Thinking and worrying are very different. Each will get you different results.
But most lawyers believe they're thinking when they're actually worrying.
If you're feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, chances are high you're worrying.
Worrying will not get you the results you want.
Strategic thinking will.
In this episode I break down the difference between thinking and worrying.
You'll learn how to shift out of worry, so you can shift quicker and quicker into strategic thinking.
When you do, you'll make faster and better decisions around time, money, and your life.
Listen in to make the shift.
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Thinking and Worrying
There's a difference between thinking and worrying that most lawyers miss.
One of the best things we can do for ourselves to live a better life and achieve goals is to understand the difference between thinking and worrying and get out of worrying, so you can think strategically.
I think most lawyers believe they are thinking strategically when they are really worrying, so I’m dedicating this episode to giving you the awareness you need and a few suggestions to regain your authority over your brain and redirect it.
Before we go any further, I want to invite you to a Strategy Session with me.
The work I do with my clients is changing their brain’s habit of worrying to strategizing. Whether it has to do with their calendar, their practice, how they approach conversations with clients or employees, it all comes down to learning how to get out of worry, so they can problem-solve quickly and take action.
Action is what gets us the results we want in life, but our results depend on whether we’re worrying or we’re thinking strategically. We can’t make more time if we’re focused on worrying about how we don’t have enough of it. We can’t make more money if we’re focused on worrying about how we don’t know if we’re making the “right” decision.
We need to learn the skill of addressing the habit our brain has of worrying and quickly flipping it on its head, so we can think clearly.
When my clients learn this skill, their life exponentially improves. They stop ruminating on what they want to take action on. They do it. They free their minds and energy up to use the genius they have to think about what they want and how to get it.
You can book a strategy Session with me at dinacataldo.com/strategysession
Life becomes a lot easier when you move out of worry and into problem-solving. You feel much more in control of your life because you are more in control. You make clear decisions instead of feeling stuck. Book a call with me, and we’ll talk about what is happening in your life right now, and what you want your next step to be.
There’s a few definitions I want to break down when it comes to thinking vs. worrying:
First, when I say thinking in this context, it’s problem-solving. Everything that goes on in our head is thinking. Our brain has about 60,000 thoughts a day. But the thinking we do that helps us solve problems in our practice feels much more calm and focused. We feel curious and ask ourselves helpful questions that will give us helpful answers.
Worrying is an entirely different kind of thinking, so I’m going to refer to it as worry throughout this episode. Worrying is akin to ruminating.
Worry can feel useful.
After all, when you’re sitting up late at night thinking about your task list for tomorrow, your brain can tell you it’s useful to worry to make sure you’re not missing anything.
Or when you wake up in the morning, and worry about everything you need to do in the morning, it seems like it could be helpful to “plan” for the worst case scenario. Neither of these feel good. Work feels paralyzing and is the opposite of problem-solving. We just don’t have access to our brain’s higher levels.
Worry becomes a habit fueled by fear. So what we want to do — and I’m going to help you with that in this episode — is recognize when we’re worrying, address it, and shift out of it, so you can take the next step that’s going to get you the result you want.
STEP ONE: Recognize When You’re Thinking vs. Worrying
Probably the easiest way to recognize worrying is by how it feels. I used to worry chronically, so I am very familiar with this feeling.
You may feel frozen, have a deer in the headlights feeling in your face, my throat constricts, I literally stop breathing, my shoulders tense up, and I feel like I want to roll up in a ball and hide under the covers.
Can you relate at all?
You can feel this in bed, when you sit at your desk, when you’re sitting on the couch watching TV. It can happen anywhere because we take our brain everywhere we go. Until we learn to manage it, it will keep happening.
You may be asking, “Why does it happen?”
It’s created from fear. That fear is created by the thought — which I’m calling worry in this episode to distinguish it from productive thinking.
You could be worrying about what your client is going to think if you don’t have a document done by a certain date. You could be worrying that you don’t have enough time. You could be worrying you aren’t going to have time to get everything you want to done this week or that you’re not going to hit your revenue goals this month.
Worrying isn’t going to solve the thing you’re worrying about.
Only strategic thinking can do that.
But when we get wrapped up in worrying, we can’t access that part of the brain. Our brain is focused on all the things it doesn’t want to happen.
Remember, our thoughts create our results. If we’re focused on thinking/worrying about the result we do NOT want, we are more likely to create the result we don’t want.
I say more likely because you’re probably used to pushing yourself through the worry to work and get things done.
That’s the nature of being a high-achieving lawyer. Because you’ve probably been doing that a while, and it’s worked to a certain extent for you. I know because that’s what I used to do.
Worrying feels horrible. It’s like banging your head against a wall. It drains our battery faster than problem-solving does, and that’s why it leads to burnout.
That’s how I burned out at the office.
That’s how I almost didn’t get my business off the ground because I spent so much time in worry that my brain couldn’t problem-solve to grow it.
I worried about whether I could do it.
I worried about what other people would think of me.
I worried about what would happen if I failed.
I worried about whether I was making the right decision.
When I learned how to get into problem-soloing mode — even if I felt worry at first — moving forward felt easier.
You don't have to completely eradicate worry from your life to be successful at problem-solving.
Yes, I had fear — I still have fears — but I don’t let it control my brain and worry and stay under the covers anymore.
Instead I move into problem-solving mode by addressing the fear.
This brings us to STEP TWO: how to address worrying.
When you first start doing this, it feels clunky. You may be one of the people this practice comes easy to, and you can immediately do it. I was not one of those people. It took me noticing it over and over and over and finally addressing it more and more.
Here’s what this process looked like for me
Notice I’m feeling worry in my body.
Beating the crap out of myself for not getting to work.
Then feeling paralyzed and putting my work off worrying the whole time.
Then using a deadline to push me to do something late in the night or early in the morning.
I did this part a lot.
Then, I did this, and it changed everything for me.
Notice I’m feeling worry in my body.
Telling myself I was okay, that everything was going to be okay. Focusing my brain on what was working in my life. Telling myself that no matter what, I will figure this out.
Taking a deep breath and taking a tiny step towards whatever it was that needed to get done that day.
I did that for a while.
Now, I do this:
Notice I feel worry in my body.
Tell myself, “Girl, it’s time to get moving. Let’s go, my friend.
Start taking action even in the tiniest way. You can do this my asking yourself, what’s one tiny thing I can do right now to get going on the project or figuring something out?
Even if I still feel worry in my body, I can remind myself it’s not a problem. I can do this. The feeling will leave my body soon enough.
The fact that I notice it and am kind to myself are what gets me out of worry and into problem-solving mode.
You’ll know you’re in problem-solving mode if you:
- feel curious about the problem
- Notice how you feel and know those feelings don’t mean anything about your abilities to figure this out
- You can focus on what’s going well and then ask yourself how you can improve on it
- Refocus your brain over and over. Our brain needs supervision. It will want to hide under the covers sometimes, and that’s okay. Our responsibility is to refocus. Do this by being kind to yourself and gently redirecting your focus.
- You’re taking actions that are moving the needle in your practice or towards your goals and you’re not taking “easy” action that feels productive but isn’t really moving you towards completing the most important tasks.
Here’s a quick wrap up of the key take aways today.
First, worry is not thinking.
It’s over-thinking. It’s ruminating. It’s not going to help you create the life you want. It will just feel terrible and keep giving you more of the same life.
Second, if you want something different in your life, you need to move out of worry and into problem-solving, which is strategic thinking.
You don’t need need to completely stop worrying to get things done. NO, it’s not helpful, but don’t beat yourself up if you’re worrying. Let yourself know everything will be okay, it’s always okay, and that you can figure anything out. You can remind yourself of what you DO know and what IS working to get your brain in a more productive mode.
Finally, gently take authority over your brain and take a small step towards what will help move the needle on the project you’re avoiding. It could be you outline the next steps. Or set up a meeting. Or ask for help. Remind yourself, even if you’re still feeling worry, that you can do this.
If you want coaching to help you get out of worry and think strategically about building your practice or reducing the overwhelm in your practice, book a Strategy Session with me. Go to dinacataldo.com/strategysession to book a time that works for you.
Alright my friends, I hope you have a beautiful rest of your day.
Talk to you next week.