If only I had enough time. Does that sound familiar? Can you hear yourself saying it? It is a complaint that most of us have. How much time do you have? Your answer is probably "Not enough."
Most of us agree that there is too little time and too much to do. Our calendars are full with client meetings, lunch meetings, bar meetings, depositions, trials and closings, to name a few. We fill our calendars with these and other activities from month to month often without looking at the effect that the pressures of time have on us. We respond to these demands, no matter how unreasonable. And for some of us, these demands become our life, because it is what we become used to and expect of ourselves, even if others don't.
What price do we pay for our "commitment" to these demands? Many lawyers have pictures of their families on their desks to remind them of why they work such long hours. What price do our families and friends pay while we continue to fill our calendars and the months and years slip away? Our families' and friends' lives go on, sometimes without us. More times than not, we don't realize the loss until it is too late.
It is so easy to waste our lives, our minutes, our hours, our days. It is so easy to take for granted the sunrise and sunset, the feeling of a warm breeze, the feel of the sun on our face. It is so easy to play a CD and not listen to the melody. It is so easy to exist instead of to live.
We must take back our lives.
Author Anna Quindlen, in a 1999 commencement speech at Villanova, told her audience that she was at a disadvantage, because she had no specialized field of interest or expertise. She said that, as a novelist, her work is human nature and that all she knows is real life. She then reminded the graduates that they should not confuse their lives and their work as only a part of their lives.
Quindlen also told the graduates that something "really, really bad" happened to her, something that changed her life. She didn't choose to change, but had no choice.
We need to find balance without something "really, really bad" happening. Look around your office and notice the younger lawyers being first in and last to leave. Notice the more experienced lawyers who have become addicted to work because that is all they know. Intellectually, we know that it doesn't have to be this way. We have consciously made it this way.
Well, it's time we recognize we are not just lawyers. We are wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, life partners, friends and community members. We are people who need to truly experience the beauty of a sunset, to enjoy all nine innings of a Red Sox game, to play golf not to network but just to play golf.
How do we achieve this balance? We begin by taking inventory of our lives. Use the same techniques we would use to evaluate a legal problem. Identify the problem and develop a strategy to find a solution.
I urge you to make a list of 20 things you would love to do, and then start doing them. You will be a better lawyer. You will be a better person.