I’m here to tell you, I have yet to hear of a profound spiritual experience that directs you to keep slogging at a job you loathe, or that you have to medicate yourself to bear.
Editor’s Note: We welcome Nick Lindsay, a solicitor from London, who shares his experiences with leaving law and dealing with what came next. Enjoy! When you’re sitting at your desk and thinking about leaving the law, you want your next step to be perfect. It’s only reasonable. After all, you’re leaving a career that you…
So here we are on the threshold of a new year, when everyone gets their panties in a twist about changing their lives for the better. Now, I am a big advocate of change that makes your lives happier and more fulfilling. It’s just that most people go about it bass-ackwards.
I remain amazed at how well the Uh-Oh Bingo technique works to defuse anxiety, so I thought it was high time to share it. The holidays are filled with potential (likely?) landmines of unmet expectations, both yours and those foisted on you. Rather than get all worked up about Aunt Gertrude’s insensitive comments about your weight, your lack of children, your lackluster career or your lack of $1M in the bank, put her likely carping on the card. Then sit back and laugh.
The head of the neuroscience lab at NYU, Dr. Elizabeth Phelps, has pointed out, “If you are pessimistic, you are unlikely to even try” to do things that will help you improve or guard your health. Wow. This may, just possibly, sound like a familiar dynamic to lawyers.
The good news is, pessimism is not completely hard-wired. It is, to a significant extent, learned behavior. That means, naturally, that it can be unlearned, and replaced with more useful ways of viewing problems.
Looking first and foremost for the high pay, without delving into the messy reasons you aren’t happy in law, is following the same path that got you into law in the first place. Sooner (usually) or later, you will be at this same point again, just with a different job title.
More fundamentally, lawyers (and many, many others) cling to certainty because then, they can delude themselves that they are safe. Or as Brené Brown says, certainly keeps us from feeling vulnerable. Lawyers in particular loathe vulnerability. They’ll do damn near anything to avoid that chest-tightening feeling.
What you need, and what is fantastically hard for driven professionals like lawyers, is to simply let your mind wander with some ideas that are not calculated to solve a problem. To ponder without an agenda. To allow yourself to simply be, in all your unproductive glory. Walking is a great way to get to this state.