Category Archives: The Ethical Lawyer – Legal Ethics Blog

Finding and Sustaining Flow: Listen to The Incrementalist, Episode 5

How do you make the impossible possible? How do you tackle goals that seem impossible? When you get into the flow state, it’s much easier to learn, grow, create, turn your ideas into action, and bring your dreams into reality.

To move in the desired direction, you need more flow in your life, says Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, renowned psychologist and author of the groundbreaking book, Flow. He defines flow as the optimal experience in which you’re so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. You enjoy it for its own sake and will keep at it even with great cost. Flow is a key ingredient of a meaningful and happy life. 

But amped up flow doesn’t lead to ongoing success. While flow is necessary for peak performance, it’s not enough to sustain it, says Steven Kotler. He’s the author of many neuroscience books, including The Art of Impossible. He’s a peak performance expert and Executive Director of Flow Research Collective. 

In this episode, I review the 5 intrinsic motivators, the 3 tiers of goal-setting, and the 6 levels of grit, and how they all come together to trigger flow.  I also discuss the 9 elements of flow, which means your biology is working for you to perform at your peak. 

You will learn how the flow cycle leads to reliable and repeatable results. Through compound interest, the minutes, hours, days, months and years of focus and effort add up to make the impossible possible.

Resources cited: 

  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
  • Steven Kotler, The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer 

Cheers,

Dyan Williams

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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How to Prioritize What Matters: Listen to The Incrementalist, Episode 4

If you feel overwhelmed or you’re constantly rescheduling tasks, you are probably overestimating what you can do each day.

Practice Essentialism: do less, but better, so you will have the highest-quality results, with less stress and less friction. And figure out the One Thing you must do now and do that.

With incremental progress daily and weekly, you can create big results with small and consistent actions. Laser-like focus on your core work add up to make a massive difference in all areas of your life.

When we look at a clock – digital or analog – we see the seconds, minutes and hours passing. The day starts and end, regardless of what we do. The clock tells us we have 24 hours in a day.

Of that, we need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep, 1 hour for a lunch break, and a few more hours for daily routines, errands and so on. We have distractions and interruptions. Also, we’re human: our energy and focus ebb and flow throughout the day. 

The maximum time you have for your Most Important Tasks is around 8 hours per day. Your MIT is your core work or your high-value, high-leverage activity. This contributes directly to your success. It helps you create the most important, desired results. 

In this episode, I discuss how to set your priorities, which starts with the Brain Dump, continues with the Priority Matrix (Eisenhower Complex), and ends with blocking time and matching your tasks with your energy and focus levels, your environment, and your circumstances. 

I cover Essentialism, which involves distinguishing the vital few from the trivial many, and making the necessary trade-offs to tackle what truly matters.

I explain why you need to align your actions with your One Thing, which is what you can do, such that by doing it, makes everything else easier or unnecessary. 

Resources Cited: 

  • Greg McKeown – Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less 
  • Gary Keller and Jay Papasan – The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results 

Cheers,
Dyan Williams

P.S. If you like the show and want to help keep it going, please give it a 5-star rating and positive review on Apple Podcasts (from ITunes) or other app! Thank you to all who have expressed their appreciation since the launch. And special shout-out to Graham for the first posted review!

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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Breaking Bad Habits: Listen to The Incrementalist, Episode 3

Building good habits is essential to make a change and sustain a healthy and productive life. Sometimes we also need to break bad habits. They tend to serve you in the moment; the immediate outcome feels good. But over the long run, bad habits hurt you or benefit you very little.

Like good habits, bad habits also give you a dopamine hit. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is often called the feel-good hormone. Dopamine fires when you get the thing you crave, and when you anticipate getting that thing. 

A dopamine hit is not the same as true happiness, say Dr. Jud Brewer, director of research and innovation at Brown University Mindfulness Center, a psychiatrist and an expert in mindfulness training for treating addictions. To break everyday addictions and bad habits, he recommends you step out of the reactive pattern and just be present with whatever comes up. Use your natural curiosity to learn about the habit loop while you’re in it and become aware of the results of your actions. 

There are 4 laws of behavior change, says author, speaker and entrepreneur James Clear. If you want to build a habit, you make it Visible, Attractive, Easy and Satisfying. If you want to stop a habit, you invert the laws. You make it Invisible, Unattractive, Difficult and Unsatisfying. 

You might think you have to replace the habit with another to break it. But this is really a last resort. You can untangle the bad habit when you stay mindful, get curious, and invert the 4 laws of behavior change. 

Learn how your mind works, so you can work with it.” – Dr. Jud Brewer

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” – James Clear

 Resources Cited:

  • Jud Brewer – The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits
  • James Clear – Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Here’s to breaking bad habits,

Dyan Williams

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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Listen to The Incrementalist: Episode 2, Building Good Habits

Whenever we want to make a change, we tend to think in terms of goals and outcomes, hopes and dreams. It’s good to know the results we want. But how do we get there? It starts with building good habits that add up over time to create success as you define it.

A habit starts with a conscious decision and becomes automatic through a 3-step loop (cue, behavior, reward). Building good habits allows you to make changes without relying on willpower and motivation. 

In this episode of The Incrementalist podcast, I discuss how motivation, ability and prompts drive behavior, using Professor BJ Fogg’s B=MAP formula. I also cover the ABC (Anchor, Behavior, Celebration) method to create new habits and sustain momentum.  Make the new behavior tiny with the starter step and by scaling back.

Excellence comes from the actions you do habitually, consistently, repeatedly – not from once-in-a-while acts.  Being the best version of yourself and having self-mastery stem from your habits. 

Resources Cited:

  • Charles Duhigg – The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
  • BJ Fogg – Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything
  • David T. Neal, Wendy Wood, and Jeffrey M. Quinn, Duke University, Habits – A Repeat Performance, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Volume 15, Issue 4, August 1, 2006
  • Magic Weighted Blanket

Music by:

  • Sebastian Brian Mehr


Happy habit-building,

Dyan Williams

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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Goals are Great. But Systems are Even Better.

January is a popular time to aim for radical changes and major shifts in life. Is your lifestyle, health, relationships, work, business or side project in a sad state? Or have you been on an upward trajectory?

The start of the year is when many of us get a burst of energy to set big, bold and risky goals. Perhaps you have plans to achieve yours by next month, within 90 days, or by the end of this year.

Life though does not always turn out according to plan. The year 2020 was a fierce reminder of this fact. There’s nothing wrong with goals. Specific goals are great when they help you move in the right direction.

But even better is a system to pivot, reset, upgrade, and make consistent progress on the things that really matter. When key goals are scrapped or missed, you can always revisit them when you have a system to get you back on track.

At the start of 2020, I had tentative plans to launch a podcast. As a solo immigration lawyer and a productivity coach, I was conflicted on whether to start one podcast or two. Over time, this project moved to the backburner while COVID-19, civil unrest, school closures, the November Elections, and other changes were at front and center.

During my annual review in December 2020, I reflected on the wins, the successes, the doubts, and the setbacks. Were there goals I had dropped and wanted to pick up again?

One major project I decided to return to was the podcast launch. I had more than enough topics to talk about, on either immigration or productivity. Years of running more than one blog led to a system for idea generation and content creation.

I already had the tools to start a podcast. They included the microphone, headphones, computer, and audio editing software we used to make the last video for my law firm’s YouTube channel.

Still, podcasting was a big leap for me. I thought, “I’m a writer, not a podcaster.” Never mind that you can develop skills through deliberate practice and deep study.  Never mind that I had spoken at various events and conferences on productivity, mindfulness, U.S. immigration and legal ethics issues.

There were podcast hosting choices and other technical mumbo jumbo to work through to start a podcast. By the end of December, the audio recording and sound editing of the first episodes — for two different podcasts — were done. Small, daily actions in short bursts made this possible.

Although I met the goals of launching The Incrementalist (a productivity podcast) and The Legal Immigrant (a U.S. immigration podcast) , it took systems to start them. And it will take systems to keep each show going. There’s a content strategy to release new episodes over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I invite you to listen to episode 1 (introduction) in The Incrementalist podcast. Click HERE for the show’s website. Or find it on podcast apps like Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Listen Notes and via RSS feed.

If you like the content, please share it with others, leave a 5-star review, and subscribe so you don’t miss new episodes.

And if you’d like to check out my other podcast, The Legal Immigrant, click HERE for the show’s website.

Your downloads, shares and subscriptions mean a lot! To keep you listening, I will aim to add value through these shows. Podcasts give you a convenient way to get insights and information when you’re on the go or want to learn with audio.

Thank you for your support and audience.

All the best in 2021,

Dyan Williams

Author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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