result atrophy, overcoming resistance, result atrophy and overcoming resistance, life coaching for lawyers, be a better lawyer, Dina Cataldo, be a better lawyer podcast

#259: Result Atrophy and Overcoming Resistance

Have a goal or a task you've been putting off?

You've hit resistance.

Resistance is normal.

It’s even desirable because it tells you there’s a next level for you.

But if we don’t move though that resistance and into that next level, our results atrophy.

They stay the same.

We don’t get better.

We don’t get the life we want.

In this episode you’ll learn how to move through resistance, so you can prevent result atrophy.

You'll hear how I move through resistance when I have a goal or task I don't want to do and get a step-by-step process you can walk yourself through any time you have the same.

Listen in to hit your next level.



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Result Atrophy and Overcoming Resistance

This past week-end I sat down to do something I’d been resisting for ages. It was suggested by a coach years ago, and I’ve wanted to do it, but I haven’t wanted to do it at the same time.

And this is also like a lot of lawyers I talk to who want to do something but keep putting it off.

They hit resistance.

Resistance is normal.

It’s even desirable because it tells you there’s a next level for you.

If we don’t move though that resistance and into that next level, our results atrophy.

They sat the same. We don’t get better. We don’t get the life we want.

In this episode you’ll learn how you can prevent result atrophy, so you can hit your next level whatever that may be.

The task that I took on to help me prevent result atrophy by moving through my resistance was sitting in silence for 4 hours on my own.

Yes, willingly not doing a thing for four hours. That may sounds like a nightmare for you. You can guess why I was hitting resistance.

About 10 years ago I went on a meditation retreat, and we had long periods of meditation but it was nothing like 4 hours at a time.

You may be a “hell no” to sitting in silence for 4 hours, but are tasks and goals you’ve been you’ve been putting off. You’ve hit resistance, and your results in your life are atrophying.

Some of the tasks you may be avoiding are building your book of business or finally getting control of your calendar.

Maybe you’re avoiding having difficult conversations with your assistant whose work isn’t up to par or a client who hasn’t paid.

You may be avoiding setting up new systems in your practice that will make your life easier.

You might be avoiding reviewing your firm’s numbers and telling clients you’re raising your rates.

We’re going to tackle resistance head on in this episode because if we don’t, our results atrophy.

They stagnate.

We live in the past results.

We must move through resistance to grow and create our future intentionally and create new — stronger — results

Think about the word resistance.

In the fitness world, resistance training creates muscle. We want to lift heavier and heavier weights and become capable of handling more and more resistance to grow our muscles.

If we don’t lift weights, our muscles stay the same or atrophy.

We want to face resistance head on when we’re working out. We use resistance — in this case weights — as a tool to help us expand our capabilities.

In our day-to-day lives though, we tend to use resistance as a sign to back off. To stop.

We don’t think of resistance as a tool. Instead, when we feel it we tend to think something has gone wrong.

For me, resistance feels like I’m holding my breath and I feel a tightness in my chest and shoulders when I think about it. I notice I ignore the task, I don’t put it on my calendar, I don’t do it. But thinking about the task is still taking up valuable brain space and energy because in the back of my mind I’m thinking about how I need to do it.

Nothing has gone wrong here when we feel this, it just means we’ve hit resistance.

I was talking to a lawyer recently who said she wanted to be a coach, but she couldn’t get lawyers to take her up on her coaching.

Her brain told her that because she was hitting this resistance that it meant to stop her dream of coaching.

She actually said she knew the universe wasn’t conspiring against her, so her failures must mean she should stop.

But she told me she truly felt called to be a coach.

These two statements are inconsistent because I believe we aren’t given a desire unless we’re meant to grow into having it. That desire is meant to evolve us as humans.

I told her that if she truly believed that she was meant to help people in this way to keep going. The resistance wasn’t a sign to stop. It was a sign to dig deep and keep going.

It’s the same for any dream we have or anything we know is the right thing to do. And you know when you’re not doing what needs to get done. So ask yourself what you’re avoiding right now. There’s resistance showing up any time we’re avoiding something.

If we let resistance rule us we make our lives small. We don’t go after what we feel called to do.

You want to move towards the resistance like you would if you were weight lifting.

Once you do, you’ll feel less and less resistance from the weights you’re currently struggling to lift and become capable of getting to the next level. Then the next. Our skills become stronger. We up level our capabilities to have the goal we desire and to handle those tasks our brain used to avoid.

You become more self-confident, you become more decisive, you become less reactive to stress and feel more in control, you stop caring about what other people think about your decisions and behavior.

That’s because you get good at showing up and stepping into the resistance at lower levels and that got you to add on weight to get to the next level.

In our lives if we don’t move into the resistance, our results atrophy.

We don’t gain the self-confidence we need because we’re not doing the reps. We’re overthinking instead of making decisions because we’re not learning the skills we need to become decisive.

To make change, we need to do something different than we’ve ever done before and that requires feeling the resistance and doing it anyway.

What a lot of us do is tell ourselves it’s too hard or maybe it’s not meant to be or it’ll get better eventually on its own hopefully.

Instead what we need to do is recognize that resistance is normal, and we have to move towards to get the results we want.

When our brain stops doing new things, we we stop learning new skills.

We feel mentally weak because we haven’t been lifting weights.

Our spirit wastes away, and we begin settling for what we have instead of going out and taking what we want for ourselves.

Coaching is resistance training.

I teach lawyers which weights to lift and how to lift them, so they can lift heavier ones and build their capacity to get to their next level.

They keep elevating themselves and getting better results.

It’s a workout.

And just like in fitness, we can always start a new workout routine.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve failed 100 times. All that matters is that you have enough belief in yourself to try 101 times.

One of the problems I see is that people give up on themselves too soon when they hit resistance.

In the gym they think they should be able to lift the 50 pound weight right away when they haven’t been lifting in ages.

They’re embarrassed to pick up the 5 pound weight because they’re afraid of what people think.

The people who let that fear — that resistance — rule them won’t work out.

The people who would rather feel a little embarrassed now because they know they’ll feel so proud and accomplished when they can get to lift the 50 pound weights are the ones who will show up at the gym and do the work and start whenever they need to.

I see this mental resistance with lawyers too.

Lawyers tell me they think they should be able to figure out how to manage their time on their own. After all, they went to law school. How hard can it be to figure out how to manage their time? And when they can’t do it on their own they think there must be something wrong with them or that it’s impossible.

Think about the logic of this in terms of fitness.

We hire a personal trainer not because we can’t figure it out on our own. We could do the research to find out how many reps we should do and how many sets we should do and how much cardio we should do and what stretches are best for the muscles we want to grow.

We hire a personal trainer b/c we expect them to have done that work for us, so we can just do the important stuff that’s going to grow our capacity.

They inspire us to show up for ourselves and try new things that we might not have thought to try or have tips to make the workouts more effective that you can only learn with lots of trial and error.

A lot of that trial and error is cut out for you because the trainer is more experienced. Yes, you still have to show up and lift weights, but you don’t have to spend time figuring out all the other stuff.

That’s why coaching is so valuable whether it’s in a fitness context or in the context where I help my clients take control of their practice.

You save do much time and energy figuring it out because the coach already knows the problems that will come up and how to handle them because of their experience.

Another problem I see when people come up against resistance whether it’s in the gym or it’s in their law practice is when they start and stop moving towards their goals.

Imagine being in a car with a brand new driver. They don’t know the balance between the clutch, the brake, and the gas pedals, so the car jerks back and forth and starts and stops.

Same for lawyers. It feels jerky when you’re first learning the skill of moving through resistance, so they move consistently towards their goal for a couple days, then they back off and tell themselves it’s not working.

In the gym we can’t expect two days of workouts to keep us strong just like we can’t do today’s of following our calendar to help us achieve our goals.

We have to teach ourselves to recover from this resistance faster.

That’s one of the reasons I teach lawyers how to stop beating themselves up and put themselves on their calendar first. It helps with recovery.

You may find yourself excited to start something new at the beginning of the week but by Wednesday you’ve given up and are in a funk.

That’s normal.

What you want to observe is if you’re improving your resistance recovery time because starting and stopping hurts your momentum.

In the gym you’re building your muscle two days then if you stop for a month it’s like you’re starting over.

Is that going to help you get the results you want?

Of course not.

That’s why people hire a personal trainer sometimes is to help with consistency and learning how to recover.

Okay so here’s what I want to share with you about moving through resistance, and I’m going use my meditation experience to give you the framework.

The framework is evaluating in a way that let’s you see the resistance.

I’ll share some tips for moving through that resistance as we go.

Just a little background info, what I was doing was a little different than meditation that most people are taught.

I actually encourage short meditations like 5-20 minutes. You don’t need to go for silence and you definitely don’t need to go for 4 hours. The goal isn’t silence in most meditations it’s just noticing your thoughts. Also know, I’m a regular meditator, so I wasn’t trying to lift a 50 pound weight when I haven’t been lifting 5 pound weights. I meditate anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours fairly regularly.

I’ve been lifting weights, so to speak.

I want you to think about a goal that you have right now or a task you’ve been avoiding.

My task was to sit for 4 hours in silence.

There’s three steps to making anything happen. One is to plan, the second is to take action, the third is to evaluate what happened before you do it again.

We don’t need perfection for the plan. Perfection interferes with taking action.

Here’s what my step one planning looked like:

  • I decided ahead of time that this was something I wanted to do
  • I put it on my calendar when I would be the most likely to do it (if it’s not calendared, it’s not real)
  • I anticipated the obstacles to getting it done to the best of my ability (again, not perfectly)
  • I also decided ahead of time not to have expectations – in other words, if I was distracted or I was interrupted, I wouldn’t beat myself up and I’d just take a breath and keep going. A lot of times we take interruptions as a sign that we can’t do it now. Most of the time it’s just our brain trying to avoid.

Here’s what my step two actions looked like:

– looked at my calendar and knew my brain would tell me all the excuses (you don’t have to do it, you can do it next week, you deserve a break)

  • remind myself I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, so let’s do it
  • Sat there
  • Saw thoughts and kept noticing over and over. Reminded myself this was normal.
  • Someone texted me and I told myself I should have put my phone on silent. Ignored it. Breathed.
  • Checked my text. Decided that that was okay but not to respond to it. Close eyes and keep going.
  • Had some moments of silence in my brain.
  • Felt antsy and annoyed. Reminded myself that was normal. Felt my feelings.
  • Thought about dinner and how I needed to eat soon because my window was closing, and I needed to eat before my friend called.
  • Checked my phone and saw 3 and a half hours had passed.
  • Decided to stop, so I could eat in my window.
  • Felt proud of my accomplishment. A lot of you beat yourself up when you don’t accomplish the goal as you imagined it, and that prevents you from trying again. You hinder your resistance recovery when you do this. Celebrate your accomplishment and re-decide if you want to try again.

Not celebrating will also create resistance to evaluating your actions, which is a necessary step to improving.

If you went to the gym and noticed you weren’t lifting as well as you usually did, you wouldn’t tell yourself there’s something wrong with your body. You’d probably ask yourself questions like, “did I get enough sleep last night?” “Am I getting enough protein?” “Am I coming down with a cold?”

Step three is the evaluation.

What you want to do in any evaluation is ask yourself three questions:

  1. what went right,
  2. what didn’t go as expected, and
  3. what will I do differently next time

Here’s my evaluation…

What went well:

  • set the time aside on my calendar
  • It was decided ahead of time it would be done, and I was not going to let anything interfere with this time
  • I said no to myself when my brain said I could do it next week. (That’s one form of resistance, so keep an eye out for it)
  • When I noticed resistance — which you will have when you do anything — I noticed it, and I redirected my brain to focus on my breath. That resistance looked like feeling antsy, and even irritated at one point.
  • I didn’t get angry at myself when a friend texted and I checked it. I let it go and kept going.
  • I didn’t respond to the text even though I felt an urge to.
  • Set an alarm for 4 hours, so I’d know when I was done.

These are the same problems that will come up when you have a goal. And they’re a sign of resistance that you’ll need to learn to move through to hit your goal.

You won’t want to put it on your calendar. For my clients I see this, and I see them not wanting to use their calendar in the way they know will give them the best results. They’ll take shortcuts that prevent them from using their time wisely. I talked about that in the last episode.

Or you’ll put it on your calendar but your brain will come up with an excuse not to do it.

That’s normal. But you’re the boss of your brain. I know it doesn’t always feel like it. Think of it this way: your brain’s job to be a toddler and throw a fit. There’s your higher self — the parent — who knows what you want. The parent needs to tell the toddler what to do or you’ll never get the results you want.

You’ve done this before. You went to law school, and you probably weren’t keen to study for finals, but you did. Why? Because you told your brain to sit down and study over and over again even when you didn’t want to.

You’ll have distractions, and you’ll need to refocus.

You’ll want to tell yourself you’re bad at doing X,Y,Z.

To overcome this kind of resistance, learn how to have compassion for yourself. I did an episode on How to Talk to Yourself that I recommend listening to.

It’s much easier to refocus when you don’t spend time beating yourself up.

Your brain will tell you that you’re tired or you’ve never done it before, so why bother.

It’s up to you to talk to yourself and remind yourself why you’re lifting this weight. Is it because you want to grow your practice, to feel better, to have a feeling of accomplishment at the end? Remind yourself of your why.

The second part of the evaluation is to ask…

What didn’t go as planned:

  • that my friend would text me while I was seated
  • That leaving my phone on would be a problem. I actually had it on in case a different friend called me, which leads my to my next issue
  • I didn’t anticipate that having my meditation back to back with a planned call with a friend would be an issue. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss her call if she called a bit early, so I left the phone on.

Here’s where I see lawyers hit resistance when they get to this part of the evaluation. They tell themselves that all the things that went wrong are why they can’t do it.

They tell themselves that these are signs that they shouldn’t be doing what they want to do.

Just like the lawyer who wanted to coach lawyers but said she couldn’t get clients.

The third part of the evaluation is to ask…

What I would have done differently

This is where you hypothesize what might help you improve the result.

Here’s my hypothesis…

  • Try putting it my calendar on a Saturday early morning because I think my brain is usually quieter in the morning.
  • plan the meditation with buffer time, so I’m not thinking about it bumping up against another thing on my calendar — which is what I teach my clients right, so if they have an important client call they want to give themselves plenty of time to take that call in case it goes over time.
  • Place my phone on silent. Even if my friend called, I could have always called her back. It wouldn’t have been a problem. This was about me managing my mind around her expectations. Next time I can watch for that.
  • keep my phone across the room, so my brain doesn’t think so much about checking the time

After you do an evaluation does that mean the next time you go to the gym or talk to a client or sit down to do your calendar that you won’t need to make improvements?


It means you have data to improve.

You’ve lifted a weight, and you’ve unleveled your skill, so the next time you’ll do better.

Then the next time you’ll do better, and so on.

Okay, I hope this episode has given you something to think about.

Notice where you’re hitting resistance, and you’re allowing that resistance to impair your results. It’s leading to result atrophy instead of growth.

If you want help moving through resistance I can be your personal coach.

You can book a call with me at

Just like a personal trainer, I’ll design a program that’s right for you to give you what you need to get the results you want.

Alright, my friend, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day, and I’ll talk to you soon.


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