Do you ever have those days when you feel that no matter what you do, nothing seems to go your way? Like all the obstacles in the world have miraculously lined up squarely between you and your goals and dreams?
There are so many possible roadblocks that can pop up along the path to success, many of which seem to be outside of your control. Those external obstacles can be frustrating, especially when you seem to be trying everything you can think of to move ahead and create the career and law practice you want.
Blaming outside forces for your inability to reach your goals can be tempting, but what if the real culprit is (gasp) YOU?
Your Tragic Story
Of course there are things in life that seem to be out of your control. A short but notable list includes illnesses, economic upheaval and natural disasters. Less weighty but annoying nonetheless are canceled flights, flat tires, bad internet connections and seasonal allergies. Then there are the people – the nasty ones, the late ones, and the not-so-brilliant ones, just to name a few. Sometimes, circumstances and people really do get in the way.
Most of what is holding you back from achieving your dreams, though, is the counterproductive babble that goes on inside your own head. The horrible, soul-sucking, nasty things your inner voice tells you about why you are going to fail and not get what you want.
- You don’t deserve to make partner, earn more, win the award, land the client.
- You’ll never make as much money as so-and-so.
- You’re too loud, quiet, short, tall, poor, rich, fill-in-the-horrible-blank to do what you want to do.
- They don’t like you.
- People from your background don’t make it in this industry, so you won’t either.
- Remember what a nightmare the last job was? This one is destined to be a disaster, too.
- You’re not smart enough, funny enough, fill-in the-awesome-blank enough.
In short . . . your inner voice likes to tell you that you’re not enough. And the irony is that, although the story is designed to keep you safe from risk and failure, it keeps you stuck instead.
Whether you call it negative self-talk, limiting beliefs or head trash, it is, in short, a destructive story you tell yourself.
And it’s not true.
Your Story Is Fictional
There’s a coach and author named Steve Chandler who talks about telling stories. He says that the negative and destructive thoughts you have are simply fabricated stories based on everything from “universal truths” you’ve heard and read (you know, the things they say) to statements of “fact” derived from your own insecurities. You certainly weren’t born with these stories – the only fears you were born with are a fear of loud noises and a fear of falling. The stories are all made up.
Change Your Story
Since you’re making up the stories anyway, Chandler says, you might as well make up a story that serves you better. So for example, if you think to yourself “I will fail at business development because I wasn’t born into a connected family and it’s all about who you know” just decide it’s a story you made up (because it is) and make up a story that motivates and inspires you.
Perhaps something like this “I am going to be successful at business development because as a capable, motivated lawyer I can learn how to grow my network, offer value to others, and develop a reputation as the go-to lawyer in my field.
The first story generates inertia and inaction. The second story generates excitement and enthusiasm, which leads to focused action. The first story makes YOU the obstacle. The second makes you your own champion. It’s okay if you don’t totally believe your new story at the beginning; with time and repetition, the new story will take hold as your new “truth.”
The important thing is to remember Who Really Controls Your Career As A Lawyer. Hint: it’s you. Does it make sense to tackle external obstacles? Of course. But it also pays to focus more attention on squashing the internal hurdles that threaten to wreak havoc on your career and law practice.