Are you ready to strike out and regain some of your lost personal power? To find the career of your heart and soul? To ditch the soulless legal profession, or at least the soulless part of it you’re currently inhabiting?
You might be nodding your head. But then you look at your calendar and your brain freezes up. When are you going to have time to fit in a career search when you aren’t even getting enough sleep? You’ve got a brief due, a meeting to prepare for, Christmas is coming and you aren’t done shopping or cleaning or traveling–and on and on it goes. You don’t have the time! You feel powerless and not in control of your fate, let alone your career search.
Most of our education and life experiences teach us to bow down to others’ power. Whether it’s society’s rules, school rules, family or cultural expectations, or actual laws, we’re taught that being the cog in the wheel is necessary, indeed required for a successful life in modern post-industrial society. We’re talking rules like:
- Doing work you love is a luxury you can’t afford in this economy;
- Don’t rock the boat;
- You must work insanely hard to deserve even a miniscule success;
- You must do a lot of tedious, boring shit that you hate to earn money–that’s why it’s called work;
- Don’t question my judgment, I’ve been doing this longer;
- The purpose of work is to make money, first and foremost. Fulfillment and happiness is for self-indulgent wusses;
- If you don’t work 80 hours a week, you’re not working hard enough; and
- You must have a perfect, rational, detailed plan before taking any action to change jobs,
It’s that kind of thinking that keeps you from deciding that your alternative legal career search deserves a high priority in your life. Following those rules sucks up a lot of your time. It’s one of the choices keeping your alternative legal career search a wish, or a longing, instead of an emerging reality.
Yes, we do need societal rules to keep things from becoming utter chaos. Otherwise we have a life that looks like driving in Manhattan or Bangalore. A lot of adrenaline that a few people thrive on, but exhausts the rest of us pretty quickly. But the kind of rules above aren’t the kind of societal rules that help you, or anyone else, live out their purpose and build a better society. True, these rules may keep some institutions that have outlived their usefulness from crumbling. Oh, there’s a worthy goal.
Choose Your Beliefs, Choose Your Power
Choosing to believing these rules is one of the ways you give up your power over your own life. Or, as the quote on my wall says, “We get into trouble by ignoring our instincts.” When you ignore your instinct that you want to do a certain kind of work, and the instinct that the work you’re doing now crushes your soul, guess what? You might just get a soul-sucking job as a result.
What if instead you decided to spend at least one hour of every day based on how it helped you be more connected–
- to your inner wisdom,
- to your life purpose, and
- to your chosen community of family, friends and neighbors?
Your life might just look radically different in a mere three months.
What if you pushed “making nasty idiots happy” to the very bottom of your priority list? What if “being perfect” got pushed off your list entirely, and got replaced with “being pretty darn good under the circumstances”? With those pointless time-sucks gone, what space would open up in your life?
What If You Were Accountable?
But maybe that’s some of the problem–if you didn’t give away your power away all the time to others who misuse it, only you will be accountable for the state of your life. And while many of use like to say that we understand the concept of personal responsibility quite well, thankyouverymuch, the truth is we don’t act that way. We keep creating circumstances that suck us dry—like choosing mindless TV and video games, or better yet trying to please impossible tyrants—so we don’t have the energy to make decisions that will create the life we deserve. And then we keep hating our lives and wondering why it all feels so pointless and unfair.
There are different choices to be made. Next time, I’ll talk about ways to implement those choices in your life.
Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who coaches unhappy attorneys on making what matters a priority. Find out what it’s like to have a life aligned with things that are truly important to your happiness—try a discounted sample coaching session. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule yours today. It’s an hour that can work amazing changes in your life!