If you’re anything like me—in the right ways, I mean—your law firm is what gets you out of bed in the morning. I don’t mean the responsibility of it; I mean the passion of it. Great attorneys eat and breathe the practice of law. It’s in their blood. And when things are working smoothly, a lot of time it doesn’t even feel like work. It feels like you get to do your hobby for a living.
But please hear me carefully: No matter how you love it, your career can’t also be your hobby. If you spend after-hours and weekends at the office because you have “nothing better to do,” you’ll burn out quickly. You need to unplug once in a while. You need a different hobby. At least one, preferably more than one. Let’s explore some reasons why.
Better Physical and Mental Health
Attorneys often live in “problem-solving” mode. Every so often, you need to do something else to de-stress, to break the cycle of “working the problem.” Studies have shown that people who enjoy leisure activities outside of work tend to have lower stress levels, lower blood pressure, lower obesity rates, and lower levels of depression.
Better Job Performance
Another interesting phenomenon about having interests outside of work: People with hobbies tend to perform better on the job. Apparently, there’s something about stepping away from the office—both physically and mentally—that helps you be more present and productive (and happier) when you go back to work. In addition, having a broad range of interests and pursuits improves cognitive brain function and helps keep you sharp and focused mentally.
Keeps Things in Perspective
When your law firm places high demands on your time (especially in the beginning), you can easily fall into the trap of not seeing the forest for the trees. Having a regular hobby forces you to step back and view your world from a different angle. Not only does this make you a more balanced, more interesting person, but it can also even help you in your work. (You’d be surprised how many answers to difficult questions come to us when we stop working the problem and work on something else for a time.)
A Final Note…
Just for clarification, when I say you need a hobby, I don’t mean TV watching or just being a couch potato. We all sometimes need to do nothing-in-particular, but a hobby is an activity, an active diversion—something that engages you mentally and physically. Even reading, as beneficial as reading can be, might be too passive to qualify as a hobby. Try something active. Golf. Basketball. Flying model airplanes. Take a cooking class. Heck, take up knitting if you want. Just find something constructive or fun to do that isn’t work. You’ll be a more well-rounded person—and a better attorney.