The opportunity to simply let our minds drift sounds so unimportant, doesn’t it? But it is vital. A mind without a project to obsess over, a problem to solve, a stimulus to respond to, has the time it needs to process. Unstructured time is how we digest some of our lives. With the constant barrage of screens, we have more mental food to digest, and thus an even higher need for mental wandering.
If you suspect you may have depression—even if you think it’s just because you work in a hellhole, and you will be FINE once you leave—go ahead and get help. Because unless you’ve got a job offer in hand, you’re going to be there for at least a couple more months. And take it from me, those “couple more months” often translate suddenly into 6 months or 9 months or a year, between workload and inertia. That’s a long time to be depressed, untreated, and miserable.
being in an environment that pushes you way past your default personality traits can make you hostilejudgmental, anxious, brittle and impatient. You can find the job that aligns really well with your purpose and gives your life meaning, but if the daily environment doesn’t match your personality needs, you’ll end up stressed and possibly confused about why.
Stuck in the office for the rest of your life? Time to create beach reading time for yourself, even if your only travel plans are to and from the office for the foreseeable future. If you really want to embrace the idea, put on your bathing suit and find an umbrella to sit under. At the very least, get a cold drink, stick a tacky paper umbrella in it, curl up on the couch, and put your nose into a book for a few hours.
Lawyers often confuse freedom with safety and security. Freedom is not either of those things. It’s a feeling of exhiliration, maybe even edged with a little fear. You’ll know it’s freedom because it doesn’t feel like imprisonment. So often, lawyers feel they must keep that safe job, especially in this economy. But if they picture themselves leaving, whether they intend to or not, they nearly always tell me that it’s like a weight rolls off them. That weight is the weight of imprisonment.
When the work starts to pile on, lawyers not only fail to put on their oxygen masks, they head for the cabin door, rip it open, and jump out. From 5,000 ft. And then they wonder why they end up drained, dispirited and depressed about their jobs and their life. The ironic thing is that those 80-hour weeks don’t produce higher quantity or quality work.
When it comes to creative endeavors, we’re usually taught that if we don’t do something better than average on our first try, we don’t have talent and should just move on to something else. Imagine if we took the same attitude toward reading or math in schools?! Sure, some people are more creative than others. Some people are way more creatively blocked than others. Guess what? The ones who have less raw talent, but get in there and keep trying and failing and then trying again, are often the ones who produce something less than perfect, but get the accolades.
Even when those 500 lawyers finished talking about the email, it still left an emotional mark on those who already were unhappy about the firm and the profession. Emails like Morrison’s are a trigger. They set off waves of unrest and dissatisfaction, if not outright plunges into depression and anxiety. Focus gets lost, and it’s hard to regain. So you have a bunch of lawyers who are not thinking well or clearly. They may end up doing substandard work, which means that other people have to review work and catch mistakes (cha-ching!) that they wouldn’t have had to do otherwise. And the distracted lawyer has to fix stuff (more cha-ching!). Plus it makes it hard for many of them to even drag themselves to the office the next day, or get to work at all, if the experiences of me and my clients is any indicator.