Do you have any professional habits that you are not quite pleased with? Now is the time to take a closer look at your values, goals, projects and decide which ones you want to keep and which to toss in the upcoming year. I know, it’s easier to make New Year’s resolutions than to follow through with them. However, as the saying goes, if you don’t like the results, you better start doing something different. Do you share any of the dubious traits below that afflict the legal profession? If so, how are they working for you?
- Over-commitment. In the world where billable hours rule, what lawyer is not guilty of an extra-heavy work load? When does much work become too much? Only you can tell, and it’s worth, at least, thinking about.
- Prolonged stress. Stress is OK once in a while, but the long-term stress can damage your immune system, cause anxiety and depression and lead to a burn-out. Stress also affects you intellectual competence and learning. To assess your stress level and find out about stress management techniques, check out the stress management resources from Mind Tools.
- Are you a control freak? Do you have a need to be right all the time? Do you feel you know what’s best for your family and friends? Do you have to do all the important work yourself or check and re-check everybody else’s work? If so, you may appear quite annoying to others, and it may affect your relationships. In addition, you probably have a hard time relaxing. Try to be kind instead of being right.
- Combativeness. Arguing and assigning blame is what lawyers do for a living. Sometimes, it is difficult to suppress the urge to argue in other aspects of our lives. A good start is to build awareness of our tendencies and notice the triggers.
- Negativity. Lawyers are on the lookout for everything that can go wrong, that’s what makes them good lawyers. What’s bad is when they are so focused on the negative beyond their jobs that they can’t see the bright side of life. It turns out that happy people may even be more productive, according to Get Happy!! and Work Better from Productivity Goal. A gratitude journal may help you to cultivate a more positive outlook (see my post on Gratitude).
- Communicating in Legalese. Please be advised that the aforementioned habit can be hazardous to other people’s brains. Hyperlinked please find a very helpful post entitled Unlearning bad habits from the (new) legal writer. Plain English is en vogue.
What habits do you want to unlearn? Comments are always welcome!