4 Comments Published on October 21st, 2015 by Tonya Pierce
How can you be a happier paralegal at work? More money, better benefits, more time off, less work, more resources — the list is endless. I wish there was a formula for being a happier paralegal, but every job is different and every paralegal is a unique person. What makes one paralegal happier at the office may not work for another. Below are 10 ways to be a happier paralegal at work based on my experience and feedback from my paralegal friends and network.
Don’t Bring Home to Work
This is easier said than done when your home life is chaotic, however, you must leave your personal life at the doorstep of your office. When you bring your home life to work, the emotions and tension interfere with your job performance, which only creates more stress at work. You’re distracted and less productive. Keeping your home life and your work life separate demands discipline but it will make for a happier work life.
Resist Beating Yourself Up Over a Mistake
This has always been one of the most difficult concepts for me to embrace. We all make mistakes. Being a perfectionist will make you miserable if you allow it to do so. Even the most conscientious, hard-working, thorough, and diligent paralegals still make mistakes. Instead of beating yourself up about the error, correct it and move on.
Don’t Hold Grudges
Holding grudges will only make you miserable — it very seldom “punishes” the other person. You can’t change what’s happened in the past and dwelling on the situation uses energy that you should be using to do your job. Try putting yourself in the other person’s position to gain understanding but if this doesn’t work, choose to use this as a valuable learning experience to make you a better and happier paralegal and move on.
Be Careful of Taking On More Than You Can Handle
Accepting assignments and taking on more work than you can handle only results in stress and unhappiness when you constantly fail to meet deadlines or produce quality work. No, you may not have the ability to turn down assignments, however, taking on the role of “Super Paralegal” and trying to do everything is not the way to be happy at work.
Remember Why You Wanted to be a Paralegal
I wanted to help people. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we’re helping clients who may be going through one of the worst things they have ever experienced in their lives. For the client, it’s not a case — this is their life. Taking time to remember why you are working so hard can make you a much happier paralegal by reigniting the passion you felt when you first decided on this path. Remembering the advantages of being a paralegal can pull you through a bad day.
Get Rid of the Green-eyed Monster
Don’t waste your time being jealous of your colleagues. It’s easy to be jealous of a co-worker, however, you become your own worst enemy if you allow envy to consume your time. Becoming angry or feeling worse about yourself has a negative impact on your quality of work and productivity. Instead of focusing on what’s happening with your co-worker, focus your energy on producing exceptional work. You’ll be happier and your attorney will take notice.
Take Care of Yourself
To be a happy paralegal, you need to be a healthy paralegal. Eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Taking care of yourself improves your energy level, attitude, and concentration.
Being organized allows you to work smarter, not harder. When I could not see my desk and there were piles of files in all of my officer chairs and stacks of files on my floor, it made my job much more difficult. Taking an hour to organize and prioritize my work always reduced my stress level and improved my mood. Work is stressful enough without dealing with clutter and scrambling to locate files or documents at a moment’s notice.
Coming in early, working through lunch, and staying late will make you an unhappy paralegal because you will quickly burn out. Learn how to delegate work and take breaks during the day. You must also take time away from the office and use your vacation days to relax and rest from the demands and stress of your job. Take the time to recharge.
Take Control of Your Career
You’re responsible for your own professional development. Take control of your personal and professional development by setting goals and making a plan to reach those goals. You’ll be a happier if you feel your career is on the path that will take you where you want to be in five, ten, and fifteen years. You gain the more by growing than standing still.
Are You a Happy Paralegal?
There are many reasons why you may be unhappy at work, however, the only person who can change that situation is you. If the reason you are unhappy at work is out of your control, you may need to pursue other job opportunities. The first step is to determine what is making you unhappy and then take steps to change the situation. You don’t have to accept your current situation — you can make changes to become a happier paralegal!
We want to know what makes you a happier paralegal at work. Please share your thoughts and comments.
Tonya Pierce is a paralegal with over 24 years experience in several areas of the legal field (17 years as a bankruptcy paralegal and trustee paralegal).