and the Red Velvet Cake!
|By Carol P. Waldhauser
working in a large firm for more than 10 years; Kara felt it was time to
go on her own as a sole-practitioner. Kara’s goals were
twofold: to have more time to devote to her personal life while successfully
practicing law. Within two short years, Kara realized that
she had built a thriving solo-practice; but it was at the expense of her
personal life. In fact, Kara did not control her time; her law
one to give up, Kara sought ways to maintain her thriving practice while
achieving balance in her life – or at this point even having a life
outside of the practice of law. Kara researched the issues; then
found solutions. She took this data and mentally drew up her action
plan for managing time in both her professional and personal life.
Kara still works too many hours; and finds herself in “black-hole”.
In fact, Kara wonders if she can ever have a balanced work/life relationship.
while waiting in the hall for the afternoon docket to begin, Kara saw her
friend and mentor. She discussed with him her concerns of working so
many hours in order to be successful in her practice. Moreover, Kara
told her attorney-friend that she had been trying for a year, or more, to
achieve a more balanced life-style. After listing to her, he asked: “Kara,
have you ever heard the story of Max and the Red-Velvet Cake?” Kara
shook her head, no. He proceeded to tell her the following:
decided that he would surprise his significant other by baking a red
Subsequently, Max left his law office; stopped at the food store; bought the
box cake mix and other ingredients needed. Once home, Max read the directions
while preheating the oven. However, to this day, Max has never baked that red
velvet cake. Do you know why?
Kara shook her head, no. And again, her friend began to speak:
many of us, Max had good intentions and sound plans; however, he failed
to implement them. Implementation is often the single
most overlooked phase of change. In other words, just reading the
directions off of the box is not enough to end up with a red-velvet cake. You
must implement the directions by mixing the ingredients and putting the
finished product in the oven to bake!
time Kara shook her head in the affirmative because she understood clearly
his message. No matter how elementary it sounded, there are components
to a process!
Kara, knowing what her problems are and knowing how to solve them - were
not enough. She needed to create a consistent routine that would implement
the desired changes which in turn would lead to her reaching her goals.
an astute attorney, Kara understood that it took fitness and renewed stamina
to be a competent, successful attorney. Furthermore, fitness meant
not just fitness of legal expertise; but also those qualities of physical,
mental and psychological health that enables a lawyer to carry out these
responsibilities. In other words, attorneys must maintain stamina.
Accordingly, stamina is not obtainable by working 24/7 throughout one’s
professional life. Rather, a balanced, meaningful lifestyle is most conducive
to long-term stamina, wellness, and ongoing high performance.
identified from her research that the benefit of a balanced lifestyle is
that it nourishes your whole being: your mind, your body, your emotions,
and your spirit. In other words, your mind needs to think positively,
your emotions need to manifest love, your spirit needs to find purpose, and
your body needs fitness. A balanced lifestyle addresses your needs
at all these levels – and without this balance – the risks are
high that you may burn-out in the long run.
by learning from her friend’s story, Max and the Red Velvet Cake,
Kara understood that all this information was great; but in order to actually
acquire a balance in her life she had to implement what she had learned. Kara
needed to implement a comprehensive plan which consisted of techniques, strategies,
Managing Herself; Not Time
Kara referred to it as
Personal Management - managing her dominant interests.
Dominant interests are the major areas of life where Kara spends time. Of
course, dominant interests vary, so Kara created a unique chart to clarify
her lifestyle focus.
also learned that the ideal number of dominant interests is usually 3-7. With
less than three, you may find yourself out of balance. With more
than seven, you’re likely to be stressed out, or worse, burned out.
in order to achieve balance in all of these areas,
Kara planned the following:
meditation, active participation at her places of worship; or even
a walk in nature and/or community projects.
it’s reading, listening to tapes, working cross-word puzzles,
writing, playing games or whatever, make time to stimulate her mind
apart from work and the daily grind of practicing law.
aerobic exercise like walking, running, hiking, dancing, biking or
swimming – even team sports like volleyball or basketball; working
in the garden, etc.
or weekend getaways and vacations; retreats; family reunions;
calling friends for a monthly time-out; even getting back to having
relatives over for dinner and old home movies to celebrate a
Steps – One-day-at-a-time.
||On the days
that I am not in Court – I will force myself to take a mid-day
walk – giving thanks for the blessings I have.
- I will read from
a good book at least 15-30 minutes each day – something entertaining – and
not law related.
- Traveling home from
my days in Court – I will listen to music.
- I will attend at
least one worthwhile seminar each quarter on health
- I will join a dance
class and attend once per week;
- I will take my dog
for a walk at least 2x per day, every day;
- I will make it a
point to call my closest friends at least once per month, more
- I will make it a
point to schedule a quarterly lunch or dinner with my friends;
- I will start having
family re-unions to celebrate a special occasion or just to enjoy
Kara knew that finding time for relaxation was essential. Furthermore,
to maintain serenity in both her personal and professional life these guidelines
on the today.
what you cannot change.
Control & Change
what you can and let go of the rest.
the Fear but don’t wallow in it.
Your Cool and LAUGH.
By taking personal
responsibility in her own personal management, Kara is realizing her goals
of a better balance between work and the rest of her life. Implementing
her plan, one-day-at-a -time, one step at a time, Kara is in charge and
she is managing her time; her law practice is not. In fact, Kara
has even found time to bake a decadent, red-velvet cake!
For more information
on quality of life issues call the MSBA’s Lawyer Assistance program
(410) 685-7878 Ex. 252/410) 685-3993/or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.