Tuesday, 15 November 2011

How you can be the best lawyer without giving up everything else

When I work with lawyers, I initially ask them to evaluate all areas of their life, not just their career.  The reason for this is because a career does not exist in isolation.  It affects all areas of life such as health, relationships and hobbies.  Think about it:

How many times have you cancelled a social engagement because you have had to work late?

How often do you feel tired and stressed out of work because you have too much work to do or are not enjoying work?

From carrying out this evaluation, it is often discovered that the individual’s work-life balance is very much focused on work and there is little focus on anything else.   Furthermore, despite wanting more time to keep in contact with friends and family, to pursue interests left behind at the beginning of their training contract or to feel less stressed out of work, the individual can’t see how this can be achieved.   There is so much pressure to work long hours, get everything right and be the best at what they do, how can lawyers possibly have time for anything else?

You want to be the best lawyer.

The work of a lawyer can therefore dominate an individual’s life causing their work-life balance to suffer.  Without realising it, they start giving up everything else to be the best.

What now?

Feelings of stress and unhappiness are commonly experienced by lawyers when they are dissatisfied with their work-life balance and these feelings can eventually have a knock-on effect on their productivity and performance in work.

Are you now the best lawyer?

Allowing your work-life balance to suffer therefore does not necessarily make you the best lawyer.

If you feel you have given up everything to be the best at what you do and are feeling the strain, start making some changes.  Build things into your life from areas other than work and start making other commitments.  Do some exercise, pursue a hobby and arrange to meet friends.    Think how much more motivated you will be at work when you know you have other things to look forward to in your day.

Also, perhaps review your working day and start making changes to enhance your performance and productivity.  For example, how much time do you spend worrying about a difficult meeting with a client?  Can this time have been spent doing something else or seeking advice from acolleague on how to tackle the meeting?

Take one step at a time until you have a work-life balance that suits you. 

 If you are happy out of work, you will be even better in work.

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