All attorneys face tremendous pressures to perform, and younger attorneys just entering the profession may feel additional stress due to their perceptions of firms' demands to bill or perish. Succumbing to these pressures can have adverse long-term effects, as other non-legal professionals have pointed out over the years. However, we can learn from those who have come before us and adopt habits that will help lead us to happier, healthier and better-balanced lifestyles.
Let's start with Ty Cobb, now dead some 50 years. Cobb, an intense competitor whose desire and talents earned him a spot in baseball's Hall of Fame, was said to have remarked in his later years that if he had to do it all over again, "I would have made more friends." His teammates as well as his competitors were known to have hated him.
However, Cobb makes a good point: We get so caught up meeting day-to-day expectations that we fail to realize that over the long run, we are not making friends or maintaining friendships. And don't delude yourselves - should you change jobs (almost a given in today's legal profession), you will probably not be seeing your former colleagues a year after you make the switch.
Mickey Mantle, another Hall of Famer, is reported to have said toward the end of his life that "had I known I would have lived this long, I would have taken better care of myself." The year I began practicing law in Honolulu (a much smaller legal community both then and now), three 36-year-old attorneys literally dropped dead, including one who collapsed leaving the courthouse.
While it may be hard to fit in 30 to 60 minutes of exercise three to four times a week, the consequences of failing to do so are well documented and well known. More and more studies are coming out demonstrating that even an hour of vigorous activity cannot offset the downsides of sitting in front of a computer for 10 to 12 hours a day.
My last baseball reference will be Satchel Paige, whose rules for longevity included not eating anything fried. I suspect he didn't have that many donuts in his diet. But donuts and other unhealthy foods certainly seem to be ever present in modern businesses.
Again, it is impossible for anyone in today's American society not to be aware of what one should eat (but isn't) and what one shouldn't eat (but is). There's a definite correlation between one's diet, exercise activities, sleep or lack thereof, and general energy levels and well-being.1
Too often people give in to sweet, fatty and fast foods as sleep and exercise decrease. A bad diet can easily become a crutch for your performance, but the long-term consequences are not good.2
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