Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year Resolutions 2021

There is something about the end of a year. The promise of a fresh start could be found in any chronology, but somehow we tend to only focus on "resolutions" on an annual basis. If you want to make a new start though, you could do it any day you chose. In reality, the ability and desire to change come down to you. Over recent years, I have successfully engaged in the New Year practice, largely to my benefit. I find myself healthy and more fit than ever as 2020 draws to a close; Therefore fitness, diet, and exercise are not on my list as I have pondered my New Year resolutions for 2021. 

The Washington Post (subscription) recently addressed the phenomenon of making resolutions in "Why do we Make New Year's Resolutions." Note that the Post went with the possessive (apostrophe) "new year's." According to Grammerly, the apostrophe should be for references to the specific day, not the whole year. So, some might argue that my use of New Year is more appropriate (planning to keep those resolutions), while others might suggest the Post's usage is correct as many of those resolutions will die on day two or shortly enough thereafter. The New York Post says that most resolutions will die before January 12, 2021 (that is discouraging). 

As the Washington Post reminds us:
"A New Year's resolution is a decision to do or not do something to accomplish a personal goal or break a habit. It comes at a time when people look back at the past year and make an effort to improve themselves as the new year begins."
Not that improvement can come only in the form of some achievement. Perhaps we are as benefitted merely from our decision to "make an effort?"

According to BestLife, the top six resolutions for 2021 (according to its survey) were:

6. Find love
5. Get a new job
4. Make new friends
3. Travel more
2. Save money/get out of debt
1. Exercise more/lose weight 

So, love I have, and the fitness (6) is excluded already. Maybe my goals for 2021 should be about travel (3), new friends (4), and money (2)?

But remember that if you set out to do one of these (or any goal), you are going to fail. That is not negative, but changing how you engage the world will not happen without effort and you are extremely unlikely to have an undeniable and uninterrupted parade of successes. Admit that you will fail, and then remind yourself of Henry Ford's advice:
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Failure is not an end. Do not let it be. If your goal is to lose weight, and you find yourself over indulging on "National Thank God It's Monday! Day" (January 7), don't let that be the end. Just put your bad day of "Monday" feasting behind you and re-engage on that next Tuesday with your original intent and resolve reinforced and reinvigorated. In a nutshell, you can begin a new path forward on any day you choose. You can undertake your goals with new vigor after any falter. 

With no disrespect to the responses summarized above, the editors here at the Workers' Compensation Adjudication Blog compiled a list of possible alternative New Year resolutions for workers' compensation practitioners. 

1. Pick your own mediation date. Each new petition will have to be mediated. In the 40 days post-filing, before the notice is sent, you can see the proposed date/time in the website docket. If counsel jointly contact the mediator before the notice, they can find a mutually agreeable mediation date/time. This is far more efficient than waiting until after the notice and then seeking continuance or rescheduling the hard way (written motion, etc.).


3. Read the order. This one is so simple, the simplicity is deceptive. Read the order. Do what the order says. It does not matter what judge, court, or system issued the order. Read the order. Someone, somewhere, went to great effort to write the order, and to send it to you. Read it. We do enjoy hearing from you, but when your contact is predicated on "what do I do," and the best answer is "read the order," that can be a bit frustrating. 

4. Cite authority. The appropriate way to seek relief is to file a motion. A motion may be your only shot at obtaining relief. Cite authority in the motion (or response) that will assure the assigned judge she/he (1) has authority to do as you ask, and (2) should exercise that authority. 

5. Use spell check. This one is a bit broader, and also includes proof reading. Before you send your motion or letter, read it. Ask your software to review it. Then, ask a coworker to read it. Mistakes are distracting. Poor grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax may not move the situation in the direction that you prefer. 

6. Forego the informality. While it is perfectly appropriate to greet someone at lunch by first name, in a legal proceeding, Mr./Ms. LastName is not only appropriate, but necessary. While you may sit in your office and work wonders in your shorts and sandals, they do not belong in the District Office (yes, we will all welcome you back to the District Offices in 2021!)

7. Read the Rules. This is a great precursor to citing them (see "Cite Authority," above). The answer to most questions can be found in the rules or the judge's order. Reading the rules is an excellent first step in planning any request for (or resistance to) relief. Read the rules, cite the rules. It is as simple as that.

8. Actually talk to each other. That should be a "what I really needed to learn" (see below). Before you rush to anger, draft that motion or letter, call opposing counsel (I did not say "contact" or "text"). Call and greet them genuinely. Converse about something innocuous ("how 'bout them Jaguars"), commiserate ("how are you getting along this week?). Then, and only then, discuss your need or discontent. Seek common ground. Only if all this fails, THEN file your motion and involve the judge. 

9. Re-read All I Really Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten. Things are not always as bad as they may seem, but all your bravado and denial will not change that this is a stressful business. Remember these simple tidbits like: "Play fair," "Don’t hit people," "Clean up your own mess," "Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody," and "Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you." These may make a stressful situation a bit easier to accept and address. 

10. Breathe, exercise, relax, and recharge. A good friend and Comp guru, Mark Pew, reminds us "motion is lotion." Whether you ever want to lose a pound or even need to, remember that we are built to move, not to sit and ponder. Every day get out and stretch, walk, run, skip, or whatever floats your boat (or paddle board for that matter). 

Are these in a specific order? No. Any or all of them may be things you already do. Any or all may help you tremendously or be of no help at all. But, consider them. Moving your practice and routine in any of these directions might make your life simpler, more manageable, and more peaceful. 

I am wishing you the very best in 2021 regardless of your resolutions. I hope you achieve what you seek to. At a minimum, however, let's all resolve to do better at empathizing and being professional in the New Year.