Especially for lawyers, many of us love, love, love to be in our heads and not so much in our bodies. Exercise is usually one of the first things to go when the work demands really ratchet up. Lawyers also tend to bring their perfectionistic tendencies into their views on exercise. Shocking, right? If they can’t do a full hour of a complete and demanding workout, they won’t do one at all. This is one of they myriad ways that lawyers are brittle and not resilient. The all-or-nothing attitude leads to important but not urgent stuff simply not getting done.
Where you focus your thoughts determines where your energy flows. Give a gratitude list a whirl for a couple weeks, and see if your thoughts don’t zap your energy so much. Maybe you’ll gain enough positive juju to come up with a new career direction.
What if you got off the prestige/ conspicuous consumption/ externalization train, and thought about your life through the lens of the things that are important to your soul, rather than the things that you make important out of fear?
It is simply pure joy to dwell for 45 minutes in possibilities while on a fun date with yourself. Planning for projects goes on in the deep recesses of your brain for quite a while afterwards, and will at some point spring forth. That’s what these dates do—they get your mental wheels turning, and give your brain something fun and stimulating to chew on, rather than the spit and vinegar your inner critic would choke you and your happiness on.
If your work doesn’t a hefty dose of inherent meaning for you, that lack can be the trigger for depression, rather than the symptom of it. Particularly when you ignore your creative side, routine legal work will never have enough meaning to combat unhappiness or depression. You just can’t get the ratio of creative: routine/boring/tedious work high enough.
The good news—actually, great news—is that you can start very small to make transformational changes in your life. As long as you keep at it, you will make the big changes in your life eventually. Think of Apollo 13—they only needed to change their trajectory in cold, dark space by a few degrees, and by doing so, they saved their lives. Finding work-life balance, or a whole new career, can be just like that.
Law firms, I am convinced, house one of the highest concentrations of crazymakers of any work environment. There are lots of reasons for this, but if you work with one, the why of how crazymakers rule the roost matters so much less than the how of dealing with them until you can make good your escape.