You just passed the Bar Exam. This should be the greatest time of your life: finally out of school and starting your new career. But with long hours and a competitive environment, lawyers are known be some of the unhappiest professionals.
With much higher depression, anxiety and stress levels, as well as higher rates of alcoholism and divorce, what can new professionals in this field do to proactively combat the depression associated with their careers and stay happy lawyers?
Build relationships. Find seasoned professionals in your field and learn from them. Maybe even make one your mentor if the fit feels right. You can learn so much from a partner or senior-level lawyer, and even ask them about your specific roadblocks when you are stuck. Alleviate the stress of doing it all on your own and feeling isolated as you navigate the professional world by joining an organization or attending professional events for guidance. It will also help to build relationships with your peers and coworkers so that work is a place you actually want to be.
Do what you love at work. You obviously became a lawyer for a reason, and for many the reason is passion. What cause were you passionate about enough to become a lawyer? What kind of work do you aspire to do? While you might not start out doing it right away as a new professional, you can work towards that goal every step of your career. What will take you closer to your goal? Create a plan to get there and stick to it as long as it’s still your passion. You won’t always get to do work you love, but if you recognize what you love, you can take actions to do more of that work throughout your career.
Do what you love outside of work. Work can bubble over into every part of your life if you let it. Manage your time wisely and make clear boundaries between personal and professional when possible. Yes, there will be times when you’ll have to put in extra hours, but not all the time. Make yourself available to do the things you love, with the people you love, outside of your career. If you don’t you’ll become burnt out and fed up.
Work it out. Yes, work out your problems, but also – work out your body! Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and make you an overall happier and healthier person. Keeping yourself fit and active will actually give you more energy and positivity throughout your whole day.
Donate your time. I know, I know. You don’t want to be stressed and already feel stretched for spare time – but it is so important to give back to your community outside of your career! Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about is a great way to spend your time for many reasons. First, it’s an excellent mood-booster – doing good for others will make you feel like a million bucks. Second, it’s another excellent way to build relationships and get involved with something outside of your work.
What do you do outside of your legal profession to stay a happy lawyer? Leave your tips in the comments below!