Legal business development: at your final hour, will work be your biggest regret?

By Paula Black

"I wish I hadn't worked so hard." Could that be you? An Australian nurse named Bronnier Ware spent years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She blogged about her patients epiphanies and has now written a book... The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Here are her findings from an article in The Guardian...

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. "This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it."

This does not surprise me, since I hear many lawyers talk about how they hate being a lawyer and they only went to law school because it was expected of them. Maybe its time to evaluate why you are a lawyer, is it for you or for someone else? Or maybe you need to find a way to re-shape your practice so that it fits you and your dream!

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard. "This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

I think we have all heard this one. It is why are so many are looking for the impossible..."work-life balance!" Maybe instead we should be looking for harmony, and setting priorities. And be happy with life as it ebbs and flows, instead of striving for the impossible and feeling like a failure when we can't achieve it.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. "Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

It's easy to just go with the flow in order to not make waves in the firm. I have a client who is a partner who gets unreasonable requests from a senior partner in a law firm and who has no children. Sometimes the requests seem like demands that cannot be negotiated. It is my belief that the response could be something like this... "I can't meet you on Saturday morning but I could stay late Friday night, would that work for you?" Find a way to express your feeling and you just may find that you have an alternative.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. "Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years."

Relationships are at the core of the legal profession. Having the ability to work with friends and refer work to your friend is a privilege and a pleasure.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. "This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

Happiness IS a choice and the more you smile the happier you will be. So instead of telling yourself... "I hate this case... I hate the job... I hate the law." Find the little things that you DO like and say... I like my client... I like writing... I like walking to lunch. You can choose to find fault or you can choose to find happiness... what is YOUR choice?

Choose... no regrets!  Live your dreams. Make work and play so seamless that you can't tell where one ends and the other begins. I know what you're thinking... no one said it would be easy... but it can be done!

What a helping hand as you seek to build a practice that reflects YOUR dreams and YOUR priorities? I'd love to hear from you!

Filed Under: Practice of Law

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