Over dinner last night with a dear friend (a fellow attorney), we discussed our careers, and she shared with me the moment she fell out of love with hers. She’d been an adoption lawyer for decades.
“I remember working at my dining room table while I bounced my own newly adopted daughter on lap,” she said. “I loved every minute of it.” From this birth place, her business grew and grew, and she earn a reputation as the go-to adoption lawyer in her community.
Adoption law was more than just her business; it was her passion. Until it wasn’t.
Time passed. The industry changed. The firm changed. She changed.
Today, both her daughters are grown and are discovering their own passions. And my friend is learning to let go, embrace all kinds of transformation, and explore new possibilities. She’s also helping other women going through major life transitions to create more joy in their own lives. She organizes meet-ups, retreats and events to help them get clear about what they truly want for the next phase of their lives—and, of course, to have a whole lot of fun along the way.
The moral of this story? It’s okay to change—and to change your mind. Because the truth is, it’s not just “change,” it’s growth. And, growth, my friends, is what life is all about.
Of course, growth can be scary. In fact, it almost always is because growth requires taking risks, and the minute we start taking risks, our unconscious (some people call it “subconscious”) minds start kicking into high gear with all those safety-oriented, survival messages, to wit:
- “What do you think you are doing starting a law firm when you have absolutely no experience as a lawyer or as a business owner! We could die!”
- “What’s happening right now?! Who do you think you are hiring other people? What if all your clients fire you and then suddenly you have nothing; how will you pay these people? How will you pay your bills?! What if we all starve to death? What if we die?!!”
- “What are you doing? Are you seriously raising your rates right now? We’ve only been out of law school seven (3, 5, 6, 10, 15…) years, how could we possibly think we know what we are doing. Oh my God…what if people find out we don’t know what we are doing…We could die!!”
You get the idea. Our unconscious mind is hard-wired for survival. It automatically equates emotional risk with physical risk. It’s the home of all the perceptions, misperceptions and beliefs we have created from our infancy until now. It’s fertile ground for all your parents,’ grandparents’ and/or other caregivers’ doubt and insecurity seeds.
When we begin to act with intention—to choose to make changes, take risks and growth, and to question all the dearly held beliefs we might not even be aware of on a conscious level—this part of our brain starts throwing up black flags like it’s the Daytona 500.
The only way we retrain our brains and silence these loud, negative voices for good is to, as the saying goes, “feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Easier said than done, I know, but necessary unless we want to stay stuck in the same place our entire lives. If you are facing a tough decision and it’s keeping you from the transformation you desire, I invite you to try this:
- Find a quiet place and meditate for at least 15 minutes. There are so many great apps out there to help you get started if you’ve never meditated before or if you aren’t sure you are doing it “right.” I started with Headspace and Buddhify, and then moved on to Relax Melodies and then Brain.fm. (“Andy” in Headspace is great because he just tells you what to do and then you do it.)
- Once you’ve completed your meditation and you are feeling calm and relaxed, grab a pen and paper and write down the transformation you desire and then ALL the reasons why you can’t have/be/do it.
- Now, address each one of those statements separately, and begin to question the truth of each of them. You might start with questions like these from Access Consciousness: a) Is this really true? b) Why do I think it is true? c) Who told me this? d) What else is possible I’ve not yet considered? e) What’s right about this I’m not getting? 4) What would it take for X to show up in my life as if by magic? Everything that doesn’t allow that, could we destroy and uncreate it all and recycle it into the sun? 5) What time/space/consciousness must my body, spirit and I be to attract what I desire? Anything that doesn’t allow that, could we destroy and uncreate it all? 6) What would it be like if everything worked out exactly the way I desire? 7) What if everything always works out for me (it does)?
- End with the statement “Everything always works out for me.” Post this statement where you can see it all day every day and repeat it several times a day—especially when you start noticing how everything always works out for you!
- Now, pick your most important goal—that thing you really, really want to do—and ask yourself “What is the smallest, very first step I can take toward realizing this goal?” Is it to make a plan, create a schedule, call someone and ask for help thinking it through? Whatever it is, write it down and then put it on the calendar (because if it doesn’t get on the calendar, it doesn’t get done) and then start taking action! If you feel anxious after you take action, know it is completely normal. It’s just your unconscious mind worrying about your physical safety (but you are physically safe right now, cozy and comfortable on your couch, your bed or your favorite chair).
Simply, acknowledge the truth—that you are choosing to take this action consciously and then start the process from the top if you need to.
Know that the bigger the potential transformation, the more anxiety you likely will experience. And it’s likely not going to go away overnight. However, the more you practice this the easier it will get. Pretty soon, you’ll be a transformation master!
If you are ready to work on overcoming fear, anxiety and overwhelm around growing your business, and to doing whatever it takes to transform from a solo to the CEO of a high-impact, high-revenue-generating firm so you can create the lifestyle of your dreams, then we should chat.