It’s true, there are only a certain number of hours in a day. And, for every hour lawyers have, there are probably have 3 things vying for it. (Or maybe 30.) So you overbooked and overcommitted lawyers have decisions to make about how to allot that time. I’m gonna to make a wild guess here that you haven’t gotten any peace yet about what to leave in and what to leave out. Particularly, I’m guessing you haven’t figured out how to fit a soul-searching career switch into your schedule.
Here’s the thing: Don’t squeeze it in. Make it one of your top priorities. Give it the energy it deserves.
Now I know that some of you are looking at your Blackberries and your triple-booked calendars and are having heart palpitations. You already don’t have enough time! How can you add in yet another thing?
Here’s how: By letting things go–the unimportant things.
Make Your Life Rocky
Franklin-Covey makes a lot of money using this bedrock principle in its planners and time-management classes. I don’t much care for the their calendars and time management system—it’s way too tedious and checkbox-oriented for a go-with-the-flow-and-improvise P like me (P of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator persuasion). But I did take away one really important concept from the Franklin-Covey class I once took: Put the important things, the “big rocks” of your life, first. They are the things that if you look back on your week, you will be deeply satisfied that you spent time on them.
Another way to look at Big Rocks is as the stones you need to have in the stream that is your life. If you have them, you can get across using those stepping stones and your feet/legs/body won’t get soaked. They stabilize you and make your path through life easier and infinitely better to walk.
It’s true, you might be able to build up enough stream bed with the pebbles of meetings, useless busyness that produces nothing, satisfying others’ agendas, and going to the dry-cleaners—but one good storm can wash that illusory support away.
Big rocks aren’t one particular thing. They differ by what truly matters to you–what gives your life meaning and purpose. But just to get you thinking, I’ll share my big rocks:
- Family: listening, guiding, and cooking. Occasionally cleaning;
- Creativity: not letting the novel or other creative endeavors get shoved into “when I have the time” limbo;
- Making the world a better place: one client and blog post at a time;
- Nurturing self: getting enough sleep, good nutrition, beating back that persistent jackass of perfectionism;
- Community: my creativity group, my choir, my church, my son’s school, my town;
- Spirituality and values: living in alignment with my bedrock beliefs;
- Learning: reading, taking classes, talking with others and paying attention to the world around me.
Rock Your Calendar
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that many of you are feeling like your daily life and your Big Rocks only meet about once a month for a 5-minute quickie. That’s not enough, if you want a life and a career that sustains and feeds your soul.
So how do you get from where you are to where you want to be? To start, make it a point to include one Big Rock daily. Schedule it like an appointment with a doctor that you had to wait 6 weeks to see. Make it that unbreakable.
Now I know you’re thinking Big Rock=big time commitment, but it ain’t necessarily so. I spend maybe half and hour on my novel most days. But it’s a huge rock, and by 7 a.m. most days, I’ve accomplished something incredibly important to me.
Go ahead, spend the next few days figuring out your Big Rocks. Then start scheduling them in, relentlessly and ferociously. And if you get a couple weeks into the process and aren’t making progress, drop me a line.
Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who coaches unhappy attorneys on making what matters a priority. Find out what it’s like to have a life aligned with things that are truly important to your happiness—try a discounted sample coaching session. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule yours today. It’s an hour that can work amazing changes in your life!