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#245: “How to Stop Feeling Layoff Anxiety” and Your Other Questions Answered

In this episode I answer some of your burning questions.

You'll hear my answers to:

“How do I stop feeling anxiety about layoffs?”

“Why am I lazy?” (And how to start taking action.)

“How do I find time to build my law practice?” (Or anything else, for that matter.)

Listen in to get strategies to help you in these areas.

Want your own questions answered on a future episode of Be a Better Lawyer Podcast? Send them to my DMs on Instagram @dina.cataldo or email me at di**@di*********.com.




Are you a Be a Better Lawyer Podcast ride-or-die?

Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you next week.

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spotify, be a better lawyer podcast, Dina Cataldo

“How to Stop Feeling Layoff Anxiety” and Your Other Questions Answered

Hello, how are you doing today? Today we are going to be answering some of your questions and I wanted to start doing a segment every so once in a while on the podcast because sometimes I do get some questions for from you. And if you wanna send me your questions, you can. If you're on Instagram, dm me dina dot cataldo or you can email me at di**@di*********.com and you might have your question answered here on the podcast.

Alright my friend. So we've got a few questions here that I wanted to address. Some of them I hear quite often especially from my clients. So number one,

how do I stop feeling anxiety about layoffs?

Number two,

we're gonna be talking about feeling lazy.

And what does that really mean and how can you overcome laziness?

And then number three, I wanna talk to you about

how to find more time. Specifically we're gonna be talking about how to get your name out there, but it's gonna apply to everyone.

If you are telling yourself, I need to find more time, you're gonna wanna wait and hear this one at the end. Okay?

Question #1: “How do I stop feeling layoff anxiety?”

So let's talk about this one. Because recently there have been layoffs and the person who wrote into me described feeling anxiety. And basically they know they're safe, but they also have this fear.

And they said they survived a round of layoffs and, but now they're feeling anxiety because they think they need to be a top performer or they will be laid off. And so not surprisingly, that thought creates a lot of anxiety.

The first thing I wanna share with you is that when we feel those feelings like anxiety or any other negative emotion, our brain automatically judges it as wrong. That we're not supposed to feel anxiety or fear or any of those emotions. I want to normalize feeling anxiety and feeling fear. I know you don't wanna feel it. None of us wanna feel that. But here's the thing, when we avoid it, we make things worse. In fact, we underperform so our brain just doesn't feel safe right now. Hey, that's okay. That's its job. It is supposed to create fear anxiety when it sees people being laid off around you cuz your brain's like, wait a minute, this is unsafe.

So I want you to realize or recognize that this is a very normal reaction that your brain is having. Like of course you feel anxious. Hey, I'm gonna tell you a little experience I had. This was about, I don't know, it was like maybe my first year in practice. And you know, this always happens in cycles. So just know what you're seeing now has happened before and it just happens over and over and over again, right? And everybody who's been okay <laugh>, right?

We've continued as society, we've continued to find new jobs, we've continued to find different ways of making money. But about 15 years ago, I was in this situation where I was watching people around me get fired and I was probably two years in new attorney. And the way the, the government system works. So I work for the county of Sacramento. The way it worked then at least was that if you are the last in, you are the first out.

And so everybody was obsessed about what number they were, <laugh>. And if they were the last in, of course they were the first ones to get their notices. And everybody wanted to know, well what number am I? What number am I? Right? It didn't matter what number you were because they could cut more, right? But the thing is, is our brain wants something to latch onto. It wants to feel safe, very normal. Okay?

So that is something that will happen. And when we don't acknowledge and normalize anxiety, it can take over our life. When we feel anxious, like I said, we actually underperform. No one else is probably gonna notice it first, because you are used to pushing through anxiety. Lawyers are taught to do that. It's kind of ridiculous. But you are gonna feel horrible. Eventually you're gonna burnout and then your performance is gonna suffer.

And then people are gonna notice we simply can't focus as well and prioritize when we feel anxiety all day. So you wanna feel it, you have to feel it. You're not gonna actually want <laugh> to feel it. Nobody wants to feel anxiety. You're gonna wanna distract yourself. You're gonna wanna like check social media, do some emails, let's work like that. Feels good, right? We get those quick dopamine hits because we're, we're doing something whether it's a quick discovery, quick phone call, quick email, whatever it is.

But those are distractions. And you want to avoid distractions and start really connecting with yourself and the anxiety and remind yourself that that feeling is normal. It's okay to feel anxiety, you are safe to feel anxiety, sit with it and don't do anything else but feel it. And I want to just share with you that this is gonna be super awkward.

You're not gonna wanna do it. But every time I do this practice and I come back to it and I allow myself to feel these feelings that I don't wanna feel, I move myself ahead in ways that I just could not have foreseen. It's like taking a quantum leap, right? And in building my business and making decisions for myself and learning how to prioritize better, feeling our feelings is a freaking superpower and nobody tells us how to do it.

And once we learn it, we can't go back. Cuz then we're like, oh my gosh, it works. So I want you to, to feel it and then it's gonna come back, right? It's not just one and done. Everybody wants like the click fix for it to just go away. That's not how the human condition is. We're gonna have a brain that keeps thinking it's gonna have thoughts.

So when it comes back to you in the day, name it. Okay, this is anxiety. I'm okay, this is anxiety, I'm okay. Okay? I experienced this a lot the few first few months of last year. Cause I had just left my job in January and of course I had 15, 16, 17 years of getting a steady paycheck. And as I was getting that steady paycheck, of course the brain's just like, oh, that's what creates safety, is that paycheck and keep working, keep working.

You get a paycheck, right? That's the, that's the habit that your brain gets into. And so when I was no longer getting that paycheck and I now was relying on myself exclusively for my income, my brain was just like going haywire. It wanted to worry, it wanted to feel anxious and all of that. And I just, this was the practice that I did.

I felt the anxiety, I felt the worry. So in addition to this practice that I just shared with you, I also practiced thoughts, okay? Every time I noticed the anxiety, I would feel it. I would name it and I would remind myself, I have everything I need. I have everything I need. And I would really remind myself of that. I would do things like create evidence for myself.

Our brains don't wanna create new evidence, they wanna just keep looking for old evidence that things are gonna go wrong. That's just the negativity bias that we have. But when we start to refocus our brain and remind ourselves, look, I have everything I need, feel it in your body. Feel the calm, and then remind yourself of all the evidence. So for me, I told myself, well, I can sell things if I need to. I've got savings that are gonna last me X months if I need it, I can get a job anywhere, right?

Even if it's not being a lawyer, I can also go back to my old job. Maybe I, I will be embarrassed or have feelings about that, but it's okay. Like I could do that. Like that is an option for me. So I have everything I need. I'm okay. And then I kept reminding myself that I create safety, not a job. Okay? Jobs don't create safety. If you want to have security, like circumstantial security, then be an entrepreneur. You then call the shots.

You then know when to increase your marketing, your networking. You then are the one who goes out and finds the business. You're not relying on a paycheck, you're not relying on somebody else to see your value in that sense, right? Instead, you're showing your value to clients. But if you really believe that your job creates safety, you won't recognize that you create safety.

Not the job, not your boss. You create safety by creating lots and lots of value for the people who are employing you. Whether it's your boss or whether or not it's your clients, your other clients, right? Your individual clients. If you have your own practice, our brains, again, they don't do this on their own. We have to consciously redirect our brain.

And when you do this practice, you've probably heard me say this before, be so kind to yourself. Don't tell yourself you're stupid or you should know better. Or that this is just like, I can't believe I'm doing this again. Like we are very used to practicing being mean to ourselves, but this practice will only take hold. If you're kind to yourself, imagine yelling to a little kid about what they're doing. They're not gonna un they're not gonna listen to you. They're gonna be so scared of you.

They're not gonna want, they, they wanna please you, but they're, they're so fearful they can't really take action. They feel paralyzed. So be really kind with yourself and then start creating more safe, the feeling of safety for yourself. Okay? You can do this with actions. One I already mentioned. Be an entrepreneur. It's not for everybody, but that is something where you can control more of the income that you're making.

Two, look at your budget, right? A lot of the fears that we have is because we're not looking at the numbers. And when you really start looking at the numbers, then you can get into the facts of your situation and remind yourself of the facts versus letting your brain get vague and fearful and say, oh wait a minute, if I look at my budget, I make plenty of money and I can save more.

That was gonna be my third part of creating this safety for yourself is you can save, right? You can have that money in the bank account, maybe you're already doing that. Remind yourself how much you already have in the bank account.

And then number four, just keep reminding yourself along the way that you are the one who creates safety. It's not up to anybody else to do that, okay? Your job isn't creating it. Other people don't create it. It's always us. All right?

“Why am I lazy?”

When lawyers tell me that they are lazy, they define it as wanting to do things but then not doing them. But 99% of the time our brain does not want to do things, okay? They don't wanna do things that are hard outside our comfort zone or use any sort of energy.

So if we get into this trap of believing that we're wrong, we judge ourselves for what our brain just does naturally, we think it should be easier. And then when we start judging ourselves, we create dread, anxiety and pressure that feels horrible. And then we avoid that feeling because our brain doesn't wanna feel horrible by procrastinating and then telling ourselves that we're lazy. So if we procrastinate, we do it with things that give us dopamine hits.

Whether it's eating, watching television, playing on our phone, checking email, doing all the little things that give us those quick dopamine hits. So we wanna just watch our brain and understand this is normal behavior. It's a really rough cycle that our brain puts us through. But this is normal behavior. And so just like the first question, I invite you to feel the feeling and sit with it, name it, don't avoid it.

Remember it's normal. You are normal. And be really kind to yourself during this process. And once you start doing this, then you can start approaching tasks differently. Cuz first you gotta notice this pattern that's coming up. Sometimes that takes a little while. Just be so kind to yourself, so patient, don't beat yourself up for, and tell yourself that it should be doing going faster, that you should be figuring this out faster.

You have a pattern that's been repeated multiple times, maybe over years, and your brain has simply gotten used to it. So to create a new neuro pathway, you've gotta create the patience and the kindness to allow yourself to notice the pattern and start to unravel it. Once you've started to unravel it, then you can approach tasks differently. Okay? You can even start doing this right now. Even if you're not fully out of the dread, it's something that you can practice, right?

Again, totally a thing that you must practice. And if you have a calendar, which I highly suggest, and you can download the Busy Lawyer's Ultimate GL Guide to Time ma********@di*********.com slash busy lawyer, when you download that guide, it's gonna give you a process. And when you use a calendar, what you do is you give yourself more opportunities to see this cycle at work. Don't beat yourself up if you don't do something on your calendar. You wanna observe and get curious about the cycle that is happening.

This is something that I work with my clients on a lot and that's why they make the progress that they do is cuz they keep getting that second perspective on their brain and showing them what's happening. And then they learn how not to beat themself up during this patterning so that they can create new patterns in their brain.

So let's say you put something on the calendar for, I don't know, 11 o'clock in the morning, then you're gonna see the thing on your calendar and you're not gonna wanna do it, okay? Just expect that that is going to happen. I look at my calendar and I don't wanna do things on it, okay? But I create, even I've been doing this for so long and I create a calendar that I am gonna enjoy, right? I kind of think of it in terms enjoyment as I give myself what I need.

I give myself the breaks that I need, I give myself I don't wanna overload my day. So let's say for you, if you wanna do like time blocking for writing a brief, maybe you do time blocking for a few hours, but then the rest of your day isn't like heavy lifting for your brain.

You're doing things that aren't as hard for me. I know my, my most energetic time of the day is the morning. And so I put my hard tasks up front and then I put my easier tasks towards the end of the day. Pay attention to that because it's not, you might not be doing a task because you simply lost gas for the day. You've lost steam. So just watch your patterns. And the best way to do that is to start doing a calendar.

So go to dina cataldo.com/busy lawyer and I give you some tips on how to do this. Okay? This is gonna be uncomfortable. You're gonna see what's going on at 11:00 AM You're not gonna wanna do it. You're gonna feel dread, you're gonna wanna check your email, pause, sit with it, okay? Name it and then just sit there. It's gonna be uncomfortable when you start.

The next process I'm gonna gonna walk you through, but it's just a tiny bit better than the dread or the pressure that you're feeling. So I want, I wanna offer that this is going to make it a little bit easier. You don't have to love what you're doing on your calendar, but just know that this is a way that you can make it easier on yourself.

Once you've sat with it, you've picked the, the, you see the project at 11:00 AM you're going to take that project and you're gonna break it down into the tiniest steps possible. Maybe it's make phone call, write down terms for research, research outline brief. So just kind of break it down into the tiniest tasks. And then you're gonna pick the one thing on that task list. Maybe it's the very first thing you need to do, maybe it's just the easiest thing.

Whatever it is, pick one and do anything on it. Again, it's gonna be uncomfortable, that's normal. But feeling this discomfort is gonna be a tiny bit better than dread. You can remind your brain that you're doing just a little something. It's kinda like when you go to the gym, it, it can make it a lot easier to break things down. I've used this example before where instead of you're just telling yourself, oh, I gotta go to the gym.

You're instead saying, okay, well maybe I'll just put on my shoes. Maybe I'll just grab the keys to my car. Maybe I'll just walk out to the garage. Maybe I'll just, I'll go to the garage and then I'll start driving. You break it down and then by the time you get to the gym you're like, okay, well I might as well go in now. That's the concept here.

Last question here.

“How do I find more time?”

In this particular case, we're gonna talk about how to find more time to promote my law firm, but I wanna share with you that this is something that you can begin doing and there's two things that I wanna mention here. First is, well, first is the busy lawyer guide. So I've already mentioned that. Go download that.

That is gonna help you with this question too if you have it. And then two, I am also going to be doing a masterclass specifically on procrastination coming up towards the end of February. So if you want to make sure you don't miss it, go to my website, download anything that's in the resource section. You can go to dina cataldo.com/resources. And when you download something, you get on my email list and then you're gonna find out about the details for this next masterclass that I'm doing.

So make sure you're on there. I'm gonna be talking about it a little bit more in the upcoming episodes that I have. Very first thing to know, we don't find time. It doesn't just show up on our doorstep. We make time, we make it. This question is a little bit difficult to answer without knowing your particulars, right? Your very specific thing that's happening. But I'm gonna share a client's story and some ideas for you to consider.

Be really honest with yourself about which one of these categories you fall into. So first, how do you make time? We make time by assessing priorities. Ask yourself, what are you currently prioritizing? Make a list. Are you happy with that list? Adjust accordingly. That's how you make time. Sounds simple, right? Not always <laugh>, right? It seems like it would be really simple, but that isn't the case. So sometimes we are so overwhelmed with the work that we have that we need to make a few immediate adjustments to make a little time to think about our, prioritize our priorities, right?

We need to actually just have the ability to think, I have a client who wants to make more systems for her practice so she can grow it. She has a couple employees. She knows that systems are gonna help her make her practice easier so they can take more work on and she's less hands on over time.

So she has a lot of clients in her solo practice and she's very good at what she does. She gives all of herself to her clients, all of her brain energy, all of her time. So there were a few immediate adjustments that we started with, okay? First was asking herself where she could make her life easier this week. Okay? You hear me ask that all the time. Seriously, ask yourself that every single week, maybe every single day. Where can you make your life easier this week? And this can really only be done when we start planning our week ahead of time.

I've had clients where I've helped them plan their week in our sessions and make adjustments and it saved them hours and hours just doing that because they weren't used to using a system and they weren't used to tracking and like looking at their time, especially in a way that wasn't judgmental. They were very mean to themselves. Very common amongst the lawyers that I work with. Cuz when we're very ambitious, we're, we're high achieving lawyers. We want to accomplish things.

One of the habits that so many of us get into at some point in our lives is beating ourselves up thinking that that's going to be helpful. So I'm, I help them think through and prioritize what's going on and make little tweaks. So that's the first thing is just start making some immediate adjustments. Okay, maybe it is doing something like putting a message on your voicemail and only checking your voicemail a couple times a day.

There's different things you can do. I have a list in the Busy Lawyers Guide. So if you go and download that guide, I actually have a list of little tweaks you can make to start making those adjustments. But when we make those little adjustments that can help us feel a little bit better. But the thing that I see makes the biggest impact is the second thing that I'm gonna share with you. And that is what I'm doing with this client right now is helping her give more of herself to herself. We really are the priority. Nobody tells us that. And we all feel a little bit guilty when we say it out loud. Like even I could feel it just a little bit right now when I said it, we are the priority. Sounds crazy, right? But it's true. If we don't have the ability to function calmly and clearly, everything is harder.

And not just in our lives. We make other people's lives harder. <Laugh>, I was in the elevator last night, so I was I do this mock trial competition where I judge when one of the judges for high school students in this, in this mock trial situation. And I was in the elevator. I was going to my department and you know, the elevators were kind of packed and you know, we stepped back and I'm very familiar with the elevators because I worked there for 15, 17 years, whatever.

I get into the elevator, I'm by the numbers and the door isn't closing, and there's this guy who's standing like right in front of the doors and I know that there's just like, he's just stepped just a tiny bit in front of the sensors and he needs to step back. And so I said, can you step back please?

And then he, he like, doesn't move. I watch him and he doesn't move. And I say it again. And then he gets so frustrated. He's just like, I did move. I didn't say anything. He's like, press the door button. And as I was already pressing the door button, I didn't say anything. I was just like watching this guy who's clearly very frustrated and not everybody does this mind management work. I mean, the only reason that I was so cool about it is like, I know it's not me. This guy's going through something and so I don't get frustrated. I'm just like, oh, well. And so he is basically other people in the elevator are getting frustrated and I'm just like, chill. He, he stepped back a little or whatever. The sensors didn't register him anymore. I pressed the button again, door closed, and then we got out.

Other people were murmuring about him and how he didn't step forward. And I'm like, Hmm, you know, not a big deal. So when we aren't doing this, when we aren't making our lives easier, when we aren't caring for ourselves, we can inadvertently make life more irritating for other people because they're not doing mind management work <laugh>. And then they are kind of like, they're like, what the heck? What the heck guy? Right? So just understand that how we feel it goes out into the world, we impact other people.

If you're at the office and you aren't taking care of yourself and you're rushed and you're overwhelmed, you might snap at an employee, you might snap at a client or you might get irritated with a client. That energy goes out into the world and it impacts them. So just when you are, are doing anything new and you're creating more time for yourself, and if you wanna specifically do it for a goal that you have, know that how you treat yourself is of utmost importance.

You are important because when you do that, not only are you calming yourself down, you're calming your practice down. That calm is going out into the world and you are not negatively impacting other people. If you are, yes, they, they think they have thoughts, everybody has their own thoughts, but we have an impact on the way that they think and the way they perceive the world too. It's really interesting.

Here's the third category you might fall into. So if you're already taking care of yourself and you're simply avoiding promoting your law practice, then there are some poli beliefs you likely have about yourself, your practice, or your best clients. And you can ask yourself what you believe about each of those. And that's what I coach my clients on in sessions too, because oftentimes our beliefs about the task at hand or the things associated with the task at hand are going to prevent us from taking action.

So if you are taking care of yourself, if you are, if you already have a calm practice and you look at your calendar and you put it on your calendar, but you never seem to do it right, you just keep passing it by, passing it by, passing it by, recognize it. Just pause. Right? Just, and instead of telling yourself, oh, I just never have time for it, ask yourself, I wonder why I'm not prioritizing this and I wanna build my business. Why am I not making time for this? Oh, I'm, I'm having thoughts about it. I wonder what those thoughts are. And the, the areas that you wanna ask yourself about are what you think about your practice, what you think about yourself, and what you think about your best clients. And that's to this particular area of building your business. So those are the suggestions that I have for you.

And start cleaning up those thoughts. And that's what I do with my clients. There's no way I'm gonna be able to do that in this episode, <laugh>. But if you are finding yourself resonating with anything that I talked about in this podcast and you wanna work with me, go to dina cataldo.com/strategy session and then we'll start breaking down what the path looks like for you to make this happen and what kind of work we would do together so that this becomes a regular, like you start taking action on what's most important to you.

You start learning how to prioritize in your practice. You really start feeling confident, especially if you're an entrepreneur. It's so common for us to have all this mind drama about growing our business. Is there gonna be enough? I've experienced it all. It doesn't go away, right? Like, but you start to manage it so well that it just becomes so much easier.

So it comes in spurts and then it just dies down. And you're, you get to learn how to manage your mind around all of that. And if you have a question and you want me to do an episode on it, or maybe even do another one of these ask me anything kind of episodes. There's two ways that you can send that question. One is to DM me on Instagram, dina dot cataldo. The other is to email me dina dina cataldo.com. Alright my friend, I hope you have a fabulous day and I will talk to you soon. Bye.

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