Transcript: 3 Red Flags When Goal Setting with Dina Cataldo
Hello hello! Have you been hanging out with me on Instagram lately? I've been posting some mini-trainings that will help you manage your mind, so be sure you're following me @dina.cataldo and set up your notifications. These are bite-sized trainings that you don't want to miss. The reels section is a great place to start.
Today I want to talk to you about what you want and why.
Sometimes we work so hard for so long that we lose sight of what we want.
We forget even to check in with ourselves to see if we're acting in alignment with what we want.
We soldier through our day just trying to get things done hoping that we get enough done that we don't feel behind.
If we have a goal at all, it may feel impossible to make time to go after it.
And if you are making time for it, you may squander the time you have doing lots of things that feel like pressure and hustle energy instead of calm and committed energy.
What happens is we're chasing a dream instead of becoming solidly rooted and in alignment in our dream.
I see this come up with my clients when I first start working with them, and I saw it with myself when I first started building a business on top of my law practice.
In this episode, you'll learn
– 3 common reasons lawyers tell me that they have a goal – their WHY – that's holding them back.
– how to recognize the behaviors that signal you may be working from one of these reasons, and
– how to start making the shift from hustle and grind energy to calm and committed energy to fuel your actions
To give you context, I'm going to talk about your why in terms of your ambition to grow your practice, make partner, go after any kind of promotion or start a new venture outside the law with the idea of leaving the law eventually.
This applies to every desire we have though, so even if these topics don't light you up, ask yourself where you want something but you're not getting the outcome you want. Use what I talk about here to build your awareness in that area, so you can change the fuel that's powering your actions or inability to act.
Let me preface the next part of this episode with this:
I'm not saying that these “whys” are wrong or bad. The point of this episode is to help you see where you may be stepping on the brakes on your way to getting what you want versus stepping on the gas pedal. Where you may be using pressure and stress to push you towards your goal rather than being focused on ease to allow your what you want to be inevitable.
I love hearing from listeners and clients who use my podcasts as springboards for the mindset work to get what they want. You can use this episode to change your approach to your ambitions.
You don't need to change your ambitions. Just recognize why you have them and decide whether you like your reasons.
I'll use this as an opportunity to give a shout out to my former client Stacey who just made the move from full-time attorney as a public servant and part-time estate planner to full-time private practice as an estate planner. She practices law in Texas to in her words — “provide wholistic legal services that are inclusive of folks with non-traditional lifestyles.” I'll link to her website in the show notes. If you're listening, I love your website, Stacey.
She left a review for the podcast not too long ago and said,
“I've listened to this podcast for several years and done one on one coaching with Dina. I have found her help and advice to be invaluable. I have taken my solo practice further and further and also made changes in my personal life that make me a happier person every day.”
Stacey is an example of what's possible when you do this work. Treat each episode like you paid $1000 for it, and you'll notice your attention is more focused, and you won't just be listening to it in the background.
OK, I'll get off my soap box now. Let's dig in.
It's in our nature to grow. We want to expand into the next version of ourselves.
There's a part of us — our primitive brain — that doesn't want us to grow or expand.
It wants us to feel safe, and the priority to stay safe and not risk our position in the tribe can outweigh growth if we let it.
Our primitive brain makes it difficult to change, but not impossible. Not if you're using the skills that you're learning in this podcast to manage your mind.
It's a practice. Unfortunately we don't get to learn this once, and be done with it. We must stay committed to what we want and keep practicing awareness and connecting with what and why to keep our primal brain in check.
The first step – as always – is to get awareness of what your brain is doing.
Let's start with getting awareness around what some lawyers tell me their why is for wanting to make money or make partner.
1. To prove themselves to someone else.
They want to prove to a spouse, their old law student friends, their parents that they are successful.
Their brain has decided that making partner means their successful or that making X amount of dollars means they're successful.
This thought always feels icky. There's a pressure that builds up in the body when we put our happiness in the hands of other people. We feel insecure and vulnerable.
When we feel pressured, insecure, or vulnerable, we become reactive to the world around us instead of intentional and mindfully responsive.
When we react, we almost never make the best decisions for ourselves and we almost always make life harder for ourselves than it needs to be. You may find yourself procrastinating and spending a ton of time and energy feeling guilty for procrastinating.
The only person you need to approve of your decisions is you.
When we're out to prove our worth as a human or what we're capable of to another person, we don't make the best decisions for ourself, and we definitely don't make the most impactful decisions towards achieving the goal.
That's because our brain is spinning out every time it perceives it's taken a step backwards. It makes lots of interpretations about what's happening in your life based upon the opinion it thinks someone else will have about your actions.
When our only concern is that we're taking action towards what we want, other people's opinions don't matter.
This has a two-fold impact.
First, you'll evaluate goals in terms of how it impacts you and not what others think about you.
That means you'll be working more from calm committed energy rather than anxious or stressed energy.
Imagine not caring what people think about you. How do you think you'd feel?
When I started recognizing how much stock I put into what other people thought about me and my decisions, I started asking myself what I really truly wanted even if it sounded nuts to me at the time.
Then I decided to place my energy more into thinking about how I could make that happen instead of what people might think about my plans.
Second, you'll create more ease in your life because your brain won't be in conflict with itself.
If your brain is worried about what other people think, it's always going to be on the look-out for where you may be disappointing someone. When you have an idea for what you want, and it's not in alignment with what your boss, your parent, or your spouse wants, you'll hold yourself back from taking action.
It's a lot easier to take action when you truly want something for yourself.
If you find yourself feeling the urge to get the approval of someone, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to start shifting away from craving that approval and shifting more into the calm committed energy of someone who is going after something they want for themselves.
– Who in your life do you want to like you? Your clients? Boss? Other partners?
– Why do you think you want them to like you?
– If what they though about you didn't matter, what would you want for yourself?
– What are your reasons for wanting it?
– Do you like those reasons?
– Why do you like or dislike those reasons?
Another WHY that I hear from lawyers wanting to work harder to achieve billables, partnership, or expansion in their practice is:
2. To make all the monies
Money is a good thing. It's an expression in the world as to how much we help people.
Our culture has twisted money into something negative, and that messes with our head when it comes to goal-setting.
What most of us do is focus on the money out of scarcity. We want more. And our brain gets in the habit of believing that the money is what creates security. Because we've practiced that though so often, we believe that more money means more security.
Money does not create security. A person with a million dollars in the bank can think that they don't have enough money and feel unsafe. Meanwhile, a person with 50,000 dollars in the bank can think that they have enough money and feel safe. It's not the money that creates security. It's our thoughts about the money.
“But, Dina,” I hear you say, “My goal is the monetary target. How can I go after a goal without looking at the target?”
I'm so glad you asked that.
Money as a goal is only useful to help us bring up all the garbage in our brain that's preventing us from growth.
Money is an abstract concept.
Our true focus is the growth we need to experience to hit that target.
Let me give you an example.
If you have insecure thoughts about money, it will show up in your practice.
This can show up in conversations with prospective clients about how you can serve them if you're thinking about how you need this sale or how to convince them to say yes.
You'll feel icky and desperate, and the prospective client can feel that too.
You'll do things like discount your services and change packages so that they buy.
All that's happening is that your brain is focused on making all the monies instead of what the person you're talking to needs.
The growth comes from recognizing your behavior, tracking the thoughts and feelings that you had in that moment, then learning how to become intentional instead of reactive.
Let it be okay for them to say no.
If this speaks to you, your growth is learning to detach from them saying yes.
Them saying no — or yes — doesn't mean anything about you, your offer, your goal, or what you're capable of.
If you sense that this is your work, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to start shifting your focus from the money to your growth:
– What are all your thoughts about money?
– When you go back and look at these thoughts, where do you think they're impacting your life and your law practice?
– Are you getting the results you want?
– What thoughts would need to change to begin getting the results you want?
I'll also link to a couple episodes I've done on money that may help you. You can find them in the show notes at dinacataldo.com/197
The final reason I hear lawyers tell me that they are going after a goal in their law practice is:
3. That's what they think they're supposed to do
It's also the reason I hear for hesitating to leave their practice to go out on their own or to do something different.
This makes sense, right?
We're told that choosing the law is a safe profession where we'll get work after law school and chances are high that we'll make good money. Our primal brain thinks, “Okay, I'm in the sweet spot. Don't mess anything up.”
“Stay safe. Do what they tell you to do.”
What's hilarious to me looking back on this is the large investment of time, energy and money we're willing to make for years not knowing 100% what's going to happen after law school or whether we'll pass the Bar Exam.
But we do it because people before us have done it, and it seems doable to us.
If you're listening to this podcast, you've probably always been a hard-worker, and law school really brought it out in you. Then when you start practicing, you work even harder.
We don't even think about whether we're where we want to be. We figure we're supposed to work hard and make partner or become a supervisor or whatever everyone in your office says is the pinnacle of success. And even if we do think about possibilities outside that path, our brain easily shoves off thoughts of changing anything because it tells you:
– we need to stay to pay off the loans
– we spent so much time and money on this career, I should stay
– it would be ungrateful not to stay because the office/my parent/I have invested so much in me
– so many other people would be grateful to be in this position. I should be grateful too.
– maybe all lawyers feel this way. I should just stick it out.
– I'd be disappointing people if I left.
This is important to notice because you can work 15 years in a career, look up from your desk and realize that you didn't go after what you truly wanted.
We keep working without even thinking about it whether it's playtime with the kids, trips, our health, our relationships.
How do you know whether this may be showing up for you in your practice?
You may feel resentful. It may be hard to wake up in the morning. You may question whether you're even making an impact in the world. You might also notice yourself procrastinating in your job or just going through the motions.
Just because you feel this way doesn't mean that it's time to jump ship.
There's a lot of mental growth to do before making a decision like that.
When I work with clients who are in this camp, we work on revitalizing their relationship with their current workplace before they decide they want to leave.
That's because we can't make the best decisions for ourselves when we react to our emotions.
We think life is going to be sunshine and daisies if we change our circumstances.
But it's always our thoughts that impact how we feel.
Don't be deluded into believing the new job is going to make you feel better. You'll have other problems at that workplace. People will annoy you there too. You'll find work boring there too. You take your brain wherever you go.
If this is resonating with you, here are a few questions to help you get clarity on what you want and what your next steps are:
– if I could wave a magic wand, and there were no limits to what you could have, what would you ask for? Describe it in detail. What would your day look like? What kind of work would you do?
– In your current work, write down 10 things you genuinely enjoy about your work. Don't let your brain tell you that you can't think of 10. There are certain people, certain aspects of the job, certain perks that you enjoy right now. What are they?
– What are you willing to give up to have the life you want?
– Who would you need to become if you decided to go after what you wanted?
When I work with my clients, we go deep into what they truly want for themselves. What you want is important. We tend to shove aside what we really want in favor of what we have as if that's the best we can do. I did that for a long time, so I get it. It feels easier to do what we know. It's scary to rock the boat.
I've gone through the process of rocking the boat in my own life switching over from full-time criminal prosecutor to a full-time coach for lawyers. That was not an overnight growth spurt. It took being willing to look at my brain, pull out the thoughts I had that were preventing me from even thinking about what I wanted, then taking action in alignment with what I wanted. Then thought-by-thought I grew into the person I needed to become to make the larger leap.
This is a process that you can do too to grow in the direction you need no matter what it is you want. The caveat is, it's got to be something you really want.
When we really want something, we generate the commitment to stick to our plan even when it's hard. We find the energy to take action even when we don't feel like doing something because we know it's in service to our higher goal.
If that sounds like work you want to do, book a call with me.
I'll take you through the process of learning the skills you need and the mindset you need to grow into the person you want to become. And I'll be with you each step of the way to help you through the bumps in the road.
You can book a call with me at https:dinacataldo.com/strategysession
This work will change your life.
If you're here for it, let's talk.
Ok, my friend, that's all for this week. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day, and I'll talk to you soon.