In June 2015, I found myself in the shower with my heart racing and my head spinning.

I had just won, by popular vote, Utah divorce attorney of the year from the Utah Bar Association.

I think most attorney awards are bunk, but I loved that award. It felt like I was doing something right. I was excited for the future.

And, then, two days later, I found myself in the shower.

Usually, I love showers, but at that point, they had been become my morning nightmare.

I’d be okay for a couple minutes, then I would start to think about cases, how much people owed me that I wasn’t collecting, which deadlines I had coming up, if I was going to get enough new clients to keep the doors open, etc.

I’d get that fluttering in my heart. You know, the one that tells you you’re anxiety’s really kicking in.

I’d also feel my chest constricting, as if someone was cinching a rope around it.

It was during that particular June 2015 shower that something new happened.

I felt the very distinct impression that if I kept going down the path I was on, I would die around the age of 65 of a heart attack.

This wasn’t some run-of-the-mill-my-day-sucks sort of feeling. It was a serious look in to my future, and it was not good.

This impression shook me up. I didn’t want to live like I was and then die at 65.

My family deserved better than that, and so did I.

I realized in that shower that if I was going to head off the fate I foresaw, I needed to radically change things.

That realization initiated a fair amount of study, contemplation, and trial and error. All outside the shower, of course.

I wanted to, I needed to, find the changes that would make the biggest impact by removing the largest amount of stress.

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Sleep more.

We push too hard and almost never get enough good sleep, and it’s killing us. Prioritize 7–8 hours per night of sleep. If you want to learn the importance of sleep and how to sleep better, read “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker.

  1. Get in shape and eat better.

One of my problems was that I had let myself get fat. It was all stress induced. Not good. I started waking up at 5 a.m. to walk (I now lift weights). That helped. I also started eating right. I cut the sugar and carbs, and started eating vegetables, meat, cheese (man, I love cheese), and fruit. The only thing you can’t outrun is the fork, so eat better.

  1. Get paid 100% for the work I do.

#1 and #2 were personal things. Getting paid is all about the business. This one thing has changed everything in the law firm. Deciding to get paid will change the way you bill, the way you communicate with clients, your office systems, the clients you let hire you, how you see yourself and what you do, and how you treat your team. Getting paid is your #1 job.

  1. Pay off debt.

As I looked inside myself, I realized my student loans ($150,000+) were the source of a lot of stress. My wife, Demaree, talked and I decided to pay them off ASAP. The day we did was one of the best days ever. So much stress, gone forever. If you need help with personal finances, “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey is the best book I’ve found.

Progress is never over, and I don’t have all the answers, but the changes I’ve made since that shower in June 2015 have made such an amazing difference in my personal and business life.

If you feel you need to make a major change in your life and your business, make it now. Don’t wait.

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