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Episode 138: What To Take Into The New Year

by Heather Moulder | Life & Law Podcast

At the end of every year, I look back to see what big lessons have been learned. And today, I share the lessons I learned from the past year (2023) so that you can take them into the year ahead and thrive. Listen to Episode 138 to learn what to take into the New Year.

In today’s episode, you’ll discover:

  • When to let go of trying to control your outcome and other people (and how to find joy in letting go).
  • Why sometimes doing less truly is more.
  • When to go out on a limb and offer up an unpopular opinion/piece of advice.
  • How (and why) to sit with constructive feedback (instead of immediately acting on it), and
  • Why being uncomfortable isn’t just okay but preferred (for a more fulfilling life).

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:48] Hello, everybody! Welcome to the new year. I can’t believe it’s already 2024. Last year was a whirlwind, partly because I have a high school senior preparing to leave the nest this year. We’ve been navigating the college application process, waiting to hear back from schools. It’s been quite a year, and I wanted to share the lessons I learned in 2023. I’ve done this each of the past two years, and I’ve received a lot of feedback on how helpful these reflections can be. So here are the top five lessons from 2023.

[00:01:51] Let’s dive right in.

Lesson number one to take into the new year: finding joy in letting go.

[00:02:03] I mentioned a moment ago that my senior is going through the application process and has been hearing back from some schools. We’re still in a waiting game for many, but he should be hearing soon from all of them. Then he has decisions to make.

[00:02:27] As a mom, it’s hard to let go of wanting to steer him right, help him through the process, and guide him on where to apply and what to say. Also, as he thinks about where he’s gotten in, his opportunities, and what to do next, the natural inclination is to help steer him right.

We do this as parents; it’s natural. But over the past few months, I’ve learned it’s time to let go a bit.

We have conversations around his opportunities, the pros and cons, and what he thinks. If he asks for my opinion, I’ll give it. But I’ve started doing this in a more coach-like way. I’m not imposing my opinions and beliefs on him, so we’re discussing it from his perspective. If he truly wants my opinion at the end of the conversation, after digesting what we’ve discussed and forming his opinions, I share what I think and why.

That’s not the lesson because, obviously, I’m applying my coaching approach to him. I’ve been using this approach for years with both my kids, but you don’t do it as much when they’re young; it broadens as they get older. What’s new is learning how to find joy in letting go. What I mean is, in these discussions, treating him like an adult and seeing that he is his own person with beliefs that may differ from mine, and that’s okay. Even as a parent, it’s okay.

[00:04:42] I can start to see what he sees, understand what he believes, and find joy in the fact that he has differing perspectives and beliefs about what is and isn’t important for his future.

[00:05:01] Through that process, I’m also learning to do that in general with my husband, my other child (Noah), clients, and others I have relationships with.

[00:05:19] It’s been interesting because it takes off some of that.

How This Perspective Reduces Worry And Fear

[00:05:25] Humans love to worry a lot, right? We worry about everything.

I think when we aren’t open to this perspective and bring all our beliefs, experiences, past, circumstances, and individual growth together, it creates our perception. When we come into interactions with people who have differing perspectives, perceptions, values, everything, it’s easy to be guarded because they’re so different.

But if you let go and come in more open, you start to get more curious. You start to see more joy, truly joy, because some of that worry, guardedness, and the way the brain works in protecting you, not wanting to get vulnerable or feel discomfort in those interactions, can go away because you are more open. You acknowledge there are benefits, taking away some stress, anxiety, and doubt. Enabling you to see joy and the experience of, “Wow, this is interesting because they have a different perspective.”

I’m getting all of that from this situation with my son. This has really grounded me over the last couple of months.

And earlier in 2023, I had a client who did this for me too. She had things in her business that weren’t going well. She doubled down, went all in for a couple of months, then realized it’s not the right goal or the right business, at least not for right now. She let go of her business entirely, and she’s way happier now. It was definitively the right choice for her. I remember thinking at the time, “Wow, that’s not what I would have done.”

[00:07:41] I would have tweaked some things, changed strategies, and adjusted goals, but not given up on the business entirely.

[00:07:51] Notice I said “given up.” I equated it to giving up because, to me, that’s the perspective I take into it. To her, it wasn’t giving up because by continuing in her business the way she was, she was giving up on herself.

[00:08:07] She needed to re-embrace herself and let go of the business, at least for now.

[00:08:14] What was giving up to me was absolutely not giving up to her.

[00:08:19] That situation taught me that.

Fast forward to later in the year with Zachary and this college experience. Even though they were two very different situations, they were similar.

The lesson was similar because I learned the joy in letting go of my preconceptions, beliefs, thoughts, and just allowing things to be. Being open to understanding what they think and why. Letting go of what I would do and just enjoying this and learning from them. It was really powerful, so I wanted to share that with you today. That was lesson number one.

[00:09:19] Let’s move on to lesson number two.

Lesson number two is that sometimes doing or offering less is actually more.

[00:09:33] Now, I learned this lesson thanks to my mastermind. As you probably know, I run a mastermind for attorneys focused on growing their book of business. Up until this past year, I’ve offered it once per year. However, in 2023, I decided to offer it twice per year because not everyone is ready to join at the typical time. With increased growth in my podcast, social media, and newsletter subscribers, it seemed like more people might be interested. So, I decided to offer it mid-year and towards the end of the year.

Typically, in the past, I’ve reached out in the fall and started sometime between December and February each year. The mastermind is a six-month hard commitment, with twice-a-month meetings in a small, intimate group focused on business growth.

The reasoning behind offering it in the middle of the year, not just towards the end, was this: Often, by mid-year, we realize we’re not exactly where we wanted to be. We’re halfway through the year, not meeting our goals, and we need to dig in to find a way to get there. We feel like there’s still enough time, so I thought it was a natural time to offer this.

I went full bore, did all the social media posts, got them out there, was on social media all the time, and tried to orient some of my podcasts towards my mastermind. It was all the things.

[00:11:22] About halfway through, I stopped and realized, no, this is not right for me. I had a couple of people who were actually interested, and I said, I’m sorry, we’re not doing this right now. I’ll come back to you at the end of the year.

Something to note when it comes to owning a business like this and doing online marketing—online marketing through my newsletter, podcast, and social media. Yes, I have people locally that I market to as well. Yes, I network locally. Yes, I speak and get clients, including from my mastermind that way. But 80% of my marketing is done online. There are things you need to do to do online marketing. And I just have to say, it’s very time-consuming and not my favorite thing to do. It is necessary. I don’t dislike it, but it’s not my favorite thing. I would prefer to talk about what I want in the moment as opposed to having to pre-plan all these things that you have to pre-plan and do when you are selling something online. And it was stressing me out, and I don’t like stress. Number one, obviously, none of us do. But as a stress management coach, a lot of what I deal with with my clients is how to effectively manage, reduce, and prevent stress. And this was stressing me out much more than the mastermind ever had before.

I realized, you know what? Summertime is really not a good time for me to be doing something like this because summer for me is all about my kids. They’re out of school, but they’re actually very active and busy, especially my now senior. And my younger one’s about to be there because he’s entering high school in the fall, but they have baseball in the summer when they’re in high school. My senior was very, very active this past summer, and I really wanted to be there and support him. One of the things that I promised when I left my law career behind and started this business was that I would be there for those types of things 90 plus percent of the time. Given that this was his last time to play summer ball like this, I wanted to be there all the time. I didn’t really want to miss anything.

And that was really hard to do while also trying to sell my mastermind. I needed to be available to talk to people. I needed to show up online more spontaneously, if you get what I mean. I needed to be around, and it was stressing me out. I just wasn’t able to fit it in. So a couple of weeks in, I was like, nah, dropping it. I’m done. I’m not doing it. We’ll come back in the fall.

So that was really hard for me.

What I learned through that, though, was, well, let me just say, it was hard for me because I don’t like going back on my word. I don’t like putting something out there, telling people I’m selling something, and then having to say, oh, no, sorry. Not like I had to do that online, but I needed to reach out to the people who had reached out to me, who I was talking to, and say “You know what? This is not going to be good timing after all. We’re going to scrap it. I’ll reach back out to you in the fall when it comes back.”

That was hard. It wasn’t fun, but it was so well worth it. And I realized that my mastermind from here on out, at least for the foreseeable future—probably for the next four to five years until my youngest son graduates from high school at least—will be offered once per year only. I am not willing to do what it takes to sell it online and also to do all the interviews, which are very time-consuming. They’re necessary. I actually enjoy the interviews, but they’re very time-consuming.

[00:14:58] I can’t do that more than once a year. It just takes up too much of my time, energy, and headspace.

[00:15:06] Through that process, I realized, you know what?

[00:15:10] I show up better when I’m not in sales mode that often. I show up better for my kids, for my spouse, for my friends, for my business in general, and for my clients.

[00:15:25] So sometimes you can do so much more by cutting back.

So, my question for you right now is, where in the past year could you have cut back and showed up as more and done more by cutting back on the things that you obligated yourself to?

[00:15:51] Where could you cut back to show up more for the things you do choose to show up for?

[00:16:00] Sometimes doing and offering less is more. Okay, so that was lesson number two.

[00:16:14] Lesson number three for what to take into the new year was a big one for me.

Lesson number three: It’s okay to offer up my personal opinions and beliefs.

As long as I come from a place of service, they’re reasoned, and I’m open to hearing differing perspectives myself.

[00:16:29] One of the things I believe is that we lawyers have an obligation, a responsibility to act and show up in a certain way, which means we should have heightened standards for ourselves. Right.

[00:16:46] Sometimes those heightened standards get into the political, or what some people deem political, or get into topics not everyone will agree on. Yes, having a podcast and discussing various things, not everyone always agrees with my advice or strategies. But for some reason, I find that easier to deal with than when it gets more personal.

There are two particular episodes over the last year that I’m specifically talking about.

One dealt with the nature of remote work and how it isn’t the end-all, be-all that most people thought. Many of us are figuring that out right now or have been over the last year or two. I had a whole podcast on that, and it was an interesting topic. I got some feedback—much of it was really great with people who agreed, but not everyone did.

I had some interesting conversations around it, too. I felt like I was putting myself out there a bit more because it was on a topic that’s a big deal to a lot of people. They’ve long wanted remote work, they’re getting it, but it’s not always a good thing. I was mentioning how, look, you may think you want this, but maybe you don’t. Or even if it works for you, it doesn’t work for everybody.

Maybe you have an obligation to show up as well. I highly recommend you go and listen to that episode because it was really good, and it’s still very applicable today and into the future. But that one was hard for me to put out there because I knew it was going to ruffle some feathers.

The other episode that was somewhat difficult for me was the one I released on July 4. It was about my value of freedom and what it means to me. In all honesty, it was scary for me because that value is very personal.

[00:18:46] It comes from my past, my situations, but it also informs who I am, what I believe, and what I think is most important. Frankly, it frames my political and religious beliefs.

[00:19:00] It was probably somewhat obvious from that episode. So that was scary to me because I was really stepping out on a limb and talking about something I had never discussed, at least not in that way before on this podcast. Don’t worry, I’m not going to start espousing political views.

[00:19:19] I don’t think you need to know. It doesn’t matter what they are.

[00:19:24] I don’t need to know yours. And it’s totally okay with me for people to have very, very different ones. I’m one of those people who likes to talk politics with individuals who believe differently from me, as long as we can keep emotion out of it. But that’s a whole other issue.

This is not going to become a political podcast by any means. But that one was important to me, given that it was July 4. I felt like it was crucial to show people not just who I am but also to see that your values really influence everything—from your religious beliefs to your politics, to how you relate with people, to how you perceive others, to how you perceive certain types of people, to how you see the world, to whether you see it as us against them. I mean, all these things, and I just got into one little sliver of mine.

But part of the point was so that people could see, oh, how does this relate to you? What are your values? How is that showing up? It’s crucial to understand that.

[00:20:29] Because it will help you better understand yourself and how you relate to other people and potentially even be more open to listening to other people and not feeling threatened by viewpoints, etc.

That was an interesting topic for me to talk about. What I learned from that situation based on the feedback, because I got some interesting feedback on that one as well, is I should do more of that. It is okay.

It is okay to show a little bit more of my own personal beliefs, and it is okay to go into topics that some people are going to be a little more heated about in disagreeing with me. That’s all okay. So long as the purpose for them is to still serve you, the audience. I can relate that to something specific. Right. It’s not just about me. In fact, it’s not about me at all. When I go into those topics, it needs to be about you.

[00:21:24] What’s the point of it, and how does it serve you? So that’s the thinking behind that. As long as I’m reasoned and careful, and also open to hearing differing viewpoints and okay with people not agreeing with me. That is a lesson I learned, and it is something that I think I’m going to take with me into the future.

Expect another couple of topics this next year that might be a little more uncomfortable, but there will be a purpose for them. Then I’m also going to take it into my personal relations a bit more and try to be more open with others and maybe forge ways of talking with people that I may not have talked with about certain topics before in a non-emotional way.

Why Get Into Sticky Conversations About Things We Don’t Believe Or Understand?

Something I’m learning through these last couple of years, especially this last year is that we need to be talking to one another more about what we believe—whether it’s religion, politics, or something else that we find very sticky. Oftentimes we assume, and we assume incorrectly, and when we assume incorrectly, it creates a host of other issues and spins out of control.

[00:22:35] I think, funny enough, this whole remote working thing is making it worse because we’re not with people who aren’t like us, who aren’t already in our inner circle very often. We’re not forced to understand, collaborate, be in the room with them, get to know them, and see them as human beings.

That has long-standing consequences, not just for you individually, and professionally, but also for society. It’s not a good thing, in my opinion. So that was number three.

Lesson number four for you to take into the new year: you get to choose what to do with feedback.

Sometimes it doesn’t mean immediately making a change.

[00:23:26] At the beginning of 2023, I sent out a survey to my audience, my newsletter audience, with questions about topics people would like me to discuss, what they liked, what they didn’t, what they wanted to hear more or less of, that kind of thing.

[00:23:42] I definitely listened to them. I read all of them. FYI, if you were one of them, that filled it out. Thank you very much. You will probably be getting another one in the next couple of months because I think I want to do this annually.

[00:23:56] That gave me a lot of great ideas, but I wasn’t able to take everything into account because sometimes my topics also come from everyday life lessons or struggles my clients are dealing with, especially when I see themes. Even though I read those and marked down many things, I didn’t necessarily get to them all.

Some feedback was contradictory. For example, one person loved the banter nature of my newsletter, feeling like I’m talking to them in person. Another thought I could be a little long-winded and go too long. So what do you do with that?

We talk a lot about getting feedback from others, especially if you want to move up the career ladder, become a leader, or be a good manager. Feedback is crucial. You want to know how you’re perceived because other people perceive you differently.

[00:25:09] But you need to also take that feedback with a bit of a grain of salt sometimes. Because again, every other individual has their own personality, has their own strengths, has their own unique perspective, and you may not agree with it. Now, it doesn’t mean the feedback was for nothing, and it doesn’t mean you just dismiss it. There is a difference.

How – And Why – To Sit With Feedback

[00:25:34] So what I’ve learned over this last year is to really reach out for feedback and allow it to kind of sit there and not act on it immediately, but to wait on it a bit, take note of it, think through it, and let it process through you.

[00:25:50] And then continue to ask for feedback. And then when you start to see themes, that’s when to really take notice. Those are the areas for action more immediately.

[00:26:03] And sometimes you get feedback that really hits a nerve. And maybe it’s just feedback from one person, and maybe it’s not something that you do often, but yet it hits a nerve. That’s also something to pay attention to, because maybe that hits more into the crux of who you are and how you want to show up.

[00:26:22] So this is what I’ve learned, though, is to sit back and let it be a little bit and think through it. It doesn’t mean you’re not doing anything with it. You’re actually doing a lot.

[00:26:33] It allows you for more intentional and thoughtful action after the fact.

[00:26:40] I’m still taking that feedback from almost a year ago into what I’m doing now because some of that feedback I could not incorporate into my podcast at the time, but will be this year. Some of it will be incorporated into blog posts. Some of the feedback, even the contradictory, I’m finding ways to get it into my writing.

So, for example, if you are a member of my newsletter, I have learned over the course of the last year how to give some newsletters that are more robust, with a lot more action items and things. If it’s called for, if I have some real points to make and I really need to give them that information, it’s longer. But sometimes I’ve intentionally made them very short and just referred them to a podcast or made a very quick and short but powerful point. So I’m trying to go back and forth. That’s how I learned from the contradictory feedback that I gave you earlier.

Okay, so that was lesson number four.

[00:27:53] To take feedback often, to listen to it, to let it just be, and to temper it with what you choose to do moving forward, and also whatever you’re capable of in the moment.

Because I will tell you some of what I’ve implemented over the last couple of months I didn’t know how to do earlier in the year based on that feedback. And so some of it, maybe I just wasn’t capable of knowing how to handle it yet. And so I let it just be. I kept going back to it, I kept thinking about it, and then I was able to put some of it into place as time went on. So don’t act too rashly, I guess, is my main point.

All right, final lesson for what to take into the new year…


Lesson number five is: discomfort isn’t just okay; it’s actually preferred.

[00:28:48] I have talked a lot about getting comfortable with discomfort—the discomfort of being vulnerable, taking a risk, facing failure and making mistakes because those are required if you’re going to take a risk. The discomfort of feeling your own feelings and not pushing them down to process them in a healthy and effective manner and move forward. The discomfort of life, basically.

[00:29:17] I stand by that. What I’ve learned over this past year, and I think a lot of this has to do with my children.

[00:29:26] Zachary, again, helping me let go of him, moving on to college and a whole new area of his life. But also my youngest, becoming an amazing baseball player for his age and wanting to focus on it more, potentially changing schools – which we had never contemplated before. We love the school that both boys are at. Now we are looking to apply to other schools. We are in the application process as I record this.

It’s vulnerable and feels hard. Some of this is really on him, and I can’t do for him. But that discomfort, that hardness, that vulnerability, I’m learning… It’s not just okay; it’s a good thing. It’s actually preferred because it means I’m learning something new, facing new challenges, new ways of thinking. I’m learning how to let go more of both of my kids, which isn’t the most fun thing in the universe.

But guess what? Even though that moment, that thing isn’t fun, I’m finding joy in it, too. Because guess who they’re becoming? They’re becoming their own people, and that is joyous to watch.

[00:30:53] Allowing myself to be in discomfort has always been something I’ve been okay with. It’s needed, necessary. Get comfortable with it.

[00:31:04] I’m actually deciding to change that mentality a bit and say, you know what? I prefer the discomfort. I embrace the discomfort. I want the discomfort because that’s a natural part of living fully; a natural part of learning, growing, pushing myself in new ways.

[00:31:26] Okay, that is it. Those are the top five lessons I learned from 2023 for you to take into the new year.

I would love to hear from you. If you have a lesson that stuck with you through the last year, find me on LinkedIn, Heather Moulder. There will be posts about this podcast, and just give us a comment down below for what you learned to take into the new year.

We will be back next week with a guest. Bye for now.