success and conscious well-being, Dina Cataldo, Be a Better Lawyer, best podcasts for lawyers, best coach for lawyers, best life coach for lawyers

#305: Success and Conscious Well-Being

What does success mean to you?

Are you relying on what others think success is to define success for yourself?

And does your vision for success have one essential component:

Conscious well-being.

In this episode of Be a Better Lawyer, you'll learn:

  • Why success hinges on you incorporating conscious well-being into your vision of success
  • What external and internal markers of success are and which are most important
  • How you can tell if you're making conscious well-being a priority

Listen in to incorporate conscious well-being in your success plan.

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Success and Conscious Well-Being

What does success mean to you? And does your vision for success have one essential component called conscious well-being?

We’ll talk exactly about what conscious well-being is and why that’s important for your success in this episode.

Hello, hello!

Last week we talked about creating a vision for a life and law practice you love.

I highly suggest you go back to that episode and download the Download I created for it. It’s called Designing a Vision for a Life and Law Practice You Love. You can listen to the episode and download the guide at

A vision is what your version of success looks like, and there’s a key component of creating any vision that I want to focus on today and that’s conscious well-being.

This isn’t about self-care, but self-care is part of it.

It’s about reconnecting with yourself and what you want, and not letting society’s structure decide your life for you.

That requires that we have awareness of what we’re being spoon-fed by the world around us and taking a step back to ask ourselves what we truly want.

It takes our conscious decision to do what we know is right for us even when it’s not what the mainstream in the legal community or in our friend circles may think is the right thing to do.

That’s really what conscious well-being is: our ability to be present with ourselves long enough to make conscious decisions in alignment with what we want — whether it’s in our practice, our relationships, with what we decide to eat, with what we decide to add to our lives or cut out of our lives, with who we decide to hire, when we decide to hire, with what tasks and projects we do and don’t want to take on.

This is not a practice of perfection because we can’t be perfect at this.

There are too many things vying for our attention. And until we decide to become monks on a mountaintop somewhere, we’re always going to have things pulling for our attention.

Don’t use this concept of conscious well-being as a whip to beat yourself up but as a tool to help yourself move more in alignment with conscious well-being as you define it for yourself.

Stay til the end of this episode because I’m going to ask you a question to help you measure where you are with your conscious well-being and know what your next steps are.

One area where we can really dig into this concept of conscious well-being — because it’s just so easy to see with our eyes — is the topic of success.

Most of society respects lawyers. If you’re a lawyer, society considers you successful.

As high-achievers, I believe we’re drawn to the legal profession because it’s painted as one marker of success in our society.

Other professions considered markers of success are brain surgeons, astrophysicists, senators, president, any profession that requires some letters after our name or an honorific title like doctor or counselor.

There are other markers our society tells us demonstrate we’re successful outside of our job description too like:

  • Land Rovers
  • Gucci purses
  • Gold rings
  • A spouse
  • Having children
  • Having children who are intelligent or in the gifted program
  • Having children going to the “right” universities
  • Buying a house

Notice that none of these are internally referenced markers.

And because we possess them — even though there’s no external proof of it and our society thinks it’s in bad taste to talk about it — people can infer we have money. And from that they can infer we’re successful. Our society has taught us having these things means we’re successful.

They’re all markers other people will see. Like a tattoo on your forehead. Like a bumper sticker on your car marking something you believe is significant about you and you believe other people should know about you. In fact, you don’t even have to have money to have a nice car or purse. We can get all those on credit. And a lot of us do that, so we can show others — and maybe even ourselves — we’re successful.

I’m not saying you don’t buy the nice purse or nice car. I am only offering to check in and ask what you may be making possessing that particular thing mean about you or what you want others to think about you if you have it.

I’m all for having what we want. This is just part of getting to know ourselves and gaining that consciousness of who we are being in the world and who we want to be in the world.

So those are EXTERNAL markers of success that we’ve been taught let other people know we’re successful. Let’s take a look at what an internal marker looks like.

An internally referenced marker of success is something no one else can see or know for sure. It’s something we know for ourselves. It may even be something we’re a little self-conscious about at first because it’s so different than what other people are doing or what we’ve been taught is socially acceptable.

Internally referenced markers of success really come down to you living the life you want and breaking down the structures that have told you what success should look like.

It’s doing things like:

  • deciding you want to say “no” to someone’s request simply because you don’t want to because you value something more — like your quiet time or peace of mind. This takes internal fortitude. No one can see it or may even understand it. They may even judge you for not saying “yes” to their request.
  • Deciding you want to start a business even when it feels like you’re taking a step backwards in terms of your prestige or title. You may even have people tell you this, but you are certain of what you want and you stay with it.
  • It’s doing things that we may be afraid other people will think are strange like deciding we want to leave the office at 430pm while everyone else in the office is staying until 6 or 7 or going to go for a walk in the middle of the day even though everyone else is sitting at their desks
  • It’s making decisions that other people might disagree with or displease others like saying no to an assignment others think is a big deal because you know it’s not in alignment with what you truly want to do or it’s not going to move you in the direction you want to go
  • For entrepreneurs it’s doing things like setting a schedule that works with your life and raising your rates to reflect the results you get your clients.
  • In all cases it’s making what you want a priority.

But we’re not taught to be internally referenced. And we’re definitely not taught to value what we want as important.

We’re taught to look outside ourselves to see whether we’re successful and whether we’re doing things and having things that others think are important.

So doing these things is incredibly uncomfortable. It’s going against the norm. It’s breaking down structures that you’ve been immersed in for 30 – 40- 50 or more years. I’ve experienced all of them.

One of the easiest ways to see this show up with the lawyers is when I show them how to make a calendar that aligns with what they want.

It’s a totally different way of them looking at their time and I can get a lot of resistance at first from lawyers.

I get it because I was resistant to it at first UNTIL I saw the impact it had on my quality of life and the actions I took.

The key to making a calendar you’ll actually do is putting you on your calendar first. You time. Then you put family events on the calendar. Then you put work.

That feels uncomfortable for everyone at first. That’s because we’re taught work — the ultimate evidence that we’re successful per the legal profession — comes first. Above family. And definitely above ourselves.

Let me repeat that because your brain may have just skipped over that part because it’s so foreign to us.

First you put you-time on the calendar: gym, quiet time, time to read a book for fun, gardening, what you want to do.

Second you put family and friend time on the calendar: events, dinners, etc.

Third you put work: time blocks for assignments, phone calls, checking emails, etc.

This is so foreign that it can feel scary breaking the old structure up.

You don’t have to believe me. Just try it. You’ll realize how much less you resent work and how much more you’ll accomplish at the office when you make what you want a priority.

When you do this, you make what you want and prioritizing what you want an internal marker of success.

In the seeking of success as OTHERS define it, we lose connection with ourselves. We lose connection with our well-being. We lose connection with what feels right.

None of that matters in the eyes of those who judge us successful or not based on their world-view of success.

And people will judge you.

Stephen King was rejected by 30 publishers. If he were to submit to external markers of success, he would have stopped submitting his work and gone on to do something else. But here’s the thing about external markers of success: they don’t always mean you’re successful.

Because Stephen King didn’t rely on those external markers, now he’s worth $500 million. Pretty crazy right? So not allowing what others believed made a successful story helped him create an external marker of success. That’s mind-bending, right? Ignore what other people think and begin following what you want to do, and you can still create external markers of success. I’ll offer to you that because Stephen King dropped the expectation of creating those external markers of success and he made what he wanted a priority that he created success on his terms.

And as long as we’re looking outside of ourselves for the signals that we’re successful, we’ll stay disconnected from what we want and attached to what others want us to be.

Here’s a question to ask yourself to get awareness over whether you’re more externally referenced or internally references. This is not a tool to beat yourself up with. It’s an awareness tool, and at the end I’ll give you a few questions to think on to take you further.

Answer this question:

On a scale of 1 to 4, how well are you watching out for your well-being?

Here’s what a “1” looks like:

  • I often feel overwhelmed or pressured
  • I often don’t feel like I know enough or am good enough at my work
  • I often tell myself that I need to suck it up
  • I often tell myself I should be better or further along than I am now
  • I often tell myself I need to do more
  • I’m often impatient and am quick to anger
  • I often snap at my husband/wife then feel guilty about it
  • I often feel guilty when I take time off
  • I often tell myself there’s nothing I can do, so I’d better just deal with it
  • My happiness often depends on what other people think about me or the work I’m doing
  • I often find myself working later hours because I want other people to think I’m a hard worker
  • I often reach for substances like unhealthy foods, alcohol, or something else to numb out or feel better or “take the edge” off
  • I often over-do things to feel better like workout until my body wants to collapse or create strict rules for myself that I need to comply with to feel better about myself

Here’s what a “4” looks like:

90% of the time (notice I say 90% of the time because a 4 doesn’t mean perfection — we’re all human and have human days)

90% of the time:

  • I feel calm and relaxed
  • I manage my time well
  • I am kind to myself
  • I am kind to others
  • I ask for what I want
  • I’m honest with myself and others about what I need
  • I feel good about the work I do
  • I take time off without feeling guilty
  • I feel confident that I’m doing exactly what needs to get done
  • I don’t care what other people think
  • I’m present with my family and friends
  • I feel like I’m good at managing my emotions

If you’re at a 3 or a 4, that’s amazing. This is an opportunity to celebrate and to see just how far you’ve come because I know from personal experience that getting there takes dedication and commitment to personal growth.

If you’re at a 1 or a 2, this is an opportunity to see where you can take your life to the next level.

I want to start by asking you this: where will you be 6 months from now? A year from now? If you continue down the path you’re on?

What will be the impact on your emotional well-being, the emotional well-being of your family, the impact on your practice?

When you sit with that impact, do you like what you see?

Assuming you don’t, then the next question is, “What are you prepared to do about it?”

Because what’s gotten you here will not get you there.

The habits you’ve created so far will not give you the life you want.

We’ve got to peel back those layers one at a time so we can reconnect with our center. Our center is where what we want is and we’ve got to say yes to that. We’ve got to incorporate that into our vision for our future.

If you’re ready to begin peeling back those layers and to reconnect with what you want, so you can be in that 3 or 4 range, I want to invite you to book a Strategy Session with me.

I help my clients move from that 1 and 2 realm into the 3 and 4 realm.

Right now, you may not feel like there’s any hope. That you’ve just got to suck it up.

That’s 100% not true.

Because I’ve been in your shoes where everything felt impossible to manage and I couldn’t see a way out.

I will help you create the life you want.

The first step to saying yes to yourself is simply booking a call with me.

You can book a Strategy Session with me at

What you want matters.

And it’s within your power to make it happen.

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