If you're listening to this episode when it comes out, it's Christmas Eve.
Merry Christmas and happy  holidays to everyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas.
This is usually a time of year where we go to holiday parties and get to hug all our loved ones, and that's not happening in a lot of people's homes this year, so I just want to send a virtual hug to you. And I want to acknowledge the sacrifices so many of you made this year to keep yourself, your loved ones and your friends healthy this year and into the future.
No matter how we think our lives should be and how others should behave, we have control of two things: how we respond to circumstances and our intentions.
I love the word “intention.” For me, that word encompasses how we think about circumstances, but it also encompasses an energy and focus that we bring moment to moment in our lives. It guides our decisions.
The last several podcasts have been about refocussing our intentions on what we want to create in our lives.
This time of year is traditionally when a lot of us take look back on the choices we've made and what we want our next year to look like.
I'm not a fan of simply making changes when we hit a new year because I think we must consistently reevaluate and adjust our intentions – our compass – towards what we want most.
I know from personal experience that we don't want to waste our time working towards a goal that isn't going to create what we want in our lives.. We want to know that what we're choosing is the right decision, so we can focus all our energy on it.
But is there truly a right decision?
I want to give you some food for thought when it comes to making decisions for the future whenever you're listening to this.
A pros and cons list is not the tool you want to be using to decide how you want to intentionally design your life.
Despite the fact that we're Type A lawyers – I'm assuming you are one since you're listening to this podcast – lawyers are human, and we have the same difficulty making decisions for our future as other humans.
So if you're having difficulty choosing a goal and have many opportunities you want to pursue, you are absolutely human.
In the next several episodes I'm going to talk about studying ourselves, and getting to know ourselves on a more nuanced level, but I want to give you something to think about while you're deciding on your choices for the upcoming year.
This topic was inspired by one of my coaching session where I was coaching a lawyer who had multiple passions and knew she didn't have the time and energy to put into all of them and still be an amazing lawyer at the office. There were a few traps I saw her fall into, and I've fallen into before. This episode is meant to help move you past indecision and into action on your goals.
Here's five essential considerations for you when making a decision about how to decide on a goal to pursue with your full focus and intention.
  1. Understand that the only reason we want to achieve any goal is because of how we think it will make us feel.
Ask yourself what you're making it mean about yourself if you achieve your goal. Will it mean you're finally able to live up to your parents' approval? Probably not-so-fulfilling because if we're trying to please someone outside of us, that intention won't drive us to choose what's best for us.
I still remember when I graduated from law school, I was going to graduation with my parents and I told them that I got a job at the DA's office. Dad made an offhand – totally neutral remark – that if he had been a lawyer he thought he'd work for the other side. It actually hurt when he said that. He didn't mean it to. It was at that point that I realized that I had set out to achieve a lot of my goals to make my dad proud instead of pursuing what I really wanted. Getting As in high school – Check. Going to UCLA – Check. Going to law school – Check. Getting a great job – Check. It's not that he wasn't proud of me. It's that I had received validation for my achievements from him, and if I wanted to receive validation, I needed to give it to myself.
What I needed to learn was that validation could only come from within. I needed to reconsider my intentions when pursuing a goal. Other people's congratulations is just a cherry on top. I din't want disapproval of others to play a part in what I ultimately chose to pursue because I wasn't doing it for them. I was doing it for me.
I learned to choose goals differently. I decided to choose goals to show myself what was possible for me. I wanted to pursue what would bring me my biggest growth. What I didn't realize at the start of this work on myself was that I would also become an example to others of what's possible for themselves.
A second consideration when choosing your goal…
  1. Question everything your brain tells you is true. Play devil's advocate on EVERYTHING it says to you.
For instance, and I'm not alone in this because I know a lot of lawyers have this same thought: I've thought about writing a book.
My brain has told me, “I'm not really a writer.” Then I remembered: I write all the time – instagram posts, these podcasts, emails. I'm a writer already. I just haven't written in book format before. And book formats are all different shapes and sized.
My brain tells me a lot of other things too, which aren't true like: “I don't know how to write a book.” It's such a liar. I know exactly how to write a book. I sit down, I write, and I keep writing consistently. Then I edit it. Then I find an editor to help me.
Now, my brain also tells me true things. BUT, they could be paralyzing to me moving forward on a goal if I didn't question them. For instance, it's true that I don't know how to market a book. But I don't need to know that to write a book. And I know enough to know there are people who know how to market a book, and I can figure that out later.
Your brain will tell you other lies that seem true like, “I don't have time.” The truth is, if it's really important to us, we'll make the time.
Seriously. Question everything your brain tells you is true. This is going to be part of having your own back as you pursue your goal, and we'll talk more about that in a minute.
  1. Ask yourself why you're gravitating to each goal you're considering. Decide if you like that reason.
When you're choosing between multiple opportunities, it doesn't always help to do a pro and con list. That's far too simple a tool for our complex brain that will steer you in the direction of what seems easiest instead of what will serve your higher self.
The survival instinct is strong, and if your goal compromises the perception of safety your brain has, then it will give you blind spots.
Also, without someone to help us question what's going on in your mind, we don't always see it. That's why I have a coach, that's why people hire me as a coach. Coaching helps us see what our brain hides from us.
Let me give you an example.
My client believed that she shouldn't pursue one of her goals because she didn't have as much experience as she did with another opportunity she was considering pursuing.
When I questioned her more about this, she realized that she actually did have experience in both of these areas and that her brain was ignoring information.
Once she could see that she did have experience in both of these areas, she didn't make a decision based on misinformation.
She could know that when she decided on her goal that she could like the reasons she chose it instead of relying on misinformation to make the decision for her.
If you're gravitating towards a goal because it seems easier than the other ones, ask yourself if it's more important to feel safe or fulfilled. Which goal feels more fulfilling when you imagine the end result?
  1. Know that no matter which goal you decide to pursue, you'll have the same thoughts afterwards.
These afterthoughts are like the bad aftertaste you get when you've had something to drink. As soon as you've decided, you'll think things like:
“Maybe I made the wrong decision.”
“I should have thought about X before making that decision.”
“I don't know how to….”
“It sounds hard.”
“Maybe I should rethink this.”
“What if I waste a lot of time, energy, money on this goal, and it's the wrong one?”
“Maybe I should just be happy with what I have. My life is pretty amazing. Maybe that's where I should be focussing my energy.”
Let me say that again: no matter which goal you decide to pursue, you'll have the same thoughts afterwards.
Be ready for them. This is all normal. Your brain is thinking these thoughts to keep you from taking any meaningful action towards your goals. Goals are scary because we haven't shown ourselves we can do it yet that's where the next essential piece of decision-making comes up.
  1. Have your own back once you've made a decision.
When you have your own back, you're telling yourself, “I've decided. Let's do this. I'm scared, and that's okay. I can figure this out. It sounds hard, and that's okay. Goals are supposed to be a little scary because that's where the growth is.”
When we first think about your goals, we feel excited with a dash of fear. There's possibility.
We haven't really settled into the fact that we've charged ourselves with making a goal a reality. Once that settles into our brain, it freaks out. It gets scared.
We believe that once we choose the “right” goal, then we're going to feel excited about our choice all the time. And when we don't feel excited about it, our brain thinks there's something wrong.
Nothing has gone wrong. This is normal. Fear. Doubt. Overwhelm. Worry. All of this is normal.
Those feelings are all coming from how we THINK about our goal.
When this happens, it's up to you to catch it and coach yourself on it. This is when you remind yourself of WHY you made this decision in the first place and remind yourself of the vision you have for yourself.
For example, sometimes clients come to me, and they realize they've been taking lots of passive action towards their goals instead of taking massive action that will help them get closer to achieving their goals. I've experienced this myself.
They'll do extensive research, listen to podcasts, take courses, but they won't do the things that'll move the needle on their goal. It's like reading lots of books about how to write a book but never scheduling time to sit down each morning to write a single page.
Once they hire a coach, they're taking responsibility for having their own back and start to do the mental work needed to generate the time and energy and inspiration to pursue their goal and make it a reality.
When you have your own back, you do the self-study needed to see when you're not thinking what you need to to take massive action.
You recognize you're taking a lot of information in, but you're not doing anything. Then you can ask yourself why. Your actions are always being driven by a feeling. What are you feeling when you decide to listen to a podcast instead of take the massive action you planned? Maybe it's something like overwhelm.
You feel the overwhelm and say to yourself, “Oh, I'm feeling overwhelmed. I wonder why.” You know it's from a thought, so what are you thinking. Maybe it's something like, “I don't know where to start.” Then you can question that thought and begin to see that's a normal thought your brain has when you sit down to do the real work on your goal. And you can say, “I know exactly where to start. Let's do this.”
Here's a quick recap on how to choose the goal you want to go all in on:
  1. Understand that the only reason we want to achieve any goal is because of how we think it will make us feel. Life is 50/50, so you're never going to feel better when you get there. Learn to love where you are right now, and enjoy the journey.
  2. Question everything your brain tells you is true. Play devil's advocate on EVERYTHING it says to you.
  3. Ask yourself why you're gravitating to each goal. Decide if you like that reason.
  4. Know that no matter which goal you decide to pursue, you'll have the same thoughts afterwards. Don't let that trip you up.
  5. Have your own back once you've made a decision.
If you loved this episode, I'd appreciate it if you shared a snapshot of you listening on Instagram and tag me in it @dina.cataldo. Another way you can support this podcast is by leaving a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Thank you, and I'll talk to you next week.
When you're ready to go all in on yourself to create the time you need to build your practice and overcome overwhelm, come work with me. The first step is to set up a strategy session with me. You can book a call with me at www.dinacataldo.com/