As an attorney fighting a relentless battle with burnout, what’s your source of comfort? It’s easy to heed the calls of alcohol and mind-altering substances or wear a humbug smile to escape criticism from colleagues.
These aren’t proper ways to deal with burnout. On the contrary, they increase frustration and onboard additional problems.
Making life changes to deal with burnout seems difficult when you have growing responsibilities and financial obligations. However, it isn’t impossible.
How can you deal with burnout and live a more fulfilling life? Consider these suggestions.
Take a Hard Look at Your Priorities
Are you married to law?
Is it your first love?
There’s no shame in admitting that you love being a lawyer (and do a spanking good job at it). Finding enjoyment in your career boosts self-esteem and self-assurance. It also supplies your family with its needs.
However, could it be that there’s no boundary between your work and family life? When most people are questioned about their priorities, family and health usually top the list. These are the two factors that suffer most when you’re burned out.
The love you have for your family should help you assess your priorities. Granted, you’re working hard to provide for their needs, but what’s the catch? Would they want you to sacrifice your health trying to amass more than they need?
Can you honestly see yourself in good health (or alive) in the next 5 years if your situation doesn’t change?
Remember what you’re working for. Your loved ones prefer to have you around and in good health.
How About a Vacation?
Working those ridiculous hours at the office is suicidal. Your health could tank trying to put in 60 to 80 hours each week to settle billable hours.
It’s high time you grabbed your stuff and hit the road for a well-deserved vacation. This vacation is going to be different. Strive for a workless vacation.
No glancing at your cellphone to check office emails. No administrative work or follow-ups with clients. No phone calls to the office to discern if the building is still standing or set ablaze.
This should be wholly dedicated time to your family; and, if you’re a lone ranger, make the vacation about you. The aim is to spend quality time with yourself and the people you love.
Don’t try to justify why you can’t go on vacation. You’ll always have plenty of work to do at the office. It’ll never end. If it did, we’d all go jobless.
If you’re worried about vacationing during busy periods, how about sending in a request in advance? This way your absence is anticipated, and things are put in place to facilitate the leave.
No excuses. You need that vacation, and you need it fast.
That’s the only way you’ll feel refreshed and energized.
Consider the Cause of Your Burnout
The practice of law is a stressful, demanding profession.
You have strict deadlines to meet.
Your clients have different requests, all while your employer puts in endless demands. Not to mention those time-consuming administrative tasks that prevent you from getting new business.
There are so many contributing factors. But have you ever considered that you might be the source of your burnout? Could you inadvertently be magnifying the stress that comes with the profession?
If those questions make you uneasy, we’re off to a good start. It’s okay to want to move up the ranks. But sometimes in our quest for greatness and trying to outrank others, we stretch ourselves thin.
Be honest with yourself.
Your pursuit of career goals and greater income will move you to squeeze more work into an already demanding schedule.
If burning out is what it takes to advance your career, perhaps it’s not worth it.
Silence the Competition
The competitiveness of the legal business makes it difficult to stay satisfied. Everyone you know is rushing to become a senior associate, partner, or barrister.
They are progressive and making big moves.
Office politics might force you to work longer hours and say ‘yes’ to every demand. To outperform others, your career may become your master.
You don’t have to follow this ‘cutthroat’ attitude. You’re not obligated to shadow someone else’s career.
Their priorities aren’t yours.
Don’t feel small if your colleagues are seeking greater prestige.
Money doesn’t equate to happiness. The fact that you’re seeking ways to deal with burnout is a strong indicator that you aren’t happy.
Rather than compete with others, how about doing the best you can within reason? How about enjoying the journey and opportunities you have to help your clients?
How about focusing on practicing the law you love, rather than becoming entangled with office politics?
Don’t allow your colleagues to make career choices for you. You don’t have to succumb to the pressure. If you’re content with just being a regular lawyer, that’s okay.
Get Some Friends
Many attorneys allow their profession to define who they are. It’s not uncommon to respond with “I am a lawyer” when someone asks about who you are.
How about allowing your family values to identify you? When you build up a life focused on a career, it’s hard to separate your character from the profession.
A great way to separate yourself from the office is to get friends who aren’t in your line of work.
If lawyers are the only people you hook up with for drinks, work may become the main subject.
Chatting about work when you should be relaxing is a recipe for stress. Leave work-related matters at the office. You’re already dedicating a significant portion of your life there.
What if you feel like disassociating? That’s common with lawyer burnout. However, this is the time you need to be around friends. You could use the encouragement.
Let the people you love know what’s happening.
Don’t isolate yourself.
Pick Up New Interests
What if you can’t seem to make friends away from the office? Could this be substituted for a new hobby or interest?
Could you learn to golf? What about collecting and learning about precious gemstones?
Wouldn’t you like to test how many books you can read in a week, all while retaining the information?
The possibilities of what you can explore are endless.
Whatever you choose, it must be something you have an interest in or passion for. This hobby should bring you joy and take you away from the stress of thinking about work.
Even if you’re unable to dedicate enough time to this hobby, get started.
You’ll be amazed at what spending 5 to 20 minutes each day doing what you love can do for burnout.
Get a Coach
How about getting a coach?
You’ve probably never considered this step, but it could change your situation. A life coach’s job is to help you transform your life.
You’ll have a listening ear, and a qualified professional to help you set your priorities straight and experience greater fulfillment in your career.
If you’re interested in learning about how you can deal with burnout through assistance from a life coach, schedule a free 30-minute session and let’s have a heart-to-heart.
Simplify Your Life
Another way to deal with burnout is to make your life simple. This means developing the courage to say ‘no’ to certain work requests.
It also means negotiating with your employer to work fewer hours. This is possible, but your employer must be assured that you’ll not underperform, and get your job done successfully.
If you can strike a deal that’s mutually beneficial to your health and employer, you’ll have ample time to rest and engage in non-work-related activities.
However, simply cutting back on hours doesn’t always solve the problem. You may have to consider another source of employment, as some lawyers have. This is in extreme cases, especially if the love you had for the profession has waned, and your health has plummeted.
Don’t think you need to hold on to your job at the risk of your health. If you feel you won’t survive if you continue in this profession, do what you must. Either way, if you don’t deal with your situation, you may be forced to leave your job by your employer.
We all have to make hard decisions. However, knowing the good that will come about makes them easier to handle. Protect your health. Sometimes we don’t get several choices, only one.