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.


Photo by Joey Kyber from Pexels

No, It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

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

Is this sustainable?

Do I want to live like this forever?

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

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

How can I make practicing law more live-able?

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

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

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

We make plenty of money.

We are well-respected.

This is just how it is.

You aren’t going to change it.

Don’t rock the boat.

Don’t be a trouble maker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is normal. This is biology.

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

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

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

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

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

What is the alternative?

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

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

You are going to have to find your own voice.

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

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

Are you choosing to be stuck?

Are you choosing a life of comfort and familiarity?

What is that costing you?

Is this what you want your story to be?

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

Life is whatever you choose to make it.

What are you choosing? Do you like your reasons?


Photo by Semina Psichogiopoulou on Unsplash

Insidious Boredom

I’m bored. There is something about that statement that drives me nuts. Kids say it all the time and that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about here – although, yes, that makes me crazy too. I had a client come to me recently complaining that she was bored with her job. She was bored with her job but when I challenged her to consider why she was bored or to develop ways that she could become more engaged in her work, she immediately went on the defensive.

She had 1,000 reasons why there was no solution to her boredom. She was just bored and it was making her depressed. She had really committed to this feeling of boredom and was really struggling to see the situation any differently.

As coaches, we strive to demonstrate how these thoughts that we have are really just simple choices that we make on repeat. In reality, this client had committed to her choice to remain bored but she saw her boredom as a fact of her existence and not something she could control. She had made herself a complete victim to this boredom and boredom was winning.

This got me thinking about boredom, in general, and how this simple emotion can be indicative of so many larger issues. Most of us experience boredom from time-to-time but we rarely take the opportunity to learn from this emotion. Here a are few ways to reconsider your boredom and use it as a means for further self-awareness.

Choosing to be Stuck.

If it is important for you to be engaged in your life and connected with how you are spending your time but you often find yourself feeling bored, it’s time for a closer evaluation of things. For instance, if your current experience is “bored” and you want your life experience to be “fascinated” or “learning” or “being challenged” then you have the opportunity to take action to create that result. It’s just like when kids whine about being bored and we as adults snipe at them go outside, go read a book, go find some friends to play with, etc. We have all the solutions for the kiddos but when we as adults find ourselves bored, we often act like this boredom thing was just imposed upon us without our consent or involvement and there’s simply nothing we can do about it.

Boredom is caused by our thoughts! It is a choice we are making. Instead of choosing boredom, you could get to work brainstorming all the things that you could do to NOT be bored. You could get to work examining your thoughts that are making you feel bored. If you are thinking I’m so bored because I’ve been doing this job for 10 years you could consider some alternative thoughts that might make you feel differently I’m so glad that I have a job that is not full of stress and anxiety or I am working on finding new aspects of my job to develop and stimulate me. Those thoughts will yield feelings and actions that are must different that I’m bored. I am stuck. I am not taking action. When grown adults complain that they are bored, I can’t help but think – you are bored yet your level of engagement in your job, your family, your life, etc. is 110% within your control; if you don’t like it. Fix it. If you aren’t willing to take action to change your thoughts and fix it, accept that as your choice and shut up about it.

Overcoming Boredom Often Uncovers Negative Beliefs.

Choosing to not be bored is often the first critical step in self-exploration. If you decide you want more excitement in your life, you will likely be faced with options and choices that may drum up some negative emotion for you. Are you bored because you are afraid to go out and try to meet new people because you fear rejection? Are you afraid to set up a profile on a dating app because you aren’t happy with your body? Are you afraid to pick up a new hobby because you are worried you won’t have enough time and you will be stressed? All of these thoughts are motivated by fear and resistance to the unknown. These thoughts generate insecurities and negative emotions.

The fear of feeling those emotions is why so many people choose to stay bored. To stay stuck.

These thoughts are not fun and choosing to overcome boredom may require you to push through those thoughts—to feel the fear and do it anyway. Boredom and staying stuck is a hell of a lot easier than working through these feelings. That is the root of why so many people choose to stay bored and choose to stay stuck.

What Are you Making it Mean?

Even before you consider new actions and thoughts that might create a bit more excitement in your life, I always recommend taking a closer look at your boredom. What is going on in your brain that is causing you to feel bored? Are you thinking about how much you don’t like your job? Is there something you think you should be doing with your life instead? Or consider this: What is so bad about being bored? That is really the question so many of us need to examine. When you are “bored” what are you making that mean?

This is a more insidious kind of boredom. I think of it as Buffering in Boredom’s clothing. We all know those people who are constantly piling on the projects and dragging around to do lists a mile long. They say that sharks can’t stop swimming or they will die. While I don’t know whether that is true or not, I always think about that when I meet these people. They won’t stop moving or adding enormous projects to their plate. When I see this with clients, I always ask them what’s so bad about being lazy or bored? What’s so bad about not being busy? What are you making it mean if you are not busy? Why are you always telling yourself you are bored?

They say things like I just love to be busy. I hate being bored. I like to always be on the move. Then, as we continue to discuss it, the “shoulds” start to emerge. When I’m not busy, I just think that I should be doing more, I should have accomplished more, I should have finished this last week, I should be doing XYZ, etc. They have all these reasons why they are “behind” at life and why they have to be sprinting to catch up.

These people are shoulding themselves to death!

They are so afraid of what will happen if they stop swimming. They are afraid of those thoughts and feelings that come up when they stop franticly accomplishing things. They have all these negative thoughts and insecurities about their value that come to the surface when they stop. It’s like they have decided that so long as they continue to check things off their list and add new accomplishments, THEN they will be worthy. THEN they will be accomplished and successful. This belief is so toxic. Unless and until they sort through those thoughts telling them that they aren’t good enough as they are, this cycle will never stop.

There will always more things for the to do list and none of them will ever fill that gap, and the cycle will continue indefinitely.

For me, this rings very true. My resistance to boredom is often driven by negative thinking: You should be doing more with your free time, Why don’t you have more of a social life? Why don’t you have more friends? Why don’t you have a more engaging career or a more exciting job? Why can’t you find a hobby you are passionate about. It is because of these thoughts that boredom makes me uncomfortable. I am not resistant to boredom in and of itself, I am resistant to the feelings it drums up in me. Feelings of inadequacy. Feelings of lack. This is the root of my problem with boredom. These thoughts are why I try to avoid boredom. Being aware of those thoughts allows me to face them, examine them, and work through them.

No Sunshine and Rainbows

Life is not meant to be sunshine and rainbows 100% of the time. There are going to be days/people/projects/experiences that you aren’t going to love. I promise you. But those experiences that aren’t great pave the way for you to have experiences that ARE great. Yin and yang. That is the basic nature of this life. Expecting everything to be easy street will only set you up for a lifetime of disappointments. Believe me, there have been times in my practice when I had to deal with an issue that could easily be classified as “boring.” While I could easily find myself buffering with all sorts of other activities – I need to get a cup of coffee, I’m going to stop by to chat with so-and-so, I think I need a snack, etc. – it was when I was able to buckle down and commit to being fascinated with the topic that I felt truly rewarded. Being able to commit to learning something new and becoming an expert in something is rewarding and exciting – no matter how boring the topic. And besides, approaching those projects with fascination and the intent of getting lost in the work was so much more fun. I would sit down and say to myself, today I’m going to become an expert in this section of the Internal Revenue Code. Yes, it sounds totally boring but when I approached it with that mindset it was so much more explorative and accomplishment-driven. It wasn’t just another item on my list, it was another opportunity to improve myself and to learn something new from a place of fascination.

Growth and development are things I value at a very personal level and being able to recharacterize a “boring” project as an event in furtherance of my core values allows me to see the task with renewed energy and excitement. Making the most of the challenging experiences in our lives is the only way to move through them and make room for the good experiences in life.

If you find yourself feeling unfulfilled in your life or simply bored, ask yourself why you are choosing to feel that way and do you like your reasons? Why does it bother you so much to be bored? What does the feeling of boredom drum up in your mind? Whenever we find ourselves resisting a negative emotion or thought, even something as simple as boredom, it can be an invaluable opportunity to investigate and challenge some of your closely held thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions about your life.

Feeling bored with life? Take the next step. Allow me to push you to elevate and illuminate your true purpose. Coach with me and see how exciting life can be.