You know how on your computer and your phone you have apps running in the background? I think it was only recently that I figured out how much energy they suck. Also electricity! We have things plugged in and they are drawing electricity when you leave them plugged in. What is running in your background?
This idea of distractions is there but we’re so used to it. We’re so used to things going on in the background that may be diminishing our productivity and our focus and we’re not really aware of them. We kind of get used to them.
An example of what could be running in your background: a never-ending to-do list. I think every lawyer that I speak with talks about their to-do list that just keeps getting longer every day. And so we’re just running that list, but not really accomplishing anything. Also, we’re running old stories and old programming of what we should be doing, of what we did before in the past. How we made a mistake, or almost made a mistake, or how we didn’t do something how we wanted to do it? We have programming of what we’re supposed to be, what being a lawyer looks like, what it should feel like to do a certain task. Again we are comparing to other people.
And another thing that could be running in our background is an old paradigm. This is the New Billable Hour™ and we’re talking about new ways to look at things. There are a lot of old structures that were created by well-meaning people and they don’t work anymore. So old ways of looking at things and old ways to solve problems to approach conflict are those old paradigms running in your background. Some other things that could be running in the background that I hear a lot is not feeling good enough – the “imposter syndrome”.
I was actually shocked to know this. I know I felt it in early in my career that even though I’m a lawyer, how did I get here? Do I know as much as the other lawyer next to me, or the opposing counsel, or someone who has more experience (more years of experience)? But it’s this idea that we’re not supposed to be here, even though definitely you’re supposed to be here.
You’re exactly where you need to be. You’re not somebody else. You’re just yourself and whatever is presenting to you in your life is exactly what needs to present you – good and bad. Another thing – as lawyers, we like to be thorough; we like to be diligent. We like to research and “over-research”. That’s a term. And so we’re constantly thinking about, “did we miss anything?” Right? So it’s this in the background. Things we could have researched when the case is long gone. We’ve already submitted it or the actual moment of when we needed to strategize is gone, but we haven’t let go of that. Just imagine how that’s sucking your energy.
So we’re constantly not feeling done. We’re always reaching for more and this leads to burnout. Because it’s constant, right? Like it’s this energy suck and why we feel so burned out. We didn’t really do anything because it’s this running in the background. So what if you could reduce these distractions, reduce this “background noise” (or whatever we want to call it) and then increase your productivity. Just limit that noise for increased productivity and increased time, really.
These are distractions that are taking away from our focus on what we’re doing and they’re taking time – or energy (it’s all the same thing). You know like your how your computer and your phone do. I learned how to turn all those apps off to not have them not running anymore in the background. When we close our applications, you know how much better everything works. What if you could work that way better, more expanded as a lawyer?
We often think that we don’t have enough time, but what if we’re just not maximizing the time that we have? What if we’re allowing the time to leak out? I call these “energy leaks” or “time leaks” – the stuff in the background where we’re just letting go and not really containing. What do we want and how do we want to live?
We’re just letting things happen and not being intentional about it. So are you feeling expanded, happy, satisfied with your time? Or do you feel contracted and miserable? I just see so many unhappy lawyers and people who are just focused on what’s in front of them and not really looking at the big picture.
This is a choice; so you can choose to be expanded. You can look for alternatives and really find where things are escaping. Or just be in that limited place because in that limited place it is super safe. It’s the old stories; we can just stay there, it just keeps running and we keep going back to it.
It’s like a magnet, so we have a choice. We want to look, maybe just look, a little bit away from it and see what else there is. Or do we just keep doing the same thing? So the first step is to look behind the curtain, which we don’t want to do. See what’s going on back there. Do we have some of these beliefs that are limiting us that aren’t allowing us to move forward? These also feed those stories.
If we feel like we’re not doing enough, then we’re actually not doing enough. Because instead of actually doing the thing, we are worrying about not doing anything; if that makes sense. So I have a task for you. What is one thing that you can address that is sucking your energy? What’s running in the background?
What is a story or a habit or something that is really taking away from where you want to go to next? And how can you change your relationship to that thing? It’s not about making the thing go away – like pushing it away or stuffing it down. I know there are a lot of people who talk about that. And a lot of people talk about mindset work – like changing the thought; if you have one story, put in another story.
I don’t agree with that. What can we do with this story? How can we look at it, change perspective, look at it sideways? Then maybe it’ll disappear or maybe it’ll just seem so ridiculous that you can’t believe it anymore, right? So by making this change, by looking at this background noise as background noise that is pulling you away from your truth – you can open up to new possibilities, expand your time, expand your space, expand your capacity as a lawyer.
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