Lawyer and Coach for Lawyers Susan Goodkind Wideman joined me recently to talk about her journey… from her under-graduate degree of ergonomic design to getting her law degree and landing in an “elder law” practice to burning out.
Susan was a work-a-holic. No matter what, work allowed her to stay busy and not look after herself. She didn’t deal with her emotions, and she left any relationships she had garnered in the dust.
After a life altering moment, followed by a serious accident, she took the minimum amount of time to heal from both instances and returned to work (probably a bit too soon).
Her lack of focus caused her to start making costly mistakes. She was losing her patience with everyone around her. Susan started disliking her clients. She did not have her act together.
So, what did she do? She worked harder….
And what do you think happened after that? She burned out.
Then she decided to sell her law practice, and embark on a journey to figure out why this happened to her, how it happened, and focussed on getting well again.
Here are some questions that came up…
What are some of the signs of burnout that other lawyers may be experiencing?
💡 Being on auto-pilot
💡 Not connecting with things going on around you
💡 Losing sight of values.
💡 Loss of focus
Did anyone in your office ever tell you they noticed the changes in you and bring it to your attention?
“My staff were way too tolerant of my moods, and they didn’t say anything or just got up and quit. I went through 3 secretaries within 5 years!”
Here are some things Susan was experiencing:
🔗 Feeling disconnected
🚪 Kept her door closed
😭 Highly emotional
How do you define burn out?
Burn out is a spectrum. You start lawyering with all these high hopes, ambitions and goals.
When you switch to autopilot… the demands get higher… then burn out can occur.
Some people can catch themselves and course correct, but others are not so lucky.
What should be your next step when you recognize the signs of burnout?
👍 The hardest part is recognizing it in the first place.
👍 Look at what’s going on in your situation, and work on your self-awareness.
👍 Ask yourself if you are connecting with the things you love to do.
👍 Limit yourself on social media.
About the work she does with lawyers now.
Susan coaches 1 on 1, with a time commitment to work on the process and develop new habits.
She also coaches in groups, which she finds helpful for reinforcing support together.
They do a lot of brain work, to improve mental fitness.
Together they find where things went off track and create good habits to bring things back in line.
She works with all levels within a law practice, from support staff to owners.
You can reach out and connect to Susan in the following ways –
Her website – GoodkindofLife
Here are a few free resources for you to try out…
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With 16 years in a solo law practice, Sharon Christie discovered that the secret to thriving instead of merely surviving lies in the ability to land great clients…consistently. Sharon cracked the marketing code — catapulting her law practice clientele from ZERO to HUNDREDS in under 9 months — and now reveals her proven 3 step formula to other female lawyers who are ready to replace the rat race with a bold, thriving law business.
Part of her 3 step formula in action is frequent lecturing to professional and community groups, including NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore, the Brain Injury Association of Maryland, the Lupus Foundation, Let’s Talk Sarcoidosis and the Sinai Return to Work Program, and authoring books for her law practice clients such as the 2 books on Social Security Disability benefits, The Unofficial Guide to Social Security Disability Benefits and Can You Win Your Social Security Disability Case?: The Blueprint You Need to Get Social Security Disability.
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