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The Mental Load: Is Impatience a Virtue for Type A Personalities?

I made a quick stop at the grocery store recently to grab a gallon of milk. As I hurried out, the automatic doors opened WAY too slow for my liking. I mean, I practically had to stop dead in my tracks and WAIT for the doors so I could resume my desired pace. You’d think by now they’d make automatic doors that function a little quicker, right? If it hadn’t been for my recent study of Type A personality, I would have ended my train of thought with this agitated observation about the ineptitude of the doors. But I’ve been…

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The Mental Load: Learning to Say “No”

Learning to say “no” is touted as an essential component of reducing stress, overwhelm, and burnout. If you’d like to do a little brushing up on this concept, here’s a fantastic refresher from my friend Nikki who writes an amazing blog aimed at empowering women. Following her tips in your daily life will help you hone your “No” skills. But in the professional context, things can get complex. Apart from examining your true desires, following your intuition, and being honest with yourself and others, you’re flooded with extra factors and influences that can make a “no” especially hard to dole…

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The Mental Load: Unlock the Golden Handcuffs

Feeling trapped in a job, career, or any other aspect of your life can be crippling. For a handful of years, I felt trapped in the BigLaw life. We all know the “golden handcuffs” analogy, but viewing things now “from the other side”, I’m here to tell you that you are not imprisoned. Unless you truly are in prison, you have a choice every morning when you wake up about what you’re going to do that day. No really, you do! You’ve heard the saying “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Whatever type of…

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The Mental Load: Are You Plagued by Perfectionism?

Perfectionism seems to be the target of numerous attacks lately. Psychology-slanted articles describe it as an affliction that is “a very bad thing” – causing crippling fear of failure, procrastination, unrealistic standards, and low self-esteem. Business coaches preach the gospel of “launch before perfection”, and a recent article in Entrepreneur magazine (incidentally, authored by a former law firm associate), goes so far as to postulate that “Perfectionism is THE [emphasis added] biggest obstacle to productivity” and “If you won't send something until it is perfect, you’re not pulling the trigger quickly enough.” Call me sick if you want, but I…

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The Mental Load: There’s No App for Work-Life Balance…but Property Law Might Help

Whether you’re on team Sandberg or team Slaughter, you’ve probably realized by now that nobody “has it all”. Exhibit A: Michelle Obama's candid slip when discussing techniques for achieving the elusive work-life balance: “That $%#& doesn’t work all the time.” Despite the polarizing opinions on work-life balance (or work-life integration, if you prefer), there’s one thing all women have in common: we want things to be better, both collectively and individually. But with an overabundance of advice on how to get something that we've established doesn’t actually exist, it’s easy to feel like this whole dialogue is muddling into meaningless mush…

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The Mental Load: I Couldn’t Care Less About My Job

Caring drives success in any endeavor. And caring, by its nature, requires emotional investment. While some career guidance cautions that “emotional investment is normally a stigma you want to avoid in the workplace”, an authentic caring-based approach to your substantive work, your relationships with colleagues, and your personal goals can not only steer you clear of the emotional turmoil caused by acting in discord with your true instincts, but also pay off in spades. Caring helps a lawyer empathize with clients to provide meaningful insight and guidance. Caring leads to identifying and inventing deeper and more creative arguments and solutions.…

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The Mental Load: Unpacking the Excess Baggage

The Mental Load column explores the paradoxical effects of Type A personality traits. The perfectionism, drive, and ambition that propel women lawyers up the career ladder also tend to contribute to chronic stress, burnout, anxiety, and attrition from the profession. I’m going to dive right in with this first post at what seems like the logical starting point – the actual mental load. Why The Mental Load is Extra Intense for Successful Professional Women The “mental load”, despite being a creature of recent cultural debate, is very real. Shouldering the lion’s share of a household’s innumerable responsibilities leaves many women…

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Career Advice: Sometimes You Just Have to Say “%^&* ‘Em!”

As a young associate, my supervisor was a stressed-out, unpredictable, yet unfalteringly transparent mid-level partner. I’d approach his office with the typical timidity of a newly minted lawyer soliciting input from an esteemed superior, praying my question was warranted and his mood would be receptive. Sometimes, we’d have spirited intellectual discussions, and I’d leave his office wiser and with a fantastic plan for tackling a tough issue. Other days, he’d peer up from his desk with an unshaven face, tousled hair, and bags under his eyes, apparently frustrated by my mere existence, and apologize because he didn’t have two minutes…

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