Archive for the ‘Deciding to Go Solo’ Category

Mirror Post: Introducing TIS’s Solo Flight Coaching Program

Remember, we’ve moved! Check out the original post at The Inspired Solo‘s new home here!

 

Have you been thinking about going solo, but feel beset by doubts and fears? Don’t know where to start? Know you want to go out on your own but don’t know how to get there? This program’s for you.

If you’ve been wrestling with The Decision – “to solo or not to solo” – then you might be interested in the new feature here at The Inspired Solo. It’s called “Solo Flight” and it’s designed to help you make the decision about whether to go out on your own.

What The Program Is All About

Every week, for six weeks, I’ll post a “lesson” and “homework.” These posts will likely come on Fridays, giving you the weekend to do your primary thinking and writing. Each lesson will be slightly longer than a traditional blog post; the homework will take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the lesson, your speed, how much “digging” you need to do.

Each lesson and that lesson’s homework assignment will work together as a group to help you answer the crucial questions:

  • Do I want to be a solo?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses as a future solo?
  • Can I shore up those weaknesses, and if so, how?
  • Is launching a solo practice right for me? My family? My career? My life?

At the end of the program, you’ll have a better idea of what you want, how realistic that dream is, and what you’ll have to do to make it a reality. You’ll also have a customized plan for your next steps, should you choose to proceed down the solo path.

Unlike other online coaching programs, this one is entirely self-directed. This first iteration, we’ll all be learning together – everyone who undertakes it as well as me, the coach, as this is the first time I’ve tried something like this as opposed to the more common one-on-one coaching with which most folks are familiar.

How To Sign Up

You need do nothing but commit to yourself to participate fully. This is entirely self-directed. There’s nothing to submit, nothing to post publicly, no forms to fill out. It’s all for you, by you. I am merely going to facilitate your coaching of yourself, in essence.

What You’ll Need To Participate

The following materials will be helpful to you:

  • A great pen that flows quickly across the page
  • Blank paper – either lined looseleaf, Circa punched, or printer paper, depending on your preferences
  • A notebook/binder that’s compatible with your paper choice
  • A printer, to print out the lessons, homework and your work, if you wish (not necessary but some prefer keeping printed materials for reference)

In addition, some homework exercises will require special tools but these should be, in every case, ordinary household items (such as scissors, glue, etc.). Curious yet? I hope so!

How Much This Will Cost You

Absolutely nothing, except your time and your commitment to the following proposition: You agree to communicate with me fully at the end of the course, via email (anonymously if you choose), about your experiences, and let me know what I can improve in this course and how.

Next Steps

I will begin next Friday with the first lesson and homework. It should go up sometime before 10 AM EST, but check back throughout the day if it isn’t – no later than close of business.

What’s Keeping You?

If you’re intrigued by solo life, be it as an attorney or any other professional, it might be time to approach the dilemma (and it always seems to be a dilemma) by asking yourself the question this way:

What is keeping me from saying “yes” to going solo?

When we ask ourselves the question this way, it helps us pinpoint the precise barricades we’ve encountered (or often, erected ourselves in order to protect ourselves from realizing our fears of failure – or success).

When I contemplated going solo, there was always a “yes, but …” at the end of every thought:

Yes, but – I don’t have enough experience.

Yes, but – I don’t have enough money saved.

Yes, but – I don’t want to practice law like everyone else does with all the billable hours and nonsense.

Yes, but – what can I do? I’ve been practicing municipal/county law for so long.

Those were the four biggest obstacles I faced – experience, financial restraints, discomfort with traditional law practice model, and change of practice area.

So, I then changed my approach. Having identified the obstacles, I set about getting to know the enemy, intimately and thoroughly. I gave long hours of consideration to each perceived obstacle. In the process of questioning all my assumptions and digging deep (through a process of talking it out with my spouse and journaling), I realized that my fear of my own lack of experience was a perceived obstacle only. It wasn’t real. It was true that I didn’t have any appreciable experience as an attorney in private practice, but I had ten years under my belt as a lawyer. Those years represented skills – real skills, that transfer to other practice areas. And as for the private practice experience – that was a real obstacle, true, but one easily overcome by taking deep advantage of all the resources available to me. Resources like MyShingle.com, like the Solosez listserv, like Foonberg’s book, like Ed Poll’s book.

Going through this process, I realized that my fear of financial failure was an actual obstacle. This one was real. However, I had blown it out of proportion. I’d taken Foonberg’s suggestion of one years’ worth of expenses and treated it as gospel. But then I began to question it, as necessity in my personal life started making increasing demands that I leave my then-current job sooner than I’d anticipated. Did I really need that much? Isn’t it also true that being hungry (whether literally or figuratively) will motivate one to achieve higher results? (Yes, it is, I can tell you now!) So I reevaluated this obstacle, and again, came up with a plan to attack it.

This is the process that can help you conquer those obstacles. When I stopped thinking of them as obstacles, and started treating them as challenges, I knew I was on my way to a successful launch.

Snap Out Of It! How to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Chaos

From “dumb little man” (one of the finest blog titles anywhere, ever) comes this post about worrying – how to stop it, why it’s bad for business.

I am the Queen of All Worriers. I mean, I excel at it. I have it down to an art form. I can whip through the “worst scenarios possible” list in 10 minutes, flat, complete with full-sensory visualization of the fallout therefrom. Give me another five minutes and I can tell you exactly what the odds are that a particular scenario will happen, and why, logically, it will happen to me.

But here’s the rub: I’m also really good at knocking it off. I wasn’t always, mind you. Once upon a time, I was the quintessential worrywart, who could recognize herself sliding down the slipper slope that never ends, but I was powerless (or so I thought) to stop the slide. The catch, of course, is that I wasn’t really powerless – never was. Once I realized that there were alternatives, and they were open to me, I was free to pick one.

What I came up with was a solution that works for quite a few folks, apparently: the timed worry. I give myself a set amount of time to worry about a particular subject. I schedule it – actually write it down in the calendar. And nothing is allowed to interfere with worry time – not clients, phone calls from judges – OK, phone calls from judges are allowed, come to think of it, but then they always are, so …

But the catch is this: once worry time is over, that’s it. No second bite at the apple. Doesn’t matter if I think of just one more awful scenario that’s even more likely to happen to me if I do this rash, bold thing (like, say, hang out my shingle?). Too late. Worry time’s over.

The second catch is this: I use it proactively. The “worst cases” become contingency plans. If this happens, then I will ___________________ (fill in the blank).

This way, worry becomes productive, and isn’t allowed to stop me from doing something. It’s given a voice (so it doesn’t start pestering me all the time), but it’s restricted to a particular purpose (so it doesn’t take over my life).

What methods for coping with worry work for you? Tell us in the comments!

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Take This Job and Shove It – Please!

Ready to take the plunge into entrepreneurship? Don’t burn those bridges behind you. This should be common sense by now but I hear from so many disgruntled employees of large firms who want to set up their own shops, or jump over to a competitor, who just can’t seem to let go of those  bomb-dropping fantasies.

You know the ones. You’ve undoubtedly had one or two yourself – I know I have.  They usually end with your soon-to-be-former boss weeping on his or her knees in front of you, clutching at your suit jacket, begging you to reconsider.  (Mine involved a public meeting complete with press coverage and a withering revelation of some devastating fact complete with visual aids – never mind I didn’t have any devastating facts. Hence – fantasy. )

I urge you to give them up completely, now. “OK,” you may say, “I can certainly understand why you wouldn’t want to actually act on those fantasies. But why not even think them? What harm can that do?”

Plenty, as it turns out. What we think about most often has a funny way of showing up in our lives. I’m not even delving into The Secret territory here. I’m talking about plain old ordinary human interaction. Think about it: have you ever been late to a meeting with someone you didn’t really care for? What happened? You got stressed out, right? And the more stressed you became, the more obstacles you encountered, right? Missed lights. No parking spaces. Stupid wrong turns. Slow elevators. And then what happened? You started thinking about that person in particular who was just going to be nasty about something, you could tell. And dollars to donuts – that person proved you right with an unpleasant attitude or sarcastic comments.

Is this so unusual, really? Whether others sense and respond to our attitudes (via body language, or through our own personal experiences), or whether there’s some spiritual conversation taking place on a higher sphere, who knows. I do know this, though: you spend enough time thinking about a confrontational “I quit” scenario, you are setting yourself up to have one, despite your best plans to the contrary.

Instead, spend that energy visualizing a positive exchange with your boss. Play out in your head the various ways it could go, and plan your responses accordingly. And (just to contradict everything I just wrote) consider one or two less-than-positive outcomes. This is especially constructive if your boss is toxic or prone to displays of temper (I’ve had a few in my day, and you can usually tell how they’re going to react before you even start). Try to keep your imagined responses even in tone and temperament, though, especially when dealing with toxic people; the calmer you can stay, the more you can defuse the situation.

And when the time comes, if defusing the situation isn’t possible, then simply extricate yourself secure in the smug knowledge that you took the high road.

For more thoughts on “How to Quit” from the Chief Happiness Officer, visit his post of the same name.