Doing Nothing Can Be Really Something


Bestselling author and executive coach Richard Leider spent 25 years interviewing people who had retired from successful and satisfying careers. He interviewed more than 1,000 retirees and learned a common truth about their lives. They admitted that if they could live life over again, they would be more reflective. According to Leider, “They got so caught up in the doing that they missed the meaning…They overwhelmingly wished they had stopped at regular intervals to look at the big picture.”

Without reflection, we all run the risk of veering off course. It is a necessity to reflect on where we are and what it means to us. Yogi Berra once famously said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else…”

Reflection is not only important to assess where we are, but also who we are. If you are what you eat, then perhaps, too, you are what you do the most. According to William Byron, “If you are what you do, when you don’t you aren’t.”

If this is true, then all the more reason to make sure you check in and reflect regularly to see if you are where you want to be, living as you want to be, and acting as you wish to act.

When was the last time you stopped to reflect? If you haven’t been checking in, then start now. Spending a moment doing nothing is really far more important than it may first appear. So give yourself permission to pause and take a health assessment.

There are signs of imbalance in our lives that are more obvious when we stop to notice. According to Steven Keeva, author of Transforming Practices, Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life, here are a few signs to watch for:

  • Working too much
  • Spending most, if not all, waking hours on intellectual pursuits
  • Neglecting the body and ignoring the importance of physical well-being
  • Having rapid mood swings
  • Making play into work — that is, taking leisure activities too seriously or becoming over competitive
  • Neglecting friends and family
  • Failing to take time for quiet reflection

And here are less obvious indicators that your life may need rebalancing:

  • Spending too much time thinking about the past or the future and too little time being aware of the present
  • Eating unconsciously, without concern for whether you are really hungry or how your food tastes
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Frequently feeling restless or irritable
  • Rarely or never being aware of the sacred in the everyday
  • Frequently going to bed at night feeling that somehow your day was incomplete

If you recognize some of these signs in your life, perhaps it’s time to move toward greater balance before Richard Lieder asks you for an interview. In the meantime, join Sherry Williams and me for our online webinar on June 18 to learn more about how to pause and make doing nothing really something.

Presented by the WSBA Lawyers Assistance Program, Stress Less: Mindfulness 101 is designed to provide attorneys with tools they can use to cope more effectively with stressful lives and demanding professionals. Register today

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