“What you create after allowing yourself the time to ‘goof off for breakthrough ideas’ is usually your best work.”
Let’s set the stage a little. As Practice Building Consultant here at the Academy, I serve as coach to one third of the Members of the Academy. So that means, no matter what day, or what time, or what the situation was just before I pick up the phone or start a video conference with a Member, my role is to be inspiring, understanding, present, thoughtful, and credible — sometimes all before my second cup of coffee in the morning. As with any job, hobby, or obligation, sometimes you feel it, and sometimes… you just don’t. We often refer to this as “being on” or “being off”. And recently, as I looked at my calendar full of appointments with Members who I love talking with, brainstorming with, celebrating successes with and analyzing disappointments with, I found myself firmly planted in the “off” position.
Sometimes, no matter how much you enjoy what you do, whether it’s coaching, training and sharing Academy Members for me, or connecting with a client in an Initial Consultation for you, some days you just don’t have that elusive “it”. And sure, you can force yourself to meet a deadline or to make a meeting that you have scheduled. Real life beckons, and some of the time, you have to just pull out the generator and turn. It. On. And on this particular day, that’s what I did. I summoned energy from the calls and discussions I had with Members, and turned the day around. Thankfully, my role gives me energy and inspiration, and I was able to do that.
However, finding myself in a place where I was struggling to “turn it on” made me stop and think – what was it that kept me from being energized and excited on that particular day? Turns out, I was running on empty. And although I love the work I do, I had depleted all of my reserves and hadn’t “goofed off” in a while!
While we can “force” ourselves to turn “it” on, ideally you should make time for yourself to let things sink in and let your subconscious stew on some information about a client or a deadline or an obligation that you have coming up. And that’s not to say you simply sit in silence and think repeatedly over the same bit of information. Rather, step away from the desk, put down the legal pad, and go do something that allows you to completely free your mind and just let all that information come together subconsciously.
At the Academy, days like these are what we call R&R Days (rest and relaxation) — and yes, we encourage you to build them into your schedule. Much like you schedule meetings in preparation for an event or schedule seminars for potential clients, scheduling days of rest where you can let all the things taking up space in your mind take a back seat and stew is imperative to the success of your law firm and your own well-being. While I may be able to “phone it in” (phone joke for you, there) with my Members, and you may be able to generate some business for your firm after weeks (maybe even months) of not taking a break from the day-to-day operations, how much better might our performance be if we simply stopped every so often to do those extracurricular things we truly enjoy and those things that help our mind escape entirely and come back refreshed and with some renewed zeal for the project at hand?
So here it is Friday, the close of another work week. What does this coming weekend look like for you? What part of your weekend will be dedicated to letting the subconscious stew while your conscious mind plays on the golf course or spends some time trying out a new recipe with your spouse? For me, this weekend will be spent catching up with my family and friends, practicing yoga, hiking with my dog and my husband, and maybe reading that new book I just bought — or whatever it is that refreshes my mind to do the work I love Monday through Friday.
Take a break. Walk away. Clear your mind. Your employees, family, and YOU will be glad you did.
Practice Building Consultant
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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