Reach Your Goals With Self-Discipline, with Monica Levi, J.D.

Struggling to meet your goals? Are tasks piling up on your desk and you can’t find the time for all of it?

Motivation won’t help you in the long run, but self-discipline can.

“Self-discipline is the bridge between your goals and your results,” says Monica Levi, J.D., our guest for this special podcast episode. Meet Monica, The Self-Discipline Coach. She’s a lawyer who helps lawyers get on track with the power of self-discipline. And she’s here to share how you can harness this power for yourself and reach your goals.

You’ll learn:

✅ The core of self-discipline (and how to use it)

✅ How to push through the goal-killer aka “the plateau”

✅ Why motivation does NOT work

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Episode Summary

In today’s episode, we explore the power of self-discipline and its paramount importance in the legal profession. Our guest’s personal story emphasizes that self-discipline, more than talent or motivation, becomes the determining factor in achieving long-term goals.

The Dilemma of Ever-Growing To-Do Lists

Legal professionals often grapple with to-do lists that seem to expand continuously. Important tasks might get postponed from one week to the next without resolution.

Actionable Tip: Prioritize tasks and set up strategies to ensure that items on your list are addressed promptly.

The Power of Proactive Planning

Proactive planning (rather than reactive mode) is underscored as a cornerstone of success. Making decisions in advance engages parts of our brain that ensure our actions resonate with our long-term aspirations, thereby reducing impulsiveness.

Actionable Tip: Carve out dedicated slots each week to plan ahead, keeping in mind set appointments and additional tasks.

Battling Procrastination and Distraction

Overcoming distractions and curbing procrastination calls for a spirit of self-discipline, especially when the tasks might not be enjoyable. 

Actionable Tip: Identify distractions in your environment so you can make strategies to combat them. 

The Value of Accountability

Maintaining self-accountability emerges as a crucial facet of self-discipline. It encompasses embracing the tasks that we tend to avoid and helps us stay on track.

Actionable Tip: Consider accountability partners or digital tools to monitor tasks to keep us accountable. 

Understanding the Roots of Procrastination

Many professionals, regardless of their field, wrestle with procrastination. Typically, this behavior arises from two sources: either a thought about the task that’s daunting or a feeling associated with the task we’re trying to avoid.

Actionable Tip: Recognize what’s causing resistance to a particular task. If thoughts of overwhelm or fear of imperfection come to mind, tackle these head-on. Question these thoughts, break the task into smaller parts, and address it step by step. This helps combat procrastination.

The Importance of Self-Awareness in Task Management

Without awareness, it’s easy to “check out” to distracting activities like checking emails when one should be focusing on a scheduled task. A predetermined schedule is an excellent tool to catch procrastination in its tracks.

Actionable Tip: Prioritize having a clear daily schedule. 

Addressing the “Always Reactive” Myth in the Legal Profession

A challenge in the legal field is the notion of being reactive (the thought of “always needing to be available”) due to the unpredictable nature of work. However, being reactive in our work can be draining and counterproductive. 

Actionable Tip: Adopt the concept of “Focus Time”. Dedicate uninterrupted hours to tasks at hand, while also setting aside specific intervals for checking emails etc. This method ensures enhanced productivity and fewer distractions.

The High Cost of Task Switching

Task switching, such as juggling between writing and attending incoming calls, is proven to significantly dilute focus. It’s reported that regaining the original level of concentration after an interruption takes approximately 23 minutes.

Actionable Tip: Promote the practice of batching time. Carve out slots for undisturbed work, free from notifications and potential distractions. Address incoming communications during specific intervals, ensuring you’re not sacrificing large chunks of focus time.

The Lure of Instant Gratification vs. Long-term Efficiency

Being constantly available might give an immediate dopamine boost, making one feel indispensable. Yet, this continuous engagement is mentally taxing. The initial thrill of being in demand can lead to exhaustion and reduced efficiency in the long run.

Actionable Tip: While it’s natural to enjoy being needed, it’s essential to strike a balance. Recognize the value of being momentarily unreachable to ensure long-term productivity and well-being.

Understanding the Limits of Motivation

Motivation can be fleeting. Relying purely on motivation means only showing up when that spark is there, which isn’t always there.

Actionable Tip: Diversify your sources of drive. Don’t just rely on fleeting moments of motivation, but instead, build habits and discipline to remain consistent.

The Unyielding Power of Self-Discipline

Unlike the fickle nature of motivation, self-discipline ensures consistent action. With discipline, there’s no room for negotiation; there’s only room for doing.

Actionable Tip: Cultivate habits of discipline over moments of motivation. Set structures and rituals in place that hold you accountable, regardless of mood.

Her Journey of Resilience

Raised in challenging circumstances in Bulgaria, our guest naturally developed a tenacity and self-discipline that she’s grateful for today. However, she emphasizes that anyone can develop this skill, regardless of background.

Actionable Tip: Reflect on past challenges and hardships. Use them as fuel to build your self-discipline muscle. Remember, it’s a skill that can be honed with practice.

The Illusion of Strategy Without Execution

Strategy is crucial, but without disciplined execution, it’s merely a plan on paper. The key lies not just in learning the strategy but in diligently applying it.

Actionable Tip: Dedicate consistent effort to applying learned strategies. Recognize that mere knowledge isn’t power; applied knowledge is.

Navigating the Five Phases of Achieving A Goal

Reaching a goal is a journey with its set of challenges. Knowing the phases – from initial motivation to the dreaded plateau to the establishment of habits – can arm one with the tools to persevere.

Actionable Tip: Brace yourself for the third phase, the plateau. Anticipate it, prepare for it, and push through it. Having this foresight can be the difference between giving up and breaking through.


Our guest’s insights underscore the importance of self-discipline, proactive planning, and effective task management for legal professionals. Her tailored approach offers a fresh perspective on managing workloads and client relationships, demonstrating that with the right mindset and tools, lawyers can experience increased profitability, reduced stress, and a healthier work-life balance.

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