Rapper Akrobatic said it best: “I got mad problems with the world though, even my profession.”
The problem: lack of balance in the profession. A ton of attorneys haven’t figured out how to balance the needs of making partner with those of having any other identity than “attorney.” This is a surefire way to begin to hate not only your profession, but your life as a whole.
I’m no guru when it comes to balance. I just
came off of four days straight of depositions. I took work home all last week in order to stay ahead. That said, I do try generally to maintain things in my life that bring a little non-law to my world. I have a few recommendations:
Get a hobby!
Seriously! Mine? Cooking, raising chickens, blogging, music, and gardening. Well, the gardening isn’t really a hobby, but a constant struggle to fight back the morning glory trying to strangle my roses and privet. Do I have enough time to do each of these things as well as I’d like? Heck, no! But it’s fun and gives me something interesting to talk about at parties.
Take time for yourself!
Between work, hobbies, honey-do lists, and outside obligations, I’m often busy from dawn to dusk. However, I try to make a little time each night for me. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a nap or taking a couple hours to go buy and play with the new iPhone. Those things you do for yourself have a big payoff on your sanity.
Take time for others!
This may seem like a no-brainer, but make your significant other and your family a priority in your life. Years ago, during law school, I went through a heart-wrenching breakup. I was spending all of my time trying to get published on top of my 2L course load. This led to fatigue and, ultimately, fights. I hadn’t been taking the time to make sure I was nurturing the relationship. Like anything that doesn’t get nourishment, it died. It was the hardest life lesson I’ve learned. When I talked with my dad about the situation, he told me, “It’s just a job.” He was right. Ours may be a stressful time-suck of a profession, but at the end of the day, it’s just a means to pay the bills and help people along the way. Now, no matter how busy I get, I make the time to go to family gatherings. I take the time to go on “dates,” and I commit by buying tickets well ahead of time and blocking my calendar.
Finally, take a danged vacation! Every year I go someplace different. Last year, it was Mexico. This year, Italy. If you’re saying, “Yeah, right! With what time?,” go to your calendar right now… I’ll wait. Open it up. Click to the first month where you have a week or two that isn’t yet gobbled up by depositions or trial (be sure to check either side of that block, as you really can’t have a trial the day after this block). Look good? Okay, block it off NOW. Now go purchase your tickets to [insert place that has really good drinks served with nice umbrellas]. DON’T TAKE YOUR LAPTOP.
Your practice will survive without you (and will do a lot better in the long run).