When it feels like all you ever do is work, eat, and sleep (when you’re lucky), it can also be easy to feel isolated.
That’s a problem many of us face, whether we’re first-year associates or on the road to making partner. But as human beings, lawyers need to feel a sense of belonging, no matter how busy we are—that’s why it’s so important to be part of a community. Of course, building a community can be challenging when you’re always on the clock.
With that in mind, here are seven ways to connect with your community that even the busiest of lawyers can embrace.
Meet Your Neighbors
If you’ve got little time for anything other than sleeping, eating, and working, becoming friendly with your neighbors can help you feel far less isolated. Whether it’s saying a quick “hi!” to the woman who lives down the hall when checking your mail or stopping to chat with the family next door, talking with the people in your neighborhood takes little effort but makes a big difference in helping to foster a feeling of comfort and commonality with those around you.
Even the most aggressive of litigators needs to feel a sense of belonging sometimes, and getting active in local politics can be a perfect way to truly become part of a community and effect change. If your schedule permits, attend city council meetings, neighborhood association gatherings, or school board meetings. Even if you can’t attend regularly, investing time when you have it will help you get to know others who feel passionately about making your world even better.
Attend Community Events
Whether you live in a large city or a small town, there are likely plenty of events that provide an easy opportunity to get together with other locals.
If you’re feeling particularly motivated (and, let’s be honest, can make the time) you can volunteer for events that interest you. While time constraints can often make this tough for lawyers, many organizations allow for one-time volunteer opportunities, so you don’t have to make a weekly or monthly commitment.
Host Your Own Event
An alternative to simply attending gatherings is to host your own events. That way, not only can you make sure they occur at a time that works for you, you can also make sure to invite those you feel close to or want to foster relationships with—neighbors, colleagues, or acquaintances. Perhaps you can host a potluck dinner with neighbors, start a local book club (that meets when everyone has time), or even help organize a block party.
Join Local Religious Institutions
If you’re religious, attending a local religious institution is an instant way to connect with like-minded individuals. By worshipping with others, you’ll find a group of people with whom you can bond over a shared background. Most religious institutions also have groups for members with specific interests or similarities, whether it’s age ranges, hobbies, or desires to give back.
Volunteer Your Time
Speaking of giving back to your community: No matter your interests or the amount of time you have to spare, you can find a volunteer opportunity that you enjoy and feel good about, and spent time with others in the process. From helping out at a community garden to serving food to the homeless, there are countless opportunities to give back no matter where you live.
In the interest of economizing time, taking classes in any areas that pique your interest—arts, dance, exercise, coding, whatever—can both enrich you and help foster an attachment to your community. By signing up for a regularly occurring commitment, you’ll be able to make your leisure time a set part of your schedule, which can assist with the ever-elusive notion of work-life balance, as well.
Choose one of the seven ways to connect with your community listed above and commit to trying it out for a month. This can be as simple as making an effort to always greet your neighbors or attending the same gym class each week—whatever your schedule permits. At the month’s end, evaluate whether you’d like to continue.