By Melanie Fischer
If you wake up in the morning feeling stress, anxiety, or gloom about what the day has in store for you, you might be experiencing burnout. People can feel burnout in just about any aspect of their life. It’s possible to experience personal burnout, emotional burnout, or physical burnout. When it’s related to your job, it’s often referred to as professional burnout.
Unfortunately, professional burnout is not uncommon for lawyers in solo practice. Anyone who is bored with their job or feels dread at the beginning of every work day may be headed towards professional burnout. It’s important to notice the signs and symptoms of this type of burnout – before the situation becomes dire. In the worst-case scenario, professional burnout can lead to the collapse of a career or a business.
Following are some of the most common reasons professionals endure burnout – and some tips on how to avoid letting burnout consume the desire to move forward with your career:
Monotony. Do you feel like you’re completing the exact same task(s) every single day, and are those tasks causing you to feel bored or disinterested? If so, it may be time to vary the type of client(s) you help. While you do not have to abandon all your uninspiring clients – especially if they are reliable – adding more interesting clients or cases into the mix can help relieve your feeling of professional boredom.
Discouragement. If your firm focuses on an area of law that leaves you feeling depressed or disheartened, you might want to consider shifting your professional emphasis to clients and cases that leave you with a more positive feeling.
Isolation. Many solo attorneys work in secluded offices. While some may enjoy the solitude, others may gradually become unhappy with the lack of face-to-face interaction with professional peers. If you do not thrive in a solitary environment, you may elect to share an office with other solo attorneys. Or you may benefit from working in an office that leases executive suites to professionals in various industries.
Overworked. It’s not uncommon for solo attorneys to feel overworked. If you are a solo attorney who has too many clients, you might feel thankful that you have more work than you can handle – which is certainly better than having too little work to keep your firm open. However, being overworked can easily lead to professional burnout. As a solo attorney, it’s important to realize that you can turn down work if you cannot handle the load. You may choose to refer clients to another attorney, who may return the favor at some point in the future.
When professional burnout is left unchecked, it can have a negative impact on your professional path. Not only can it result in your having a negative attitude about your job and your career, but also it can lead to client dissatisfaction.
It’s essential to take time off, enjoy a periodic vacation, and spend time with professional peers. These outlets help to relieve stress and reduce burnout. Additionally, if you notice dissatisfaction or lack of desire to fulfill your daily professional duties, consider re-focusing the direction that your firm takes or changing the type of clients you select.
If you think you are approaching professional burnout, consider joining the YLD on April 18 from 6-8 p.m. for Changing Your Focus: How and Why Lawyers Transition Between Careers which will feature discussions about moving to solo practice, big law, government, and to in house or nontraditional attorney careers.
This post originally appeared on Solo in Colo.