We see “Lost Pet” posters all the time. Grainy pictures usually of sweet looking dogs or cats pasted into a Word document, printed up and duct-taped to neighborhood telephone poles. Usually there is a big headline (“LOST DOG” or “HAVE YOU SEEN ME?”), a physical description of the pet (Male, 2 years old, Rottweiler mix), a name (“Obie” but also answers to “Tater” or “Daddy’s boy”), a last location (“Last seen near Lake Merced”), maybe a reward ($50) and a plea (“Her family is very worried. They miss and love her very much”).
And as we pass the telephone pole, even in our rush, we may look around and check to see if, by chance, a dog or cat resembling this description is lurking by anywhere. And when of course it isn’t, we imagine a scared little animal running around the streets. We shudder a bit, feel sorry for the cold animal as well as the eight-year old who just lost her pet, and then we walk on, move on. Not much we can do, really.
But there is. While we may not locate the lost pet, we can seize on a valuable babystep to leave the law behind.
If you’d like to leave the law, but are not making it a priority to do so, then you may need to artificially stimulate your motivation. A good way to do that is to imagine what you would do if a trusted fortune teller (ala Nate Silver) confirmed that, yep, you’re going to be laid off from your job as an attorney 12 months from now.
What would you do?
In case you’re stumped, I have six steps for you to start working on right now. Baby steps that are fun, preparatory, motivating and will help position you to leave the law and create a fantastic career and life.
1. Review your finances. Before you do anything, make sure you have a solid understanding of your financial situation: What your monthly expenses are. What one-time expenses you have coming up in the next year (taxes, health related). What new expenses you may have (private school, summer camp). What your debt situation is. What you can do to positively change big ticket expenses, like your mortgage. What you or your spouse can do to make some money on the side.
You simply have not made it a priority.
When I ask an attorney what his or her priorities are, he or she will inevitably say family, friends, happiness, peace, health, and stimulating career.
But when you look at what attorneys spend most of their day doing, it becomes clear that their job is their priority. This is true because what we spend our time on is the best reflection of what we prioritize. While family, friends, happiness, peace, health and stimulating career may be important, the job is where a lawyer spends most of the work day (and weekend).
But oftentimes this job is one we don’t especially like. A job many of us attorneys feel doesn’t provide much of a future. So when we drill down further, we see that this actually doesn’t mean that the job itself is our priority. Rather, it most often means the paycheck the job provides is the priority; the cash and the security it affords are a lawyer’s priorities.
That is understandable. Bills need to be paid. Children need to be raised. No one wants to live in a box.
But many of us also are beginning to realize that we do not want to live an unhappy,