The July Reset

“Every July is my reset month”, said Kate. “It is my opportunity to look at the first half of the year and adjust. It energizes me because it feels like a fresh start”.

She uses the time to reflect on all aspects of her life: business, family, community, health & wellness – and whatever else is important to her.

Kate does her best to silence her inner critic during the reset. Because it is really easy to beat yourself up about what didn’t happen – and what’s left to do.

She finds that being kind to herself is much more productive. That doesn’t mean she overlooks the bad or makes excuses.

Instead, she gets curious about why things went the way they did so she knows what to keep and what to do differently.

These insights give her the focus and power to achieve her goals.

I get at least one of these wonderful nuggets in each of my mastermind groups.

Sometimes they are really profound.

Other times – like now – they are simple reminders of time-tested ideas – like slowing down to speed up.

What would it be like to give yourself space for a July Reset?

Doug BrownThe July Reset
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How To Avoid Collapsing at the Finish Line and Build Momentum Instead!

Have you noticed that time seems to pass more quickly as we age? Or maybe it’s just me.

We’re always coming up on a month-end, quarter-end, year-end, or some other big milestone.

It’s exhausting, right?

So it’s pretty tempting to give ourselves a break and coast over the finish line.

Unfortunately when you do that you can lose your edge and can make little mistakes that can have a big impact.

You can lose the momentum you need for the next period – or lose the race altogether.

My kids were ski racers through high school.

They were trained to accelerate through the last turn and power through the finish line – because the difference between a podium and 5th place was measured in hundredths of a second – even at the junior level.

The next time you’re coming up on a big milestone – which seems like all the time – use these tips to power through the finish and carry your momentum forward.

#1 Stay Focused

Maintain your focus on what you are trying to accomplish by the end of the year. Watch out for distractions or interruptions.

Cull through your to-do list and prioritize the items that will have the biggest impact this year – especially around maximizing revenue and cash flow.

If your list is like mine there are plenty of “nice to have” or “I’d love to get to” items that are not essential. They have waited this long so they can wait a bit longer.

#2 Commit to the Future You Really Want

Decide once and for all that you are finally done tolerating what doesn’t work and playing games or settling for table scraps.

Decide that this is the time you will begin achieving your potential.

You will build a great practice that you love.

You will make better time choices.

You will have less stress.

Create a vision for what you want your life and your practice to be like 12 months from now.

Get really specific – in Technicolor and Dolby Surround Sound (yes, I know I’m dating myself with those references). The more clear and specific your goal is the more likely you are to achieve it.

Once you’ve got the vision – break it down into specific, measurable, and achievable goals or milestones. Make it really concrete. But don’t get so hung up in creating the perfect plan that you don’t start. You need to be in action.

Once you have decided: Don’t waffle. Don’t equivocate. The future you will create for yourself cannot be a “should” it has to be a must. Once the decision is made. Once you have committed, you can be in action.

#3 Create Ambitious Deadlines.

If you really want to get something done you need a non-negotiable deadline. If you make it easy on yourself it won’t get done. A deadline gives you a tangible sense of urgency that will drive you to accomplish more than you thought possible. The end of a calendar year is a great non-negotiable deadline.

When you make the commitment to others then it takes away your wiggle room. When you set a tight deadline (like the end of the year) it creates a sense of urgency that you need to get into action. And that’s a good thing.

#4 Get Comfortable Saying “No”.

There is only so much of you to go around. If you are like most professionals I know then you are over-committed to things you are only marginally interested in – typically out of a sense of obligation to others.

Stop it. Stop doing things that do not serve you. Make “no” your default answer. I know that is easy for me to say, and difficult to do. That doesn’t make it less important. When you start saying “no” to others then you have more bandwidth to start saying “yes” to what matters.

Give yourself the freedom to make a “stop doing” list. If it doesn’t interest you. If it doesn’t have a direct and proximate correlation to achieving your goals then add it to the stop doing list. It will be a bigger list than you think. Even if you took just 1 or 2 things off that list you can probably save significant time and mental energy for what really matters.

#5 Get into Action – Massive Action

Once you have decided what you want to do then get going. There is no time to waste. You don’t need a perfect plan to start. You need to have an idea of where you want to go and the first and maybe second step to getting started. Then do it. Don’t just “dip your toe” in the water. Dive in and take massive action.

You’re probably trying to break years of habits of incrementalism or tolerating a less than optimum situation. The only way to do that is with massive focused and persistent action. You will probably stumble and fall. Most of us do. That’s not a reason not to be in action.

#6 Commit to Self Care.

Don’t wait until January 1st to (re)start your self-care routines. Sure, you’ll have some cheat days through the holidays, but there are still days to get good habits going. Get up at the same time each day, hydrate, meditate, eat well, sleep more. You are your most important asset. You are worth at least the same care that you give your car, right?

Which one (or more) of these will you implement for the next quarter?

Doug BrownHow To Avoid Collapsing at the Finish Line and Build Momentum Instead!
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3 Costliest Calendar Mistakes

Time is money. You use your calendar to control your time.

Controlling your calendar and using it well will lead to greater profits and more time for what matters to you.

A chaotic calendar costs you a lot more than money. It causes stress, anxiety and can lead to burnout – or worse.

The costliest calendar mistakes I see over and over again are:

  1. Not using an effective system. A system is simply a series of repeatable steps to achieve a certain outcome. You can’t blame automation if the steps (the instructions) are bad. If you are suffering from calendar chaos this is the first place to look. Do you have a system? Is it a good one? Do you follow it?
  2. Not enough or too much. The most common mistake is not putting your own stuff on your calendar. It is full of obligations for other people but there are no scheduled times for your most important work. Another mistake is over-compensating by scheduling every minute without white space – which just sets you up to fail. Find a balance where you have room to adjust without blowing up your schedule – because no plan survives first contact with the day.
  3. The wrong stuff at the wrong time. You must be intentional about what makes it on your calendar and when. Your calendar is a bit like your credit card. You have to be careful what gets charged to it or you’ll run out of money. Make sure that you’re adding things that advance what is most important to you – based on your mission and as a result of your planning process. Make sure the most important things get “prime time” on your calendar. If your energy drops at 2:00 p.m., that is NOT the time for your most taxing task.

Fix these three problems, and you’ll be on your way to getting in control of your calendar.


P.s… Control of your calendar can add at least one productive hour to each day. What would you do with your extra hour?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

Doug Brown3 Costliest Calendar Mistakes
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How to Tame Negativity Bias

How to Overcome Negativity Bias

Do you get stuck thinking about all the unpleasant things and setbacks that come with running a law practice? You are not alone. As humans, we are much more impacted by negative events and experiences than positive ones. Our training and experience as attorneys make this much more intense for us.

Negativity bias is the tendency to learn from, use, and prioritize negative things far more than positive things. That is why you get a more rapid, prominent, and powerful response to negative experiences than positive ones. This bias influences how you feel, think, and act. And it can have some less than desirable effects on your psychological health.

It can explain why we tend to:

  1. Recall and think about insults more than compliments
  2. Dwell on unpleasant or traumatic events
  3. Focus on more negative things – like the things we didn’t get done over the things we accomplished.

Strategies psychologists recommend to overcome negativity bias include:

Notice your bias.

Check up on your thinking throughout the day – especially when you feel yourself getting into the negative spin-cycle. When you recognize the thoughts running through your mind you can start dealing with them. Just like you would with a client where you have to understand the facts and the issues to find a solution.

Challenge your negative self-talk.

Do you find yourself saying things in your head about yourself that you would never even consider thinking about another person? Yeah, me too. Notice this self-talk when it is happening, and give yourself a break. Try being just 10% nicer to yourself in the words you use. Use your analytical powers to think about what is really going on, and how you might talk to a friend about the situation. What would it be like to use those words on yourself?

Find & savor the positive moments.

When you start looking for positive moments you will find them – no matter how difficult your day has been. Maybe it is a kind word from a spouse or colleague. Maybe it’s just a nice day. Find something that is positive and savor it. Building up your store of positive mental images and feelings gives you a little gas in the tank when negativity kicks in.

Practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness practice is one of the most important ways I’ve found to interrupt negativity bias. Mindfulness can be as simple as breathing exercises. I’ve been using meditation for years to help with this (among other things). For me it is not about spirituality – it is a business necessity.

Focus your attention on activities that give you energy.

Over-commitment can make negativity bias worse – especially if the things on the list are out of alignment with your values. One of the ways to fix that is to create a stop-doing list – and find a way to start saying no to things that no longer serve you. If you’d like to know more about how to do that CLICK HERE to get my guide on Saying No without Being Negative

Doug BrownHow to Tame Negativity Bias
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When “Yes” means “No”

When yes means noIf you want to be more productive then you need to have “no” as your default answer. And that’s pretty hard for many lawyers.

After all, you want to help people. You want people to like and appreciate you.

You want to build your network, and you don’t want to miss out.

The problem is that when you say “yes” to too many things you wind up having to say “no” to the things that really matter to you.

If you feel like this might be your situation then you can start fixing the problem by doing what I call a Commitment Inventory.

Start with your top 10 commitments. In any order. And for each of them answer the following questions:

  • What is the commitment, specifically?
  • What needs does it meet for you (financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, or other)?
  • How much time does it require each month? Each week?
  • How well does it meet your needs, on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • How satisfied are you with this commitment? How would you change it if you could?

Now, put a plan in place to make the change to just one of those commitments. Work on one thing a week and you’ll see positive changes happening.

And the next time a new obligation or opportunity comes along don’t just jump to “yes”. Take some time to think about it before responding, and make sure it fits in with your updated Commitment Inventory.


P.S… If you’d like to get more tips on how to say “no” without being negative just click here and I’ll send you my handy guide.

Doug BrownWhen “Yes” means “No”
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How Sharp is Your Saw?

You’ve probably spent most of the last year working away and doing your best to cut through the massive pile of day-to-day work that is the life of the modern lawyer.  

You’ve been doing legal work like taking care of clients, researching, writing, arguing, and negotiating – to name a few.  You’ve also been attending to all the things it takes to run a law business. Things like troubleshooting your technology, learning how to Zoom, paying bills, taking care of staff and vendors, and unjamming the copy machine.

It’s been a struggle to survive and adapt – especially in recent times. Here’s the problem. So many attorneys have been so focused on working IN their practice, that they haven’t worked ON their practice the way they should.

Working IN your business without working ON it is like:

  • Running the car at high speed for many years without new tires, brakes, or an oil change, or
  • Not giving your house the new roof, windows, or furnace it needs until the storm is upon you, or
  • Waiting until you need the snowblower or generator to see if it will start. 
  • Relying on that old saw to cut your way through the forest – and wondering why it gets more and more difficult to cut as the teeth wear off the blade.

Enough analogies. I might have gone a bit too far – but I hope you get the point.

Here are the things you should be doing now to work ON your practice:

  • Actually create the plan you’ve been thinking about
  • Creating a system to make repetitive tasks much easier
  • Figuring out what you can delegate so you can make more time for legal work (or yourself)
  • Caring for your most important client and referral relationships
  • Making sure your technology and infrastructure is set for the new year
  • Creating content to get your unique value out in the world
  • Deciding how you need to adapt to take advantage of market opportunities.

Luckily there are formulas, routines, and processes that make each of these steps easy and clear. We are past the time when lawyers can get by without these business disciplines. You may need to get out of the CLE box to find the programs and the teachers you need.

The most important thing you can do to work ON your practice is to learn the right way to do the work – which will give you the results you seek. That means you’ll need someone who knows what to do, and also knows how to teach. After all, who has the time and attention to learn all of this by trial and error?

Here’s a first step … 

Take control of your time and create the time to make your plan.

Block out 45 minutes on your calendar at your most energetic time of day. Treat it like a court appointment or a meeting with your best client. First, learn about the planning process – and create a plan to create your plan.  Yes, I actually said that.  The first block of time is to decide what you are going to do and set the blocks of time you’ll need to get it done. Then create those blocks and get to work.

If you are not sure what you should be doing or how to do it, you can check out our new-and-improved planning template. Click here to read about how to make a plan. And if you have a question just reach out and ask in the comments section, below.

Or, maybe your practice is ready for the business equivalent of a personal trainer. An expert who is there with you every step of the way – showing you what to do, how to do it, and making sure you actually do it.  That’s what I do. And I have a few openings left for the next quarter, so if you’d like to see if it would be a fit for you just drop me a message and let’s talk.

No matter what you decide, remember to sharpen your saw. You’re going to need it for the year ahead.

What will you do to sharpen your saw, today?

Doug BrownHow Sharp is Your Saw?
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Beware of the “Readiness Trap”

There are many reasons why things don’t work out the way you planned.  One of the big ones is what I call the readiness trap. It’s an especially dangerous trap for people who are smart, who place a high value on being thorough and not missing anything, and who are risk-averse. Does this sound familiar?

You might be in this trap if you find yourself thinking that you are not really ready to implement your plan. You might believe that you don’t have what you need, or that you are not “enough”. And so you stay in the planning cycle, telling yourself there are just one or two more things that you need. Then when you get those, you think of other things you must do to prepare.

Saying you are not “ready” is often just a polite way of saying that you’re afraid. You seek more information or more time in a quest for more certainty. Sadly, the certainty we crave doesn’t exist – it is an unattainable goal. The fear reflex designed to keep you alive will also keep you from taking the risks that you need to grow and survive – and thrive.

There is a better way. It starts with accepting that you can’t control everything, or even most things. You do control how you act at the moment and you have that moment to take initiative and get in action. You can’t think your way out of the readiness trap – you have to act your way out of it, by being in motion.

Let go of the idea of “perfect” action or making mistakes. You are better off being in imperfect action than staying safe and being stuck. You will make mistakes. It is how you learn. 

When you stop fearing future moments and can stay present to the current one. 

That’s where we find the courage to leap. 

There is no such thing as ready. There is only now.

What is one thing that you know you need to do differently?

You are certain it will make your business or your life better – but you haven’t done it yet.

Take a moment right now, to think about what it is.

It might be something with the people.  It might be a new marketing or sales initiative. Perhaps you want to improve yourself in some way. Or maybe it’s just spending more time with family and friends.

Do you have it clearly in your mind?  Ok, now for the big question:

What are you waiting for?  

What’s one thing you could do to get in action towards that goal right now, today?

What would happen if you just did it?

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes.

Doug BrownBeware of the “Readiness Trap”
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