After having some new faces join our firm, I’ve been thinking about the inherent difficulties of balancing work with the rest of life. While I’ll leave the question of whether lawyers can achieve a work-life balance — or if many even want balance — for another day, I do think it’s useful to take stock of things as they are. The school year is ending and summer is beginning. For us, that means summer associates will be joining us soon and a whole new group of faces to learn. It is also a good time to shed ourselves (and offices) of items that are cluttering up our lives.
After some time reflecting on all the things lawyers have to do, I can see that streamlining my life has held some valuable benefits. Learning from a family of four that made the decision to minimize their possessions, declutter their home, and simplify their life, you can experience some of the same freedom. Becoming Minimalist offers the most important lessons they have learned through the process in their new e-book: Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life.
From the Becoming Minimalist blog:
“Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you’ll have more success than you could possibly have imagined.” - Roger Caras
Minimalism has many benefits. It gives freedom, time, and reduces stress. Minimalism also reduces the amount of money that is required for survival. And as a result, it allows the opportunity to choose a job not based solely on the amount of the paycheck.
To enjoy waking up in the morning, Becoming Minimalist notes to consider these 12 factors to look for in a job other than a paycheck:
- It makes a positive difference. Choose a job that adds value to our world, that leaves it better than you found it, and genuinely helps other people.
- You enjoy your co-workers. Given the fact that you will spend a large percentage of your day at work, be sure you enjoy the people around you. It is comforting to know that they support you, cheer for you, and work together as a team.
- You feel appreciated and valued. A paycheck is nice, but that goes straight to the bank. On the other hand, appreciation is something that you carry in your soul every day. This appreciation can be communicated through respect, unexpected gifts, or just an old-fashioned “thank-you.”
- You are trusted. It’s nice to know that somebody isn’t always looking over your shoulder. And that when you are given a task, you are given the freedom to complete it.
- It is something you love to do. The old adage is completely true, “Find a job that you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Look for a job that keeps you motivated by its very nature, not solely by the paycheck – because that wears off real fast.
- It fits your personality. Anyone who has ever taken a personality test knows that we all have unique personalities that thrive in certain environments. Some enjoy working with people, others enjoy completing tasks. Some like making the decisions, others don’t. Find a job that fits your sweet spot. And by the way, if you keep getting this one wrong, there are people who can help you with this step.
- It challenges you to grow. Look for a job that will make you better. Whether through challenging assignments, educational opportunities, demanding excellence, or informal mentors, a job that forces you to grow beyond your current skill set will make you a better person and it, a better company.
- The firm’s/company’s values align with yours. At the end of the day, your integrity is what matters most. Don’t compromise it every time you walk into the workplace. If you are at a job that requires you to suspend your personal convictions, you don’t need to be… nor should you be.
- A flexible, results-oriented culture. A culture of flexibility suggests a results-driven focus. One that is more interested in you successfully completing your job with excellence than clocking in a set amount of work hours during a specified time of the day.
- It values family. You value your family. Your job should too.
- Brings balance to life. Work is not so bad when you love it. But if you are not allowed to explore other endeavors (play/hobbies/family) because of its demands, it is not healthy for your soul, life, or body. Find a job that allows you to enjoy your life outside of work too.
- It brings you satisfaction. The ability to look back at your day, your year, or your life with satisfaction is more valuable than any number of digits in the bank.