BEING SOLO: Too Much of a Bad Thing

Vol. 28 No. 7

By

David Leffler is a member of the New York City law firm Leffler Marcus & McCaffrey LLC, which represents clients in business matters and litigation. Prior to that he was a solo attorney for more than a dozen years.

 

Back in the early 1990s, a man from the future appeared in a small town in Southern California. He amazed the locals with stories of what was to come, from changes in world politics to advances in technology that were hard to even imagine back then.

After a couple of hours of talks, he suddenly felt his body weaken and realized that there had been an oversight in the biomechanics of time travel and that he was about to die. Knowing this, he said, “Before I expire, let me give you one stock tip that will make you wealthy beyond your wildest imagination.”

After the time traveler died, one of the people there that day immediately called his venture capitalist brother-in-law.

“We had the most amazing experience in our little town today,” the local said. “This man from the future arrived here and for over an hour told us about the wonders of what is to come. And then he said that he was going to give us a stock tip that would make us wealthy beyond our wildest imaginations.”

“So what did he recommend?” asked the brother-in-law, who stopped what he was doing on his computer and completely focused his attention on the conversation.

“Well, that was the strange thing. He said that we should look for this new West Coast Internet company in the next few years—and then his eyes rolled back and he just started talking baby talk. And then he died.”

“Baby talk? What do you mean baby talk?” the clearly frustrated brother-in-law asked.

“Well, you know, baby talk. ‘Googy, googly goo, google.’”

 

The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be

Don’t you wish that you could get a stock tip like that . . . and know what to do with it? Especially these days, where there is no shortage of bad news about how uncertain is our future.

There is the real estate crisis, downgrading of the U.S. debt rating, stock market gyrations, global warming, political and economic instability around the globe, terrorism, and mass starvation in Somalia. I’m sure that you will be able to add a couple more to this list by the time you get to read this column.

Is nothing secure? Images of politicians in various stages of undress are broadcast over the Internet for all to see. What happened to the good old days when public figures misbehaved discretely? I guess that technology has made that almost impossible now.

Whatever your circumstances, whether you are struggling financially or having the best year of your career, you can’t have your head filled with these things all of the time or you will:

  • Never be able to relax and enjoy your life;
  • Have a harder time succeeding in your career;
  • Find it difficult to achieve good relationships with your significant other, your kids, and your friends; and
  • Get indigestion (really—if you are tense all of the time, this affects your ability to digest your food).

Dealing with all of this bad news is especially hard for solo attorneys because you are solo—alone in your business endeavors. If you do not have a network of people that you can talk to and vent, pressure can just build up with no release.

 

Solutions

Let go of the guilt. You are not going to save the world, though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something to help make this world a better place. Just don’t turn it into a 24/7 job.

No matter how much misfortune other people in the world are suffering, you still have a right to enjoy your life. Take time to follow your personal interests, people you care about, or just plain silliness if that works for you. (Paranormal investigations, anyone?) Physical exercise is very important to keeping you balanced. As I have said before, you can start with something as simple as walking. If you are not in good shape, just walk around the block once. Eventually you can up that to two blocks, etc., but the important thing is to do it on a regular basis. Every day would be ideal, but if that is not possible, go for three or four times a week.

Do designate time to engage with the world. Schedule time to keep up with world events, support a political candidate, or get involved with projects that support those in need, but don’t let these things take over your life.

“Yeah, but the world is going to hell,” you say.

Maybe, maybe not. Remember Paul Ehrlich? He wrote a best seller in 1968 entitled The Population Bomb. In it he predicted that “In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

Sorry, it didn’t happen. But plenty of people read the book and worried about it. A lot.

Stop watching dystopian movies. Yes, we know that in the future a robot who looks just like Arnold Schwarzenegger will attempt to destroy all of humanity, but enough already!

Take a week or two off from keeping up with current events. It used to be as simple as not reading the newspaper or watching the evening news. These days, news is on the web, which you can access from your desktop computer, your cell phone, and your tablet computer. But do try not to read or linger on the news stories that you find there. Don’t worry, the world will continue on its downward spiral into oblivion without you. And you will feel better.

And don’t believe every guy who makes the news by predicting the end of the world on a specific date. There was a man who did choose to believe such a prediction; he quit his job and spent his life savings on advertisements that the world would end on May 21, 2011. Not sure what this guy did on May 22, 2011. (See the whole story online.)

In every generation there are people who predict that the world will end in their time. This is more of an ego thing than anything else: The world can’t go on without me, so no doubt it will come to an end.

Here’s a piece of advice that might sound silly, but actually can work. Tell yourself that everything is fine. That there isn’t anything to worry about. You aren’t going to really believe it completely, but if you can believe it just enough so that you can relax and live your life, that is all you need.

At least admit to yourself that things might be okay, or okay enough that you don’t have to think every waking moment about all of the negative news out there.

 

Baby Talk

So, take a deep breath (this really works to relax you—try it). Spend time on what matters to you, saving some time for your charities and social causes. Ahh, there, your life is in balance. Just don’t try getting stock tips from babbling babies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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