Law school does not lend its students time to take on many extracurricular hobbies. The legal profession is similar. A true shame because individuals who choose to pursue the law are often accomplished in a variety of fields: they are great athletes, chefs, and artists. The traits that characterize an excellent attorney are the same traits that characterize a master in many different fields.
Mastering another hobby takes an attorney outside of the world of law and can help the attorney develop important skills critical to the legal world. Great actors and singers need to be able to read their audience and ready on their toes to respond accordingly. A baker needs to manage all the products and processes in a kitchen to “close projects” by a certain deadline. An athlete needs to be able to take in feedback and apply it immediately to improve outcomes.
Though the law is time consuming, here are two specific reasons attorneys should “seriously” pursue their hobbies as an activity that is more than just a stress buster.
An obsession with perfectionism may paralyze an attorney who does not have control over certain outcomes (a judge’s decision, or “force majeure”). A hobby often provides a healthy outlet to exercise that “perfection” muscle and opens a healthy channel to express the inner perfectionist. A new hobby, in particular, requires an individual to “execute” a set of instructions. Once you get the gist of the basics and instructions, you get to adjust to your goals and comfort levels to improve your results.
If you are in search for a way to express your inner perfectionist (in a healthy way, of course), consider taking on baking or cooking, painting, or other visual arts.
Some attorneys quickly get into the swing of things and learn to adapt to the routine and rhythm of their practice. While this pays the bills, you may be looking for a little bit more action without wanting to get overwhelmed by biting off more than you can chew. Taking on a hobby that is outside of your comfort zone (particularly a hobby which requires embracing everything outside of your comfort zone in order to master) may help you scratch that itch. The ability to face the unexpected, overcome a steep learning curve, and accomplishing a certain level of mastery of these hobbies are tremendous confidence builders and innovation generators.
If you are looking to step outside of your comfort zone without stepping away from you practice, consider trying out new sports, fitness, or athletic programs: CrossFit, Martial Arts, and Dance are all action packed, regularly requiring enthusiasts to do things they normally won’t do. If you are not so physically inclined, consider Music (singing or instrumental), Improv, or Stand Up Comedy.
Aside from the aforementioned reasons, the suggested hobbies function as more than an outlet to escape comfort or express perfectionism. They also provide valuable opportunities to practice how to solicit and apply feedback, learn from failure and rejection, and learning how to ride victory and achievements. With your hobbies, you can afford to get comfortable with the idea that messing up is totally fine, as long as you learn from your mistakes and try again.
You learn that improvement requires understanding what needs adjustment. This requires securing and sourcing input from others. You learn to distinguish critical feedback that is constructive from those that are destructive. Upon improvement, the positive reinforcement from accomplishing a milestone in a hobby does wonders for confidence.
These skills translate into an attorney’s professional work, helping an attorney to keep perspective and take a measured approach when tackling new projects and producing optimal results. So whatever it is that you decide to pursue outside of your office, pursue it with the knowledge that it is not only a break from work, but that it is also good for work.