The Guilt of Not Working More, When We’re Done for the Day

At the end of a day of work, there can be a simple practice of wrapping things up and shutting down for the day.

But so many of us feel guilty at simply stopping, and this feeling that we should be doing more … it drives some of us to keep going as long as we can.

This can lead to overwork, burnout, tiredness, and never letting ourselves enjoy a moment of rest.

Do you relate to this guilt of simply stopping and resting?

The thing about this guilt is that it doesn’t have to be rational — it’s simply fear, that we’re not doing enough, that we’re not on top of things, that we’re not going to be OK if we don’t get everything done.

I know this fear well. I still have it, on a daily basis. It’s not rational, but then fear never is.

This fear will control us if we don’t bring a kind awareness to it, and start to work with us. It will own us, and we’ll always be checking our phones, replying to messages, stuck in perpetual motion. Rest becomes difficult, joy becomes mostly inaccessible.

Here’s how I work with this guilt and fear:

  • Recognize it when it’s happening. When it’s late in the day, and we could be wrapping things up and closing our work day … notice the urge to do more. Notice the guilt of stopping. Just bring awareness to the fear and guilt, without judging them or needing them to go away.
  • Breathe, and feel it. Pause, take a few deep breaths, and don’t let yourself buy into the fear. Feel the physical sensation of the fear, but don’t believe it. Give yourself some kindness.
  • Remind yourself of a bigger truth. The idea that you should be on top of everything and working harder and checking emails and messages … it feels really true in the moment. But it is very rarely true. What’s a bigger truth? That you need rest to be able to serve others. That you are allowed to do other things, to spend time with others, to take care of yourself, to feel joy at spaciousness in your life. And this is a model for how others might live too. Taking rest serves the world. Remind yourself of this truth.
  • Then take the rest. Feel in your heart how this is worthwhile. And let yourself enjoy the space. You don’t need to fill every moment with more work, more messages, more email.

How would you like to practice with this for yourself?

The Problem With Recipes

Most recipes are terribly written.

In theory, a recipe is supposed to be the roadmap for you to go from A to B to C.

From ‘I want to eat this’ to ‘here’s how to make that’ to ‘wow this tasted good’.

And while many recipes can help accomplish that, they don’t get there optimally.

For reasons that continue to baffle me, most recipes use volume measurements instead of weight (there’s a reason serious bakers use scales, not measuring cups).

They assume everyone is at an equal altitude, even though how far you are above sea level makes a difference.

Recipes assume that everyone’s oven is the same temperature, even though we know that’s not the case.

They imply that you are smart enough to recognize all these variables matter and have the knowledge to figure out the exact impact they’re going to make on your food.

After all, they purport to take you from A to B to C.

But for the average person (myself absolutely included), recipes could do a much better job to set you up for success.

And what’s a precedent if not a recipe for purported success.

From Recipes to Precedents

Just take this shiny document and use it for what your client needs.

Hopefully you understand all the intricacies.

Hopefully you chose the right precedent (at least when you’re making food, you know if it’s the right recipe).

Hopefully the output is right.

But so much of that - even with good precedents - requires the person using them to know a whole lot. About their client. About the law. About the objective.

You surely don’t learn that in law school. And most firms don’t have time to teach this in depth - and certainly not in a just-in-time manner for every associate.

[If you’re sick of these food analogies, then you should stop reading here. Because I’m going all-in, for better or for worse (probably for worse).]

Getting Prepared - whether for cooking or lawyering

I’ve spent the last year building courses (whether it’s the substantive ones through 4L Academy or the business development ones through Build Your Book) because the existing recipes for learning how to be a lawyer are deeply unsatisfying.

Sure, they exist (at least in theory, I think). But they generally leave a lot to be desired.

Before they start cooking, chefs at restaurants get their mise en place in order. You want to know that everything is ready - so that when service starts, you don’t get overwhelmed and you’re able to keep your customers happy by delivering things on time.

In other words, you’re prepared for the job that you have to do.

In a lot of ways, the 4L Academy 101 courses are the mise en place, in an industry that doesn’t seem to have discovered the concept yet.

(law schools, in this analogy, teach you about the theory of washing your hands; which is step 1 of the cooking process, but doesn’t exactly help you get food on the table. Though if we learned anything at the start of the pandemic, the average person needed some education on that - so there is at least some value there.)

How can you work on complicated M&A deals and all sorts of other extremely confusing things if you don’t have your basics in order?

You can, but it’s going to be a mess. And you’re probably going to be stressed and scrambling the entire time. That definitely does not describe the lives of most new lawyers. Nope - not one bit.

(congrats - you are one of 5 people to make it this far)

Gadgets + Legal Tech

I’m a big fan of gadgets for cooking - as my wife can attest, at least half of what I make is in an Instant Pot.

If you grew up in the pressure cooker era, then presumably you’d have some skepticism about using an Instant Pot.

Something could go wrong. And besides, while it may have 8 functions, it doesn’t have 100. It doesn’t replace an oven. And it also isn’t a microwave. What a shame.

But it does a whole lot really well. It’s efficient. It’s safe. And it gets the job done. But it’s still a pressure cooker.

Sounds a lot like legal tech. A much more efficient way to do something - but there’s always a reason to justify not using it, if you are afraid of change.

Yet once you learn to use it, it’s a massive time saver without sacrificing quality.

(Especially when working from home - I’m trying to imagine a law firm letting an associate bring one to work to make lunch or prep dinner, on the days they’re forced to work from the office).

Which is why we integrate legal tech into so many of our 4L Academy classes - because if you’re a busy lawyer (and boy have most lawyers been busy the past 18 months), you’re looking for ways to save time.

Whether it’s doing legal work. Or making food. It doesn’t matter.

Would we ever tell someone not to use a rice cooker until they’ve mastered cooking rice on a stove, because we worry it will impede their rice cooking development? No - that would be ridiculous.

Yet somehow the argument that younger lawyers should do things the old-school way to ‘learn’ still persists in some circles. Which is terribly, terribly misguided.

What’s broken is the training.

Teach them why they’re doing what they’re doing. Teach them how to do it in a modern way. And then watch as they become happier and more productive.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

Discover Your Breakthrough Brand (video inside)

Forget the corporate meaning of what a brand is.

It isn’t about catchy slogans. It isn’t about a tagline.

It’s something deeply personal that helps you do everything else.

It helps you stand out from the crowd. It helps you draw clients (the kind you like working with). It helps you come up with ideas on what to write on LinkedIn. It makes you feel good about asking for the business.

I made a ~6 min video all about it.

Watch it and let me know what you think.

What is a Breakthrough Brand for Lawyers?

(aside: I know, I know, my wife has said multiple times as well, I need a better haircare routine)


Yes, this is also the topic of our upcoming 2 week cohort, called Breakthrough Lawyer Branding. If you know of someone who can really benefit from this, please do send them our way.

These would be people who are plateued in their legal career and need that extra clarity and action plan to move up ahead. Partners, senior associates, and solo-practitioners who are drowning in chaos would ideally get the most out of it.

And if you’re thinking of signing up, take the plunge now and enroll today! Our satisfaction guarantee is always in effect.

Seeking Fulfillment

note: it appears that there was a technical mishap yesterday and the wrong post was sent out. Here is the intended post below. Sorry about that folks.

One of the things that most lawyers are looking for is fulfillment.

Based on the number of people whose careers are spent helping lawyers leave the legal profession, it’s probably fair to assume that most lawyers these days aren’t feeling fulfilled. Which is a huge shame.

There are so many bright, talented people who choose to practice law. Somehow, so many of them end up feeling unworthy, incompetent, and questioning their choices.

And that’s why what we’re about to launch (keep on reading) is so important to me.

We know that so many lawyers feel like they’re lacking control, that they’re trapped, and that they’re not feeling fulfilled. That’s not what they want. But for many, that’s the status quo.

When you have your own clients, that usually means more control, more freedom, and greater financial rewards. And if you play your cards right, also more fulfillment. But the age old question is - how the heck do you go from A to B?

I’ve heard it all. And for a while (far longer than I care to admit), I believed the myths.

The ‘just be patient’. The ‘keep your head down and do good work’. The ‘keep your thoughts to yourself’. Shockingly, none of those worked. In fact, they did the opposite.

So when Dhawal and I launched Build Your Book last year, it was because of my frustration with the current business development training for lawyers. And it was also about the adverse impact that it was having on so many people who deserved so much better.

What I wished I had was a roadmap. A path for success. Something based on science - not just what some people from a different generation did that happened to work for them.

So we launched our cohorts and they went great. For some people, it was legitimately life changing (which was incredible to see). For others, it meant they found a whole new level of confidence and built a new set of skills. It’s been amazing (and dare I say, incredibly fulfilling) watching our participants take these lessons and apply them so successfully.

But one thing that Dhawal and I kept coming back to is time.

For most people, the idea of an 8-week cohort (which is what we’ve been running) was just too much to commit to. After months of tinkering behind the scenes, we’re ready to launch the next iteration of Build Your Book.

It’s more accessible, more affordable, and most importantly - way less of a time commitment–only 2 weeks for this upcoming cohort. But without sacrificing on what made our previous cohorts so valuable.

The 8-week cohorts will still exist - but now they won’t be the only thing.

Our first mini-cohort - on Breakthrough Lawyer Branding - goes live in April. All the details are here. If this even remotely seems like the right thing for you, consider applying.

And like every course we run at Build Your Book, there’s a 100% money back guarantee. Just like you offer your clients, right ;)

What Lawyers can Learn from The Matrix

Note: There will be some spoilers in this article. But then again, this movie came out 20+ years ago. So, watch it this weekend maybe.

The world often sees lawyers as Agent Smith, a stiff suited up machine in the system. Some lawyers believe this as well.

But actually, you’re Neo.

If you’ve ever seen The Matrix (protip: skip the sequel from last year), you’ll know who he is. I believe lawyers have a lot to learn from both the movie and its main character.

By day, he’s Thomas Anderson, a coder at a large multinational corporation. By night, he’s Neo, hacker extraordinaire, someone who questions the way the system works.

The line between being Thomas Anderson and Neo comes down to a single choice: choosing between the red pill or the blue pill.

Thomas Anderson has felt that something was “off” in his world. He’s felt it for a long time.

Keep your head down, do the work, wait your turn. One day, when “they” believe you’re worthy, you’ll ascend. You’ll then become partner. You’ll then get that client if you wait long enough for your turn. You’ll be noticed at your firm. Just grind it out. That’s the blue pill.

The red pill is about choosing to look at the world truthfully. To go deep into the rabbit hole and see how the machine actually works, and choosing yourself.

Neo of course chooses the red pill. It turns his world upside down, but he’s better off for it. But even after seeing the truth for what it is, he cannot accept the fact that he’s “The One.” The person who is meant to help others become free. But when he finally realizes it by the end of the movie, the machine no longer phases him. He is no longer competing. He’s playing his own game.

But most people oscillate between the blue and the red pills.

You might have been mucking around in the terrain of your career for years, feeling tired and out of control. That’s when you know it’s time to take the red pill.

Taking the red pill can free you. It gives you control over your life, work, and career. It helps you eventually be your own category, devoid of competition. You become “The One.” Whether you’re at a large firm or a small firm, the red pill gives you power.

Today, I hope you choose the red pill. I hope you learn to see yourself as Neo. I also hope you choose to question the myths of the profession, and find an easier way to get control.

That’s what Aaron and I have been doing. Perhaps we’re like Morpheus. We’re here to show you the door, but then you have to walk through it.

That’s the promise of our new course. It’s the red pill choice to start taking control over your career.

It’s a 2 week course, with 8+ hours of live instruction, in an intensely hands-on workshop format, and constant support in between the two weeks. It comes with frameworks, scripts, and tools you need to unearth your own unique brand and act upon it.

We call it, Breakthrough Lawyer Branding.

Now, this isn’t about figuring out some silly catchy slogan. In a sea of sameness, it’s about finding out how to stand apart and be uniquely you. Discovering and using your unique brand is how you stand out in front of clients, get noticed at your firm, fuel your online content ideas, and boosts your confidence.

It takes place between April 8th to the 22nd. And it’s under $500, with a satisfaction guarantee. So if you’re looking to take action, move quick, and are ready to act, now is the time to join.

We hope to see you inside.

Just follow the white rabbit ;)

🐇

Learn More and Enroll in the Course