Show me a paralegal who has been in the business for more than 7 years and NOT experienced burnout, and I’ll guarantee you they are a total liar.
Recent personal crises aside, I feel like lately I have totally been phoning it in. Stack of depos to be summarized a foot and a half high? Meh. I’ll get to it. Need to follow up on those records requests that went out ages ago? Maybe tomorrow. Yeah, I’m not bragging or proud of my current state of mind. I just … don’t care. A fellow paralegal in my department has been at this much longer than I have and she has all kinds of spunk and vigor for her job. Granted, she has been at this firm for a whole lot less time than I have. She gets all fired up and works overtime when she has a deadline looming and a butt load of work. Me? My attitude is that I’ll get done what I can, when I can, and that will have to do. Oh look, new stuff on my twitter feed!
I defend myself a bit by saying I have a 3 year old child that must be picked up from daycare by 6:00 or else my checking account will be siphoned and I’ll have to tell child protective services why I was 5 minutes late. In all honesty, I just don’t have the energy to really worry about it. I start to wonder if this is a product of just doing the same type of law for the past 15 years or so, or if it’s this firm.
Part of the reason my new colleague is fired up about her work is that she still feels the need to prove herself to the attorneys. Maybe I’m too comfortable where I am? When I am working, I know I do a damn good job and my attorneys know this, too. My last review was about 20 seconds long and consisted of being told that if I ever left, my husband would be collecting boo koo bucks in life insurance. But not in those exact words. It was actually more graphic. It’s a good thing I share a dark sense of humor with Attorney B. I’m comfortable knowing that I’m awesome at what I do and I am not likely to get fired or disciplined unless I seriously screw up. And let’s face it, the odds of unintentionally screwing up are growing given my current lack of caring.
Not that my firm does a lot to inspire it’s workers to really reach for the gold or even improve morale. Perhaps that is part of the problem. The only incentive I have to kick ass (other than my own satisfaction) is that I won’t get yelled at. Even that doesn’t motivate me anymore because on any given day, I could be thrown under the bus by an attorney for something that wasn’t my responsibility or I had no control over. Or the fact that there is an ever increasing amount of work to do and it’s still expected to be accomplished in the same amount of time. And keep the overtime in check, will ya?
Besides the growing stack of work to be done and my indifference to it, I got to thinking about this because I was listening to a speaker at a recent conference and he mentioned some different areas of law during his presentation. The thought of doing something different drifted through my head, which sparked intrigue and a little wiggle of excitement that I hadn’t had in a while. For the life of me, I can’t even remember what area of law it was that created that moment. And it probably doesn’t even matter. Just the idea of doing something different was the spark.
The thought of learning something different than what I’ve been doing the last 10+ years is flat out scary. Besides, I mostly like what I do and it’s a good fit for my abilities and interests. Give me some medical issue to research, and I’ll run it down like a frickin’ blood hound. Want some dirt on someone? I’ll turn over any stone I can get my hands on, and some I can’t. I can tell you how to perform a laparoscopic cholecystectomy and the indications for converting it to an open surgery. (Gallbladder surgery for those non-medical people.) I can tell you what the signs and symptoms are for abdominal sepsis. And why you should tell your doctor about that nagging pain.
Maybe I just need a vacation. Or some new interest. Maybe I should look into completing my Bachelors degree. I’ve made it to where I always wanted to be. Now what the hell do I do?