Liz Vaysman

The Rule of 8: Gaining Control of the Unknowns

Before heading to college, my best friend's dad gave us some advice.  He said you will succeed as long as you follow the 8/8/8 rule - 8 hours of school, 8 hours of play, and 8 hours of sleep.  I followed these rules to a "T" in college and it paid off.  I was able to balance academic productivity with health and maintain a social life.  Of course sometimes I strayed off course, but for the most part, this worked.

Now, 8 years after starting college, I'm realizing that I need to set some similar guidelines for myself.  I've been in a strange limbo for the past several months.  I graduated from a decent law school in a city filled with lawyers and also with one of the highest growing job markets in the country.  I studied and sat for the bar, then began applying and networking as much as possible.  I maintained a part time job, loaned money from my family, and even did some freelance work.  Now, months later, I found out that I did not pass the bar and I also still do not have a full time career.

As you can imagine, I have found it hard to control certain aspects of my life that are quite deterring.  However, being incredibly stubborn has paid off.  I definitely get upset and sleep more than ever, but for the most part, I am still happy and highly motivated.  I finally have the time to give back to my body, which I rarely had in law school, exercising and eating healthy, and am able to be there for my family as much as I can.  

I know I am not alone in this position and that it is not unusual, but I refuse to continue to let the areas that I can't control overshadow those which I can.  I'm realizing it is time to make a change, and a tangible one that I can see.  Moving forward, I am going to follow a new 8/8/8 rule.  Every day I will make 8 moves towards my career, 8 towards my health, and 8 towards stability.  I will list them out each day, at least through the end of this year, with the idea that such actions will become part of my daily routine.  Yes there is already a spreadsheet involved.

Career examples include job applications, informational interviews, reaching out to friends for help, and attending seminars.  Health examples include fitness, sleep, eating healthy, and also omitting some things maybe I should not be doing.  Stability examples include everything from helping others, paying my credit card and balancing my loans, de-cluttering my closet, and maintaining a connection and grasp with my family and friends.

I'm not sure if this will work, but I know it will show me tangible steps that I am taking moving forward.  I will be able to see a list of moves I have made every day for a few months towards bettering a not-so-good situation.  In our profession and in my position there are often many unknowns and uncontrollable forces.  By making small and even seemingly minute changes everyday, I hope to regain control where possible and create my own “knowns” moving forward.

Please share any advice or tactics that have worked for you.  Only positive thoughts please!



Liz: Your positive attitude will take you a million miles.  Recognizing that you’re feeling out of control and that your 8/8/8 rule will help you feel more in control and, more importantly, give you a tangible way to check boxes, is very impressive!  Everyone has bumps in the road and we never know when they will come.  For some it is the sudden loss of a beloved family member in the midst of a busy time in their career.  For others it is an unexpected bump in the road toward professional certification.  For still others, it is a rude awakening when their own body and health responds to the often grueling pace we keep in our profession.  Earlier this week, we announced Ms. JD’s Seventh Annual Conference: Stronger Together.  Although many would say my career and my life are relatively short, I can say that what I’ve learned through both is that we are stronger when we are supported by others.  Thus, I would add a Rule of 1 to your 8/8/8 rule.  Each day, make one of your tasks toward health, career, and stability be about connection.  Connect with us here at Ms. JD to ask for support like you did in this post.  Call a friend to ask for his or her help as a workout buddy or to borrow a dog for a walk/run (exercise is ALWAYS better with a furry friend!).  Reach out to communities like Learnvest or Daily Worth to connect about stability.  Or connect with a friend about job support while checking out a free Smithsonian.  Alright, you get the idea.  My point is, you are not alone!  Your committed go-getter attitude will take you to the places you want to go and be deepening your connections along with your 8/8/8 rule, I think you will find that we can all be Stronger Together!  KMLW


Liz- This is such an inspiring, thoughtful post. Thank you so much for sharing.


Liz, great post!  I definitely admire your positive attitude! You might enjoy reading the “Happiness Project” written by a former lawyer. It has a lot of small steps you can take each day to keep yourself on track.


Also, this is Heather.  I didn’t remember that I had this random Lawyer251 screenname.  Have to change that.

Courtney Gabbara

Liz, I am so impressed and inspired by your post. Knowing how it feels to fail the bar, it can be crushing to a person’s self-esteem. If only a post like yours was around during those days! I wish there was advice to give, but you have pretty much summarized and surpassed what could be given. You are a rock star!

Write a comment

Please login to comment

Remember Me

Become a Member

FREE online community for women in the legal profession.



Subscribe to receive regular updates, news, and events from Ms. JD.

Connect with us

Follow or subscribe