Fear is natural, but for some lawyers, it can be difficult to face. According to various reports and surveys, a high percentage of lawyers suffer from some type of anxiety. Many who become consumed by their fears turn to alcohol or drugs to cope but find no long-term solutions.
To avoid letting fear overcome you, it is helpful to know that you are not alone. By understanding the true nature of some of the common fears many lawyers share, you can gain power over them and prevent them from overshadowing your life and livelihood.
Fear of Being a Failure
The fear of failure often rears its head in professions requiring a high level of responsibility. The stakes are typically high in law work, and lives and livelihoods depend on lawyers competently performing their duties.
For some lawyers, being a failure means unsuccessfully defending a defendant at trial. For others, it might mean structuring a deal or trust incorrectly to the harm of their client. Regardless of the specifics, a fear of failure can become so overwhelming that it can cause failure itself.
A failure can serve as a powerful indicator as to what areas of your work need attention. It helps to remember that failure is inevitable, and you are not a failure simply because you failed at something. Failing at something means you have encountered an opportunity to grow in an area of your practice.
Every attorney’s situation is different. For example, some lawyers have problems delegating work to others, which is key to a growing law practice’s success. Without delegation, up-and-coming firms may quickly become overwhelmed. On the other hand, other lawyers might be great at delegating legal work but need improvement in other areas.
Fear of Being a Success
It almost seems paradoxical to fear success. However, fear of success is a real phenomenon that can derail a thriving attorney or law office. But what exactly is the fear of being a success? How can you be afraid of the very thing you have been pursuing for years?
In many instances, the fear of success is actually the fear of change mixed with the fear of one’s inability to cope with said change. You may be dogged in pursuing your professional goals. Still, once they begin to materialize, you may become aware of the changes that success will bring to your professional and private life. Such changes include:
- A spotlight on your work and your personal life
- Strained professional and personal relationships due to your success
- Having to live up to accolades, honors, and awards constantly
- Experiencing increased pressure to be a high achiever or producer
If you are afraid of success, you will likely engage in one or more of the following behaviors:
- Setting unachievable goals
- Setting goals that are too easily achieved
- Wasting time and procrastinating
- Substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors
Additionally, you will probably be awash in one or more emotions related to your fear of success, including:
- Anxiety and depression
- Social and psychological pressure
The good news is that success is nothing to fear when you are on a healthy path toward your goals.
Fear of the Future
Is being a lawyer stressful? Yes. Lawyers have so much of their work riding on a future result — a ruling from a judge or a particular verdict. It’s no wonder there is a high incidence of anxiety among attorneys.
Lawyers also have common fears of the future that almost everyone shares, such as fear of job loss. Fortunately, anxiety about the future can be controlled and even mastered.
At its core, the fear of the future is essentially a fear of the unknown. Even if you know what the future holds, there is typically an unknown factor: how you and those you care about will get through it.
For example, many attorneys worry about finding clients and the future solvency of their practice. In these cases, the fear of the future is not simply a fear of firm insolvency but also of what you and the other workers in the office will do to weather a coming period of low revenues.
As with many changes, strategic planning can help lawyers deal with contingencies. And even if a situation arises that has escaped contingency planning, there are effective ways to strategize in real-time to avert feared outcomes and deal with lawyer stress.
Fear of Interactions with People
Because much of lawyering involves heavy interaction, you may be surprised to learn that some lawyers fear interacting with people. In all actuality, the fear of interacting is quite common in many professions but also surmountable. Identifying the exact nature of the fear of people helps.
For instance, some attorneys interact just fine with their colleagues but may fear interacting with clients due to feeling inadequate. Or the converse may be the case. In another example, a trial attorney may battle fears at trial but interact just fine outside the court (or vice versa).
Whatever the basis of the fear of interaction with people, it can be addressed and dealt with once identified.
Fear of Becoming Professionally Stagnant
Professional lives have expiration dates, and many lawyers find fulfillment in advancing their careers. However, the finite time all lawyers have causes many to fear becoming professionally stagnant.
Feelings of stagnation can occur in many job contexts but often come when an attorney feels stuck in a position they don’t enjoy. The consequences of continuing at such a job are reduced productivity and morale loss.
There is, however, a remedy to this fear, which requires identifying where you want to go with your career and making a plan to get there.
Move Past Fears by Facing Them
Fears will always be there, in law and in life. But just as many other lawyers in your situation have done, you can move past your anxieties and enjoy a thriving legal career.
Woven Legal is here to help alleviate some of your stress. Book a Discovery Call today to connect with experienced legal professionals who can significantly benefit your firm.