Today, my new virtual assistant team comes on board. After nearly three years working together, Tyler left at the end of April, so he could focus on his education and life outside of The Law Studio. I kept up with my 2018 Plan until then, despite my mother’s death in February. Those of you who dealt with Tyler can probably understand how valuable he was to the team, and that is why I fully supported his choice to reach for more of what he wants in his life. It’s a bit counterintuitive to let go when we will be left to pick up the slack and try to find a replacement, knowing he can never be fully replaced any more than my mother can. But I have to practice what I preach, and that includes planning, acting, revising, and repeating, or Staying on PARR, until I get the results I want.
I didn’t want Tyler to go, but I also didn’t want him to stay where he couldn’t grow in the areas he wanted to. There are almost always consequences we don’t want that come with the experiences we do. I planned for Tyler’s inevitable departure. He even helped me, but the actions we took weren’t perfect, and I fell behind. I had to revise the plan by focusing on what was necessary (e.g., client services, grieving, self-care) and postpone projects I wanted to complete (e.g., weekly blog posts, course revisions, new courses) but didn’t have the time to. As we enter the last month of the year, I am revising the plan again and ready to take massive action toward a powerful closure to 2018, a year that has been littered with losses for many of us. In my head, I am having disempowering thoughts about how I failed to complete my Content Strategy 100%, gained weight, lost strength, couldn’t resolve a family conflict, and otherwise got results I didn’t want on projects that matter to me. It’s easy to get stuck in this chatter and adopt the belief that I failed at life this year. Instead, I go to the Seven Choices from my book, DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master:
- Forgive yourself. Show me a person with no conflicts, and I will show you someone who is either lying or dead. Conflict is a natural part of living. It keeps us growing and adapting to the world around us. And it doesn’t last. We can choose to resist it, or we can channel it in ways that work for us. With some humility.
- Acknowledge yourself. Despite failing to achieve these relatively low-priority goals, I have accomplished the ones that keep me alive, maintain The Law Studio, deepen my close relationships, and more. I did the best I could under the circumstances presented at the times, and I’m not giving up!
- Forgive the world. There are conflicts everywhere that I don’t understand. I wish people could be more compassionate, considerate, and tolerant—if not loving—toward each other. I can’t understand the dismissal of others’ humanity that I assume underlies mass shootings, war, rape, and murder. I will continue to do my part to resolve these conflicts, but I will also forgive the world for having and creating them, so I can focus my energies on more productive actions that might facilitate the change we want.
- Free the emotions. I am still frustrated, angry, and sad at times. I haven’t stopped grieving my mother’s death, even if it seems I should be over it. I’m doing better, but I’ll probably never be over it. I give myself freedom to process these emotions safely, when they arise.
- Clear your mind. To help this process I am using of the Calm app again and meditating at least daily. Sometimes an entire day goes by before I remember or choose to take my meditation break. If I skip a day, I will no longer resign in failure. I will simply start again tomorrow.
- Assume nothing. It’s easy for me to assume that anything I didn’t complete was the thing that was going to create my “big break”. Now, if that big break never comes, I have somewhere to point. But it is more productive for me to assume I know nothing and simply get back in action, trusting that if there is any such break (which I haven’t fully defined for myself), it will still show up if it catches me working.
- Listen with your third ear, or your heart. As I revise my plan and schedule the actions I can still take before 12/31 to end the year with a sense of accomplishment, I am choosing to pay more attention to what The Law Studio clients want and need now, not just what I thought they might want, when I created my plan last fall. Much has changed for all of us and getting locked into a potentially ineffective plan is as bad (and sometimes worse) than starting with no plan at all.
Nance L. Schick, Esq. is a New York City attorney and mediator who focuses on keeping people out of court and building their conflict resolution skills, especially in business and employment disputes. Her holistic, integrative approach to conflict resolution draws from her experience as a crime victim, human resources supervisor, minor league sports agent, and United Nations representative. She is a 2001 graduate of the State University of New York Buffalo Law School trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM). She is also creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master, and an award-winning entrepreneur, who has been acknowledged by Super Lawyers (ADR, 2018), the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards), and Urban Rebound NY/Count Me In (Finalist, 2013 Pitch Competition).