waiting for a “sign” that it was the perfect time to act. When we ignore those inklings that we need to make a change and we tell ourselves that we need to wait for the “right time,” life typically just turns up the volume and makes that truth harder to ignore.

You knew the right decision already but you allowed fear to convince yourself that you needed to wait for the right time.

There is no “right time.” If you feel driven or called to do something or make a change, pay attention to those urges. They will not go away. They will just get louder and the messaging typically becomes more painful (so that you cannot ignore it).

The one person that we should innately trust, who always has our back, is ourselves. Why do we ignore her so often and listen to others whose intentions are not always so benevolent? In order to build the life of your dreams, you have to start trusting yourself.

The only person who will join you for every step of the journey is yourself.

So, you might as well start giving her a seat at the table.

The justifications. When we are trying to weigh important decisions, the most important question to ask yourself is “why” do I want to do this. Next, we ask ourselves if we like our reasoning.

It’s that simple.

If your reason for wanting to leave your job is because “It’s too hard…I don’t think I’m cut out for it…I’m not happy here” you have to as yourself if you like that reasoning. Do you feel good about that explanation?

For many of us, these types of justifications are at the root of a lot of decisions. Things get hard. Life will challenge you to grow. These justifications are all based in some sort of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not being good enough. Fear that you made a mistake.

Furthermore, these types of justifications give away all your power–you imply that your job should give you some sort of happiness. (In case you missed it, happiness is no one’s job but yours.)

You are free to allow yourself to make decisions based upon these justifications, that is wholly your right. But my question is: Do you like your reasons? Do you feel good about your justification?

Be honest with yourself about why you are wanting to do (or not do) something and carefully examine your justification.

So long as you like your reason, you have everything you need to act. From there you simply make a decision and execute. No drama. Just action from a place of authenticity. Simple.

The so whats.

This is the part of the process where we tackle the fear that is keeping us stuck. When we eliminate the drama and get clear about our justifications for acting, the only thing that will keep us from executing is fear. In order to act, we have to take a look at that fear.

If you act and you make the “wrong” decision, so what?

Answering that question will ultimately bring you face to face with your worst case scenario. When we ask “so what?” over and over and over again, we eventually get to the root of the fear:

I don’t want people to think I’m a failure…because then I will believe I have failed.

I don’t want to be embarrassed…because it will mean I have messed up.

I don’t want to admit I was wrong…because it will mean I’m less than.

Facing our worst case scenarios and developing a strategy where we not only survive but THRIVE through those events will dispel the fear that is keeping us from acting.

If we know that we can make a decision, fail, and handle the consequences, there is no longer anything to be  afraid of. There is no longer any reason NOT to act.

Don’t let your brain tell you that you can’t handle your worst case scenario. Believing that will keep you stuck indefinitely.

Don’t make your life a merry-go-round of boring and fear-driven decisions. What would your future self tell you to do?

Interested in some free support in making your next big decision? I got you. Sign up today before this week’s spots are gone.


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The Mistake Spiral

The most common thing I see among associate attorneys is the fear of making mistakes.

As attorneys, we can become so paranoid about making a mistake that we put a tremendous about of pressure on ourselves. Our minds are filled with nonstop nasty chatter:

Don’t make another mistake

You have to get this right

This has to be perfect this time

You can’t miss anything this time

They all think you are an idiot

Maybe you shouldn’t have become a lawyer

You don’t have what it takes

Not only are you frustrated over the last mistake but now all that noise makes it even more difficult to focus and do a good job.

As a partner, I always knew when an associate was spinning in this fear. They were taking longer to do everything. They were agonizing over the smallest details. The result of all their mental berating was that they usually ended up missing the big picture and billing a ton of time in the process. What’s more, those associates rarely reached out for help before they got too deep. It was incredibility frustrating.

When you spin in self-doubt, self-judgment and pressure to do everything perfectly, you are demonstrating to those around you that you have some doubts about your ability to do it right. When you allow one mistake to send you into a tailspin, it makes it difficult for those around you to have confidence that you believe in your abilities; that you can handle feedback or that you can operate under pressure.

What’s more, that self-doubt spiral convinces you that you can’t reach out and ask questions for fear that it will affirm to others that you DON’T know what you are doing. You end up going down rabbit holes and over-analyzing the wrong details. Ultimately, everyone’s time is wasted and the project drags on.

How’s that working out for your work relationships or your confidence?

It is a never-ending death spiral of self-fulfilling prophecies.

What’s so interesting to me is that below the surface of all these thoughts and pressure is the belief that this path was easier for everyone else. That others didn’t struggle as much as you are.

Why are you choosing to believe that your struggles are special?

Why are you allowing your growth and development to be a sign that you are broken?

Consider the possibility that those around you similarly struggled. You don’t know that they didn’t yet you are CHOOSING to believe that is the case.

At this point in your career, I think we can ALL agree that law school doesn’t teach you how to be a lawyer. Your legal education was no different than anyone else’s. All attorneys wander the morass and confusion fog for YEARS before it clicks. You are not special in this regard!

The root of all those self-doubts and mistake spirals is the ultimate fear of failure. Below each overworked project and overly analyzed email is the fear of what it means when you make a mistake. And further, what it means if you keep making mistakes:

You can’t hack it.

You weren’t meant to be an attorney.

You made a mistake.

You shouldn’t be here.

That sneaky little worry is bubbling below the surface of all of those self conscious acts. You are afraid that those mistakes, when taken in total, are an indication that you can’t do this. From there, you build up these crazy expectations of perfection and try to think clearly and rationally from a place of frenzied panic and tremendous pressure.

It’s no wonder you keep making mistakes! How the hell are you supposed to do a good job when all you are thinking about is how you aren’t doing a good job? It’s madness!

Perfectionism is for scared people.

Repeat that phrase. Live it. Breathe it. Believe it.

When you try to mold yourself into some perfect “out-of-the-box” ready to perform, legal wizard you are setting yourself up for failure.

Law school does not prepare you to practice law. Welcome to the first phase of your life where there are no clear guidelines, metrics are fuzzy, and you have to just start trusting that you are doing it right.

Stop beating yourself up for signing up for the “on site” education that is the practice of law. That is how it works. Allow yourself to experience the process of learning on the job just like every associate attorney on the planet.

One small mistake does not mean that you are not cut out to be a lawyer. Do not let that mistake stoke the fires of fear and propel you into a frenzy.

You are a human. You will mess up.

Welcome to the party.

You want to do a good job and you want to improve and that is commendable. But first, you must do a good job for yourself. Honor the process of on-the-job development. Recognize that you don’t know it all and THAT IS OKAY. No one does.

Second, ditch your ridiculous expectations for yourself and get to work learning how to trust yourself and your judgment despite some bumps in the road.

Besides, what’s the alternative?

Where is all this worrying and fear getting you? What does it hurt to loosen up a bit and just keep rolling with the punches and using each mistake as a learning opportunity? An opportunity to honor yourself, have your own back, and learn.

The only thing you are learning when you continually run the cycle of negative self-talk is how to treat yourself terribly.

There isn’t room for much more and there certainly isn’t room left for growth. Recognize where your current patterns are leading you and decide if that is what you want. The choice is yours.

I help my clients get more confidence, roll with the punches, and have some compassion for themselves. Sound like something your practice is missing? Get some free support now and see what we can do together.


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Save the Drama for . . . well, you know . . .

Recently I’ve had several sessions with a similar underlying theme relating to drama and the stories about ourselves and our lives that we carry around with us.

So many of us carry stories about ourselves or our past that are so riddled with drama that it is making all of us crazy!

Not only does this drama typically bring with it some unwanted and unproductive emotions but the habit of creating drama in your life is going to make it difficult to find space for the things you truly WANT to spend your energy doing. As you make bigger goals and strive to do new things, you are going to encounter struggles and negative emotions and if you spin out in drama every time this happens, you will handicap that goal…and you will likely make yourself crazy in the process, so that’s fun too.

I once had a client tell me that the reason she is stuck in her life is because she can’t move home to the Midwest. “I can’t move home to the Midwest because I have this house and it needs all this work and I keep trying to hire contractors but I don’t trust them and there really aren’t any good contractors out there any way, and the house is practically unlivable because the last contractors I hired completed botched the roof and now water is coming in everywhere. . .”

On and on she went about how the house was so terrible and no one could be trusted to fix it for her so she would just have to be stuck where she was until she could figure something else out.

Come to find out that the issue with the house was that the contractors didn’t properly seal her skylights so the roof was leaking over her kitchen. That was the huge catastrophe that was keeping her from moving. Of course, when she initially related all this to me, I was horrified, imaging contractors who had left huge sections of her roof completely unfinished and exposed to the elements and a roof that was about to cave in and lions, tiger, and bears, oh my!

My mind immediately went for the drama.

That is what our reptilian brain does! It looks for danger to try and keep us from getting eaten by lions! This situation was not worthy of that level of panic but that’s what our brain immediately wants to do.

Here’s another example. My partner is selling his home and recently found out that his roof had some damage and would need to be replaced prior to the sale. When I got his message that he was going to have to replace the roof, my mind LITERALLY imagined that there must be huge holes in his roof from some cataclysmic overnight hail storm that I slept through. My heart started to race and I imagined all the horrible possibilities. When I spoke to him, he was very matter-of-fact: the home inspector says there is hail damage, I spoke to my insurance carrier and filed a claim, they will let me know more soon. That was it. No drama. Just the facts. My mental chaos was immediately snuffed out.

The distinction here is that one person was focused on the facts of the situation and JUST the facts. No superfluous details or embellishments.

Just those aspects of the situation that everyone would agree were universally true about the situation. That is the trick that so many of us are missing. When our brains want to spin out of control joyriding a parade of horribles, we have to stop and focus on the facts. Once these scenarios are boiled down to simple facts, they become so much less dramatic. So much easier to solve for and they require so much less of your energy!

I most often see this when people speak about their pasts. Try it sometime on people that you know well. For instance, that friend of yours who is always sending you 11pm text messages “Call me immediately!” for some new drama. If you ask her to describe her childhood or last relationship, her description will likely be laden with drama.

On the other hand, your friend that always seems calm, cool, and collected will likely describe her past with simplicity and without unnecessary drama or extravagant stories. It doesn’t mean that one of them had a past that was any easier or less challenging, it just means that one of them chooses not to create drama around her childhood and chooses instead to cast her childhood in factual and positive tones.

How we describe our past experiences is a choice.

It doesn’t mean you deny that you have had difficult experiences; it means that when you think about those experiences, you focus on the facts and you find truths about those experiences that make you feel good instead of focusing on the facts that make you feel miserable. This is SO important because if you cast your past in a drama-filled, chaotic manner, those thoughts are not likely going to make you feel like you are ready to take on the world and build your empire. I personally know that when I allow myself to sift through the drama of my past relationships and the negativity of those experiences, the only thing I want to do is sit on the couch and eat an entire bag of chips with queso. Those thoughts are not helpful. They are not making you feel better and they are not helping you move forward.

The only reason your past exists today is because you let it. The only way your past exists is in your mind.

How you think about that past in your mind is YOUR CHOICE. Separate the facts of your past from the drama. You will free up so much mental space when you do.

Here is an example to help drive home this point. I once left a firm and believed that I was not leaving on good terms. I believed that we were both angry about how things worked out and I believed there was a lot of resentment in both camps. So, when I received my last paycheck from the firm and it was about 10% of my usual paycheck, I went through the roof! I was so upset and angry and indignant that they would “do that to me.” I had convinced myself that it was an intentional slight and was the ultimate “last straw” in my relationship with them. I would never have anything good to say about them EVER! On and on I went. I told myself there was no need to call them and challenge my compensation because they would have all sorts of excuses and rationalizations and it “just wouldn’t be worth the energy to ask them about it” I just didn’t “want the fight.” I didn’t want the fight but I was seething no less. I was fighting, alright, I just didn’t have an opponent.

So I decided to heed some of my own advice. I ditched the drama and endeavored to find the facts. That required me to reach out and start asking questions. Turns out, the payment was correct but without the breakdown of how they landed at that number, I didn’t have a full picture. Health insurance, retirement contributions, final deductions, etc.  for the full month of my termination had whittled my final paycheck down to almost nothing. Once I saw the numbers, it made sense. All that drama for WEEKS. What a waste.

What could I have done differently? Rather than making myself crazy for weeks, I could have focused on the facts of the situation: I got my last paycheck, it was $X less than usual, I did not ask for an explanation. Those facts, standing alone don’t seem worthy of a meltdown. Those facts instead beg the question—why aren’t you asking for an explanation? Those facts are confusing and require additional research! Simple. If I had looked at the facts sooner, I could have spared the drama and asked for the information earlier. Or I could have decided not to ask for an explanation and added another fact: I am not asking for an explanation and I am okay with that. Done. No more mental work to be done here.

If you can learn to identify and clean up the drama in your brain and in your life, imagine what you could do with all that extra time and energy. The possibilities are endless!

Need support ditching the drama? Coach with me and let’s start cleaning up your brain.