It’s no secret that practising law is a bit of a tough gig. I’m OK with that, as long as we’re honest and don’t dig ourselves into a ditch along the way.
One of the hardest things to get used to are the competing demands of those who want our time, attention and devotion to themselves.
Some categories of demand are more difficult than others, but inevitably they all tug at us somewhere along the way.
So where are the greatest demands being placed on you?
This is a no-brainer – of course clients make demands. Often these are perfectly reasonable requests for assistance, and sometimes they are irrational barrages with unachievable deadlines followed by threats to take their business elsewhere.
But they are your clients, and you are here to serve them.
For almost all lawyers, client demands can cause a lot of stress and anxiety – especially when we’re not sure we can deliver on the demand, but have agreed to do it anyway.
Of course with client demands come the demands from our superiors.
Boss 1 agrees to Client 1 on the phone that the firm will deliver product X before 4:00 that day.
Boss 1 then speaks with Employee 2 and asks them to deliver on that promise, without having considered that it’s actually not possible, because Employee 2 is doing something urgent for Boss 2 at the moment.
But then, Boss 1 makes that awful comment like “just get it done” and Employee 2 promptly unspools into a mental meltdown, considering taking up a career in flower arranging instead of the current one.
Family and Friends
The expectations of others can be a bit overwhelming, and over define our career path from years before we graduate.
There are too many lawyers out there who took up their careers from the start because of parents’ expectations rather than sound decision making.
Beyond that, we spend our lives catering to the demands and expectations of family, friends and colleagues about:
- how we dress
- where and when we go out
- how much we drink
- how we spend our time and money
- where we are headed in our career
- being a lawyer at all.
Not everything that your family might ask of you is wrong, of course. Sometimes it’s healthy, and right.
If the demands (spoken or not) of people are driving you to actions, decisions, and lifestyles that aren’t working – that’s a problem.
Those demands are ultimately destructive.
Often we’re our own worst enemy. The expectations and demands we place upon ourselves are sometimes irrationally high.
That doesn’t mean I have a problem with aiming high – I aim high every day!
However the question becomes why you’re making demands of yourself, what those demands are accomplishing, and how you respond when you don’t match up to your own expectations.
Sanity is found where you expect much of yourself, diligently strive to achieve it, but accept and appreciate that outcomes aren’t always a function of effort.
Take a moment and consider: where to the demands that drive your life come from? Are they good demands, or not? Are they aligned with what you would choose, or not?
And if they’re bad – what are you going to do about it?