Do your New Year’s resolutions fall flat after a few weeks? In today’s episode, Stephanie chats with Lawyerist Lab Business Coach, Supriya Venkatesan, about why this happens, and what you can do differently to make lasting changes in your life and your law practice.
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Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts
Stephanie Everett (00:35):
Hi, I’m Stephanie Everett.
Zack Glaser (00:37):
I’m Zack. And this is episode 483 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today, Stephanie talks with Lawyerist coach Supriya about re-Imagining Resolutions.
Stephanie Everett (00:49):
Today’s podcast is brought to you by Posh Virtual Receptionists, NetDocuments & LawPay. We wouldn’t be able to do our show without their supports, so stay tuned. We’ll tell you more about them later on.
Zack Glaser (00:59):
Oh, resolutions. New Year’s resolutions, resolutions. Oh, every year. Every year it is for me, one of my main ones is Get and Stay Healthy, and that changes throughout my life. I’m 41 right now, and when I was 18 and it was get and Stay Healthy, it was A easier, and B, it was a different kind of healthy for me. So I coach a cross country team. I do a decent bit of running, but I’m lucky enough to be in a physical condition where I can do some of that, but different years of my life, different points in my life, that resolution, although it says the same thing, has kind of been a different thing.
Stephanie Everett (01:43):
I love that because as I have gotten older and I’ve got a few years on you, things that used to be easy, things change. I feel like I haven’t changed anything about my lifestyle or my diet, and yet my body is changing and that is different and new. And so I think I love the idea of giving yourself grace and recognizing that healthy can look different at age 50 maybe than it did at 30, and that’s okay.
Zack Glaser (02:15):
And it will look differently at age 67 for me, and hopefully I get there. But yeah, I think a lot of times with this one specifically and with a lot of resolutions for me, and I’ll give you a caveat, I’m not the best at keeping resolutions, but one I did keep was that I stopped smoking while I was taking the bar. And so I kind of give that an equivalent. And one of the things that helped me do that was giving myself grace saying, okay, I can fall down, or I may not do this as well, or as quickly as my neighbor or the person next to me trying to do the same thing.
Stephanie Everett (02:54):
And so obviously you should check out this interview because we talk about why people fail to keep, but before we get there, I want to give one more nod to healthy. We’re coming into the new year and one of the tenants here at Lawyerist is that we want to create healthy owners for our healthy businesses. A healthy owner is a key part of a healthy firm, and of course, we were just saying maybe physical health, physical, but also mental health and everything. I’m getting every one of the lobsters that I work with right now, I’m asking them, when are you taking off for your Unplugged Vacations in 2024? Put it on your calendar right now. And actually, one of my labsters too, not only is he’s doing his vacations, doing his notice of leave of absence for the courts, we blocked in some strategic planning days, so full days that he knows he can set aside to work on his business and to push forward some bigger initiatives that we’ve been working on that he could just never get to because the day-to-Day, and I was like, let’s block out the whole year’s worth right now.
Zack Glaser (03:57):
That’s fantastic. That’s plan to plan and plan to be unplanned.
Stephanie Everett (04:02):
Oh, there you go. Yes. Thank you, Zack. I didn’t even so smart. I love it,
Zack Glaser (04:08):
But that’s fantastic. I like the healthy owner and kind of just getting a jumpstart to that, and so I would challenge the people listening to this. Put something on your schedule. Maybe it’s not all of those things, but put something a week, a couple days, put a five day weekend on your schedule right now that says, I’m checked out.
Stephanie Everett (04:29):
And here’s my conversation with Supriya.
Supriya Venkatesan (04:35):
Hi, my name is Supriya Venkatesan. I’m a mindset and business coach at Lawyerist.
Stephanie Everett (04:39):
Hey, Supriya, welcome back to the show. We’re excited to have you back on today to talk about maybe a topic that a lot of people struggle with. This is going to air right at the beginning of the year, and so it’s a time when people are usually tackling the New Year’s resolutions.
Supriya Venkatesan (04:56):
Yes, it’s a fun topic. I’m excited to get into it.
Stephanie Everett (04:58):
And so I suspect that a lot of people go into the year with really great ideas and intentions and maybe find themselves falling flat or it just doesn’t last. Maybe they go in thinking, I’m going to change this thing for the whole year and maybe it’s just a few weeks. Does that sound about right to you?
Supriya Venkatesan (05:17):
Yeah, I’d say on average 90% of people don’t accomplish the goals that they set for themselves, and there’s some very interesting reasons why.
Stephanie Everett (05:26):
So I guess to get us started, why aren’t we able to do the things we think we should be able to do?
Supriya Venkatesan (05:32):
Yeah, there’s actually four reasons according to neuroscience and mindset sort of modalities. The first is there’s usually a lack of clarity, and what I mean is a really clear plan of execution. You might know what you want at a vague idea and how to accomplish it at a high level, but you don’t have that clarity on how to do it specifically. That plan of execution is really, really important. The second is probably the most important is there’s some lack of inner alignment. And what I mean by that is maybe the goals you’re setting for yourselves isn’t actually congruent, your core values or your identity. And one of the things we do at Lawyerist as part of our business coaching process is actually get clear on both your vision as well as your core values before we get into goal planning as part of our process. Because once you have that identified, things become easier to do because then you’re coming and living from that place of truth for yourself as well as a higher purpose, which is different than saying, I just want to do something
Stephanie Everett (06:25):
That makes sense.
Supriya Venkatesan (06:26):
Yeah. The third reason is there might be some sort of a secondary gain, and what I mean by that is there’s some sort of usually an unconscious benefit to the thing that you’re avoiding doing. So for example, perhaps you want to spend a lot of time with your family, but you also want to work hard to make money, and sometimes that comes into conflict and people don’t always try to resolve that conflict at a psychological level, and then that gets in the way of actually accomplishing that goal. Another example when it comes to weight loss or help is another very popular thing at the big end of the year for people do is maybe you really like having social time, or there’s often food or alcohol, but that adds to calories and whatnot. So again, it’s a values conflict, so you have to resolve that as well. Those are basically the reasons.
Stephanie Everett (07:11):
Yeah, I will confess, I think I struggle with that. I want to lose a little weight, I want to be healthier, and then when it comes time to do the thing, I have this internal debate in my head all the time and I’m like, but I just want to, whatever, it’s fill in the blank, have a good time or enjoy this bagel or I dunno, so I could use this help.
Supriya Venkatesan (07:33):
So a really great tool that I like to tell people about is something called a logical Levels. It was created by a psychologist named by the name of Robert DITs, and he talks about transformation occurring at multiple levels of who we are. Oftentimes when we create a goal at the beginning of the year, let’s say like weight loss for example, since you brought that up, you might say, I want to lose X amount of pounds this year or this month, but then you don’t do the things. That’s because you’re probably focusing on just the environment or just your behavior, which is sort of the bottom of the pyramid. So your behavior is I’m not going to do this thing or I am going to do that thing and then change your diet, for example, and your environment might be, I’m going to get a gym membership, but there’s actually much higher levels to who you are. That’s really the base of the pyramid. I wish I had a visual to show you, but this is audio, but if you can just imagine a pyramid in your mind’s eye at the bottom is environment. Right above that is behavior above that is your skills and capabilities above that is your values and your belief systems. Above that is your identity and above that is your purpose. And really to have alignment with your goals and congruency, you have to start the highest level and then work your way down.
Stephanie Everett (08:43):
So I guess what would that look like if somebody’s listening and they’re like, okay, that makes sense. What would I need to do to start getting that? What would it be like or alignment at that top?
Supriya Venkatesan (08:55):
Yeah, it’s a great question. So starting with purpose is really, really important. I mean, there’s different questions you’d want to ask yourself to figure out what your purpose is or what your mission is. The first is to think outside of yourself. Who else is this for? So going by the weight loss example, maybe you want to be healthy because you want to live a long time to be with your children or your future grandchildren. That’s a higher level of purpose and I just need to lose some weight. Or in the case of increasing revenue, say for your business or changing something in your business, money is great, but something bigger than that. What is your mission? What is your legacy? What do you want to be remembered for on your death be when it comes to your business? What kind of impact do you want to make either in your family or your community, but thinking beyond yourself, who else is this for? What else is this for? What is the meaning and the true impact of this goal?
Stephanie Everett (09:44):
I like that. Those are good questions. And so what do you recommend? Let’s just get real specific here. Do I just write out the answers to these questions? What do I need to then refer to them? How does this work?
Supriya Venkatesan (09:55):
Yeah, so that’s step one is just starting with your purpose. So once you find that out, then you can dig deeper. And the reason is that just becoming conscious of it, whether you were, I think definitely writing it up, you’re just thinking about your mind. You can’t really get to a level of clarity. You can through journaling or just writing it out. People often think as they write more clearly, and that creates a deep level of motivation within you in a way that’s different than before, than I just need to accomplish this thing. And that really creates a desire within you, so you’re approaching it from that perspective. So it’s rewiring the brain by writing it out, but then you want to think about identity, which is a next level. The question I would ask is, I am, and then fill in the blank. I am what?
And then usually there are things that negative thoughts will come up, like thinking of weight loss. Well, I’m overweight, I am lazy, I don’t have the time, whatever. All of these things come up. All of those things are actually excuses, and sometimes that’s really the source of resistance. So you want to then later on reframe that and we have a great podcast on limiting beliefs and reframing that our audience can listen to learn how to do that specifically. But you really want to answer that I am question because whenever we say I am something, we’re holding that belief so deeply. It’s our identity. It’s no longer a belief anymore. We think it’s who we are. Right? I’ll give my own example on this. So after my daughter was born, I had a really hard time losing weight. I was almost 200 pounds. It was quite a bit, and my belief at the time is, well, I am overweight because my entire family is overweight.
All the women gain weight after they have a baby, which was true. All the women in my family did, and they never lost it. I just believe that genetically that was true. But when I dug into that belief, that’s actually scientifically not accurate. There’s no such thing as a fat gene that doesn’t exist. I just had that belief. I was conditioned to believe it, but once I became cognizant of the fact that that’s actually a falsehood, that’s actually not true, then I was able to actually change that. That’s one example of figuring out who you are and then determining actually you’re not that thing,
Stephanie Everett (11:59):
I guess. Yeah. I want to have some questions here because if I’m doing this exercise and I get, okay, why do I want to get healthy in the new year? I’m going to stick with that theme. It’s true for me. And then I go to these I am questions. Am I answering it as I think I am now or how I want to be?
Supriya Venkatesan (12:20):
I am now.
Stephanie Everett (12:21):
Okay. Because we’re trying to get to the source of what are those limiting beliefs I expect.
Supriya Venkatesan (12:25):
Correct, correct. Trying to figure out where’s that resistance. Okay,
Stephanie Everett (12:30):
Supriya Venkatesan (12:30):
Yeah. And then on the other side though, you also do want to create positive Im statements, which we talk about in that other podcast episode. But for example, instead of saying, I am trying to lose weight, it’s like, well, I am actually a gym rat, which is very different, right? Somebody who enjoys going to the gym or I’m a yoga enthusiast, or whatever it is that is for you. The thing when you reframe yourself to like, I am this person versus I am doing this thing, it changes from that identity level.
Stephanie Everett (12:58):
And so then what do we do next?
Supriya Venkatesan (13:01):
Then the next step is to identify. Once you figure out who you are, that new person that you’re trying to become, then what are the beliefs and values you need to have in place? So for example, going back to that purpose, let’s say in the business, if you’re trying to grow your revenue to a certain level and trying to create impact, well, what kind of a belief or value would that person hold within themselves if they’re focused on impact versus just financial wealth? Am I someone who’s gregarious? Am I somebody who’s a community servant? Who am I? So again, in the case, and then flipping to the health goals, if I’m somebody who’s really healthy, what kind of beliefs do I have? Am I someone who always prioritizes meal planning? For example? What are the beliefs that I hold about myself? So getting to those values and beliefs will be important.
After that, then you want to figure out what are the skills that you need? There’s often a skills gap. I think there’s a fallacy that humans, we often feel like we know it all, but we usually don’t know it all, which is why we don’t do the thing. We might know what we want. We don’t actually know how to do it. In the case of let’s say weight loss, maybe you actually have a knowledge gap in nutrition and how nutrition works. Macros, for example, is something that people talk about a lot, but I think that’s something that you only really understand when you get deep into understanding what nutrition is and how it impacts weight loss. That was from myself a journey. I’m like, once I learned about macros, it changed everything, but prior to that, I just thought I ate healthy. But what does eating healthy mean? That doesn’t actually mean anything. Everybody has a different definition. In the case of growing your business or changing your business, there’s a lot of different parts of business that most people don’t know. So what do you actually need to figure out? What are the skills that you need? What is a competency that you need to gain that’s really, really important.
Stephanie Everett (14:41):
Yeah, I think that part resonates with me a lot on the business side. Obviously I see it because I know we have so many people that we work with, they think, I can’t hire, what’s the point? And I’m like, well, no one’s ever taught you that. There’s a better way to hire people that if you actually use this process and use this approach. I mean, this is happening right now on our team. We’re interviewing for I think six or eight positions right now, and the way we write job ads is very different and very specific, and I can’t tell you how many people have applied and said, I applied because you said this. Well, that was intentional. We have the skillset and we then put it into practice. So that part, yes, the information’s out there. I guess I’m curious because on the, I’m coming back to the health and my example. I feel like sometimes on the nutrition stuff, there’s so much information out there and I know there’s so much wrong or sort of salesy, I’m going to call it, everyone has their sales pitch. Now that I get overwhelmed in like, wait, which information is the right information? Where should I actually go? I mean, on the business stuff, I’m like, come to Lawyerist, we have it all for you. But then I’m like, where do I go for the rest of the help?
Supriya Venkatesan (15:56):
Yeah, well, just like we would advise somebody who needs business help to hire a really good business coach. It’d be the same thing for health, right? Either read some reputable books and not maybe rely on just social media or a blog post, which tends to be very surface level and salesy, but get into some depth or hire a coach. Coaches are powerful as we both know. So I think that’s really important to find a trusted advisor for yourself and a support system as well. That also speaks to not necessarily skills and capabilities, but your environment, which is the bottom of that pyramid. Find the help that you need.
Stephanie Everett (16:29):
Yeah, makes sense. Alright, we’re going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors when we come back. We’re going to dig into the rest of the pyramid.
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Stephanie Everett (18:55):
All right, I’m back with Supriya. We’re talking about why resolutions maybe go wrong and it has to do with the way we approach it. So we’re kind of talking about what’s a different way to approach when we want to change big parts of our life or our business. And so yeah, Supriya, what do we need to know next?
Supriya Venkatesan (19:12):
Yeah, actually, right before we went on break, you mentioned the job ads that we post at Lawyerist and how we’re getting such phenomenal results when people talk about how wonderful they are and they’re compelled to apply. One of the thing that makes our job ads different than others is we actually talk about our values and our purpose. It actually speaks to this idea of this pyramid. We are starting at the top and that comes through in everything that we do, whether it’s the way we function as a business internally and the way we portray ourselves externally, whether it’s our marketing or our job ads, that’s a very, very powerful process. Again, to start with that purpose and your identity and your values and your beliefs, because it comes out in everything that you do. It’s a trickle effect.
Stephanie Everett (19:50):
Yeah, I love that. And so then what’s the next step in this process?
Supriya Venkatesan (19:56):
So the next step after you figure out your skills and capabilities is then to think about your behaviors. What do I do next? This is the thing that people usually do focus on already when they’re goal setting, but it’s still important to remind you that you have to do that and then also to think about what are your reactions to things, because things will always come up, whether it’s your goal again is to lose weight. So you’re going to the gym as one of the behavioral things you’re doing, but then you get tired or you don’t have enough energy or time gets in the way. So preemptively thinking about that in advance and then think about what are your reactions to the situations that come up. It’s not enough to say, I’m going to do this thing, but think about what are going to be your blockers. Same thing with business coaching. Something I talk about my clients all the time in every call we set goals, but I always ask, can you see any blockers getting in the way before we meet again because we want to figure out what they are and figure out a solution for that in advance or else it will become a blocker and you will not accomplish that goal. So behavior to think about it from those two different levels.
And then the last thing is the environment, as I mentioned earlier. So where are you and when are you doing this? Where’s a location? Both again for business coaching or health coaching or any goal that you’re trying to accomplish, and then what are the specific results and outcomes that you would like? And then thinking about what is a support system that you might need? Do you need to outsource any tasks that you need to do and figure that out? So the environment I think is something that people kind of do naturally already when they goal setting, but again, it’s very important to remind everyone.
Stephanie Everett (21:23):
Yeah, I mean for sure listening to all of this, it feels like most people know like, okay, you need a support system. Tell people how are you going to get help and what behaviors are going to change. But I agree that we usually stop there and maybe don’t think about these other pieces. And I guess I’m curious. You do this work initially and let’s say we’ve asked ourself all the questions and we’ve written it all out and journaled it. How do we then move forward with it? So it’s the second week of January and now I’m trying to be healthier. How do I keep coming back or using the information that I’ve learned in this process to help me along the way?
Supriya Venkatesan (22:00):
Yeah, that’s a great question because visioning is one thing, but implementation is something else entirely. So the first step is to really break down this plan that you have this goal right into a specific plan. In the case of business goals, we think about an annual strategic plan and then breaking down into a quarterly plan and then breaking that quarterly plan down even further into weekly goals for yourself, and then making sure that those goals are really using that smart framework, that specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. Oftentimes people write a goal, but they don’t go through that smart process. But I think it is important because one of the things that I see often sometimes with business coaching clients is getting stuck with is maybe it’s not actually achievable. Making sure you’re not overwhelming yourself and getting into this hamster wheel of not being able to accomplishing it and then beating yourself up, but doing proper scoping is really important, and that’s really an act of self-compassion for yourself.
I like to see it from that perspective as well. And then once you’ve set those goals, then doing it right, crossing them off your list, but then also ensuring you’re rewarding yourself. That’s a good way to reward yourself every week or every month or even quarterly, whether something small or something big and you want to reward yourself because it rewires a brain because then you’re getting a dopamine hit. You’re not just working hard, which doesn’t feel good for the brain. Then you’re actually providing some pleasure. You’re going from pain to pleasure very quickly or further if it’s a bigger goal. And then you’re training your brain to doing the hard things. So in the case of let’s say going to gym, it’s usually not fun for a lot of people. In the beginning it’s tough and doesn’t feel good, but if you give yourself a reward of some sort, maybe you get a massage at the end of the week that feels great. Now you’re teaching your brain, if I do this hard thing, it feels good, but that’s really important. I would say.
Stephanie Everett (23:47):
Yeah, you kind of put in there that idea of achievable. And I think it’s worth just pausing for a second because especially when it comes to the business goals, I see that the most and the work that we do, I’ll have Lawyerist come to me and say, well, I made 800,000 this year, so I should make a million next. They’re just rounding up and in their head it’s like, well, yeah, why wouldn’t I do that? And I’m like, that’s actually a really significant percentage increase, and it’s not enough to just say, yeah, I want to make a million dollars next year if you’re sitting in the 800,000 this year. I’m like, and that’s the work I love doing because then I start asking them questions, well, how many more clients would, what does that process look like? It occurs to me while we’re talking about this, sometimes having that external voice in person is so helpful because I know if I were to tell you right now my health plan for 2024, which I don’t have set yet, so we’re not going to do that yet, but I bet you would start asking me questions like, okay, well how are you going to do that?
Or When are you going to get to the gym? Or If you’re not going to go to the gym, how are you going to make sure you get up and do the home exercise or what? You would just naturally ask me probably a whole bunch of questions that would really help me clarify and figure this out. And I think sometimes when we’re trying to do it by ourselves, it’s easy to kind of overlook all those details
Supriya Venkatesan (25:10):
A hundred percent. We all have our blind spots, and that’s really the value of coaching someone to help you think through the things that you just can’t see for yourself.
Stephanie Everett (25:18):
As we’re wrapping up, any other thoughts or advice that you want to share with people to get ’em set for best practices?
Supriya Venkatesan (25:25):
Yeah, I have a few other things to add. So there’s this idea of having daily non-negotiables, which I really love. So whatever your goals are, think about what is that daily non-negotiable. And then specifically for business, it’s helpful to ask yourself, what are the things that only you can do and that nobody else can do? So for example, let’s say in marketing, maybe you’re the face of your brand for your law firm, and there’s specific things that only you can do and you can’t outsource or maybe focusing on only revenue generating activities. So really stepping that role of a leadership, of being the CEO of your firm and not just doing all of the things. What is a thing that is going to be the biggest revenue generating activities for your business? And maybe that becomes your daily non-negotiable. And then think about what can you outsource?
We have law firm owners here who outsource the legal work completely, or they have enough attorneys doing it, and they really are just the CEO and others who love to do that, or maybe they outsource their marketing completely or running ads or doing things where they’re not the face or maybe they love doing it. So it really becomes personal to you and your business and how you want to operate your business, but it is important, identify what is going to be the daily non-negotiables that ladders back up to the goals that you have set for yourself, and then making sure you do that every single day and not avoid it. Brian Tracy, who’s sort of a thought leader in the space of motivation and goal setting, he talks about eating your frogs. It’s actually the name of what is his book. It’s like, do that thing that’s so hard that you’re trying to avoid. It’s actually the needle mover in your business. So do that thing every single day.
Stephanie Everett (26:55):
Yeah, love that advice.
Supriya Venkatesan (26:57):
Another thing that’s helpful is to revisit your goal. That’s one thing that’s at the beginning of the year, but revisit it not just quarterly, but weekly and daily. It’s helpful to actually just read your goals. For myself personally, every morning I look at my goals, what they are, because it activates your brain to say, okay, this is the thing that I need to go after. There’s actually something in your brain called the reticular activating system, and it’s basically priming your unconscious mind just by the act of showing yourself something, it teaches the brain to go after it. So not even doing anything really, but just reviewing your goals on a daily and weekly basis is very powerful. The flip side, having a reflection. So at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the quarter, having some sort of a reflection period to see what went well, what didn’t go well, and what could you do better? Right. Just ask those three questions actually come from the military. It’s called the after action review. Oh, I think your husband might’ve told you because you’re shaking your head.
Stephanie Everett (27:51):
And we do them at Lawyerist too. I mean, we ask ourselves as questions. I mean, you’re telling us to do it for ourselves, but we also do it on our teams. For example, at the end of this hiring process, everyone who was involved will huddle and we’ll say, okay, what worked? What can we do differently so we can keep learning?
Supriya Venkatesan (28:09):
Exactly. But even in the case of our personal goals, whether it’s health or obviously in business too, having that reflection period daily, weekly, quarterly, again on those cadences is really, really powerful because you’re learning from those mistakes or positive things and then doubling down on them. But then again, you’re also priming your brain to go after that goal. So that repetition of messaging essentially to yourself can be really, really powerful.
Stephanie Everett (28:33):
I love that, and you just gave me an idea of how I’m going to incorporate that into our weekly life with our family. So we’ll probably do a whole episode on that because I have ideas, but I think to start, I mean if we have a message to leave our listeners with today, it’s that maybe resolutions haven’t worked for you in the past, and you’ve been one of those people that you get started and it fizzles out, and here’s a chance with the framework sapr has just shared with us to try it differently this time and notice and see what happens.
Supriya Venkatesan (29:02):
Yeah. I think the heart of everything we’re talking about is really leveraging the power of the unconscious mind and aligning with the conscious mind, and of course very tactical and tangible action step as well. But when you do both of those things, this true alignment with who you are internally and then externally with your behavior and your actions, and that’s how we create momentum and movement towards the goals we want. So just be focused, but be flexible with your growth and just keep in your mind your purpose and your identity, and only good things can happen.
Stephanie Everett (29:30):
Well, thanks for being with me again today, Supriya. It was great to talk to you.
Supriya Venkatesan (29:34):
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