Why Having a Hobby Will Make You a Better Lawyer
About ten minutes from my office, there lies a winding road that leads to an abandoned bridge with rotting wooden planks. The bridge spans a large creek that babbles and gurgles through riffles as it runs toward the Cahaba River. It’s a green and quiet place with only the occasional canoe passing through. Sometimes at lunch, I’ll go there to do some fly fishing. There aren’t many fish there, but being there isn’t really about the fishing anyway.
It’s much more about the being among the trees and boulders and water. And taking a brief reprieve from the day’s work and billable hours. It’s actually been a long time since I’ve been there. I’m writing this in part as an admonishment to myself to remember to occasionally take time away from things for myself, and to encourage you to do the same.
The Florida Bar recently wrote about a study that reflected some really disturbing statistics about lawyers:
Being a lawyer often results in doing important work that directly affects the lives and businesses of clients. Being diligent in our work is important so that we can tend to the needs of our families and our other obligations. That work can be pressure-filled and stressful. But our entire identity shouldn’t be wrapped up in being a lawyer. There are (or should be) more important things than the work we do.
I’ve worked with a lawyer who regularly bragged, “When I get up in the morning, I’m a lawyer first.” Those of us who were supposed to feel indicted by that statement received it in a different vein than it was intended. That’s not a healthy perspective. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what I do and I work plenty of hours, but being an attorney isn’t the largest part of who I am. When I get up in the morning, I’m a husband and dad first. And even if I weren’t those things, I’d be a guy with other obligations and interests than just what work awaited me when I booted up my computer.
Here’s my point: As important as your work is, as are meeting expectations and accomplishing all those things that have to get done, your well-being is more important. Don’t refrain from making time for yourself. All that pressure and stress builds up, and you’ve got to have a constructive way to bleed it off. Or you’ll be more likely to turn to one of those destructive vices that have become so prevalent among lawyers.
Go for a run. Go to the range and drive some golf balls. Or go fly fishing at a nearby peaceful river. Whatever it is that recharges your batteries, take the time to do it. A refreshed you is a more effective you.