Whelmed

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You’re underwhelmed when you have too little to do or a list of nothing but chores and other boring, unrewarding tasks.

Not fun. No way to live.

If that’s you, do something new and challenging. Read a book you don’t normally read, get out of your comfort zone, do something that scares you. Or start working on your new side-business or your book or another adventure.

What’s more common, especially for high achievers and perfectionists like us folk, is being overwhelmed.

We often have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Or we don’t know where to begin. Sometimes we’re paralyzed by indecision. Sometimes we don’t want to do anything.

There are many ways to get out of the funk and back on track. Here are some that work for me:

  1. Do a brain dump. Get everything out of your head and write it down. Everything you can think of that you have to do or remember or decide. Clear your mind of what weighs on it and you’ll feel better, more in control. And, by writing it down, you’re taking action, which helps build momentum towards getting the next thing done.
  2. Schedule it. Go through your list and note anything that has a due date or an important start date and put those on your calendar. More control, more peace of mind.
  3. Tidy up. Do something relatively mindless but useful, like dusting your desk, organizing digital files, or uncluttering drawers and closets. While you’re doing that, your subconscious mind is working on your todo list, figuring out what’s important and the best way to approach it. When you come back from your journey to Marie Kondo Land, you should have some clarity on what to do next.
  4. Choose three. Go back to your list, quickly scan it, and choose no more than three tasks or projects. Put those three on a sticky note or somewhere else you can see them and put everything else out of sight. Work on those three things until you finish them. Progress!
  5. Work on one thing at a time. Single task. I know, it’s difficult to work from home and simultaneously watch your kids, but you have to make space for yourself to do your work. Even one or two hours of uninterrupted quiet time can make a difference.

So, there you have it. A few thoughts on settling your mind and re-establishing control.

AKA, achieving whelment.

How to write a simple marketing plan. Here’s how

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Under pressure

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Sometimes, we feel it when we’re starting a big trial or entering into a high-stakes negotiation. Sometimes, it’s when we’re dealing with an unhappy client. Sometimes, it’s not any one thing but the culmination of a lot of little things.

But there it is. And there it will always be.

How do you deal with pressure in your practice, or in your personal life?

Do you have a process you follow to steady yourself, prepare for unwanted contingencies, and reduce risk?

I just read what a brain surgeon does to achieve peak performance under pressure. It’s sound advice for any professional.

And, if you’re feeling under pressure right now, take a few minutes to listen to David Bowie and Freddy Mercury singing Under Pressure.

It’s could be just what the doctor ordered.

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What I told my daughter about the Coronavirus

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My daughter said she was getting nervous about Coronavirus.

My advice? Stock up on basics, use common sense when you’re out, and don’t watch the news.

Because that’s what my wife and I are doing.

And because, what else can we do?

We’re not worried. Because that doesn’t help.

Just concerned. And cautious.

The virus might turn out to be worse than others. Or it might not. Nobody knows anything yet, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

When the weather warms up, things might look very different.

Unfortunately, like a virus, panic is also contagious, and right now, panic seems to be causing more harm than the virus itself.

So, when family or clients mention the subject, the best thing we can do is show them a level head.

When this blows over, and it will, we’ll all feel a lot better because we survived, and because we didn’t contribute to the chaos.

Keep calm and carry on.

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What are you excited about?

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If your practice in a rut, the thrill is gone and you’re wondering if that’s all there is, there is a solution.

Find something to get excited about.

  • A new practice area
  • A new office
  • A new slant on your existing service
  • A new niche market
  • A new productivity system
  • A new strategic alliance
  • A new website, presentation, or podcast
  • A new book or course
  • A new client who knows “everyone”

Something that keeps you up at night thinking about. Something that makes you smile when you remember it during the day.

Kinda like when you started your practice and everything was new and you were filled with enthusiasm and ideas and unlimited energy.

Because getting excited invigorates you, fuels your creativity, and helps you step on the accelerator.

Funny thing, what you get excited about doesn’t have to be related to your practice.

If you have identified a new investment with tremendous promise, if you meet a new person who could be “the one,” if you’re excited about (finally) getting in shape, if you have a new side hustle. . .

It could ignite a fire in you that spreads to other parts of your life.

Find something to get excited about, or reconnect with the motivation and energy you had when you started your practice.

When you do, you’ll be able to kiss the rut goodbye.

How to take a quantum leap in your practice

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I won’t give up, I won’t give in

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Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t have what you want.

You want what you want and you should have it.

And you will, if you do what needs to be done.

It may take longer than you thought. It may take skills you don’t have. It may take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, or. . . it may not.

It may not take hard work or massive action. It may just take a different strategy.

Confucius said, “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

Don’t give up. Don’t give in. You want what you want and you will have it.

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New Year’s resolutions are a ‘no go’ zone for me

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A long time ago, I wrote New Year’s resolutions.

Not anymore.

Because they focus on the negative.

Things we need to fix. Defects in our character, poor habits, problems with what we do (or don’t do).

If we resolve to exercise more, for example, we tend to focus on overweight, out of shape, lacking in energy, and so on.

Resolutions call attention to our negative aspects and when we dwell on them, we attract more of the same.

Because we get what we think about.

So, instead of resolving to fix something or do better at something or stop doing something that doesn’t serve me, instead of focusing on what’s wrong, I focus on what’s right.

I write a list of positive aspects, things I appreciate about my life.

You might want to do the same.

Write down what you like about being an attorney. About your practice, your partners, your employees, your colleagues, and your clients.

Write down what’s working well for you in marketing your practice. Write down what you did well with a particular case or for a particular client.

Write down what you like about your personal life–your family, friends, community, hobbies, interests and your spiritual life.

Write about books or movies you enjoyed, apps you love, your favorite restaurants, investments that have done well, projects you’re looking forward to starting or completing.

Write about things that make you happy. Things that make you smile or laugh out loud. Things that make you proud.

When you focus on the things you appreciate, the positive aspects of your life, you get more of the same.

No resolutions necessary.

On my list of things to appreciate: you.

Thank you for your patronage, your support, your ideas, your comments and kind words–they mean a lot to me.

I look forward to an exciting, prosperous, and productive new year.

Join me?

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Lawyers are big babies

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Lawyers are cautious creatures, as they should be, but their cautious nature often prevents them from reaching their potential.

We see it all the time.

We see lawyers emulate their competition because it seems like the smart and safe approach, but you can’t stand out from the crowd when you are a part of it.

We see lawyers majoring in minor things, making incremental improvements in what they already do instead of trying big ideas that might help them achieve next-level growth.

We see lawyers settle for low hanging fruit, targeting average clients and charging average fees, instead of reaching for the sweetest fruit that’s a little bit out of reach.

We see lawyers stifling their productivity by riding the wave of perfectionism, not realizing that done is better than perfect.

We see lawyers working hard and staying busy, because that’s what’s expected of them, instead of looking for ways to achieve exceptional results with less effort.

It’s fear. Fear of failure, fear of being different, even fear of success.

Are you guilty of any of this?

You can’t change overnight but you can change. You can adopt a new mindset, one that values being different and the lessons taught by failure.

A mindset that says success doesn’t depend on the elimination of all risk but on the intelligent management of it.

A mindset that focuses on what you want instead of what you think you’re supposed to do.

Fear can be tamed. Optimism can be learned. Success is available to all.

Even lawyers.

If you’re ready to get to the next level, this is how you get there

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Life is tough and then you die?

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All our lives we’ve been taught to work hard, face our fears and fight for what we want. We’ve been told that nothing good comes easily.

Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Napoleon Hill said, “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle”. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Every step. . .requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle”.

In a recent piece, even Leo Babauta at Zen Habits advocates that we “move towards what we resist”.

“Find the thing in your business or personal life that you know would be powerful for you, but that you’re resisting doing. Move toward that,” he said.

I’m confused. I thought Zen was about letting go of struggle and resistance.

I’m also confused about the notion that we should ignore what our gut is telling us. It’s there for a reason, isn’t it?

Short term, we can “feel the fear and do it anyway”. We can make the call, review the document, or work on the project for an hour, even when we really don’t want to.

But long term and big picture–your career, life decisions, relationships–shouldn’t we listen to that little voice in our head? It might be telling us we’re headed in the wrong direction.

How about a compromise?

Instead of ignoring our gut and pushing forward in the face of fear, or listening to our gut and doing nothing we fear, how about looking for a way around what we fear, a way to get where we want to go and “enjoy the journey”.

I vote for that.

Because the idea that our entire existence here is meant to be hardship and struggle doesn’t work for me.

And if we can find a way to make things easy, or at least easier, why wouldn’t we?

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Marketing is like riding the bus

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Marketing is very forgiving. If you miss something or mess up something, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make it right.

If you miss your bus, another one will be along soon.

You wrote an article or post that didn’t bring good results? Write another.

You went to a networking event and didn’t connect with anyone? Go again or try a different event.

Your ad didn’t pull? Your presentation didn’t score any appointments? You met with a prospective client and they didn’t sign up?

Don’t worry. Keep going. And don’t dwell on things that go wrong.

When I was starting my practice I tried something and lost a bunch of money I couldn’t afford to lose. A friend reminded me that I was doing well overall, losses are part of business and I shouldn’t focus on them.

He was right.

Think about the long term and the big picture, not the bumps in the road.

Keep publishing, keep mailing, keep trying new ideas, and you’ll get where you want to go. Because there’s always another bus coming.

Want a simple marketing plan? This will help

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Had enough?

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Maybe you feel like you can’t do any more than you’re already doing.

You’ve given it everything you’ve got and you have no more to give.

The odds are you can do more. A lot more.

The Navy SEALs have something they call ‘the 40% rule’. It says that when you’ve hit the wall and are physically or mentally exhausted and are ready to quit, you’ve really only reached 40% of your true capacity.

They teach recruits that when they feel the urge to quit, to see it as a signal that they’ve got a lot more in them and they just need to push past that point.

If they do, they’ll find they have a lot more gas in their tank.

There’s been some research to validate the science behind this. But I have to wonder how much of this is our minds.

In the film, “Facing the Giants,” a football coach has his players perform something called ‘The Death Crawl’, to teach them they can do a lot more than they think.

Take 5 minutes to watch this inspiring scene.

The next time you think you don’t have any more to give, think again. Your gas tank may look empty but there’s always more in reserve.

Are you ready for your practice to take a Quantum Leap?

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