1. Ask for help
The best time to seek help is as soon as you get stuck. Just like the nose on our face, it is incredibly difficult for us to see the thinking traps and habits that slow us down much less do anything about them. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Going it alone is just going to make your life tougher.
2. Get involved in their communities
The thriving lawyers I know are involved in their communities. This can be such activities as coaching soccer, singing in a choir, or sitting on the board of a non-profit.
3. Take breaks, weekends, and vacations
This has to be non-negotiable. Nothing will run you down faster than going full tilt without a break for weeks on end. Yes, there are times when it is necessary to burn the midnight oil, and these must be the exception, not the rule. Wondering how to do this? See points 4 through 7 below.
4. Say N0 to protect their time, priorities, and commitments
NO is one of the most important words you have in your boundary-setting arsenal. Every YES takes time away from something else. Be clear on your priorities and commitments and protect them with your NO. To learn more about this read my Positive No article on Slaw here.
5. Give up people pleasing
People pleasing was useful when we were kids and when we grow up no longer serves us so well. The best way to truly please the important people in our life is to have a grasp on our priorities and commitments and to protect these, so we are dependable and trustworthy. Watch out for the insidious need to take on more obligations than you can handle because of wanting to please, or not to displease, someone.
6. Work in teams
Legal work can be complicated, labour intensive, and unpredictable. Lawyers who don’t build teams of colleagues they can rely on have no one to delegate to, no one to strategize with, and take too much on their shoulders alone.
Building a team can be hard and sometimes there isn’t enough reliable help available. I encourage all of my clients who don’t have the people they need in-house to get one or more research lawyers on retainer.
7. Use technology to do more, faster
If you aren’t already, become an adopter of technological solutions to help you automate, organize, draft, time keep, bill, and manage the practice more efficiently.
Make it part of your habit to review your systems and processes once or twice a year to look for opportunities for upgrading or bringing in new support technologies.
8. Engage in activities that calm the mind
Our brains need breaks to recharge. The best way to do this on a daily basis is to engage in activities that give the mind a stillness break. I have clients who run, swim, or do yoga to get this respite. Others meditate. Whatever it is for you, make sure it is something you get at least a little bit of every day.
9. Set their definitions of success
In legal practice, there is a lot of opportunity for making your own choices about the life you wish to lead. Firms do try to push you in a particular direction, and it is essential to be aware of your options and make your own decisions about what a successful life means for you. For some of my clients, it meant moving out of town and working remotely. For other clients, it was about deciding how much they wanted to work. For others, it was about taking paternity leave. Do make choices that suit you. Do imagine the life you want to lead and take action to make that happen.
10. Develop themselves and others
Thriving lawyers are always seeking to improve themselves. They embrace life-long learning. They also invest in and enjoy mentoring and sponsoring others. They are helping chart the path forward to a better, healthier future, for themselves and others in the profession.