The theme of the Institute of Policy Studies conference held in Singapore this month was Reset. Such an apt word in this climate that we live in. The word stuck in my mind and I started thinking about what reset means in our life and as lawyers.
As much as we want life to return to normalcy, it is not going to. Face masks, Trace Together, social distancing and maintaining personal hygiene is going to stay with us for a very long time. Early closing of restaurants and drinking holes will continue to make a dent in our social life. Whether it will take three years, five years or seven years for international travel to resume is anybody’s guess.
All these changes take a toll on our mental health, whether we acknowledge it or not. Not being able to travel for meetings and conferences and leisure is already taking a toll on me. I wake up in the mornings, and take a flight of stairs to my home office to start my work day. Work is conducted via Zoom, Microsoft Team Meetings, e-mails, Whatsapp and telephone calls. A day in the office is no different. Is this what life is about, I asked myself one morning after I woke up.
I am not in a depressive mode but the truth is that we are affected emotionally, in one way or another every day. The freedom in our life has been taken away from us.
Thus, resetting our life is the natural step to take. We are not resetting it to before January 2020. Like the yester years, pre-COVID life is in the past. It will never come back. I remember the movie, Back to the Future, which portrayed life in the future. In a sense, we are resetting our life to the future in Singapore, not exactly knowing how the future will look like.
It’s time to discover your true purpose in life. What do you feel you are meant to do? Living your life’s purpose puts you in harmony with the entire Universe. It puts you in alignment with Nature. It makes your life worthwhile! Be humble, and ask to be shown.
I came across this quote from www.saratogaocean.com in my Facebook feed. It made me stop scrolling my Facebook and re-read this. Perhaps, this is what we should be doing in this COVID world we live in.
Not having to go into the office every day, the other place I had to go to – the Family Justice Courts and interacting with people, for some strange reason, made me feel at peace and happy. I felt that I was in a state of nirvana – largely being with myself, listening to my thoughts and feelings and being in full equilibrium. This was an essential reset for me. If I am at peace, I feel happy and better. My perspective of life is very positive. I feel light and I work with a tune in my heart.
In Phase 2, when I had to go back to the office to attend client meetings, I would return home quickly – to my safe haven. I would feel so exhausted when I was outside the home. I would not want to go out and I would be happiest staying home even during weekends. Leaving the house was only for essentials – grocery shopping, visiting family and the occasional eating out.
“You are going to the extreme. You used to not want to stay at home and now I cannot even get you out of the house,” the Wife complained. “You really should go out more,” was her final ultimatum to me.
I had turned into a recluse, and a happy one. I am an introvert who only enjoys human company when I desire it. Surrounding myself with thinkers, intellectual conversationalists or people who share similar views about life, human connections and entrepreneurial journeys excites me. This would mean that such company comprises less than five per cent of the people I used to surround myself with. I discovered three communities of entrepreneurs I enjoyed hanging around, who made me feel positive, energised and excited to create more achievements in my life. The community also helped me see myself through their lenses. Their reflection of who I am, my values, my achievements and my place in the world was not only positive but heartwarming as I felt as if I was looking at my internal self in the mirror.
Recently a young lawyer mentioned on his Facebook page that law practice was the most difficult thing that he has done in his life. He is correct in the sense that lawyering is a difficult job. We have many struggles not only in our law practice but the effects of practice on our personal life and loved ones. Yet, lawyers, like many other professionals, portray a clean and perfect image of ourselves to the outside world. This makes us look almost perfect. In reality, we are not. Law practice does change us. The Wife said I have become a hardened and detached family lawyer.
As we are supporting and helping our clients, we too need support. I also belong to two small groups of family lawyers. We are close. We share about our ups and downs. We laugh, joke and encourage one another, share practice woes and support each other.
One important reset is to be in the company of people who will take away the low feelings of loneliness and boredom in our life. Being in their physical presence (eight people for now), talking, laughing, hearing each other out, learning from each other, taking photographs and playing games lightens the mood and the mind.
The reset is the creation of communities or kampungs (as referred to in Singapore) to be a part of and live life together.
The other reset will be to keep learning new knowledge and skills through reading, watching videos and listening to podcasts. Some of the subjects I have focused on include how to be more effective and efficient at work and in the various activities and projects I handle. I keep fine-tuning the work system, not only for myself but also for my law firm.
My relationship with the Wife, my family and my friends has become closer. I have had much quiet time and opportunity to think about each one of them and how I can connect with them better.
There are many more other resets, and for everyone of us, our resets will be different.
What are your resets during this pandemic?