Sunday night anxiety, that dread of Monday and the upcoming workweek that infects so many workers, actually comes early for many of us lawyers. Many of us lawyers work on Sundays. We go to the office because there is so much work to do, so many in-boxes to clean up, so many hours to be billed, so many partners to impress, so much rainmaking to do. So Sunday night anxiety for us lawyers actually could be renamed Saturday night anxiety. Or Saturday morning anxiety.
One client of mine told me that the best part of her weekend was Friday late afternoon. The week was winding down, most people had already checked out for the weekend and a calm usually came over her office and the whole downtown. But she could never enjoy her Saturdays because (you guessed it) Sunday was just another work day.
While it may take a while and a lot of hard work and a re-crafting of yourself and your profession to get to a point where you don’t have to work Sundays, you can use your Sunday work days to help you leave law behind. Here’s some simple ways how:
First, set a calendar meeting for yourself to work on leaving law behind. Sounds cheesy I know, but on your calendar actually block off time have it pop up visually on your screen, have your smart phone calendar make a ding, maybe even have your spouse or friend call you at that time. Whatever you need – but make sure you are reminded of this meeting and block it out. Otherwise, you’ll forget and the day will pass. You’ll have billed 8 more hours . . . but you’ll be no closer to making positive change in your life.
Second, this meeting with yourself needs to be short and very fun. Make it 30 minutes, that’s it. No more for the first or second time. And make it fun. Walk around the block, get out of the office, go get coffee, or stay at your desk, but make sure it is a break from you your normal Sunday work routine.
So, if it’s going to be short, and fun, you may ask, what am I actually supposed to do during this time? Thanks for asking. During this 30 minute meeting-with-yourself, this first baby-step-get-the-momentum-to-leave-the-law meeting, focus on one of the two following areas:
a. Take out a piece of paper, or speak out loud to yourself to the voice recorder on your phone, and answer the following question: What do people compliment me on? As loyal readers know, this question (and a few others) are the core launching point for exploring one’s Unique Genius. I can’t reiterate this enough: The Unique Genius is the collection of those skills and strengths that come so naturally to you, so effortlessly to you, that you don’t even think of them as skills. It is upon these skills that you do so well that you will begin to base your post-lawyer life and career. It is with these strengths at which you excel that you will begin to create a life of confidence and self-worth. And finding out what people compliment you on specifically points to your strengths. And it’s a fun exercise, it can build up your confidence, and it’s a great way to get the momentum flowing.
b. Or, think about who you would like to meet and have coffee with. This is a networking step. Research online, think about your extended network, go to LinkedIn or go through your contacts and find someone, anyone, who you don’t know now, who you would like to learn more about and with whom you may be connected. You want to reach out to these folks to (i) learn more (i.e. research) of what they do as a potential career option for you and (ii) see if they can put you in touch with others as you explore leaving the law (i.e. provide more leads).
And to make this easy for you, here’s a sample email you could use in reaching out to your friends who may have a connection with these desired contacts – it’s short and sweet and respects how busy and short of time the recipient may be.
Dear NAME OF YOUR FRIEND/CONTACT
I hope you are well. Between you and me, I’m working on expanding my network and exploring some new opportunities, within law and beyond. I noticed some interesting people you’re connected with on LinkedIn – can I send over a few names to see if you’d feel comfortable making an introduction for me? What do you think?
As Ramit Sethi says, this is a “pre-commitment” strategy – a short email, that doesn’t take long for them to read, doesn’t take too much time out of their day to review, and most often will result in a higher response rate. If they say yes, then you can follow up with a longer email with more detail, like:
Thanks so much for your offer to help. As I mentioned, between you and me, I am beginning to explore some new career paths, within law and beyond. I am just beginning the process and exploring what’s out there and I wanted to reach out to you and ask for your help.
I noticed you are connected to NAME OF PERSON YOU WANT TO GET COFFEE WITH. Are you close with NAME OF PERSON? Would you feel comfortable introducing me to NAME OF PERSON? I am very interested in NAME OF PERSON’s space and would like to learn more about what he does. To be clear, I am not searching for a job – just beginning my research on other career opportunities.
If you feel uncomfortable at all in introducing me at all to NAME OF PERSON, I completely understand, and no offense at all. I respect that.
But if you wouldn’t mind introducing me, I would greatly appreciate it. As I know you are busy, I can send you a short blurb that you can then copy and paste into an email to NAME OF PERSON.
If leaving law is a priority, take 30 minutes today to get it started. The above steps are easy to do, don’t take too much time, can be very fun and will certainly build your confidence.
And send me an email to let me know how it goes.
Related posts you may find interesting
The Second Step in Leaving Law Behind – Cut Your Losses
How to remove the risk from leaving law behind
How a lost dog can teach you to leave law behind
What if you found out you were about to get laid off
The main reason why you are not leaving law behind right now