SLOW DOWN, I JUST WANNA GET TO KNOW YOU!
Have you ever done that thing wherein you work so much, you take a much needed break, then you guilt trip yourself? If you’ve curated your lifestyle similar to mine then I’m sure you have had countless, unilateral negotiations about work hours and rest hours. For example, if I spend four hours on a Sunday morning reading a magazine, lounging on the couch or catching up with friends, I have to mitigate those four hours with an additional four hours of productivity or, perhaps more fitting, work (because there is a difference)!
We police ourselves to the extent that everything becomes transactional and the currency with which we bargain is always doing more to get less. B.F. Skinner is probably doing a little two-step right now because we have fashioned so much of our lives pursuant to reward and punishment. I don’t know about you, but I have become so obsessed with doing something to get something else that I have ignored material cues that tell me enough is enough. Take your to-do list for example: You have 10 items on the list and you’ve told yourself that in order to take a lunch break, you must complete five of the 10 items on that list. By item three, you’re starving, your focus is no longer conducive, and your productivity has slowed significantly. You know that you are now compromising the quality and efficiency of your work, but in order to justify the “reward” you press forward to complete the task. The positive reinforcement in this scenario is misleading. Yes, you have completed the five tasks, but at what cost? I suppose one solution to this form of restlessness is to set realistic goals and, ideally, that would yield better results. But sadly, we don’t factor in our personal needs when we are goal setting. We frame our experiences primarily as input and output—transactions.
As lawyers, legal professionals and law students, multitasking is the fabric of our existence. Just last week, I wrote six Affidavits on separate family law files, while juggling additional deadlines, meeting with clients, taking trips to court, and finessing the authorities out of a taken (Hehe). Even when we are organized and we strategize, we fall short. It’s only natural to be exhausted, but we have to do a better job at managing our time and our expectations. Factor yourself into the equation. I have personally struggled with the transactional experiences of my life, especially while trying to find the right work-life balance. I had to make a choice, weighing the needs of “the other” against the needs of “the self”. Eventually, you realize that the more you factor yourself into the equation the greater the benefit for you and those whom you are serving.
I am still finding new ways to balance my life in all its chaos, but one thing I have implemented to challenge my bad habits is date nights with myself. Once a month, I go to the movies…ALONE! I turn off my phone, I get some junk food, I sit there alone and I laugh from my gut, I cry from my soul, or I scowl from forehead. I don’t guilt myself about that time and I don’t try and make up for it. It is mine. I don’t do it because I’m rewarding myself for anything. I do not because I need a moment. That’s what’s healthy. We all need more moments of “just because”. We are lawyers. We work hard. Our profession is grounded in justification. Give yourself some credit… or at least a little more love!
What are some of your “just because” moments? Drop some below.