At the end of my first year of law school I weighed 278 pounds. It took three years, buckets of sweat, a little blood, and hard work to get on the scale in early 2011 and weigh in at 178 pounds. What I learned in those years didn’t just help me lose weight. Instead, I gained an insight into myself and learned things that help me every day both personally and professionally. They could help you too.
The First Steps are the Hardest
Whether you’re studying for the bar exam, opening a law firm, or trying to get healthy, your first steps will be the hardest you take. In the course of losing my weight, this had a literal meaning. I remember the first time I tried to run and I could barely make it to the end of the block. Even when I did, I thought that would be the end of me. But I didn’t stop. Next time I went a half block further. Then I did it again. Each step got a little bit easier until eventually I could run (slowly) for miles.
The same is true of nearly any large goal. The idea of walking out of your firm and attracting enough business to stay afloat can be daunting. In the first few months you’ll likely be hustling for every dollar and stressing to keep the lights on. But eventually there will be positives and things will get a little easier.
I remind myself of this with almost any new endeavor. It will be hard. But sometimes we have to do what’s hard. Then it will get easier and hopefully be worth the effort.
Hard Work Versus Obsession
When trying to get healthy it’s easy to become obsessed. It becomes all you talk about, all you think about, and all you worry about. This obsession can quickly become unhealthy. The same lesson applies to any large undertaking. Anything from a big case to a new job can drive you to achieve your best. Just make sure you are aware of your limits.
Sure, this may be the case to make or break your career. And yes, you better work your tush off on that case. But there is a line between extreme dedication to your goal and obsession. When you become obsessed with anything, it isn’t healthy. That obsession can consume you and take a lot away from other parts of your life. There were times when I toed this line during my weight loss journey. Luckily, at least in my opinion, I was able to always keep things in perspective. I’m sure there are many readers who can think of at least one person that has gone over the line and let some aspect of their career or personal life get so out of hand that it consumes them. When undertaking any big goal, make sure to keep this possibility in mind.
Adapting When Necessary
My original weight loss plan was to cut out sweets and do crunches in the morning. That worked for the first five or ten pounds, but I quickly hit a plateau. I realized that to achieve my goal I had to keep changing my approach. So over the subsequent months I went from one plan to another. I only stayed with a specific plan until I got bored or it stopped working.
If something isn’t working in your life or your career, it’s time for a change. It doesn’t matter if it’s your marketing campaign, your task management system, or your work/life balance. When something isn’t working you can’t just continue plodding on in the same fashion and hope that you will get different results. As Einstein said, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. So don’t do it. Make a change. Make an improvement.