Sometimes your day is cruising happily along when a bump in the road – or a major pothole – comes along to derail you from the easy life. Then there are days when everything seems to go wrong all day long. Life isn’t always easy, but there are steps you can take to make your days better. Here are five:
- Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Many thought leaders, from Brene Brown to the Dalai Lama, tout the benefits of living with an attitude of gratitude. This is different from positive thinking in the face of real adversity. Rather, it is seeing life for the reality that it is and being grateful for what’s good about it even when some parts are not good. My friend Diane Costigan, who is Director of Coaching at Winston & Strawn LLP in New York City, taught me this phrase when I was working with her as a coach: “What I like about it is…” This is a great way to live with an attitude of gratitude. It can also make you laugh in the face of trouble. For example, I lost my cellphone (disaster!), but what I like about it is I can get an early upgrade to a better phone.
- Accept reality. As one of my favorite authors, Byron Katie, would say, when you argue with reality you always lose. I love this thought. It makes life much simpler. Katie says to let go of the “shoulds” in your life. Yes, opposing counsel should be more civil. Yes, the judge should let you make your argument without interruption. Your difficult client should appreciate how hard you are working. But sometimes the reality is that those things don’t happen, even if they should. The best way to handle these difficulties is to accept that they exist and then work with them. You can either work to remedy them or change something in your life or practice so that
you don’t continue to find yourself in a reality that you don’t like.
- Delegate. It is difficult to succeed without a team. If you don’t have teammates – colleagues, friends, assistants, family – take the time to create a team that can help you handle all your responsibilities. It can be hard to let go of the control to effectively delegate. Let’s be honest, though: If you micro-manage the person to whom you delegate, you aren’t saving yourself any time and you are frustrating him or her. So instead, take the time to find a competent and cooperative teammate, be very clear in your directions, and let him or her take the responsibility. There may be growing pains, both in your ability to give effective directions and your teammate’s ability to deliver as expected, but it will be worth it.
- Organize. One of the best ways to keep all your various responsibilities in order and successfully handled is to be organized. Organize your office so that things don’t get lost in the shuffle. Organize your day so that you use your time as efficiently as possible. Organize your life so that you have resources readily available to you. When you are organized, you don’t waste time and energy trying to find whatever you need to be successful.
- Meditate, then plan. When I am overwhelmed with work and life, I want to jump in as quickly as possible and tackle things. Resist that temptation. Take a breath, and take the time to meditate and then plan. Would you build a house without first drafting a plan? Of course not. Take the same approach to your day, your matter, and your life. You actually save time when you make a good and thoughtful plan. When you take five minutes to meditate before you plan, your planning will go more smoothly and efficiently. Meditation will clear your mind of the noise and allow you to breathe, slow down, and think.
Have a great day!
Jamie Spannhake is a lawyer, mediator, and certified health coach. She is a partner at Berlandi Nussbaum & Reitzas LLP, serving clients in New York and Connecticut, practicing in the areas of commercial litigation, estate planning, residential and commercial real estate, and business transactions. She writes and speaks on issues of interest to lawyers, including time and stress management, health and wellness, work-life balance, and effective legal writing. Follow her on Twitter @IdealYear.
This article first appeared in Attorney at Work at www.attorneyatwork.com/five-ways-to-make-yourdays-better/. Reprinted with permission.