2020 has been daunting and filled with stressors. First, the pandemic emerged and spawned working from home and virtual schooling. The summer brought protests for racial justice and in parts of the US, high spikes in COVID infections. The fall brought the election and record setting cases. Yes, 2020 has been one for the record books.
As working parents and attorneys, how are we expected to manage all of these stressors? This stress is piled on top of our normal work, billable hour expectations, marketing, parenting, and those extra-curricular activities we thought we would have time for when we signed up for them last year. While some people have more on their plate than others, all of our plates are full and our stress levels are at their max. Tempers are high, patience is low, and creativity is waning.
Oddly, one thing that could help us manage our stress is one thing that seems to be quickly disappearing – meaningful, authentic relationships. In the litigation world, an already adversarial process fraught with egos and distrust, it is key to invest in relationships and build a network, not only with people who do what you do, but also with clients, mentors, adverse counsel, and other industry professionals. Round that relationship list out with people whom you admire and people that contest you and your way of thinking. The challenge is how do we build and maintain our network when we are tired, Zoomed out, and, frankly, at capacity?
Four tactics that have worked for me:
- take a breath, two, or maybe even ten,
- let go of your dreams of perfection,
- set aside a few minutes each day to invest in relationships, and
- write a list of names you want to contact and give it your best shot. Be able to forgive yourself if you miss your mark.
Relationships are necessary and life enriching. They are not only vital for business but also promote overall good health. Yet, quality relationships are becoming an endangered species. I challenge everyone to make the time to invest in new relationships and reinvest in old ones. Find common ground. Empathize. Laugh. Reach out to people that you might not otherwise. Put yourself out there. Don’t worry about looking like you have everything put together because we all know that is not true. Be you, be authentic, and get to know those around you. You might just find that your stress level goes down with every new and rekindled relationship.