Relationships have always been very important to me. They were when I practiced law. They were when I coached lawyers and they are now as I start my new legal recruiting career.

In March, Nancy and I spent a week in San Miguel de Allende with our friends, going all the way back to college. This week we are with them at Diamante Cabo San Lucas, along with another couple who are close friends. Both husbands names are Bob.

So, why do I bring this up?

Bob B’s company was my first contractor client. Bob F’s company was my last. I haven’t practiced law for over 10 years and they are still among my closest friends.

I was likely very naive, but I was always very happy practicing law. I say naive because once I chose to become a lawyer, it never dawned on me that I could be unhappy with that decision.

Why was I happy?

It wasn’t because I could pour over law books and dictate documents, or later in my career sitting in front of a computer researching and typing. I once said:

I hated the law, but I loved being a lawyer.

I was happy because I had the chance to work with and become close friends with wonderful people.

In 2013, I posted a blog: Photographs and Memories: I shared some with you, about our trips to Wisconsin, and our relationship with Harry and Phyllis.

How can you have a successful career and a fulfilling life? I have done some research and what I have discovered over the years that might be helpful.

Some time ago, an article written by Jonathan Clements appeared in the Wall Street Journal titled: Rich, Successful-and Miserable: Research Probes Midlife Angst. I thought this quote from the article described many lawyers I have met:

In middle age, when you are at the peak of your career and you’re having kids, time is your scarce resource,” says David Schkade, professor of management at the University of California at San Diego. “You’re too busy to improve how you feel.”

Experts sometimes refer to this as the “hedonic treadmill” or “hedonic adaptation,” meaning people rapidly adapt to improvements and thus feel no better off. I found this is true of lawyers who never seemed satisfied.

They strived to make partner and then after they made it, they still weren’t happy. They made more money and still didn’t feel they were better off.

What can be done?

Clements points to research suggesting that you can boost happiness by “counting our blessings.” I get that idea.

When I practiced law, I tended to focus on what I had, not what I didn’t have. I am sure that sounds too “touchy-feely” for some. If so, I think his second and third ideas will resonate with you.

Think about how you spend your spare time. Studies suggest that the activities be enriching and challenging. I have lots of spare time now and what I am doing I find enriching and challenging.

What have been my activities?

Recently, I’ve worked out (with goals using my Apple Watch.) I’ve tried to improve my golf game, (with goals to reduce my handicap). I’ve studied Spanish in Dallas, taken a four weeks Spanish immersion course in San Miguel, and studied on my own. Over four years I studied how to write fiction and I wrote a novel, The Billionaire’s Lawyer. (Click on the title to be taken to Amazon.)

Third, research indicates you need to cultivate friends.

As I mentioned above, my clients were (and remain) my friends and my friends were my clients. That made both my work with those clients and our time together outside of work, more enjoyable.

2014 Golf with Bob and Beverly at Diamante Los Cabos 

If you want to get more ideas on friendships and relationships and how they contribute to happiness, take a look at the PBS This Emotional Life: Connection and Happiness. I found the listed characteristics of close relationships valuable. I thought it was a good reminder of the important things in those relationships:

  • The ability to love and be loved
  • Mutual understanding
  • Caring
  • A source of direct help in times of trouble
  • The celebration of good times
  • Validation of self-worth
  • Security
  • A diversity of ideas and influences to help us grow and learn
  • Fun

Nancy and I have experienced each on the list above with our friends Bob and Beverly and Bob and Jean.  Bob B and Bob F were great to have as clients and even more great to call my friends.

P.S. We originally joined Diamanté because it has one of the top golf courses in the world. What we love about it now is the relationships we have made with the staff who work here. They are special.