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If there was ever a time of year to be kind to yourself, this is it. But where do you start?

When you hear “self-care”, what’s your first response? “Long walks.” “A leisurely cup of tea.” “Time to myself.” Those answers are good starting places, but what if self-care was an ongoing act of self-respect rather than a once in a while indulgence? In the November series, Soak It In, we’ll look at fresh ways to practice deep self-care.

Kelly was surprised to see Paula’s LinkedIn status change. Sabbatical? And Paula had quit the law firm six months ago? There had to be more to the story.

Kelly’s hunch was right. “I know you put in some long hours, but I thought you enjoyed your work. Tell me again…you just walked out? I don’t get it,” Kelly said, putting down the lunch menu.

Paula shook her head yes. “I didn’t click with Travis. He wanted every case to go to trial so we could keep racking up fees. There never seemed to be enough hours in the day. He was great to clients but horrible to our staff. I couldn’t take working another miserable weekend, so I quit.”

Kelly was quiet. “But didn’t you say that Travis was trying to make partner?”

“That’s true, but there has to be more to life than billable hours. Travis could only see his next promotion, even if he had to get it at everyone else’s expense. I thought people would applaud me, but it feels like every recruiter or attorney questions my commitment. Maybe I should think about doing something else,” Paula shrugged.

“C’mon – you loved practicing law. I can’t believe you like sitting home alone,” Kelly insisted. “Paula, don’t go to extremes and throw your career away over some self-absorbed manager. Maybe you just needed to quit that boss!”

Paula felt forced to make a permanent break from corporate America, but she began to revisit her choices. Being a lawyer wasn’t the problem; she just needed to find people who worked with joy and integrity.

Charlie Ambler described the connection between thinking and doing in his article, “Making the Most of Your Routine.” He said, “It’s often repeated in Zen how important it is to be in the moment. The moment is all we have. The past and future are illusions, etc. We hear these statements, and since we’re reading them instead of trying to experience them, they remain as such – statements. Let’s put them into practice. Let’s do everything mindfully, as if it’s a meditation. Wash dishes, take out the trash, clean your room and fold clothes like they’re the last things you’ll ever do.”

If it’s been awhile, take some time this week to mindfully determine what self-care means for you, and then create a new routine. Do you need a little more sleep? A real workout schedule? Like Paula, perhaps the kindest thing you can do is surround yourself with like-minded people. Before you throw in the towel and move to the mountain top, take a second look. You may just need to quit that boss.