The topic of work-life balance is popular. It's popular because many people are chasing someone else's concept of balance instead of trusting themselves with the ability to figure out what works for them.
Attorneys tend to trust themselves less than other people because we've been trained to trust precedent and not cite ourselves as source. But, attorneys may have more potential to find solutions because we know how to break large challenges into manageable parts.
So, let's start breaking it down. We all have to work, and we'll dive into that topic over the next few months, but today, let's start working on the "life" side of the equation. Work-life balance requires you to GET A LIFE. If you don't have a life WORTH balancing, you'll never make any progress.
What does your life look like without your work? Is your personal life enviable? We're not talking about your toys or your bank account. We're talking about your relationships.
Let's be blunt—are you working too much because you want to (even subconsciously) avoid dealing with poor relationships?
Just so you know I'm not preaching, this happened to me. I got married to the wrong woman (for me) right after college. A few years into the marriage I was a dedicated workaholic. I spent weekends in the office and spent as many nights at networking events as I could. I thought I was doing this to get ahead in my career, but I knew I was doing it because I'd rather spend time dealing with the challenges at work than dealing with the challenges of my marriage.
There is no way to even get close to a manageable work-life balance if your home life isn't happy. If you're using work to hide from life, stop now. There's nothing you can do at work to make your life happy until your non-work life is something you look forward to. It just can't happen.
It's time to make a conscious choice to get your home life in order. Here's one of my favorite quotes:
"The most profound choice in life is to either accept things as they exist or to accept the responsibility for changing them." ~From The Universal Traveler by Don Koberg and Jim Bagnall
If you're home life isn't happy, it's time to make a choice to change it. If you accept an unhappy home life, you're killing yourself. There's no way around that. You have to accept the personal responsibility to get your home life in order. That is obviously a challenge or it wouldn't be an issue.
Ask for help: There is no shame in asking for help. There is only shame in ignoring issues that hurt you, your family, and everyone else in your life. Step up. Schedule a meeting with a counselor or if you don't like the sound of "counselor" talk with a "coach."
Define the issue: Most of the time, we're too close to our problems to recognize them. That's why we tend to only have vague feelings that something isn't right. Having a professional take an objective look at what you're dealing with has huge benefit because as you know, there is always more value in identifying the problem than in providing the solution. Your counselor/coach will help define the issue. It's up to you to figure out a solution.
Talk with your spouse or significant other: Have the grown-up conversation. If you are afraid to talk to your spouse, recognize the clue. Usually, your spouse will be all about helping make changes to improve both of your lives. Sometimes those changes are easy. Sometimes the change might be to go separate ways. Know that everyone, even you, deserves to be happy.
Make the changes: Take action. Get your life back. This is something only you can do. It's the beginning of a process that will help you reach your full potential as a human. It's why you're on the planet. Don't waste one more day of your life ignoring that vague sense that something needs improvement.
Get a life. Even better, get YOUR life. We'll tackle the "work" part of work-life balance next time.
Kevin Houchin is a lawyer, graphic designer, husband, father and creative spirit. In his law practice, Houchin & Associates P.C., Kevin advises creative people on how to maximize creativity, build businesses, and protect intellectual property. He is also the founder of The Space Between Center for Creative Spirit in Business, a unique mentorship program designed to equip, inspire and position lawyers and other entrepreneurs to attract and serve their ideal clients in the information age. From vital flat-fee billing schedules to advanced internet marketing strategies, no subject is left uncovered in this groundbreaking mastermind program.
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by David Mills
Courtoons are the creation of David Mills, an Ohio appellate lawyer who works with litigants and law firms involved in civil and criminal cases in federal courts across the country. Visit David's law firm website at www.MillsFederalAppeals.com
Video of the Month: Why Bob Marley Should Not Have Acted as His Own Attorney
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by Suzan Charlton, Esq.
For all those taking the bar exam this month, here's a cheat sheet for the MPRE:
Suzan Charlton is a professional cartoonist who is rumored to practice insurance coverage law as a hobby for a major Washington D.C. law firm. Her cartoons cover a wide range of law-related topics, from law school grades to law firm romance.
Song of the Month: The Billable Hour Minuet
Lyrics by Toni Haleen; Music by Toni Haleen and Shirley Mier
If you can, bill every moment
Every moment has potential
To be charged to a client
Charging Clients is essential
Billable, billable, etc.
I think about the law all day and even in my dreams
Billing clients is my life,
I feel it coursing through my bloodstream
My brain power is astounding,
The gears are always clicking
I am thinking for my clients
And the clock is always ticking
We count the days in minutes, making every second count
If you want to bill your client,
you have got to write it down
Write down what you did, what you read, what you wondered
Write down who you talked to, what you said and what you pondered