Here’s a law practice tip: Make An Airplane.
Four years ago I’m experiencing the most stress I’ve had in my professional life. I’m leaving a firm as an associate. Leaving is hard. On a personal level, I’ll miss the people I’ve worked with for my entire professional life.
And then there’s the business side of unwinding that relationship. What clients are staying with me? What files? How much do I owe on the files. And on the files that are staying what work needs to be done on them? What haven’t I clarified.
Then there’s opening a firm. I’m trying to open bank accounts. There is construction on the office we our building. There are files that need work. Documents that need filing. My phone doesn’t stop lighting up with calls and emails.
And inside I’m a wreck. My professional life to this point has been calm. I show up at work. I do work. I go home.
Now the stress is consuming me. There’s too little of me. You know. You’ve been there.
I had booked a flight months prior to deciding to open my own firm. My wife and I were flying cross country to Anaheim. My wife was attending a writing conference. The last day at my old firm was a Monday. Our flight was on a Wednesday morning.
Somehow my wife and I got separated on our flights. Coach class life.
I find myself flying across country. There’s no wifi on the plane. My phone can’t ring, or chirp, or vibrate. There’s no one to talk to. Just me. Alone. With the noise of the plane. And the midwest 35k feet below me.
It is beautiful. I’m at peace for the first time in weeks. Issues back home are just that. Issues at home. They’ll wait until I land.
For now there is the hum of the engines.
I am fully in the present. There’s nowhere else to be.
Law Practice Tip: Make An Airplane
I often think about that flight to Anaheim. Sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I think of just buying a round trip ticket to wherever is cheapest. Leaving in the morning and returning before dinner. I’ve never done this. I have no desire to run from stress. I welcome it.
But that fantasy is all kinds of wrong. It is a waste of money, time, and is bad for the environment. I mean really – there’s nothing glorious about a flight to and from Detroit.
Then it hits me. It hits me that I can make an airplane. I can leave my phone at home. I can sit quietly in my house. Or a library. Or a coffee shop. But I haven’t.
I haven’t because I constantly feel the need to be doing something. Constantly. And owning my own firm brings out the worst in that instinct. There’s always something more to do. But I’m going to try. I’m going to try to block off time to reset myself, unplug, and refocus. By doing nothing.