How to Turn a Bad Day Around

how to turn a bad day aroundLadies, how do you turn a bad day around?  What do you do to reinvigorate yourself, put the day in perspective, and ultimately move on? Do you have any tricks for “saving” a lousy day, or for letting go of the day once you’ve finished it? We’ve talked about ways to relax, laughter as medicine, and general after-work routines (as well as how to get your groove back in general), but not this.

For my $.02 — without sounding too much like the self-help section of the bookstore — I think gratitude is an amazing thing. (I am grateful for gratitude!) No matter what my mood is on the day itself, I find if I focus on three things I’m grateful for as I’m falling asleep, I get to sleep easier, sleep better, and wake up in a better mood. A few other ideas for shaking off a bad day:

  • Dance party! Shake it off, shake it off.
  • Have one drink with a friend and talk about other things, like how his or her life is going.  (I find that on a bad day, drinking more and obsessing over whatever went wrong just leaves me with a bigger black cloud over my head, so I don’t recommend drinking to excess or rehashing your bad day in detail — sleep on it one night, at least!)
  • Seek beauty.  Go for a walk and appreciate the skyline, the clouds, the trees — whatever is around you that you find beautiful.  If you can get out of work early enough to go to an art museum, you can do that. Along these lines, adult coloring books may also be helpful.
  • Focus on sensory input.  Go shopping, not to buy (necessarily) but to touch the different fabrics.  If stores are closed by the time you get out of work, try making cookies or bread or something you can knead with your hands.  (Or, steal a trick from the kiddos, and make your own playdough — odds are good you have everything you need in your pantry, and you avoid the temptation to eat the results.) Make some tea that smells amazing, and sit with the smell.
  • Laugh.  It’s one of my favorite ways to clear my head of a bad day.
  • Sleep.  Do whatever you have to to get a good night’s sleep.  If you have problems falling asleep, try the 4, 7, 8 technique, or challenge yourself to name five things that start with B in your bedroom.

Ladies, how do you turn around a bad day?

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Planning Your Career for Babies

Planning Your Career for BabiesWe’ve talked about how to financially plan for babies recently-ish, but we haven’t discussed other broad aspects of planning for babies since 2010, when I was pregnant with my first but hadn’t yet announced it here. (Ah, although we did have a nice discussion about when to get pregnant, which I’d forgotten about.) So what does planning your career for babies look like? I just got this related question from Reader K:

I am a 33 yo associate attorney at a small firm. I was pregnant with my first and then had a miscarriage in October. It was going to be perfect timing work-wise — due at the end of April. So here I am, possibly ready to try again. I have a big trial in a case that’s solely my case in February 2017. I doubt it will settle. Is it irresponsible of me to just try for a baby again regardless of timing? Work is very important but I also feel timing babies around work may be a fool’s errand.

I’m curious to hear what other readers have to say, but of course I have some thoughts. As a mother of two kids under 5, my advice to those of you trying to plan your career around eventually having a baby: Don’t. Some notes:

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Open Thread: Vacation Time

Vacation Time | CorporetteAs the close of 2015 is almost upon us, here’s a question: did you use your vacation time? If you did (congratulations), please regale us with stories — wheredja go, whadja do, how’d you find the time to plan/schedule it, which app/service would you recommend, etc. — but if you DIDN’T (which historically was me), why not? Did you just have too much work? Did you not feel comfortable scheduling something with your work calendar? Was it a budget/priority thing? For everyone — do you have any big plans for 2016?

For my $.02 — I almost never used all of my vacation time, and looking back it was largely because I worried it would reflect poorly on me at work. I also was worried that I would spend all this time/energy/money researching a vacation only to have it cancelled at the last minute due to work. I felt pretty comfortable in BigLaw scheduling trips to see my parents, both because we had religious reasons (Christmas, Easter) for the trips, as well as because I knew my parents had good Internet service and would understand if I had to turn it into a working vacation. And of course I would tack on a day or two here or there if I was traveling for a friend’s weekend wedding or whatnot.

But in terms of fun vacations, particularly in places without reliable Internet access? The stress usually stopped me from going. For example, my now husband took me to Paris a few months after we started dating, and I was terrified the trip would be cancelled, that there would somehow be a disaster ON the 5-day trip (I had nightmares of having to find an “Internet cafe” to work in for hours, paying in 15-minute increments with a dial-up modem). I worried that when I left I would be working without sleep to get all the work done — and I worried that when I returned there would be a mountain of work waiting for me. The trip turned out fine, of course. (Ok, I got food poisoning, which was less than awesome for a romantic vacation, and we totally failed to make it to Reims because I misunderstood the train schedule, but workwise it was fine.)

Another reason I didn’t travel much while working in BigLaw: I could never get the timing right to travel with friends, and I never dated anyone seriously enough to even ponder a vacation together (until I met my husband) — and I was hesitant to travel by myself as a single woman. In my non-profit job, I didn’t have nearly as much vacation time, I didn’t have seniority to choose when to take it, and we didn’t have the budget anyway to take vacation without some serious sacrifices. [Read more…]

Women, Drinking, and Overachieving

women-drinking Ladies: how do you feel about drinking? Do you think overachieving women tend to drink more? We haven’t talked about this for a while, but it’s been on my mind with various news articles I’ve seen, and with the holidays coming up I thought we’d discuss. (I don’t want to totally rehash my thoughts from our 2010 discussion on this, but I still agree with all of them…)

First, the articles and propositions I’ve been thinking about:

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When Personal Problems Affect Your Job Performance

When Personal Problems Affect Your Job Performance | CorporetteWhen your work suffers because of personal problems you’ve been struggling with — and your supervisor has noticed — how can you turn things around? Reader J wonders…

I am a mid-level associate in Big Law. I switched firms in December of 2014. Today, I had my first review and it went very poorly — in Big Law words, “needs improvement across the board.” How do I get out from under my first review having been so terrible? Back story: When I joined this firm, my mom was approaching the one year mark after being diagnosed with stage IV cancer and was doing well. Within about 8 weeks, she got very sick, and over the course of the following 12 weeks, died a slow, painful death. My dad has become too depressed to take care of himself. My boyfriend of over a year left me. I have no real family support. My personal life has been atrocious, and while I tried my best in the office, I knew that I was falling short due to non-work demands/crises. Recently, I’ve felt back on my feet. I know that I can meet expectations and that my work product is, under normal conditions, solid and consistent and I love my job. How do I overcome this bad first impression?

Ouch, Reader J — I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had such a rough year, and that it’s affected your work in such a negative way. I think you have a few options for recovering from a career setback like the one you’ve experienced:

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Your Job, Your Career, or You: When to Quit Your Career

hate job or hate careerWhen should you quit your career? How do you know when you’ve chosen the wrong one? How long should you give yourself before you quit — and how many jobs should you try in that career? Reader F has SUCH a great question about this:

Question for you: how do you know if you hate your particular JOB or hate your whole CAREER? I’m a first year associate in (the biggest of) big law, and I know it was supposed to be hard — I knew I was going to bill 200 hours a month coming into this! — but I think my position might be particularly hard because of people I work for. How do I know the difference between a challenging environment (and maybe should switch jobs) or a terrible career choice (and maybe should switch careers)? At what point do you throw in the towel and say, “It’s not them, it’s me”?

I can’t wait to hear what readers say here because I think this is something a LOT of people — particularly entry-level BigLaw lawyers — struggle with. We’ve talked about changing careers before (the pros and cons of different careers, as well as my own experience in career changes. While I had yet to find my fit in the law before I decided to focus on this blog, many of our readers are happy lawyers, and hopefully they’ll have some great advice for Reader F. For what it’s worth, though, here’s my take:

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