Alright my lawyer peeps, it’s time to get serious.
Did you feel your energy level just drop to the second ring of hell? “Oh no, I’ve been a bad boy (or girl) and I have to pay”—that’s the gut reaction, isn’t it? Heck, I knew what was coming next, and “get serious” made me feel a bit anxious.
So what we’re going to do today, boys and girls, is to have some serious, excellent fun.
Lawyers have an incredibly difficult time with fun and play. There are lots of reasons for this—lawyer schooling and culture, the kind of personality that law attracts, the levels of depression that pervade the profession, and the number of lawyers who come from dysfunctional families–just for starters. But I’m not going to spend a lot of time in this post going on about those, cause, yanno, it’s not fun.
Instead, this post is about having fun. I would just say go out and have some. But, see supra. What I already hear is “I have too much work to do to have fun. I don’t have time!!”
So instead of telling you to have fun and leaving you to your own devices–which actually would be more fun than my suggestions, if you just went for it–I’m going to give you some tips for having fun while at the office.
Why do I harp so much on fun? Because fun is the gateway to creativity, and creativity is what you need to get you moving from your current situation to something better for you. So when your spouse/S.O./friends/cat question(s) why you’re spending time being silly, you can tell them it’s for very serious, important reasons. Yeah! everyone’s inner critic gets appeased.
Now take a deep breath, and imagine being 6 again. Six year-olds are wonderfully curious and open to everything, and know just enough about the world to be really, deeply funny. If you can borrow a 6 year-old for a few hours, do it—that kid will help you a lot with having fun.
If you somehow lack a 6 year-old, here are some ideas to get you going. Take ‘em and run with ‘em. I particularly recommend doing these things when you’re feeling scared about making changes. Laughter is the best antidote I know to stop the inner critic in its tracks.
Siren chicken dance: Especially good if you work in a big city. Count every time you hear a siren. After 5 or 10 sirens, you must get up and do the chicken dance for 30 seconds. Do this all day and see if you aren’t laughing hysterically by the end of the day.
Word Girl/Guy: Pick a favorite, preferably funny-sounding word that doesn’t get a lot of usage, like onomatopoeia, pickled or gargantuan. Put that word in as many emails, memos, briefs, contracts, conversations, etc. as possible during the day. It’s really fun to make this a friendly competition with a few friends, and have the group treat the winner to lunch, coffee, drinks, karaoke, etc. If you’re doing it on your own, set a goal for usage, and treat yourself to something really silly once you get there. One of those audio birthday cards with an outrageous song is a good treat. Or chocolate. But y’all know my obsession about that.
Old Fart Bingo: Like Gunner Bingo in law school—best played by a group. Pick an annoying partner/coworker habit, and track it for a few days or a week. Whoever gets the most hits, wins. We played this in one firm I worked at with a partner who was one of the crappiest writers I have ever worked with, yet edited everyone’s work to death. (The contest was to see who got the most ridiculous edit.) Seriously, he even edited the boilerplate from the Fed.R.Civ.Pro. once—at which point we had to call the game, because who can beat that?
Dress Up Day: Go to Target, the dollar store, Walgreen’s, or somewhere similar and find some kid dress up accessories, like tiaras, crowns, capes, swords, long fingernails, vampire teeth, sparkly hats, boas, etc. Or during Halloween season, get the grown-up sizes! Wear the accessory every time you have to do something really loathsome at work, like review documents, revise boilerplate, research the world’s most obscure and meaningless legal question, etc. Variation: wear the accessory all day. Even better variation: Assume the role for as much of the day as possible. For example if you chose a sword, channel Sir Cadogan and issue challenges to all who enter your office.
It Takes a Village: Find some small toy-sized figures, and re-create your work environment, with a twist. If you do this around Halloween, find ghosts, skeletons, mummies, etc.—small candles in figure shapes can work too. Lego minifigures are another way to go. Or go to a toy shop and find a bunch of toy figures that reflect your theme—medieval castle, graveyard, jailhouse, the North Pole—whatever you pick. Name your figures, though you might not want to label Ebenezer Scrooge with his alias for all to see. When a particular person in your village annoys you, pelt the figure of him/her with rubber bands. If you pick this funtastic idea, I beg you to send me pictures!
Which one should you pick? The one that makes you giggle with anticipation, of course.
Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who always had some toys in her office, even as a repressed lawyer. She coaches attorneys who want to get serious about having more fun in their lives. She begs you to drop her a line, preferably with photos (that won’t be published without express permission!) of your own silly day creations at jalvey AT jenniferalvey.com.