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Now that I am practicing, I understand why the law has been referred to as a “jealous mistress.” How can I keep from being taken over by my work, mentally as well as actually?

Q: Now that I am practicing, I understand why the law has been referred to as a “jealous mistress.” How can I keep from being taken over by my work, mentally as well as actually?

A : What is key is that, as we live a life in the law, we can decide how to regard our relationship with our work. As Dr. Martin Seligman confirmed in 2006 in his book, Learned Optimism, one of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals can choose the way they think. Long ago William Shakespeare wrote of the same phenomenon: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

A recent article in the New York Times urged that to sustain a productive yet balanced work life, it is critical to renew oneself…by working in intervals, taking breaks, getting enough rest, and taking real vacations. The author cited research that recommended 90-minute work intervals during the day and nightly sleep of at least six hours–both doable by a busy lawyer.

So it seems mind over matter and a measure of discipline that includes rest and renewal as well as hard work are key to sustaining a good life in the law. Plus, plan and enjoy a well-deserved vacation…it’s important to your work life as well as your personal one.