Transcript: Lessons Learned at 40
It's episode 100 y'all. And something that I am very excited about is that if you're listening to this podcast when it comes out, it's my birthday. Yes, I am celebrating my birthday under shelter in place orders, but it is a milestone for me, so I'm extra excited. I'm turning 40 and I think before I was 30 I was waiting to be 30 so I could have some credibility as a lawyer. You know all those baby faced lawyers. It's like they just can't be trusted. But when I was 30 I was waiting until I knew quote enough to be credible and then when I got rid of that imaginary milestone, I just started enjoying the ride more and at 40 I know there is a lot that I don't know, but one of the beauties of life is is that I don't have to know everything.
It's actually impossible to know everything anyways so it makes my life a lot easier understanding that, but what I want to share with you today are 10 lessons that I've learned at this point in my life and these are my top 10 and I hope this inspires you to check in with yourself. Maybe get clear on what's most important to you and give you some things to ponder. Maybe there are some things showing up in your life where they just kind of click with you when you hear what I'm going to say. That's really what I'm looking for. I do have a birthday wish I want to ask you. Would you leave a review for be a better lawyer podcast on Apple podcasts? It would mean a lot to me because that is how podcasts are more discoverable by other people on Apple podcast. So I would really appreciate it if you could go to Dina cataldo.com forward slash Apple to do that or you can do that on the app, on your phone.
You have to go to the homepage and scroll all the way down for Apple to prompt you to write a review. I would really appreciate that and thank you to everyone who's already left a review for the podcast. It means a lot to me because I know Apple doesn't make it the easiest thing for you to do so I know that it's a little extra. But I wanted to share a review from Edward 2075 thank you Edward. He says, I started listening to the podcast a few months ago. I found the topics and information useful. Dina comes across approachable and sincere. She is speaking from experience. What I also like about it is there are no overly complicated theories on how to deal with topics presented. The podcast references life strategies directed sometimes specifically to lawyers, but it can be applied to anyone with a busy lifestyle.
I highly recommend making it a part of your day. Love your podcast. Thank you so much, Edward. That was a really sweet review and when I hear things like that, it helps me see that I'm on the right track because that's exactly how I want to come across. So if you haven't left me a review, this is my birthday request. I mean, how can you refuse a birthday request, right? I request that you head over to your Apple app or go to the desktop [email protected] forward slash Apple to leave a review and remember in the Apple podcast app, you go to the homepage for be a better lawyer podcast and then you have to scroll all the way down where it asks you to write a review. Thank you so much. All right, let's jump into this episode. Cutting down the lessons I've learned up until this point was not an easy thing to do.
I wanted to come up with the most profound things that I've learned up until now, but those aren't always the most impactful. They're interesting, but maybe not impactful in a day to day way. What I've done here is cut these down to 10 lessons on how to or how I've learned to move through life easier and not make my life so hard. Those two things mean something a little different to me and I will explain about that in just a minute. Okay, here we go. 10 lessons learned at 40 now lesson number one, people will tell you who they are. Believe them. That is something that came from Maya Angelou and it has popped up in my life time and again, it comes up in relationships with people, right? I am all for giving people a second chance if they've changed and you can try to work things through with them, but when you find yourself in the same position over and over and over again, ask yourself whether you want to continue staying with that person, having a relationship with that person, whether it's a friendship or it is a romantic relationship.
If you don't, you are putting yourself in that position. It's your responsibility to understand who they are and move on or choose to accept them for who they are and stay in that relationship. Seeing someone for who they really, really are is so eyeopening and it will help you make a decision. Lesson number two, decisiveness is deliverance. Now, could your decision be wrong? Yes, but you won't know until you try and there's always another opportunity around the corner. This comes up every single day and staying in in decisiveness wastes so much time. It wastes so much brainpower and instead of making a decision, we make absolutely no traction in our lives. When I decided to follow my calendar, then I followed my calendar. If I decide not to follow my calendar, I recognize I'm not following my calendar. I don't agonize over it. I don't beat myself up over it.
I've made a decision. You're wasting energy and time. If you are in this indecisive newness or you're in this area where you're just beating yourself up, just make a decision, move on, and if you make a mistake, awesome. Then you know not to do that again and you can try something else. All right? Follow your fears is lesson number three. That is where the growth is. That is going to be where you find your true power, but doesn't that seem hard though? You might be asking yourself, following your fears. Yeah, but it also makes making decisions in life easier. If you're on a path of growth, then you'll feel fear and you'll choose it. It makes deciding the direction you need to take right now. Easier on yourself. When I was making a decision about what I wanted to do in addition to my legal career, and one of the things that I saw pop up over and over again when I was journaling was start a business.
I asked myself, why are you not starting a business? I mean, what is the holdup here? It's not time. What it is is fear. Fear that I'm going to fail fear that I'm going to be not good enough fear that people are going to judge me. And I knew that fear was the direction to go because that is where the growth is. And that's something that I learned while I was learning about yoga and taking yoga teacher training and doing all of that. And that has been the best Northstar for me is following my fear cause it always takes me in a direction I need to go. Lesson number four, don't downplay your strengths. Now this is especially common among women. I think I remember thinking that I was showing off or believing. People would think less of me if I bragged about my accomplishments.
I saw it as bragging. It wasn't bragging, it was just making a statement and maybe they would, but most likely those people would just never know how accomplished I was or what I'd done well that had prepared me for whatever opportunity that had presented itself or would have presented itself if I had been open about how I had, you know completed a jury trial and got a guilty verdict. And part of the reason why I did so well is because of the specific language that I used or examples that I use that I could pass on to somebody else. Or maybe I learned something from somebody and I incorporated that into an argument or some process that I did, whether it was in my business or in my legal practice, and that was something that had really been impactful. If I hadn't shared that with someone, then they wouldn't know that I had that information.
They wouldn't be able to incorporate that information into their own business, their own legal practice, and then I'm stealing from the world. Right. I really like looking at it like that as if you are not putting yourself out there. You're not telling people what you're capable of. You're stealing from the world because other people can't be helped by what you've learned. Can it be difficult getting used to this? Maybe, but you will make your life easier in the long run. If you choose to communicate what you do and what you're good at and in the process you are making it easier for other people in their lives. It's a win win. Lesson number five, have faith. Trust the process. Now I remember, and I have to watch myself on this, but I remember really being stuck in the how. How do I do X? How do I start a business?
What are the correct steps? And that is from years of schooling. You know the public school system telling us that there is a right way and a wrong way and there is an exact process for everything, but in real life it doesn't. It doesn't work that way. You have to have faith in the end result that you want and keep working until you get that, and this applies not just a business but to relationships, really anything. When we don't have faith and we aren't decisive, we can spend forever spinning in the right move. We'll go online and try to find the steps and waste our time and energy beating ourselves up over whether what we do is the perfect enough way to do it, to put into the world and be acceptable to other people. Seth Godin says that the goal is to ship an iteration of what you want into the world.
Then you can do reiterations as the needs arise, but you'll never get going and you'll never get any momentum and you'll never learn to do any better if you don't put your work into the world. I love how all of these lessons are intertwined with one another. There's a little bit of everything in each one of these. We go to law school because we have faith that we'll have the degree that will give us the job. We don't know the how except that we will take classes that are hard and take an exam at the end. We won't see all the obstacles that come up in the middle because we're so focused on the faith that we have that we can get through it all to get the diploma and the bar card. We have to treat every goal that way. Lesson number six, involvement, proceeds, interest and I got this from my high school teacher, Larry Nordell, a biochemistry teacher.
He was fabulous and I was very appreciative that he was so involved in our classroom and one of the things that he taught us is that whether or not you are currently interested in something, you will not find any interest in it or aptitude for it until you dig in. And I have found that true, especially when I was starting my business, learning how to do a website, learning to do marketing. I mean I had absolutely zero interest in any of that and now it's really a lot easier like, and I'm feel like I'm good at it. It's really amazing. So involvement, proceeds, interest, you might not have any interest in it now, but it will serve you to just dig in and get your hands dirty and then you will discover whether or not you like it and whether or not you have an aptitude for it.
Lesson number seven, rituals are essential. And this can take so many different forms, whether it is waking up at a certain time, going to bed at a certain time, whatever you do, you're setting your day up and you're winding down. And when I set myself up every morning to do the same things, it makes sure that I get the momentum that I need to move forward the way I want to, to be productive, the way that I want to, to feel the way that I want to. And truthfully, we can't move forward in the way that we want to. Being productive, without feeling good. And it doesn't mean that we can't do hard things and do things when they're hard mentally. But what I want you to take away from this is you've got to create habits. And one of the things that I hear over and over again, and I found this to be true, is that we are our habits.
Our identity is formed by our habits. And if we're not mindful about the habits that we're creating and we are not structuring our day in a way that feels good and creates opportunities to get work done and for us to be focused, we're not really paying attention to those habits that we have of letting people in. I know right now it's hard, it's shelter in place time, but on a day to day basis we are letting things in that don't need to be there. And if we create the right structures in our lives, we have a much easier time of working and creating what we want in our life. I'm not saying it's always a hundred percent possible, but we create more opportunities in our life to do that. So rituals, I love my rituals, clearing my brain every morning. I do it almost every morning like a total thought download, everything that's in my brain and then I self coach myself.
I mean having a coach was essential for me to start understanding how to break down my thoughts and seeing where my thoughts were inhibiting my progress. I was self sabotaging myself. And then when I have a coach, it's always helpful to let them like poke holes in my stories cause we all have stories about who we are and what our world is. And when you have a coach, they're always poking holes in it. That's why I love coaching because it's like me cross-examining in a really kind nice way. I'm coaching clients so that they can understand how their mind is working and where they can open up to new opportunities. All right, lesson number eight. It is never better on the other side, right? It's just different. We have different sets of problems. We have different sets of you know, self doubt. It's just the next level version.
You know, we get through one milestone, we, we break through one barrier and then we're at a new level where we are tackling the same emotions that are coming up the same self doubt, all of that good stuff. Right? But it's just the next level version to help us have a place to go. There's always a place to go, right? You break through that version and then you've got more obstacles. They're just a little bit different. They just, they're like the same flavor, just a little bit different. So if we understand this, if we understand that we are never going to suddenly be happier when we win that next case or be happier when we make the next threshold of money or be happier when we're married or be happier when we're divorced. And like looking for all these circumstances on the outside to make us happy.
If we understand this, it's easier to refocus on what we can control, which is our emotions, our thoughts, and it's easier to refocus on enjoying the journey. Lesson number nine, we are where we focus our attention. We choose where to focus our attention on the good or the bad. And now as a prosecutor, I see all the worst of humanity every single day. I continually have to refocus my attention so that I don't steep myself in that right? Like it's like a tea bag and the longer you're in it, the stronger the tea gets and the more bitter it becomes. So I go to yoga. I don't watch the news because basically I'm living inside the worst news all day long. When I go to the office, I have a strong community of friends who are either not prosecutors or they don't talk about what we see all day long.
I feel a lot lighter during my day when I keep refocusing my attention. And honestly, this has made a big difference in how I live my whole life. This is something that I have always done. When we refocus our attention, you can make everything that's really hard, a lot easier. So one of the reasons why I think this is, is based on my experience. So when my dad died, that's one of the hardest things that I've experienced. I had to look at all the reasons this happened at just the right time. Like when my dad was sick and maybe I couldn't focus on this while he was dying, but certainly after he died, it was a lot easier for me to process everything. So why was this the best possible time for this to happen is where my brain went. Well, I got a year with him living in my home to be with him, which I hadn't had in years.
I hadn't had that kind of quality time. This was the best time for this to happen because we got to spend some quality time. I got to go through a video old home movie with him long before he passed. And well not that long, I guess it was several months before he passed. And he showed me who all these relatives were, gave me names and told me who they were and I got to write all of that down. I had the opportunity to take care of my mom in that situation. I had the opportunity to take care of my dad in that situation. They had a steady roof over their head. They were totally taken care of. My dad felt totally taken care of. He felt like mom was totally taken care of. I mean, that was all incredibly important to him.
And it turned out that me refocusing my attention on that helped me process things a lot better. Not to say it was easy, but refocusing your attention helps. I mean, and I do that with all kinds of things. Like my mom was sick recently. I was able to refocus my attention and say I'm so grateful that I can take care of her. That the hospital so close to the house that the, the people in the hospital are perfect for her. Like they're just so kind. I mean, there were so many things I could keep refocusing my attention to, but I made that choice. It could have been very easy for me to do otherwise. So I want to offer to you that that is one thing that can make your life easier is just choosing where you focus your attention. Whether it's the hardest things in your life or just the kind of hard things in your life doing that can make things so much easier.
All right, lesson number 10, we are all humans doing the best that we can do. And my Angelou said this one too. She's great. When we know a better, we do better. Now understanding this makes it easier for me, especially as a prosecutor, to understand that everyone has a backstory. There are still clear lines between right and wrong and people can make their own choices, but you see enough horrible things and you realize that there's a lot going on in these people, lot people's lives. There's a lot of backstory. So there is a case that came across my desk where the defendant had sexually assaulted a minor, and it was heartbreaking. It was even more heartbreaking when I learned that the defendant in this case was the victim of a sexual assault when they were a minor as well. He made the choice to perpetuate that hurt.
He made the choice to hurt someone else. I'm not saying that that was not that that was the right decision. What I'm saying is, is that everybody has a story. And when we understand that, it makes it easier to deal with, to digest some of the horrible things that we come across. So this back story has an influence on how we behave in the future, right? So I had a conversation with my dad once about some behaviors that his family showed him and he said he made a decision that he would not perpetuate those behaviors in his family. He went through a lot, but he did the best he could not to allow the controlling behaviors of his family and some other things influence how he parented me. And the same thing with my mom. She also made a choice to love me more than she ever felt loved by her family and that made a huge difference in how I saw the world from both of my parents' perspective.
They broke through things that hurt them and they were able to come out and make choices that would impact the lives of their children in a different way. It's pretty amazing what we can do when we add awareness to our backstory. When we add awareness to everything that's happened, then we can change the course of people's lives. We can change the course of our family, we can change the course of our friends, and even beyond that, we can all make this impact when we bring awareness to our behaviors. And choose to do better when we know better. All right. I hope this has given you something to ponder. I want to thank you for listening to the podcast, and when I hear from you on Instagram or in my emails, it really does make my day and I would very much appreciate it if you would leave a [email protected] forward slash Apple or on the Apple app. Remember to scroll all the way down on the homepage for be a better lawyer podcast to find the prompt on the app to write a review. So thanks again. I hope you found this as I dunno. What did I find this? This was really interesting. Thanks again, and I'll talk to you next week.
Hey, if you enjoy this podcast, I offer one on one coaching using my be a better lawyer framework. That's where we rewire your brain to help you create the life and the practice that you want. Go to Dina cataldo.com to schedule a strategy session.