Finding My Balance Point — Update

I think I left my last post on a bit of a cliffhanger.  Didn’t mean to leave anyone hanging!  Short update is that I did join the first firm that reached out to me.  I’m glad they reached out first because I would have picked them anyway.  It’s a smaller firm with ten or so attorneys and a more humane approach to the practice of law.  Almost no e-mails at night or on the weekends unless there’s an imminent deadline or crisis.  Also very supportive of flexible schedules and working remotely.

The New Schedule

Over the last 2+ months, I’ve billed about 20 hours a week working on one active litigation matter and a few due diligence projects.  At first, I was in BigLaw mode where I worried about stepping out during the day in case I got some last-minute request.  But gradually I’ve gotten much better at taking advantage of my part-time, remote role.  Now, I try to get out of the house at least once a day for a few hours.  For example, on Monday and Wednesday, I might spend two and a half hours at the driving range or practice green working on my golf game.  On Tuesday and Thursday, I might go to the gym for an hour or so, and run some errands afterwards.  I usually take Fridays off to play a round of golf or do something fun with my wife.  I haven’t worked a weekend yet and usually play another round on Sundays.

I’ve gone from 3 or 4 rounds of golf a week down to 1 or 2 rounds, but spend significantly more time on practice.  It’s a good enough compromise.  When I used to play a lot, I didn’t have to practice because the golf swing feel was fresh in my mind.  When I don’t play as much, things go awry really easily so I have to practice to learn shortcuts/anchors to get back in the zone, if that makes sense.  For example, I used to be hot and cold with my driver (still am to a degree), but could ride a wave of being hot for several rounds.  That all went to hell shortly after we moved to San Diego.  Lately, through practice, I’ve been able to hone in on a few intentions and feelings that help avoid my worst misses.  My game is pretty close to how it was before we moved, and hopefully on the way towards further improvement.  My immediate goal is to get my game in shape for some bucket-list golf in Ireland this summer.

On the whole, I like my current schedule as I fill my time with things I am good at / enjoy, without having to deal with the stresses and annoyances of being a full-time litigation attorney in BigLaw.  I don’t have to manage people and cases — just have to make sure the little corner of the case I have been assigned is neat and tidy.

The New Financial Mentality

It’s interesting how a recurring paycheck can change one’s perspective on money.  We went from a scarcity mentality to an abundance mentality.  Before, my wife’s paycheck covered our living expenses and our dividends provided a bit of a buffer.  We were thinking of buying real estate at the bare minimum of our needs to create some breathing room in terms of recurring expenses.  I was worried about how having a kid would throw off our financial balance.

Looking back right now, it was a bit of a stressful situation.  I wasn’t totally conscious of it though.  I might have just ignored those voices in my head.  I mean we were technically financially independent for our current situation…but that doesn’t mean money concerns just go away.

Now that I am making a good income again, I think part of me just wants to relax and enjoy the fact that we can loosen our belts and not think about withdrawal rates and all that.  For example, I can play Torrey Pines and not think about the fact that it is 4 times more expensive than another course in the area.

Is This My Goldilocks’ Lifestyle?

Not too hot, not too cold…just right.  I didn’t work at all yesterday and so far I’ve gotten one substantive e-mail today.  I’m playing a round of golf tomorrow and it’s a sunny 70 degrees outside.  So far I’m liking this new lifestyle.  Time will tell if it is sustainable.

7 thoughts on “Finding My Balance Point — Update

  1. Congratulations, Anon. Can I ask what courses you plan to play in Ireland this summer? I’m playing RCD, Castlerock and Old Head in August.

    • Hey Oscar! I’m playing the Island in Dublin, Ballybunion (Old), Lahinch, Bantry Bay, and Old Head. Old Head is not until early Sept so we will just miss each other. Would have been a great coincidence to run into you on the other side of the pond! Did you book a caddie for Old Head? I can’t seem to decide since it doesn’t seem to be as linksy as some of the other courses.

      I’ve got a laser focus on my game to try to improve before Ireland. Just shot an 83 earlier today. Going to play Torrey North on Sunday.

  2. I’m so glad you’re back to blogging! I used to read your blog in law school, and randomly checked it today and saw you had some 2018 posts – it’s good to get reacquainted.

    I’m glad the new schedule is going well. I think that is my hope someday – go from BigLaw litigation to a more part-time small firm setting – so it’s nice of you to try it out and report back with how it feels to do so. I also really appreciate the honest comment about the switch from a scarcity to an abundance mentality. I am early on in BigLaw, but I recently relaxed my spending limitations because I realized that I was in a scarcity mentality, in pursuit of FI; I’m much happier now that I’ve relaxed a bit, and recognized that some extra time working is worth not foregoing my life in the interim. It’s odd how much stress money can cause, even in a more abstract, fantastical planning world.

    • Hi Taylor! Thanks for the message. I’m always happy to reconnect with those who have followed my journey. I think you have the right idea about focusing on overall happiness, especially while you are still in BigLaw. Paying for small conveniences can really make a difference when you are billing 250+ hours a month in the run up to trial. Plus, you are making really good money for someone your age — spending an extra $1k or less than 0.5% of your income is nothing. I also fell into the trap of obsessively tracking my net worth, as if looking at it ten times a day would make it grow any faster. It only served to make me unhappy, when I should have focused on more fulfilling things.

      P.S. I looked up your firm profile and see we are in the same practice group, so I can put myself in your shoes 🙂 Wish you all the best!

  3. Pingback: Holiday Update | Thoughts of an Anonymous Lawyer

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