When planning for retirement, most lawyers think long and hard about how best to invest their financial assets. They want to maximize their financial health. Few, however, think about how they should invest their time to maximize their physical and emotional health during retirement. The answer is to invest in their relationships with family and friends. A long-running study out of Harvard University concludes that the best predictor of longevity, health, and happiness as we age is the quality of our relationships.
Invest in Your Relationships
Many attorneys' careers are all-consuming, leaving little time to create and support genuine personal relationships with family members and friends. Just think about how many good friends you had when you were in college and law school. Those of you reading this as a practicing attorney probably don’t have as many strong friendships as back then The same is likely true when you think about your family relationships.
Nurturing relationships takes time and effort. One study by a social scientist from the University of Kansas concluded that it can take as long as 200 hours over a few months to establish a new close friendship, and 60 hours for a casual one. Staying connected with friends or reconnecting with old friends will, of course, take less time. How many close friends does one need? Another study out of Stanford University suggests a minimum of three. Depending upon your family relationships, you may need fewer.
Take the Time
Just like many of you take the time to regularly exercise to stay physically fit, a similar time investment in relationships also goes a long way toward your well-being. And if you want to kill two birds with one stone, why not start taking long walks with family or friends? It’s a great way to get a little exercise and strengthen relationships.