Finding Balance

Nearly every client I work with has a hard time disconnecting from work.

Their minds are constantly re-hashing conversations, reconsidering strategies, worrying about what’s in their email.

The build-up of anxieties drives them to obsessively check their emails to see whether they have missed anything or gotten any feedback on their most recent projects.

Every time they check their emails, they are either “rewarded” with radio silence–Wahoo! I can relax for a minute!–or they receive more evidence that they cannot, ever, disconnect–Good thing I checked my email and can respond to this emergency right away!

Over time, this pattern disconnects us from our friends, family, and loved ones and creates an obsessive compulsive relationship with our phones and our jobs.

My clients want to be able to disconnect. They want to be present with their loved ones.

They want to enjoy a nice meal with their spouse and talk about something other than work.

They want to silence the chaos in their minds and focus only on what is happening in that moment.

They want to be able to put down their phones and make time to relax every day.

They know that if they don’t stop this pattern, every relationship outside of work is going to suffer and their mental well-being will erode.

But they BELIEVE they can’t stop. They BELIEVE disconnecting isn’t an option.

Sound familiar? Work with me and learn the foundational steps to protect your well-being and learn how to disconnect.

In order to fully commit to our profession, it means also making a commitment to show up as our best selves. It means investing in rest and life outside of work so that we can be fully engaged when we are working. To do otherwise is to cut our careers off at its knees because what we create is not sustainable.

Obsessive commitment to anything is not sustainable.

Recognize where your life is out of balance and endeavor to find pockets of rest and disconnection. Allow your brain to freak out every time you step away but honor yourself and your long-term wellbeing by making disconnection a priority. It WILL get easier with practice.

Your future self will thank you.

When we don’t practice disconnection and rest, we instead practice NOT disconnecting and NOT slowing down. We strengthen those muscles which ultimately makes any kind of balance even more difficult.

Today, I encourage you to find a pocket of space to reconnect with yourself.

You are not the job.

You are so much more than that.

Spend some time with your real self today. She might have some things to say to you.


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Boundaries

Most of the attorneys that I work with do not believe that it is possible for them to create happiness within their current environment. They come to me unhappy and overworked. They believe that the only way things are going to get better is if the firm finally changes. Or if they leave. Part of the work that I do with my clients is helping them to start setting boundaries and flexing their “no” muscle.

Saying, “No, ” is always an option available to us to make more time for ourselves. To make time for the things that actually matter to us. So that we can find some space and happiness. We know, logically, that if we want more time, more balance, and more peace, boundaries are part of the deal but we are reluctant to flex those muscles because we fear the consequences.

There is a difference between not knowing how to resolve a problem and being afraid to implement solutions you know exist.

When my clients consider the possibility of not responding to an email at 8:30pm on a Wednesday night, it doesn’t seem like a real option. Their brains tell them that those kinds of boundaries will get them fired, demoted, judged, and “into trouble.”

Possibly.

We set boundaries because we know what is good for us; that doesn’t mean others are going to like it.

But let’s explore that. My clients that are learning to set boundaries and say “no” continue to meet their hourly obligations to the extent those obligations are clear. They continue to do good work, often times even better work. They continue to be a team player. And with these changes their attitude and energy change dramatically as well. Is it reasonable to believe that a firm is going to fire someone performing in this manner simply because they are not willing to be a doormat, on call 24/7? It’s possible. But it’s also possible that the firm will swallow that pill even though they don’t like it.

If this resonates with you, grab a free session and commit today to start living differently.

Furthermore, when we tell ourselves that setting these boundaries, pushing back and saying “no” is going to cause us to get fired, I don’t believe that result differs from the alternative. I work with attorneys all day long, every day. Attorneys who are burnt out and unhappy. Attorneys who have implemented the rage quit or attorneys who are tap dancing on the edge of it. What I submit is this:

If we continue the path that we have historically been on, where we ignore our boundaries and forget how to say “no,” the ultimate result is that we leave. We leave burnt out, unhappy, and disillusioned, believing that practicing law is just not right for us. That path may take several years to trek but ultimately the lack of boundaries ends with a sad exit.

In contrast, we can choose a path where we speak our truth. We’re honest about our availability, we set clear boundaries and make time for what’s really important to us. If that path were to result in us being terminated, we must also ask:

Is that so much worse than the alternative?

How long do you think you could flex those “no” muscles, set boundaries, stand up for yourself, and make more time for what’s really important to you before the firm steps in and decides that they no longer want to employ you? Six months? A year? What would that time be like for you? To have more time, more balance, to have the ability to workout and spend time with your family instead of constantly feeling on the edge and on call. Wouldn’t that six months or one year of balance and peace serve you in a much better manner than those years of burnt out frustration?

The ending is the same most certainly but the person at the end of either of those journeys is absolutely not the same person. And the sacrifices each of them would make during those journeys could not be more different. The choice is yours. What do you have to lose?


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Are You Living in Fight or Flight?

For many of us, when we are practicing and things get hairy, we unknowingly slip into survival mode and our days are spent living in fight or flight. We lose touch with our rational thinking and have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. We are convinced that there are no solutions available to us and we just want to keep our heads above water. We are surrounded by a negative cloud and we tend to believe the worst case scenario is waiting for us around any corner.

We can’t ask for what we want because everyone will judge us.

They will pull work from us if we complain.

They will say we’re not partner material.

They will fire us.

It will never change.

There’s no point speaking up.

They’re never going to let me lighten my workload.

That’s just the way it is.

There is no fixing it.

While all of this thinking could certainly be true, when we are living in fight or flight mode, flitting from project to project just trying to make it through the day, we start to believe that all of those statements are factual. We start to believe that those are the only truths available to us.

When we are living in fight or flight, our brain operates from negativity bias.

It sees everything on the horizon as an animal that is ready to kill us and it sees any deviation from the norm as a high risk. For these reasons, it becomes very difficult for us to realize that all of those statements, while they could be true, the opposite could also be true. It becomes very difficult for us to see that we are only looking at one possible outcome.

This is why so many of us just. keep. going. hoping that someday it will change.

We forget that we cannot tell the future and that while the worst case scenario could certainly happen, the best case scenario is also equally possible. When we are in the middle of a crisis at work feeling overwhelmed and overloaded, it is very difficult to generate any feelings other than resignation and hopelessness. It’s no wonder it feels like an impossible task to make changes or to ask for what we want.

Our brain is not wired to look for positive potential outcomes when it is fighting to survive!

When we find ourselves overwhelmed by negativity and overcome by the challenges before us, the only thing we can do is watch our survival brain at work. Watch our brain convince us that the worst case scenario is the only possible outcome and recognize that our brain is not offering us any other alternatives but to just keep going. This awareness can be all it takes to raise us out of the negativity overwhelm back to a neutral state where we can make clear-headed and unbiased decisions. We have to recognize what our brain is doing and realize that what it is offering to us is only 1/2 of the possibilities before us.


Many of my clients put in the work to shift out of panicked, fight or flight practicing to create a strategic path toward balance and clarity. If you want to stop drinking from the fire hose and take back your own agency, join us. This work changes everything.


Once we start seeing that there is, in fact, more than one potential outcome, and more than one path forward, we take back our power. From that space we can start to see and evaluate clearly the options ahead of us. At the same time we move out of victim mentality and stop believing that everything is happening to us and recognize our own power in the moment. We can choose to believe that things just might work out, that we can use our voice, live authentically and just maybe everything will be okay.

(Because drinking from the firehouse day in and day out never ends well for anyone. )


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Refocusing During Chaos

We have all had those days when we feel pulled in a million different directions. Your phone bursts to life with a cacophony of alerts, messages, and phone calls and you can no longer find the bottom of your inbox. Everything coming into your email feels like an emergency and everything on your to-do list seems like an impossibility as well as a concrete reminder of your inability to get it together.

As the demands of the day press down upon us with such herculean force, it can be difficult to maintain composure and prevent the overwhelm meltdown.

Today, I found myself slipping into this old pattern and having to regroup and employ many of the tools that I teach to my clients. I had several large projects that I wanted to focus my energies on and I suddenly felt like there just wasn’t enough time to get everything done. Hopelessness was sinking in as I stared blankly at my calendar.

As I focused on how to get to work and execute on my daily goals, I found that my eyes kept drifting off to my email inboxes, tracking all the new things that kept pouring in. Because I maintain three separate email addresses–one for my legal practice, one for my coaching practice, and one for my personal and nonprofit work, a simple review of my emails to “just seeing what’s going on” can quickly spiral out of control and precious time is lost. Here I was, feeling overwhelmed with my daily priorities and now that overwhelm was like a rising tide of panic as I glanced at each new message coming in.

For every email, I felt the desire to jump on it and respond immediately. I wanted to answer the pleas for support, redirect my legal team working on important projects, check in with clients, and just GSD. In addition to those impulses, came other emails eliciting frustrated brain chatter. As I was frantically responding to some emails, other emails had me mentally berating my staff, complaining about my nonprofit boards, and angry that people just wouldn’t leave me alone. My overwhelm was now compounded with the downward spiral of victim mentality and frustration.

There isn’t enough time! I am going to let everyone down! I’m so irritated with everyone! Why can’t they figure this out on their own!? Bah!

All of this was making me feel pretty rotten and powerless. Despite all that, I was glued to my emails, trying to salvage some “feel goods” by tackling those low hanging fruits. I was avoiding the bigger picture and chasing the endorphin rush of helping in small ways in that moment, responding to “simple emails” and inquiries. Nevermind that that little foray was going to cost me even more later on as precious time ticked away.

In that moment, I realized that keeping up with my email today was not my number one priority — maintaining my email was not even in my top three today.  So, I set a timer and agreed to check my email in 2 hours. Then I closed the window browsers and got back to work. Not only would those emails still be there 2 hours from now when I finished my priorities, but I had already scheduled time to triage my inbox today, as I do everyday. Despite my prior planning, my email had become a persuasive distraction in those moments of overwhelm and pushed itself right to the front of the line.

It’s easy to dive into your email, get organized, address a million non-emergencies, and avoid the larger projects that will actually make an impact in your life. It’s the difference between throwing a boulder or a handful of pebbles into the pond–how big of an impact are you wanting to make today?

We all have those moments where suddenly everything feels so chaotic and we feel hopeless and lost. It is in those moments that we have to stop, reconnect with our priorities, and step away from all the things we use to feel better amidst the overwhelm. We have to force our primitive brains to stop freaking out and believing that everything in our orbit is suddenly life or death. For me, in this case it meant shutting down my email and believing fully and wholeheartedly that nothing would happen in the next 2 hours that would destroy my career or my credibility. From that space I was able to redirect my energies and calm the chaos in my mind. And what do you know, I got those projects done and checked my emails and no one fired me, no one died, and the world kept spinning.

Part of the reason this redirection is so challenging for most of us is because of the things we tell ourselves when we pull away from our inbox. All those worries, judgments, comparisons, and worst-case scenarios. That is where coaching comes in because when you believe that you “need” to or “should” respond immediately or that other people are doing it better than you, you will never break this cycle. Challenging those closely held thoughts and beliefs is the first step to freedom and peace. Join us.


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Putting Out Fires

How’s your day going? Are you doing one million different things at the same time, answering phone calls, responding to emails, getting yelled at, blurting directives in the hallway, yelling at someone else, and juggling flaming torches, while running a marathon and planning a birthday party for your spouse all before 10am?

Just a regular Tuesday, eh?

Oh the panicked frenzy of practicing law! On those days, your brain is laser focused and you can feel the adrenaline coursing through your body as you move from one thing to the next with effortless precision. For many of us, we get addicted to this frenzy. We develop a strange love affair with the pressure and intensity of those days. We feel alive! Connected to the work! Like a boss. If only we could feel like this all the time!

While these bursts of energy and manic productivity can be incredibly addictive and create tremendous surges of satisfaction, working from this state is problematic for two reasons.

First, it is not sustainable. During these moments of manic productivity and putting out fires we are actually operating from a primitive state. Our body has infused our system with tremendous amounts of adrenaline because the pressure and stress that we have put on ourselves and created in our minds has led our primitive brains to believe that we are on the verge of being murdered by carnivorous clients. We switch into survival mode operating on adrenaline; our hearts race and our brains become laser focused on the task in front of us because it suddenly equates the task with survival.

Our primitive brain and the survival mechanisms that kick in are powerful and addictive in many ways but we must recognize that living day-in and day-out being driven by adrenaline and our primitive brains is not sustainable. Our bodies were not designed to flourish under those amounts of adrenaline, which is a finite resource. It’s simply not possible to maintain that high and that level of focus and productivity long-term. We are literally living everyday in fight or flight, frenzied panic. Our bodies are preparing for battle. Productive? Yes. Sustainable? Sadly, no.


Sound familiar? Most of my clients reach out to me from that state of panicked frenzy or shortly after the inevitable crash. Stop the madness (literally). Work with me and let’s develop some tools to turn down the noise and put your logical brain back in charge.


Add to this madness, the physical and emotional toll of living on adrenaline for too long — persistent surges of adrenaline can damage your blood vessels, increase your blood pressure, and elevate your risk of heart attacks or stroke. It can also result in anxiety, weight gain, headaches, and insomnia. I’m not that kind of doctor but the Google box and real doctors will back me up on this if you need more convincing.

When we operate from that space of fight or flight and let our primitive brain drive our actions and our responses, we also lose the ability to think rationally with our prefrontal cortex. This brings me to reason number two as to why this is not the best mode of operation.

We do not make good decisions with our primitive brains.

Our primitive brains were designed to keep us safe, seek pleasure, and be efficient. Our primitive brain is the fast acting part of our brain; it is not designed to move slowly, analyze facts, and make well-reasoned decisions. That part of our brain is designed simply to react: everything presented to your primitive brain will be perceived as an emergency, a matter of life-or-death. That means that every email that comes across your desk, every person that darkens your doorway, every phone call that comes in, your brain is going to interpret as an emergency that must be attended to immediately. Simply put, we are not biologically capable of making the best decisions when we are operating from fight or flight and letting our primitive brain drive the boat.

It’s like letting a toddler make decisions about your finances. They are going to spend all of your money going to the amusement park, eating cotton candy and raw cookie dough, and ordering all of the things from the late night shopping channel. They are not going to tell you to eat the damn salad, go to the gym, and “no, that designer purse is not the solution to your tale of woes.” The primitive part of our brain will seek the pleasure that comes from responding to that email immediately and from trying to please the client/partner rather than focusing on the project that you told the client you would get done today.

So what does all this mean?

When you find yourself in that panicked mode of productivity, recognize that your primitive brain has taken over and is clouding your judgment. You need to disconnect and reengage your logical brain. That might mean getting up and walking away from your computer and going outside for 5 minutes. Connect with nature. Take some deep breaths. Spend 5 minutes in meditation. Ground yourself and connect with a mantra–

This is not my life, this is not who I am, I am more than this job, I am more than this day.

By doing these practices we allow our primitive brain to disengage and we put the adult back in the driver’s seat so that we can start making better decisions for the long-term. We make decisions taking into account our priorities and the facts regarding what needs to be done and what does not need to be done in that moment. Save your primitive brain for real emergencies. Do not let your primitive brain drive the bus in your career. From that space you will only create burnout and block yourself from that conscious focus that will take your career to the next level.

Being On Call 24/7

In everything that we do, we are expressing our values not only to ourselves but those around us. In that expression, others will learn to anticipate where they fall on your hierarchy of values. If your choices communicate to them that they will always be #1 no matter what, they will come to expect that treatment every time. Why wouldn’t they?

When you get that phone call late at night, you are choosing to value it more than your time at home with your family.  You are choosing to place greater value on not being yelled at than getting a full night sleep.

You are always making choices where to spend your energy.

Your job is not robbing you of the balance you seek. You are opening the doors and burning down all your guard towers. Why then are we so surprised when they keep doing it? You set the precedent by communicating where these types of interactions fall on your list of priorities: right at the top, above all else.

The only person you need to be mad at for constantly pushing your boundaries is you. Other people will not naturally violate our boundaries — they are taught what is acceptable. WE teach them what is acceptable by our actions. When they continually do so, it is only because they have become the monsters WE CREATED.

We’ve all seen those attorneys who just don’t give a F about not responding immediately to calls and emails. Everyone knows it, everyone gossips and gripes about it, and everyone is secretly jealous that they don’t have the guts to do the same. Not only do those attorneys still have a job but they also have all the balance we’ve been craving. People learned not to call them after 6 and deduced that they won’t respond to late night emails unless it’s truly an emergency.

They made a choice about what they valued more — not being gossiped about or having work life balance. For them, having more balance is worth so much more than being gossiped about for not be “responsive” all the time.

They made conscious decisions about their values and where the demands of the job fell with respect to those values. They clearly communicated their values and they stuck to their guns.

It can be as simple as that.

You do not have to respond to every email just because you saw it and just because someone else decided it was an emergency.  Develop the art of cultivating your mail and only responding after hours to true emergencies (here’s a hint: they never are, we’re not ER doctors) or when you REALLY want to.

Humans are creatures of habit. If we allow others to call on us at all hours of the night, they will continue to do so if it yields the result they want. And they will stop if it doesn’t get the result they want.

You are not a victim to others.

You are only a victim to your own choices and luckily for all of us, we can start making better choices. Choices more in tune with our values.

Sick of the constant barrage of emails and phone calls 24/7? Get support figuring out how to chart a new course at work by signing up for a free session.


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“Yes” Women

Impostor syndrome: “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.”

Many of the women that I work with suffer from various manifestations of imposter syndrome. Recently, I have noticed that many of my clients “handle” their imposter syndrome by slipping to a persistent helper role.

Imposter syndrome persistently tells us that we are a “fake” and that we will be found out; that eventually everyone will realize that we don’t belong and they will get rid of us. One tendency to combat these fears is to make yourself irreplaceable. For many women, this takes the form of caretaker or helper.

I recently had a client who expressed how important it was to her to always been seen as reliable and someone that others could always count on. She was always offering to support new projects and teams even when she knew that she didn’t have the time or capacity. More often than not, she would come to our sessions operating on fumes. Completely exhausted and frustrated that no one can do anything without her. She was burnt out and wanted to change this pattern.

As we explored her patterns, we came to understand that this was completely a mess of her own making. She consciously took on more than she was able and was reluctant to give up that part of her practice. On the one hand, she knew that it was making her miserable but at the same time, she didn’t want to give up that important position. She didn’t want people to gripe if she said no to work. She didn’t want people to judge her if she scaled back and she imagined a parade of horrible comments she believed her co-workers would make if she stopped helping everyone. She wanted to be needed. She wanted to be an essential player on every team. It made her feel safe and secure.

This is what imposter syndrome does! It creates patterns of coping with our fears of inadequacy. We craft ways to “cover up” our perceived shortcomings to keep our secret safe. In my client’s instance, she was bending over backwards to be available to anyone for any project, at any moment. She was constantly cancelling personal trips and social gatherings to jump on new projects. It had become part of her persona and it was what made her feel like she belonged–it helped to soothe the fears of inadequacy. It silenced the negative rantings in her head — they couldn’t possibly fire her even if they discovered her inadequacies, too many people NEEDED her!

The patterns that accompany imposter syndrome are not sustainable. It is neither fulfilling nor rewarding to be at everyone’s beck and call. While it filled my client with a momentary sense of pride, more often it made her angry and frustrated. She felt trapped and out of control. She believed she had nowhere to go but to a full-fledged, out-of-nowhere explosive resignation. But in order to avoid that meltdown, my client needed to take a hard look at her helper tendencies and invest in making some changes.

What is it costing you to say yes to work and projects that you really don’t want to do?

What is really motivating you to take on all these things?

What would it get you if you were better able to set boundaries?

What would it be like to be able to unplug and enjoy your personal life?

Changing how we think of ourselves and how we show up in our lives is painful. Facing the fears associated with setting boundaries is hard work — it is FAR easier to just keeping saying yes to every man, woman, child, and dog that want your time and energy. The only way to truly make the shift is to first get really clear on what your current pattern is costing you and what it will cost you in the long-term if you fail to make a change.

Are you sacrificing your personal life and relationships because you are afraid to say “no” at work? What is that costing you?

Some day, you will leave that job and your friends and family will still be there. Your body, your health, your mental well-being will still be with you. Are you investing in those as well? Is your pattern costing you all those things that will remain once this job is done?

Our patterns are persuasive and convincing. It’s easy to believe we are doing the right things. Those tendencies likely created your immediate success, after all. In order to break this cycle, we have to open our eyes and see that these patterns are costing us more than they are getting us. We have to start believing that if we remain in place, we will destroy everything. Because it’s true. We have to see the forest for the trees. We have to do the hard work.

In order to change we have to understand the cost-benefits of staying where we are versus evolving. If you need support deconstructing your current patterns, grab a free session and start re-investing in your own wellbeing. After all, it’s just a job…

Motivational Triad

When it comes to practicing law, our minds and our internal conversations will be our greatest assets. It won’t be the accolades and background that make or break your practice. It all comes down to your relationship with yourself and the internal discussions no one hears but you. Given this, it seems that the greatest tool we must understand and hone is that magical mind of ours. Specifically, why is it that our mind sometimes goes rogue and makes it seemingly impossible to move forward?

Our mind will analyze the data before us, we must decide what facts are unimportant and focus on the primary issues to maximize our efficiency. At the same time we must manage our emotional impulses associated with stress.

Practicing law is grueling. It challenges our self-worth, our values, and our ability to honor commitments both to ourselves and our clients but also to everyone around us. It is an emotional and mental boot camp of careers of sorts–it even comes with those fun “drill sergeant” type characters who seem to relish in screaming at you letting you know how pathetic you are.

Surviving these challenges not only requires a good amount of grit but a simple understanding of our basic impulses and how those impulses interact with our brains can be a complete game changer.

We are all familiar with “fight or flight” concepts but many of us are not attuned to our basic, biological instincts: the motivational triad. According to the motivational triad, we are wired to prioritize the following:

Seek pleasure.

Avoid pain.

Maintain efficiency.

Within the realm of a law firm environment, the triad can be found in the following tendencies:

Try every way imaginable to squeeze a compliment out of the difficult partner (seek pleasure) even if it means being on call at all hours of every day

Do not stand up for myself when I am being thrown under the bus to the client by a partner that dropped the ball (avoid pain) because I don’t want to get his wrath

Stay at the firm that I hate because this is what I know and I don’t want to rock the boat (maintain efficiency)

Understanding our basic instincts will help you sift through the BS your brain offers you at times. When you desperately want to leave your job and your brain offers you 1,000,000 reasons why that’s a terrible idea, we can recognize that your brain is responding as it was designed. It is trying to keep you safe. It is trying to keep you in the cave, lest you be eaten by cannibal litigators.

When you want to engage leadership in discussions about your work environment but you decide that it won’t be worth it and won’t make a difference. Those. Thoughts. Are. NOT. True. Those are biologically driven responses. Fear-driven, flight responses. Your brain is trying to keep you safe. On the hamster wheel.

When you are contemplating doing something uncomfortable, your brain will flood itself with all sorts of reasons not to act. They will seem reasonable. They will seem perfectly logical. But we mustn’t be persuaded by these biological responses. In those moments we foreclose our own innate knowing. We put blinders on to the other possibilities. Our brains get to work compiling evidence to support those biological responses and will ignore any evidence to the contrary.

Knowing this will allow you to recognize those thoughts just as they are: thoughts. They are not facts. They are not truths. They are not more important than any other thought. They alone are not reasons to act or not act.

In a world where our brains are going to fight us to keep us safe and cozy in the cave, we must become practiced at asking the right questions and evaluating all the options. We cannot allow our motivational triad to push us to act from fear. To seek safety and avoid challenges.

“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some of the work I do with my clients supports them to examine their beliefs and the source of those beliefs. We analyze beliefs and thoughts to ensure that in anything that we do, or don’t do, we aren’t acting from a place of fear and safety-seeking unless that is our CONSCIOUS decision. I love helping my clients observe the motivational triad at work in their lives, then dismantle it! Sign up today, to start your own journey and see where you biological brain is holding you back.


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Never Enough Time

“I never have enough time.”

I hear that comment every week from many of my clients. As women, we have so many hats that we wear — wife, partner, mother, sister, daughter, friend, boss, advisor, career-woman. We inevitably have a ton of things on our plate, it’s no surprise that we are periodically overwhelmed with life and all that is demands of us.

One of the reasons so many of my clients struggle with time management is because of the expectations they put upon themselves. In order to become a lawyer and snag that great position at that amazing firm, we bust our asses. We have grit and tenacity and that is what gets us to this place.

That grit and tenacity is also what sets us up for this battle with time. 

We know we can do hard things. We know we can put our noses to the grindstone and make it happen so we never stop trying to achieve more. As you know, I am a huge advocate for goals, in general, but my question to all overachievers is this: What is your why? Why are you doing all those things? What will it get you?

What are you looking for?

For many of us, we have spent the majority of our lives chasing the dream of becoming a lawyer. When we get there, the excitement that comes with achievement doesn’t last very long and we end up right back where we started — looking for some other mountain to climb.

The rationale for this pursuit, is typically that my clients are looking for something to make them feel fulfilled. They want to find something that will bring purpose and meaning to their lives. They want to feel like they have succeeded.

That. Never. Works. Many of my clients spend years pursuing accomplishment after accomplishment only to feel empty all over again once each new accomplishment high wears off. The truth is that those things outside of ourselves will never give us the purpose and happiness we seek. We have exclusive authority over our sense of purpose and happiness. Piling on goals and tasks and achievements will not only fail to give you that sense of pride you are seeking, it will bog you down and overwhelm your life. It will prevent you from being able to see and appreciate everything you have accomplished because you will always be distracted by the things you failed to do–the cleaning that you didn’t get done, that email to your new client that you wanted to get out, that phone call to your friend for her birthday. You will always be clouded by self-judgement because you have set yourself up for failure.

Part of this is driven by imposter syndrome. We haven’t internalized our worthiness so we seek outward validation that we belong. We don’t believe we are good enough to be here so we try to manufacture feedback confirming that we DO belong, that we are good enough. Implicitly, we care more about what others think about us than what we think about ourselves. We put the wants and needs of others (and thus their opinions of us) before our wants and needs for ourselves. Self care goes out the window and over-achieving pushes down the throttle. It’s no wonder that so many of my clients are overwhelmed with their self-created pressures.

At the end of a busy day, my clients are frustrated by all the things they DIDN’T get done. They spend zero time considering all of the things they DID get done and all of the ways the day was a huge success. Instead of committing to drink more water every day and get their billable hours in on time, they commit to reading a new book every week, working out four times a week, walking the dogs every day, cooking dinner three nights a week, and calling their mom every Thursday. We pile so much on that it would be impossible for any human to keep up. We set ourselves up for the complaint — I never have enough time.

You will never “have enough time” when the expectations you are putting on yourself are unreasonable.

Read that again.

It is not about not having enough time. It is about what you are choosing to pile on your plate and why!

Whenever you find yourself thinking that you don’t have enough time, I challenge you to take a hard look at all the things you have put on your list and ask yourself “why” for each and every one. Why do you think you need to cook a fresh meal every night of the week, why do you need a read the newspaper every day, why are you committing to a book club? Underneath all of our to-do list tasks are often a series of shoulds as well as a desire to feel accomplished and have others see you that way as well.

Are those good enough reasons for you to run this hard?

You are amazing, just as you are, without anything more. But unless and until you believe that, you will also be pursuing an unattainable form of happiness. You will never “have enough time.” It all comes down to our relationship with ourselves. If you aren’t investing in that relationships first, everything else you are doing in this life is just noise.

Stop this madness and start reconnecting with your intrinsic value. Sign up for a free session and let’s see if we can get to the root of this mania and find you more time for real happiness.

I’m Not Going To Make It

When we look around at our live and see all that we have, it is important to recognize where it all came from. How you were able to create it.

As attorneys, it’s easy to look to our law school education as one of our greatest accomplishments. Have you ever thought back to that time and considered what you were thinking that got you through it? What were you believing about yourself that propelled you through those 5-hour finals?

Have you ever considered the opposite end of the spectrum? Consider some of your struggles in life. Times when you weren’t showing up in a way that you were proud of or times when you threw in the towel. What were you believing about yourself in those times?

Our beliefs about ourselves and our abilities bubble below the surface in everything that we do.

I can support you to identify your negative thinking patterns and shift to some prettier thinking but if the beliefs you have about yourself are toxic, none of our work will stick.

What we believe about ourselves and our abilities are often based upon our past experiences. What we were taught, what we have learned about ourselves from events 5, 10, 15 years ago. The truth is that none of that is relevant today. There is no reason our pasts have any bearing on our abilities today.

We can choose to believe anything we want to believe by ourselves.

We are not constrained by our pasts.

There is no universal truth about your ability to create the life you want to. It all depends upon whether or not you believe you can do it.

Many of my clients set big goals for themselves and whenever they are faced with challenge, their brain immediately offers them those deeply ingrained beliefs about themselves. I just don’t have what it takes. I’m not cut out for this. I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough.

We have so many beliefs like these rolling around our brains, running automatically in the background like elevator music behind everything we do and everything positive thought we try to believe. We treat these words as if they are facts. There is a part of us that believes those statements about our abilities are true.

Unless and until you can identify and address your negative beliefs about yourself, you will never be able to achieve you dreams.

This is why so many of us achieve big things but those accomplishments never hit our radar. We finished law school, we landed that major clerkship, we got the job at prestigious firm but we still don’t feel fulfilled and we don’t feel happy. We barely pause for a moment to recognize the achievement because we still don’t believe we deserve it. We believe we aren’t worthy or good enough. We’re impostors and they will find us out! Those thoughts are playing in the background and drown out any positive interpretations of our accomplishments.

The accomplishments never make us feel better because our negative beliefs about ourselves jump in and remind us that it is never going to work. So many of us spend our lives caught in this cycle, constantly achieving and reaching goals but never feeling fulfilled.

The first step in learning to believe new things about yourself is to recognize the negative beliefs you are carrying around.

Take a look at them and see them for what they are: optional thoughts. Choices you are making.

Do you want to continue to believe those things?

Are those beliefs serving you?

How would your life be different if you chose to believe something different?

Second, allow yourself some grace for those thought errors.

You are human and your brain is really good and repeating those thought to keep you safe and cozy. There is nothing wrong with you. Recognizing that your brain has this thought pattern, is not a free pass to dive into another batch of negative self-talk about yourself. These negative thought patterns are normal; don’t beat yourself up for having them.

Third, force yourself to argue with the thought.

What if I am good enough?

What if I can  do this?

What if I can figure it out?

Let those questions lead your brain to some better fodder.

Finally, choose an alternative belief about yourself that does serve you and your goals.

Consider these suggestions:

It’s not what we do—it’s who we are.

There is nothing wrong with you.

You are enough.

Sometimes I doubt myself and that’s okay, I am learning to be more confident.

Nothing has gone wrong here.

I’m responsible for everything I think and feel.

My purpose is the life I am living now.

If you don’t do this work of recognizing and addressing those closely held beliefs you have about yourself and your worthiness, you will always be striving toward your goals while dragging a ball and chain.

Stop fighting yourself and get on the same team.

Get support for free by signing up for a free mini-session. I reserve three slots a week–get yours before it’s gone!


Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels