I hear lawyers complain about diminishing fulfillment in the practice. Reports of “overly-aggressive lawyers,” “needy clients,” and “stressful time pressures,” dominate the complaint list. A lot of lawyers tell me that they are burned out.
There are many outside causes for diminishing fulfillment. And much that any lawyer can do in order to simultaneously increase their professional success and personal fulfillment. It requires taking a leadership role over the quality of your life. You cannot be a victim to anyone or anything else, that will get you nowhere. Taking 100% responsibility over your mind’s interpretations of outside stresses, however, will take you far. I don’t say this lightly, though any lawyer is able to significantly improve the quality of their life if they have the tools.
For the past eight months, I have been writing a step-by-step program to coach lawyers to do just that. This program will be enlightening and meaningful and I am already proud of what it will offer. The program will be called Thrive, JD, and will not launch until early 2013. So I’ll hold off talking too much about it now. Though I want to introduce three categories of mental interpretation that manifest as significant obstacles to fulfillment and well-being.
1. Self-Judgment – Many lawyers judge themselves. We beat ourselves up for our mistakes. As opposed to accepting and forgiving the past, we accumulate our mistakes as evidence for pretty harsh self-judgment. For the most part, these judgments are irrational, overly-exaggerated and abusive. And we project these self-judgments onto others which compounds the problem for it harms our relationships. Give yourself a break, you probably lack the perspective for such harsh judgments.
2. Limiting Beliefs – A second category of mental self-abuse is what are called limiting beliefs. These are beliefs that we hold that tell us that we are limited in our abilities or opportunities. We tell ourselves that we are “too busy to enjoy life more,” or “not capable of having a great life as a lawyer.” We are making this stuff up. Though the very act of believing will cause them to become self-fulfilling prophesies. Go for it; don’t hold yourself back with the belief that you are limited.
3. Negative Future Fantasy – Speaking of making stuff up, a lot of us tend to make up negative futures. We don’t know what the future will bring, but we imagine all kinds of problems for ourselves. There may be a part of our lawyer training. Though if this becomes a fully ingrained habit, our brains believe danger is ahead, and we prepare ourselves for this imagined danger. This is called anxiety, the physiological response to a made up future danger. Most of us do it, and it is very harmful to our health and well-being. So if you are going to make up the future, you might as well win in your own fantasies. It feels a lot better and encourages creativity.
This is a small introduction to the types of topics that Thrive, JD will cover. The ultimate aim of the program will be to coach lawyers to define and take action to achieve a more successful and fulfilled life. Participants will also learn more than 35 leadership, counseling and coaching skills that will become a toolbox for a lifetime of success and fulfillment.
Stay tuned for more …