We’ve all read about trying to find a “work-life” balance. Visit any bookstore, on-line or brick and mortar and there are shelves devoted to this topic in the “Self-Help” section. I don’t know about you, but no matter how many books I read, they never seem to answer the question. Recently, I had an experience that gave me some insight into a possible solution. Here’s hoping it may be useful for you as well.
Last month I had the opportunity to prepare for 2 different medical negligence trials, simultaneously. That’s right—at the same time. For me, as for many lawyers, getting ready for trial can be more stressful than actually presenting the case at trial. I have never been able to stop thinking about the issues in the case as I prepare. I carry a small notebook with me at all times to jot notes when the thoughts arise, so that I can revisit them later. I even dream about the case—even sleep doesn’t give me any respite! The trial is an almost constant, 24/7 thought process. To top it off, my family life was in a bit of turmoil as an elderly, immediate family member had just passed away.
And now I had 2 trials to get ready for, and they were to start within a week of each other. If there was any chance of me finding balance, it had long ago escaped.
I have always worked hard to keep my personal life from affecting my work life. One of my core beliefs as an attorney is that my life should not in any way affect the quality of the work I do for my clients or the law firm I work for. I was simply trying to take the days 1 minute at a time, 1 task at a time. It was only after the cases resolved and I had some time to reflect that the answer to the work-life balance question became clearer.
The answer is to trust others: trust them to do their part in the shared endeavors, be the endeavors personal or work related. In the office I was privileged to work closely with two of my partners—Janet Walsh and Andrew Bell—each on a different trial. Our shared efforts together made resolving the cases possible, and knowing that we were a team with a shared goal—serving the client—gave me the mental headspace to stay balanced and focused. I knew I could trust them to do what was needed. On the personal side, knowing that I could trust my wife and son as well as the professionals involved in the passing of my family member to do what was needed took the immediate burdens from me. Knowing that, I could focus on other tasks with a greater degree of equanimity and poise.
Trusting allowed me to continue moving forward. Balance can be a tricky thing. But as Albert Einstein famously said: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”