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Health and wellbeing: Bring on the resolutions

Health and wellbeing: Bring on the resolutions

By Dr Martine Marich

Health Wellbeing 

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The start of a new legal year is a good time to consider wellbeing and your working life.

Snapshot
  • The start of a new legal year can be a good time to evaluate your wellbeing – in health as well as your legal practice. 
  • Consider measuring your baseline of health and fitness.
  • Continue to build a trusted and meaningful community within and beyond legal practice.
  • Evaluate the areas of practice to which you are committed – that sense of commitment creates its own wellness benefits but it is also finite – ease up when you feel overcommitted.

The new year is traditionally the time to commit to resolutions, to tweak the areas of life and health that could benefit from refinement. It’s the perfect opportunity to start the year fresh and rested, having enjoyed a short break from the cognitive and emotional demands the law makes on us. To be a good lawyer we must look after our own wellbeing. Here are some resolutions that can easily be incorporated into working life. 

First, identify the areas of our own practice that could benefit from minor adjustments.

An obvious choice is physical and mental health. My suggestion is to understand and appreciate where your baseline of health lies. It may be time for a medical check-up: blood, eyesight, hearing tests; physical and mental acuity. For some, it may be time to speak to a dietician or personal trainer, or simply to commit to more movement. For others, it may be time for a new challenge such as mindfulness, meditation or yoga. Small, identifiable and manageable goals are the key, and understanding your current health status will give you the starting point from which other goals can be set.

The second area of professional resolution is building a trusted and meaningful community. In my view, community is a key foundation of a healthy legal practice. For a city lawyer you may be surrounded by others who practise in the same area. This is not what I mean by a true community; instead, it’s what my children would call their “squad” – a group, even just a few trusted allies, with whom you can share the highs and lows of professional life. Many lawyers, in different stages of practice, feel they are yet to find their folk, and this may need a specific resolution – to join a practice committee within the LIV, to volunteer with a local community legal centre, to attend a professional development seminar, could create the opportunity for new connections. Joining groups based on a common interest, whether it be craft, parenting groups, a book club or a food or wine appreciation group can create personal connections that are protective of the stress of practice.

My final suggestion for a professional wellness resolution is to measure and recalibrate your sense of commitment. Commitment can cut both ways – a feeling of commitment, such as to your practice of law, can provide its own wellness benefits, a true sense of purpose and value in your career. However, one needs to acknowledge the finite capacity to commit. Many of us commit deeply to numerous and sometimes competing objectives, such as a fulfilling and sustainable practice, but also to a loving relationship, the care of children or ageing parents. In my view, it is worth taking time to evaluate one’s capacity to commit to each area of our lives and health versus its relative importance to a happy, healthy and successful life. This can be the right time to make small changes to reflect competing priorities of time and importance.

I wish you all a happy new year and good challenges in all your professional and personal pursuits in 2020. ■


Dr Martine Marich is a judge of the County Court of Victoria and lectures at the Monash University Faculty of Law.


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