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#271: Are You Over-Learning?

Ever wonder why you're not making the progress you want to see in your law practice or your life?

You're a go-getter who works hard and gets things done.

So what's happening?

It could be because you're over-learning.

What's over-learning?

So glad you asked.

In this episode of Be a Better Lawyer Podcast:

✅ you'll learn what over-learning is, and how you can know if you’re doing it

✅ I’ll answer the question, “Isn’t learning more a good thing?” The answer is eye-opening (it was for me), and

✅ I’ll break down three paths to changing yourself from an over-learner to an action-taker

From there I'll give you questions to ask yourself to help you know what your next steps are right now.

Listen in to get the direction and inspiration you need to take action and create the law practice and life you want.


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

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Are You Over-Learning?

I love this topic so much because for a long time I was stuck in over-learning, and I’ve been talking to lawyers who’ve been in that same place, so I wanted to address it in a podcast episode.

Today you’ll learn

  1. what over-learning is, and how you can know if you’re doing it
  1. I’m going to answer the question a lot of people have, which is, “Isn’t learning more a good thing?” It’s definitely going to be eye-opening (it was for me), and
  1. I’m going to break down the three paths to changing yourself from an over-learner to an action taker. And I’m going to ask you questions to help you know where you are and what your next steps are right now.

This is gonna be so good.

Before I dive in, I want to invite you to book a Strategy Session with me. Coaching got me out of over-learning and into taking action. It moved the needle for me, and I know that wherever you are in your practice, it will help move the needle for you.

When my clients come to me they’re undecided what to do next or confused about the next steps, and they gain the skills they need to manage their mind and focus it. They know they feel overwhelmed, but they don’t know how to get out of it. I help them get out of that overwhelm, so they can home in on what is most important to them and take action on that.

If you’re a driven lawyer who wants clarity on your next steps in your law practice and start taking powerful action to create the life and practice you want, work with me.

Book a Strategy Session at dinacataldo.com/strategysession.

Deciding to work with a coach is a powerful step forward to create what you want for your future self.

There’s something about making a powerful decision for ourselves that helps us move into action.

Every time a client decides to work with me, they start taking actions they never thought were possible for them.

Not because of me but because THEY made the decision to take action that led to momentum. The more action we take, the more momentum we build towards what we want.

If this is speaking to you, book a Strategy Session with me, my friend.

YOu can book at dinacataldo.com/strateygsession

Alright, let’s dive into this episode, shall we?

Over-learning is spending a disproportionate amount of time learning instead of taking action.

In school, we’re taught to learn almost exclusively. We’re taught to avoid failure at all costs, but failure only happens when you take action. In fact, you’re pretty much guaranteed failure if you take action and if you’re not failing, you’re definitely not taking enough action.

You’ll know if you’re over-learning if you tell yourself things like:

I should be able to figure this out on my own.

I just haven’t learned enough.

If only I knew more, then I’d be more successful.

If only I knew more, then I’d feel more confident.

If only I knew more, then the people around me would respect me more.

You likely feel anxiety and pressure because you’re always worried that you don’t quite know enough.

This causes problems. You feel self-doubt, you spend lots of time learning — maybe listening to podcasts, reading books, taking courses — but you don’t spend an equal amount of time taking action on what you learn, you don’t feel like you have much of a life, when you feel under pressure to learn more you’re also probably a little snappy with people around you because you think they’re wasting your time. You’re kind of like a kettle about to boil over. And you likely feel in a rush because you never have enough time to learn enough to feel successful enough or confident enough or respected enough. You’re constantly looking for someone to validate you and tell you you’re doing a good job, and when they don’t you think something has gone wrong.

You’re in a constant state of not-enoughness.

This feels horrible.

I know because I lived it.

If you’re anything like me, you were taught that knowledge is power.

That if you got a higher education, that would be your key to success.

That if you worked hard and got more degrees, you’d be respected and everything you touch would turn to gold.

And to a certain extent, that was true for me, so it’s probably true for you too.

You were a high-achiever who got amazing grades in school. You did extra credit work. You got pats on the back from your teachers for how hard you worked. You maybe advanced a grade. You maybe advanced a grade. You got awards. You got praise when you received your diplomas.

Those accolades give us a dopamine hit. Get praise, receive dopamine hit. Advance to the next level of the video game. And this feeds our ego. We feel really good doing all that work and receiving praise.

In order to maintain that high, we have to keep it going.

Like a drug addict, we’re in a constant state of looking for our next fix then get to the next level. There’s never enough. We keep looking for ways to feel good using a brain that’s been run through the school system.

So when you finished law school, you went into the workforce with those same beliefs that if you worked hard and kept learning that you’d keep creating more success. You’d keep advancing the the next level.

And it worked here and there. But the rules of the game changed.

There was more work.

We needed to figure out how to manage deadlines.

There weren’t people constantly praising us for doing a good job so there was less dopamine to fuel us.

No one gave us a gold star for showing up every day even when we didn’t feel like it.

Things got harder.

When it did, a lot of us — including myself — came to a false conclusion: that we weren’t good enough. That something about us was wrong. That we were missing something.

So our brain did the only thing it knew how to do, and that was to fall back on the habits that got us through school. LEARN MORE.

Because in the educational system learning more equals good and worthy. You’re a good student worthy of praise and worthy of moving to the next level.

I talked to a lawyer who was working 2400 hours a year and was made a partner but she still felt like she was in a constant state of not-enough. She believed if she learned more about the law that would make her a better lawyer and then she’d feel respected and worthy of having been made partner.

She believed she needed to read more law books and maybe get an LLM because if she did those things then she’d feel worthy.

But these faulty beliefs were killing her. She was frazzled and worried all the time.

She didn’t even need to do 2400 hours to make partner. Her requirement was 2100. She was doing extra credit to prove her worthiness to her firm and to herself.

Now you may be thinking, “Well, she made partner, so clearly what she did worked.”

Maybe, you’re thinking that.

But at what cost?

To her health?

To her relationships with friends and family?

To her mental well-being?

And this is the problem so many of us face: when is enough learning enough?

When are we finally worthy of the partnership or the money or the accolades?

Is it when you have an LLM, another doctorate, a certificate specializing in another area of law, when you’ve read all the cases in Lexis or Westlaw? Is it when you’ve consumed all the podcasts or self-help books?

Or can you wrap your mind around this one:

You are already worthy of everything you’ve received in the past and everything you want in the future right now.

You don’t need another degree or to work week-ends to be worthy.

You don’t need someone to tell you that you did a good job to be worthy.

You are worthy as you are. Imperfections and all.

This is where peoples’ minds argue — mine did, so maybe yours does too: “But if I stop working hard, I won’t make more money, I won’t make partner, I won’t become more successful than I already am. And isn’t learning more going to help me grow and be better at what I do?”

Let’s take these one at a time.

And I want you to answer the questions I pose to you for yourself.

First, ask yourself what you believe working hard means.

What most people do — and I’ve done this too — is tell themselves working hard means working all the time.

I have seen this belief tear relationships apart and experienced the physical and mental decline of this belief personally.

Because “all the time” means when you wake up to when you go to sleep. Every day. You’re just constantly thinking about work.

If working hard didn’t mean working “all the time,” what might it mean?

Does it mean working from 6-6 Monday through Saturday?

Or can it mean structuring your time in a way that you work 8-5 Monday through Thursday?

The number of hours isn’t what determine “hard work.”

I want you to question what you believe “hard work” means.

I’d actually love for you to throw the phrase “hard work” out the window if you resonate with what I’m talking about.

I’ve switched out that phrase for the belief that I’m committed to showing up to the best of my ability. And I place parameters around the hours I work. I do that ahead of time because my brain’s default is, “Work all the time.” That’s why using a calendar is fabulous. You decide ahead of time when you want to work and then use it to manage your brain.

How many hours a week is enough for you to be committed to your goals?

When do you want to work?

When do you NOT want to work?

When are you going to have time that is just yours or just for your family?


Second, what does success mean to you?

For me, success means hitting my monetary goals while staying in alignment with who I want to be in the world.

That is a big change from how I used to define success. I used to define success as making “more money.” Notice how vague that definition is. What exactly is “more?”

When our goals are vague, our brain latches onto vague ways to achieve those goals. So if your goal is “more money” your brain likely defaults to the belief you need to work harder to achieve it.

Working harder is vague. But when we take a step back and get specific about what you want and create a structured plan to attempt to achieve it, we don’t have to work so hard. We can strategize. That’s what I help my clients with.

I’m going to give you a billables example, but it’s the same thought process for revenue goals. So if you have a revenue goal, ask yourself if your brain is telling you the same things.

I had a client whose goal was to hit 2100 hours of billable time. Her brain’s habit was to tell her she needed to work harder. This belief caused her to work all the time and when she wasn’t working, she was thinking about work. And when it came time to turn in her hours, she’d wait until the last minute and stay up late to get them done.

But when she stopped believing she needed to work harder and instead believed she could think strategically, she could create new habits that made it easier for her to hit her target numbers.

She calendared her time, she gave herself time to bill contemporaneously, she made decisions about when she was done working and what she wanted to do with that time, she delegated more because she gave herself space to think about how to strategically make more time for herself to hit her numbers, she said no to things that she couldn’t do so she wasn’t piling onto her already taxed workload, she managed her brain when it told her it didn’t feel like doing what was on her calendar.

These were all skills she gained and then implemented because she had her brain coached.

She hit her hours, and she made partner. Not because she was killing herself or because she wanted the praise but because she stopped believing she needed to work harder, she started believing she could figure out how to hit her hours without killing herself and she started to believed she was worthy of being a partner.

Here’s the third part of that objection, “Isn’t learning going to make me better at what I do?”

I’m going to give you the typical lawyer answer, but stay with me. So, “it depends.”

I want you to think about how you feel when you think about a specific training you want to do BEFORE deciding to do it.

For example, the lawyer I talked to who said she wanted to read more law books and get an LLM? When she thought about doing that, she was doing it out of scarcity and lack. From my observations of her she felt anxious and had an urgent feeling in her body like she had to do it right now. She was making that decision because she didn’t believe she was worthy of the partnership and was afraid the partnership would be taken away from her. She wanted to do them because she believed it would prove something.

I have been there, so I get it. But let me share with you a recent example of how I decided whether I needed to learn more.

When I was thinking about coaching I wanted to receive, I asked myself where I thought my gap in my business was. When I thought about it, the gap wasn’t in knowledge or taking action, it was in messaging. I wanted to learn how to share my message that coaching is amazing and life-changing in ways that would inspire people into action.

When my long-time coach — Kathryn Morrison — started a group coaching Mastermind focused exclusively on messaging and copywriting, I knew this was a great opportunity to fill the gap. I knew she knew my brain and could coach it, and I knew I liked how she thought about her messaging. I also knew I didn’t want to piecemeal trainings to write better.

I’ve seen people do this, and I used to do this in my business WAY back in the day. I’d research articles and podcasts and try to put it all together to figure out what to do next. It takes WAY too much time, and people are always giving contradictory information, which is confusing. I wanted to work with one source I trusted.

I’m not about waiting around hoping for results. I’m about taking action.

Then I made a strategic decision to join the Mastermind.

Here’s what I did NOT do:

  • I didn’t spin or second-guess myself and delay my decision
  • I wasn’t in scarcity or telling myself I didn’t know enough. I knew a lot. I just wanted help improving.
  • I didn’t try to figure it out on my own or waste hours of time consuming information on the internet.

I made a decision to get on the quickest path from where I was to where I wanted to be. Because I knew the purpose of a coach is to help me take strategic action to get me the results I want faster.

I knew my coach had been there, and that she could take me where I wanted to go with less of the pain she experienced along the way.

These are two very different ways of thinking.

Which one do you think gets the highest quality results?

So if simply learning more and consuming content doesn’t create change, then what does?

Let’s break down the three paths you can take to go from over-learning to taking action to make change in your life.

  1. When you’re so fed up with what your life looks like that you throw your hands up in the air and say, “I’m done. There has to be a better way.”

2)   Something big happens in your life outside of your control like a divorce, an illness or a death.

3)   You know exactly where you want to be, and you see where you are, and you observe there’s a gap that needs to be filled to get you where you want to be.

In those moments, you have choices:

  • Ignore the problem,
  • take action on your own, or
  • ask for help to take action.

If you ignore the problem, it just festers. It’s like an infected wound. Your practice doesn’t grow and instead feels like a prison. You try to work harder, but it never feels like you’re working hard enough.

If you take action on your own, you risk going down a rabbit hole and spending a lot of precious time trying to figure things out. And when things don’t work the way you want them to, you can spin out and even go back to ignoring the problem because you don’t feel like there’s anything you can do about it. You may think, why bother trying anything when what you tried didn’t work?

If you ask for help, from someone who’s been down the road you want to go, they know the rabbit holes you can go down. They help you focus on taking the kinds of actions that are the most impactful and high quality. They see the potholes in the road before you decide to go in that direction, so they can steer you onto an easier path.

It wasn’t learning more by listening to podcasts or reading self-help books or business books that helped me. It was always finding someone who knew just a little bit more than me, asking them for help, then taking action that propelled me towards my goals.

And when I saw I was stalled in taking action, coaches helped me understand how to keep taking action without stalling out.

I developed skills to take action consistently to create the practice I wanted, then the business I wanted. One where I felt more peace and calm and like I had a life to come home to that I enjoyed. I felt more certainty and trust in myself instead of feeling anxiety, pressure and self-doubt all the time.

When I took more action, and managed my mind while taking that action, I began to see the difference between taking lots of action and taking lots of high quality action. I saw that I took higher quality action when I managed my mind and that helped me created higher quality results.

If you tell yourself you’re going to take action on your own, observe your actions. Are you spending at least as much time taking action on what you learn as you are learning?

If not, it’s time to check in with what you need.

And if you want help creating higher quality actions and results, if you want to feel more peace and confidence in your life, if you want someone who can help you see those potholes, book a Strategy Session with me.

Get the skills you need to take action and create a life you love waking up to.

You can book a call at dinacataldo.com/strategysession

Alright, my friend, I hope you have a beautiful rest of your week.

Bye for now.