The holiday season is not unique in terms of the various hot topic conversations that often come up between friends and family members. However, this season may provide more opportunity for such discussions given the nature of getting together with people you may not see on a regular basis and therefore having less of a track record with said people in terms of successfully discussing difficult topics without ending in a knock-down-drag-out brawl that embarrasses Aunt Shirley’s sensibilities. Popular topics that ruin family events include such classics as politics, world events, religion, sex, and of course the ever-controversial issue of whether a food can be considered a side dish if it has marshmallows on top. Don’t get me started.
When you ask people what the holiday season means to them, you will probably get as many answers as the people you asked. For some, the holiday season brings up memories (some good, some bad, some ugly, some they hope one day to repress) of years past that they either wish or fear could be repeated each year. It can be difficult to know what to expect and how to prepare. I find it easy to feel overwhelmed and distracted by the bombardment of messages about the holidays (you should feel happy, you should spend time with family, you should throw parties, you should buy lots of stuff, you should make resolutions, you should or shouldn’t eat lots of sweets, you should compete with your neighbor for the most electricity used to light the exterior of your dwelling, etc.). By this time in the season, I’m tempted to start dreaming of life on a deserted island.
In our work with the legal community, we see a fair number of law students and lawyers who are somewhere in between the precontemplation and contemplation stages of change. The precontemplation stage is when the person is unaware of the need to change a particular behavior, has no interest in changing, minimizes the negative aspects of changing, and highlights the positive reasons for the status quo. The contemplation stage is when the person is aware that something needs to change, they might not know exactly what they need to do or what it will entail, but they have a desire to make a change in the near future.
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The holiday season is upon us and it is a good time to review some helpful tips about avoiding pitfalls and setting yourself up for success this time of year. The trifecta, as it is often called (Thanksgiving, Hanukkah-Christmas-Kwanzaa-Festivus, and New Year’s), is historically a more challenging time of year for many of us.
If the holiday season represents happy times with family and friends, then enjoy! But understand that even with joyful associations, challenges may manifest and test your resilience.
You can get tools and practical approaches to navigate the season’s challenges from our panel at the MBA on Dec. 12; find out more, submit anonymous questions, and register here. For many of us, this time of year brings with it social engagements with friends and family members that often include potentially risky, if not just uncomfortable, situations where your resolve is tested, whether to abstain from alcohol or even just negative thought patterns.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that there is a higher likelihood of being offered, gifted, or simply being in the presence of more alcohol and substances over the holiday season. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you make holiday plans. The tip that underlies all of the rest is, “Plan ahead!” As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
A fun little game to stir up regrets is to ask yourself what you would change from your past if you had a time machine. Would you take an opportunity that you missed? Would you refrain from doing something that had negative consequences? Would you face a fear? This exercise can highlight events in our past that, through hindsight, seem to be a detriment to our present life as we experience it. Regrets can uncomfortable, and at times downright painful. The major flaw of this game is that it devalues regrets, makes us wish for an impossible alternate reality, and often increases shame and helplessness.
In keeping with October’s theme of ADHD Awareness Month, we decided to interview our very own Executive Director of LCL, Anna Levine.
LCL: When did you know you had ADHD?
Anna Levine, Esq.: I’m not sure. I always knew it was difficult for me to sit still or to listen without interrupting, but I did not know necessarily there was a name for it. I just thought I was weird, and maybe also that I was inferior to my peers. Because my ADHD expresses itself in impulsive behaviors like excessive talking, I felt like I was weak, like somehow the reason I could not be quieter was because I somehow had less discipline or will power than my quieter classmates or colleagues. It was not until my late thirties or early forties (after I felt that my ADHD was impacting my work performance and after dealing with a child who has ADHD) that I decided to seek out a diagnosis. By the time I had made that decision, I had already done a fair amount of research on ADHD and had taken multiple self-assessments, I was certain that I had ADHD. Getting the diagnosis was just a formality, a confirmation of a conclusion I had already reached myself.
October is ADHD Awareness month. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is present in about 4-5% of adults. Those dealing with ADHD have a range of experiences, but many encounter difficulty concentrating at times, become overly focused on specific things at other times, struggle to complete work on time, have organizational issues, find it difficult to follow directions to their completion, and exhibit impulsivity. These (and other) symptoms have a real effect on professional functioning, personal relationships, and emotional well-being. And while most people talk about ADHD as a hurdle to overcome, there are also many people who look to the advantages of ADHD as tools for success. Here are a few such examples, a podcast and an article.
Recently a comprehensive report was published by the ABA titled “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change” (find the full text here). Within its pages you will find numerous recommendations for how to increase the well-being of the legal community from multiple sources (law schools, judges, attorney regulators, bar associations, employers, etc.). The report starts, as any report on well-being should start, with the definition of lawyer well-being.
Despite the widely held belief that standing firm in your positions is a sign of strength (the image of certainty, confidence, and success), strategically embracing ambiguity can be the secret to overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Specifically, the way we think about our circumstances and the potential future outcomes of our efforts can be greatly aided by keeping an open mind about various possibilities. Instead of relying on the certainty of having only one path to arrive at your goal, embrace the options of a network of paths that will increase your chances of arriving at your desired destination.