The Lottery for Lawyers

Here’s a simple exercise that almost anyone who hangs the “career coach” shingle will try at some point with clients: What would you do if you won $100 million in a lottery?

pile of money in wheel barrow

When money isn't the problem, more money won't fix your career.

Let me rephrase that: What work would you want to do if time and resources weren’t a consideration?

It amazes me how hard it is for attorneys to play this little game. The first thing many want to tell me about is how lazy they really are, and that they wouldn’t look for work, they’d just lead the life of Riley.

Problem is, I don’t believe lazy is the primary problem. Lazy is just a facet of fear. Lazy is what happens when you aren’t on the verge of starving and are damn scared, or when your fear is so profound that you’d rather starve than face that fear.

If you understood that you weren’t lazy, but petrified, would you think about yourself differently? If the problem with finding a new career weren’t actually the size of the paycheck, but the proportions of your fears, would you attack your search differently?

Try those ideas on for size. See if anything inside you shifts, even a hair’s breadth.

You might even try getting up 20 minutes early for a couple days and do some stream-of-consciousness writing about those questions. Let your inner critic sleep in a little on those days. Just see if something small and shiny pops out in the midst of the dreck of your brain dump. It’s OK if it doesn’t. That shiny little gem of insight might decide to surface later in your day, because you let the dreck go earlier.

I’d say the chances of finding that shiny, little thought gem are much, much better than winning $100 million in the lottery. Go play the odds, and let me know what happened.

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer and career coach. She works with attorneys to get them into the jobs and lives of their dreams, and is considering opening up a kennel for all the pet fears she helps her clients tame. Drop her a line with your pet fear: jalvey AT

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