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The Healthy Lawyer: Try Something New

Being a lawyer can be interesting and challenging, but it can also be tedious and boring.  Most lawyers have probably experienced both sides of this spectrum at some point in their careers. Perhaps you have the opportunity to work on interesting cases, but at other times find yourself reviewing mountains of seemingly indecipherable financial documents on a case you wish would just go away. Whatever the situation may be, everyone is unique and will be bored or challenged by different aspects of her job.  If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut at work, any unhappiness or dissatisfaction you feel probably carries over into other areas of your life.  An imbalance in one area often throws everything else off-kilter.

Introducing new and novel experiences into your life outside of work can not only make life more fun and increase your sense of adventure, but it can also have benefits for your work life as well. The key is to find activities that push you outside your comfort zone into an area of change and growth.  You’ll gain new insight and confidence in yourself that will help you in all areas of your life. Here are a few suggestions that will not only help you feel healthier and happier, but will arguably make you a better lawyer.

Get Off Your Behind

Try a new sport, or enter a 5K charity race or run. Join a hiking club, try rollerblading, whatever floats your boat. Get a team together and try something fun like a mud run. Here’s one that sounds like a blast: Shape Diva Dash.  When was the last time you got to run an obstacle course? There are also Groupon style sites like Zozi geared towards unique experiences.  Working out for some people can sometimes feel like a chore, but if you are having fun while exercising, it can energize you and help you push through those long hours studying or working.  The benefits of physical exercise are well known, and as an added bonus, research shows that physical activity helps fight off depression and reduce anxiety.  What lawyer or law student couldn’t benefit from that?

Take an Improv Class

The typical image of a lawyer by those outside the field is usually based on a TV stereotype – lots of courtroom drama filled with explosive and impassioned arguments.  The reality, however, is that most lawyers spend most of their time outside the courtroom, working at a desk in front of a computer.  There may be a tendency to remain complacent behind that desk, but even for transactional lawyers, it is useful to feel comfortable being in the spotlight.  Taking an improv class is a great way to improve your public speaking skills, and get over your fear of judgment and criticism. It will also help you develop a thicker skin and learn to think on your feet. Hey, if you can handle a tough crowd, maybe you’ll be all that more equipped to handle a tough witness or opposing counsel.

Try Toastmasters

Along the same lines, taking a public speaking class or a joining a public speaking organization such as Toastmasters is a great way to improve your oratory skills.  You’ll learn how to project the confidence necessary to speak to all types of people.  It’s not only helpful for trial lawyers, but also for anyone who wants to assume a leadership position at her firm or organization.  And after the initial jitters, you may actually find yourself having fun.

Join a Group – Solo

Most lawyers and law students are familiar with bar association networking events. A lot of my fellow lawyer friends usually find them to be a drag.  Part of it is not wanting to experience the potential awkwardness or discomfort of going to an event to try and network with a room full of strangers.  These events, however, are a necessary evil if you’re looking for a new job or to expand your professional contacts and resources.

Join a group such as a volunteer organization related to something you are interested in -something you have always thought would be fun or rewarding to do but never made time for. Meetup.com has a plethora of activities.  Going by yourself may force you outside of your comfort zone where you’ll meet new people instead of sticking to a friend the whole time that you may have dragged along.  Once you realize it’s really not that bad, you may be more inclined to go to a bar association or legal networking event.

If none of these activities seem like your cup of tea, no problem. Tailor your new experiences to what you are interested in.  If there are any hobbies or activities you abandoned or put on the backburner once you entered law school or started working, now’s the time to reconsider them.  We all crave new experiences in our lives.  One researcher even cities the ability of human’s to respond to new and novel experiences as a reason for our species’ success.  What are some new activities you want to try? How do you think it will bring balance to your life and work?

2 Comments

Flynn

Thanks for this great post on trying new things. I totally agree that changing habits and routines to get out of your comfort zone and have fun are powerful tools for creativity, meeting friends, being a better, happier lawyer, and so much more! And I fully agree that improv, public speaking, volunteering and meeting new people are wonderful ways to become a more effective (and joyful) attorney.

VictoriaSA

Thanks for sharing these useful tips. I think they are also applicable to other jobs as well, not just a lawyer. I agree that engaging in active sports and fun activities that require socializing will really help a worker de-stress. The mind needs to get stimulated as often as possible with things that are not work-related. This way, it will be healthy and the worker will eventually experience a mentally fit state of mind. Not only will the worker be a more healthy and positive one, but her work performance will be increased and her social life will improve too.
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