We’ve got just over two weeks left in the year, and I bet you’re expecting me to write something about how you can fit in a bit more business development, call one more potential client, set up one more zoom meeting this week or write another article before the year is done.
But I’m not going to do that.
The last couple of years have been exceptionally hard.
I don’t have to explain why, but I’ll say that a constant low level of anxiety and stress about what’s happening next or wondering what we can expect when we wake up in the morning (you know, that feeling of “what fresh hell is this?”) is wearing on our nerves and our bodies. It’s why we’re more tired and stressed than normal, even if we’ve had two of the most financially productive years in the legal industry in recent memory.
So yes, even though we all know that we should always be preparing for the next downturn, because we know it’s coming, my advice for you right now is to just stop.
Of course, do the client work that you need to – I wish I could say that cutting out extraneous BD and networking was going to give you back a ton of time, but I know that’s not the case.
But this is when you look at what can honestly wait. Both in terms of your practice and your business development – what calls can be rescheduled for January? Which meetings? Which appointments? Yes, there are things that must be done by calendar end – but what is truly a priority, and what is something you’ve artificially set as a priority? Trust me, when you sit down for 15 minutes and look at your to-do list, you’ll be surprised at what you can identify. Rearrange your priority list, identify the items that are most essential and even discuss them with clients as necessary. They may be just as grateful as you are to postpone certain things to the new year.
Then, make a list of the things you want to do over the next two weeks. It doesn’t have to be a long one and actually, it’s better if it’s not. What are some things you truly enjoy? Maybe it’s having a cup of coffee in complete silence or watching British crime procedurals (don’t miss out on Manhunt with Martin Clunes if that’s the case!). Maybe you want to catch some holiday classics or spend the afternoon reading a book. You could wrangle your kids for a baking or lego project or even explore a new neighborhood on a walk outside. If you’re working remotely, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that if you have children home on winter break, to keep your expectations lowered for how much you’ll be able to realistically get done anyway.
All of this is to say that even marathoners take an off-season. Yes, we all take holiday time (in the US, only sort of), but no one is designed to push themselves to the limit all of the time without burnout as a result. To be the best version of yourself, as a professional, but more importantly, as a human being, we all need to stop sometimes and take a step back, focus more on the lives around us that we’re working so hard to build, and to be grateful for them. The best way to show that gratitude is to live them.
I hope everyone has had and is having a wonderful holiday season, full of love, light, and joy.