Do you ever feel like everything you do is for someone else — be it clients, colleagues, staff, family members, the kid at the door selling candy bars to fund his class trip — when, truth be told, you are feeling pretty darn needy yourself?
Most of us feel that way from time to time, but if you can’t shake it off, something must be done!
Do Something Nice for Yourself
It’s time to stop waiting for someone else to do something nice for you. Let me suggest a few ways to do something nice for yourself.
Take a “me” day. I know, I know. I can hear you building your argument for why you can’t afford to take a day off right now. Well, I’d argue that you can’t afford not to. As you get more stressed, you get more tired and your resources become more depleted. It’s like my grandmother used to say: “More haste, less speed.” If you keep up at this pace, you’ll soon be going backwards! So get out your smartphone and block out an entire day within the next two weeks. Tell everyone in the office you will be unavailable. Resist any temptation to schedule things over your free day, or to move it forward on your calendar. Carpe that diem! How are you going to spend that time? See the next item.
Indulge yourself. Schedule a spa day. Head to the driving range. Splurge on spring clothes. Sit down with your partner and plan a big vacation. Pick out new deck furniture. Hire a personal trainer. Heck, meet with an architect to talk about adding a workout room onto your house. Go look at new cars. Take in a basketball game. Take yourself — all by yourself — to dinner in the best place in town. Or simply putter around the house — when was the last time you had a chance to do that?
Learn about something you don’t need. We’re not talking CLE here. Pick something that intrigues you and has absolutely nothing to do with work. The 10,000 Year Clock. Hadrian’s Wall. Khmer Empire. Sewing skills. Hoverbarges. Portuguese. You might read a book about it, study up online, watch a film, take a course, hire a coach … take Uncle Ken up on his offer to teach you to fly-fish. It’s not too late to try flamenco if you’d like. Or Capoeira. Maybe Basejumping? There’s a reason they call them broadening experiences — they broaden your perspective.
Maybe you need to start small. Perhaps you’re right and it really will be impossible to get away from the office in the next few weeks. But, boy-howdy, do you ever need a pick-me-up! So let’s make this something that will improve the quality of those long hours. Music? Invest in a setup that will allow you to do all that hard work in the company of your iPhone. Or maybe your lighting sucks. If it’s fluorescent, go get some pink light or natural light replacements. Your eyes will thank you. Dial up an ergonomics check for your chair and desk, then fine-tune things. Sometimes moving your office furniture around to get a different view of the world is all you need for a little fresh perspective.
Fire that horrible client. Finally, once you’ve taken a breath and refreshed your outlook, why not do something extra nice for yourself and other people in your office, too? Now and then, recognizing that a bad client-lawyer relationship isn’t helping anyone and severing the relationship can be really good for everyone’s stress level and self-esteem. Not 100 percent sure if you should fire that particularly nasty client? Ask your assistant. (Oh, believe me, he will know.) Then do it — following the guidelines of your state’s rules of professional conduct, of course. You’ll feel better, your assistant will feel better and, who knows, the client may feel better as well.
Merrilyn Astin Tarlton is Partner/Catalyst at Attorney at Work, a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, a member of the LMA Hall of Fame, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Follow her on Twitter @AstinTarlton.