Lawyer Achievement 201
Beginning in law school, attorneys are taught to be self-reliant, perfectionist workaholics. This can lead to achievement: success in law school, a job with a firm, and the respect of others. But it often
requires lawyers to postpone their own needs for years at a
time in order to fit the mold of the lawyer identity. While the
sturdy willpower to achieve may be effective early on, it will
usually wear a person out over time. There is another way. By
letting go of sacrifice, fueling the engine of well-being, and
enlisting multiple supports to harness your career, you can get
from Achievement 101 to Achievement 201.
WHAT IS ACHIEVEMENT?
The first principle of achievement is learning how to postpone
gratification to get what one wants. Unfortunately this idea is
pushed to its limit in many forums, like the high school football coach preaching “no pain, no gain” to his players or the
high school junior staying up all night hopped up on Adderall
studying for the SAT. The thing about this strategy—I call it
Achievement 101—is that it works. It often produces results.
Lawyers are very familiar with this method. But it is no guide
for living. There is too much sacrificing of oneself. There is
There is no precise moment when a transition in
thinking about achievement occurs. Plenty of doctors in
residency in their 30s are pushing themselves to the limit,
postponing self-care, relationships, etc., for this memorable
achievement. Litigators become accustomed to 90-hour
work weeks followed by a few weeks of downtime. It can be
a dreadful roller coaster. One goes from periods of intense
pressure and fear of failure (think law school) to feeling
spent, dysregulated, confused, and often depressed about
the seeming endlessness of this cycle.
by Dan Crystal
Focusing On Well-Being
While Advancing Your Career