The Bard said it best: “This is the winter of our discontent.” Yes, it’s that point in the winter where it’s gone on so long, I’m now convinced it’s never going to end, and my hands are never going to be warm until May at the earliest. Says the person who lives in the South.
Is the bluebird of unhappiness flying at you all the time? Maybe it's your pessimism talking. Image courtesy Stockvault.net.
In other words, pessimism is trying to have its way with me, yet again. Pessimism is one of those habits that recovering lawyers tend to drag around with them, even when they’re out of law.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately about pessimism, so of course that means you’re going to hear a lot about it shortly. The uber executive summary is that pessimism kills and wounds a lot of searches for dream jobs, dream careers, and dream lives. Particularly for those who are unhappy lawyers, addressing your level of pessimism is key to moving forward and ditching that unhappiness for something much better.
Are you a pessimist? Chances are if you’re a lawyer, you are. (That’s not just me pontificating; there’s data, which I’ll talk about next time.) You can take this survey—from Dr. Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness Project—and find out. Then come back for the next installment and find out the consequences of pessimism for your alternative legal career search and for your life.
Or, start reading Learned Optimism, Seligman’s 1990 classic that presents tons of interesting research on the effects of pessimism and optimism on people’s lives. Yes, that would include lawyers. (Seligman is, in fact, married to a lawyer, so he is not blind to the pessimism that infects the legal profession.)
Get ready for some eye-opening stats on the effects of pessimism on just about everything in life. This is gonna rock your socks!
Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer and recovering pessimist. She likes to remind her clients that it’s not how far you go, but how far you’ve come, that makes the real difference for their lives. Try coaching and see the difference in your own life—a free, no-obligation sample session is yours for the asking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule yours today.