Many times while coaching attorneys I forget to ask if they are feeling lonely. BAD COACH! This is really a vital question to be asking yourself on a regular basis. Loneliness leads to doing strange things like getting mixed up with toxic people or drinking or taking drugs. Something to fill the emptiness is a big incentive to grab at the first thing that might make you feel better.
The truth is that lawyers have to go out of their way to build a support group early in their career. Immediately out of law school, the focus is on getting a job which frequently entails long lonely hours of work. Recreation and friends are frequently put aside. This is a recipe for disaster. Friends and even family begin to come second. This is one of the reason why there are so many divorces in law school and soon after.
Or there is the scenario where the lawyer is finally established and looks around and sees that he or she is essentially just plain lonely. There may be colleagues at work but they mostly talk business. Nothing really personal happens with them. Humans need personal human contact on a regular basis, not just when they are babies.
If a lawyer wants to create a family or have a life partner, he or she can’t keep putting that aside and hope that the exact right time will come along. We all know, that it rarely happens that way.
So what are some proactive things you can do to keep loneliness at bay:
- Check in frequently to see if you are feeling lonely.
- Look at your time and see how you are spending it.
- See if you can determine why you are lonely. Poor work/life balance, laziness, a little OCD with your job, or whatever else may be producing this feeling.
- Stop being a lawyer for some part of each day. If all you can talk about is your job, then you are really limiting your ability to connect with all the other humans who are not lawyers.
- Make a bucket list of all the things you want to do before you “kick the bucket”. Start planning how to accomplish these wishes.
- Begin to smile more. Smile at strangers. Make connections.
- Locate old friends on Facebook. Have a coffee date and see what happens.
- Join at least one group where they talk to each other. This may be a book club, a discussion group, a men’s or women’s group, a church function or wherever you can find people to connect with.
- Take a class that is not about law. Colleges have all kinds of interesting classes for the community to take. I learned to paint by taking some of these classes at a junior college and met a lot of nice people.
- Reconnect with your family( at least the members you like).
Try some of these things. See what might work for you. If you are an introvert, push yourself a little to start doing things that make you happy. That is your assignment for this week.