Joy Journal

Every Friday, you can receive the Joy Journal, which will give you information, inspiration and tips that you can use in your pursuit for joy.


Do more than treat the symptoms

Fix the root cause


WARNING: This journal is sad. The news is not good. For the first time, a study identifies the drivers of suicidal thinking among lawyers. Overwork is one of those drivers. For those of you working in Biglaw, I’m sure this isn’t surprising, nor for others of you who work in high-volume workload types of businesses.

Candidly, a report like this fuels my exasperation. Why? Because overwork is fixable—yet many businesses focus more on offering stress management tools and self-care resources rather than make systemic adjustments to reduce workloads, ease always-on pressure and reward results, rather than time.

Take law firm bonuses. What if they stopped being only about additional hours billed? What if, instead, they focused on keeping clients happy, meeting deadlines, delivering quality work and teaming—you know, the things that are also important to the business.

In another sad report, in 2016, The World Health Organization shared the results of a 16-year study that found that 745,000 people died from overwork that year. [Overwork is defined as working more than 55 hours in a week in perpetuity.] The deaths are from stroke or heart attack resulting from chronic stress.

These are just two studies amongst many that demonstrate what happens when you don’t manage the structure of how your business works. Yes, stress management and self-care resources are valuable and should be offered, but don’t stop there. Examine your business to find the root causes of overwork and strive to do something about them. It may not be easy to change how things operate in your business, but please try. The lives of your team members may depend on it.

[Ugh…just writing this very short journal has me incensed. I’m going for a walk around the block to cool off. I may start a campaign titled “Death to BHB!” [Billable-Hour Bonus]. If you want to get in on this with me, let me know. 😉]

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