The 2-Minute Rule: Fighting Procrastination

One of the more common issues that professionals struggle with is the all-too-common procrastination. Procrastination, just like salsa, can be mild (putting off a simple task that you eventually complete within a few days), intense (developing a pattern of avoiding certain activities or tasks that one day lead to serious consequences), and everything in between. However, unlike salsa, there is no mango version of procrastination.

Simply put, procrastination is avoidance. We avoid things that make us uncomfortable. We avoid things that we fear. And the more you avoid something, the harder it is to confront. It’s like that email you got from an old friend that you were meaning to reply to. At first you put it off because you weren’t sure what to say (avoidance), then maybe you forgot about it, then you remembered that you hadn’t responded, you then felt bad, and then continued to avoid responding because it was now more uncomfortable because you still don’t know what to say AND you feel bad about it. 

Read More

How to deal with any problem: Problem-focused vs Emotion-focused coping

Problems come in all shapes and sizes. Needless to say, having only one method of addressing problems would be like having only one tool in your toolbox to fix every household maintenance problem that arose. By the way, I don’t recommend using a hammer to remove a light fixture. Usually doesn’t work out the way you hope. So it is obvious that we need multiple methods of addressing all of the different types of problems that we face each day. Obvious? Yes. Yet in reality we often get into trouble trying to use a preferred problem-solving method with problems that require a different approach.

Read More

Analysis Paralysis – Why it’s so hard to decide sometimes

Multiple times throughout our day we are all faced with decisions to make. Some decisions are easy and do not require much energy, while others are quite taxing and require considerable mental fortitude. Understanding the factors involved in these tougher decisions can help break through the barriers that often keep us from making a decision. One unhelpful tendency that can occur is the experience of over-thinking or over-analyzing a decision. This involves spending too much time considering the options (the pros and cons of potential choices) to the point where a decision is never made, aptly referred to as “Analysis Paralysis”. A desire for perfection and a fear of failure often fuel this tendency. It’s important to recognize that when we are faced with options, it is inevitable that each option will have both pros and cons associated with it. In other words, there is no perfect option, so stop looking for it. It’s important to recognize the pros and cons of each option, to accept that whatever you choose might not work out, try to see failure as a learning opportunity to embrace and not something to avoid at all costs, and try to see your decision as one step in the process and not the final step.

Read More

I Found a Lawyer in My Serial

Those of you who listen, as I do, to podcasts are probably aware of “Serial,” a spinoff of “This American Life” which is said to be the most listened-to podcast ever.  This series of 12 podcast episodes (the last episode just out in mid-December) follows reporter Sarah Koenig’s investigation of a 15-year old murder questioning the guilt of the young man convicted of it.  (I might also mention that Serial was hilariously parodied on the December 20 Saturday Night Live.)

Read More

Holiday Success = Managing Expectations

When you ask people what the holiday season means to them, you will probably get as many answers as the people you asked. For some, the holiday season brings up memories (some good, some bad, some ugly, some they hope one day to repress) of years past that they either wish or fear could be repeated each year. It can be difficult to know what to expect and how to prepare. I find it easy to feel overwhelmed and distracted by the bombardment of messages about the holidays (you should feel happy, you should spend time with family, you should throw parties, you should buy lots of stuff, you should make resolutions, you should or shouldn’t eat lots of sweets, you should compete with your neighbor for the most electricity used to light the exterior of your dwelling, etc.). By this time in the season, I’m tempted to start dreaming of the life on a deserted island.

Read More

Call Them, Maybe?

I am privileged to author a recurrent Q&A column in the Massachusetts Lawyers Journal (in addition to our anonymous online Q&A system).  People seem particularly interested in this month’s column, relating to the problem, seen all too often and unfortunately…

Read More

Tips on Making the Season Brighter – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The change in the season means many different things to different people. When the season changes from autumn to winter (at least in regions where there is distinct variation between seasons), some people are excited about the holidays, winter fashion, and outdoor winter activities (think of your friendly neighborhood skiers, snowboarders, Santa impersonators). For others, the change in season is met with dread (lower amounts of energy, mood fluctuations, pessimism). While many people are negatively impacted by the colder seasons, there is a percentage of individuals who are affected to a significant degree, those who meet the criteria for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD occurs when the change of season produces depressed mood, low energy, irritability, change in sleep patterns, change in appetite, diminished concentration, and low motivation.

Read More

Getting Through the Holidays – Maintaining Sobriety

The holiday season is upon us and it is a good time to review some helpful tips about avoiding pitfalls and setting yourself up for success this time of year. The trifecta, as it is often called (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s), is historically a more challenging time of year for many of us. If the holiday season represents happy times with family and friends; then that’s great, enjoy. For many of us, this time of year brings with it social engagements with friends and family members that often include potentially risky, if not just uncomfortable, situations where your resolve is tested. It should come as no surprise to anyone that there is a higher likelihood of being offered, gifted, or simply being in the presence of more alcohol and substances over the holiday season. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you make holiday plans. The tip that underlies all of the rest is, “Plan ahead!” As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Read More

Another helpful word replacement: “Can’t”

There is no shortage of overly-optimistic catch phrases out there designed to encourage you to think positively about yourself. These can be helpful at times, but what happens when thinking too positively feels like you are lying to yourself? On the other hand, being pessimistic about yourself often feels like an added barrier to success. So what’s a realistic person to do?

Read More