Is Your Career Search Blinded by Knowledge?

Sometimes, the evidence is sitting out in plain sight—and no I’m not detouring into Law & Order or crim pro, tempting as that is. I’m talking about the evidence of what you really want to do instead of practice law, but that you haven’t seen for what it is. About how to read your likes and dislikes in work, law, and life and figure out what to do next.

Often, it’s sitting right there, glimmering and winking at you, while you don your pitch-black despair lenses and head into another day of a job and career you can’t stand, because you know you have to.

automatic coffee system

Sure, it's easy--once someone shows you how to get past your existing knowledge of how things work.

All you have to do is take off your blinders of knowing, and see. Simple, yet fiendishly difficult at times.

We filter so much through the lens of what we already know. Without getting too epistomological about it, the trouble is that our knowledge is frequently flawed.

For example, let’s take the spiffy new coffee brewing system my church installed a few months ago. (Hey, this is big stuff: One of the working beliefs of most Episcopelians is that coffee is the 8th sacrament.)

One night before choir practice, someone wanted some coffee to go with the goodies other folks had brought. I volunteered to make it—after all, I am the resident coffee addict. I confidently approached the new coffee machine and . . . had absolutely no clue how to get the thing to work.

There was nowhere to put the grounds or pour in the water, or a button that said start, or instructions, or well anything that matched what I knew about making coffee. I roped in two others to help, yet with 3 advanced degrees between us, two Gen Xers and a Boomer, two teachers and a coach, and decades of combined work experience, we in the end admitted defeat.

The problem? It was too easy. All you had to do was push a button and hold it down until you had the amount of coffee you wanted. No worries about coffee grounds, filters or water. Fantastically simple. The resulting coffee’s not bad, not bad at all. But without instructions walking us out of our existing knowledge and into this new way of doing, we were foiled by knowing.

And yes, I do think alternative legal career searches can be that simple, once we get past our own knowing.

What do you absolutely and for sure know about yourself and your likes and dislikes? And how is that knowledge holding back your career search? I’ll explore that topic more deeply next time, but go ahead—start without me.

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who coaches unhappy attorneys on getting past knowing so they can claim their best life and career. She offers discounted sample sessions–get yours today by emailing

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