Finding a Better Work-life Balance: Lose Your Fears, not Your Earnings
Finding a better work-life balance is something of a holy grail for attorneys: they are constantly searching for it but it keeps eluding them. And it continues as long as an attorney decides to bind himself with “golden handcuffs.” The fear of the unknown, the fear of what would happen if the billable hours were not met, and the fear of losing the current quality of living makes attorneys give up their quality of life. It's entirely voluntary, because few situations outside a prison are without consent. If you have lost your work-life balance, it happened due to your conscious choice and your mistaken ideas about true priorities in your life. So, it falls upon you to rectify the situation, and that can be done without material losses: the only thing you need to lose is your fear.
Identify and lose your fears: are they real?
Look at it this way: you fear that if you do not meet billable hours, do not meet the expectations of your superiors, and do not manage to bring home the money expected of you then you are going to fail in your duties. If you think that, you are absolutely wrong. If you believe that your family expects only money from you, you are wrong. And if you think it is impossible for you to meet the demands of both money and time, again you are wrong. You just need to break out of habits, create more effective habits, make some trade-offs, and your life can be back on its keel and become more fruitful and enjoyable.
What's more, attorneys who insist on work-life balance, and do their part to maintain it, work better and earn more than those who are in constant fear of losing their earnings. It's your life; don't con yourself into believing illusions and creating negative self-fulfilling prophecies.
You can afford to lose a job, but don't lose your life
The ''Push-Me-Pull-You.'' Remember that fictional character from Dr. Dolittle? It was a wonderful animal that pushed and pulled at the same time, but it could only move if one part was pulling and the other part was pushing. ....
Yes, indeed. The eternal question. The oft-asked inquiry of young and old attorneys alike: How do I find a work/life balance? Whether you are a first-year associate or a ninth-year, it is likely that you have posed this question to yourself, your mentor, your law school career center, your recruiter, and your ....
Enough about the job. What about the work itself? What should you expect, what will your life be like, and how can you make the most of it? ....
If you lose a job at a law firm, you can always do something else in life – your skills do not go away. Your savings may crash on the market, you can lose your home, but no one in the whole world can take away from you, your thoughts and your skills. How you use your faculties depends entirely on you. The world would want you to remain a slave to your fears, for those who would earn at your expense desire it to be so. But it is up to you to say how much you are going to take and what you think cannot be handled by you. If that makes your law firm terminate your job the next day, so be it – you are better off without such people who refuse to accommodate your needs and only want their own needs looked after.
Recognize the realities
Keep in mind that it is a common policy of modern slave drivers to keep the worker constantly engaged, busy, and under pressure, so that he/she never has the scope to look up, recognize the reality of the situation, and seek alternatives. But also do not forget that there are many good employers and firms out there, which do not believe in slave-driving practices. If you feel you are being cornered where you are working, work a bit harder to look for alternatives, talk it out with your family, and join somewhere else where they recognize human needs and intellectual contributions over billable hours. Initially, your earnings may go down for some time, but in the long run, you'd have a higher quality of life and better earnings.