I did not write a post for this blog last week. I haven’t yet written those guest posts for those numerous other sites that have generously requested one of me. I met with only one client in the past two weeks. I haven’t yet started on my Leave Law Behind book. I haven’t yet begun developing the Leave Law Behind training course I have in mind.
Why? Well, I have a day job. And we have two kids. And I need to get some exercise. And my wife and I need to chat every one in a while. And I wanted to watch the Warriors game. And I needed to eat. And maybe read a book. And maybe catch my breath.
In short, I couldn’t find as much time in the past few weeks as I wanted to devote myself to Leave Law Behind, the blog.
And the same often happens when all of us decide to leave law behind, the personal life project. Once we have that “aha” moment, that courageous shift in our perspective, that decision to really make a stand and move on from our practice of the law, it can get really, really difficult. We not only struggle in determining which step to take next, we not only often feel completely overwhelmed, but we also, simply, cannot conceive of how to carve out the time to focus on what needs to be done.
We still are attorneys, and we are very busy with our jobs. We are being pulled in various directions. We have immediate fires to put out. We have to spend time on issues. We need to be accurate and thorough and comprehensive. And being in the law can be so broad and absolute it leaves us little time to plan to leave it.
But the time is there, and here are 3 ways to help you find that time and build momentum in leaving the law.
1. Take a babystep: A major component of leaving the law is to take small steps, baby steps. Do one thing, one small thing, one little, itty-bitty small thing and see what happens. Experiment, see what you like, see who you meet, see what comes. Build momentum or change direction. It doesn’t take much time or effort and it’s a great way to determine the next step … and the next … and the next. Click here for 20 baby steps you could take right now.
2. Really begin to explore your Unique Genius: As any long time reader knows, another major tenet of leaving the law is to really explore one’s Unique Genius. These are the skills, strengths and enjoyments we sincerely possess. These aren’t necessarily our passions or loves – rather these are the attributes and traits we excel at, that others find valuable, that we enjoy. While there are a lot of questions one can ask (“What is my passion?”, “What did I want to be when I was 8 years old?”, “What am I put on earth to do”?), I find the most helpful questions to ask are those that provide tangible, actionable answers. Three I recommend asking yourself and working with friends and family to answer are:
a. What compliments do people give me? This points to your strengths and skills.
b. What type of advice do people come to me for? This points to your value to others.
c. What would I do for free? This points to what you enjoy.
Exploring our Unique Genius helps us unhappy, disgruntled, potential-unrealized, not-totally-satisfied-with-ourselves attorneys to understand ourselves better, to change our course (altogether or just slightly) in order to ensure we do and get paid for what we are good at and what we enjoy. And it can be easily started with just asking yourself and those close to you a few questions.
3. Acknowledge that the worth in leaving the law is found in its difficulty: There is nothing easy about leaving the law. It takes time, focus, honesty, and trial and error. But in its difficulty we find its value. The fact that our obstacles to leave law behind are immense means that leaving the law is a very special thing to do. It’s a once in a lifetime moment.
So it’s going to be very hard. And take a long time. And be full of doubt and confusion and challenges and tests and new things to become good at.
But we’ve done something like this before. Remember? We’ve embarked on a long path of uncertainty and doubt and hard work and time and success and failure. Remember? Think about how we got where we are now, as an established lawyer. Did we just snap our fingers at 25 years old and find ourselves in a firm? No, we tried to get a handle on applications senior year of college and then we studied for the LSAT and took the LSAT and were nervous about our results and then we applied and we got in and we went to orientation and then we survived through Property and Wills and Trusts and Crim Law and Torts. And then we studied for finals and got into study groups and wrote these long outlines. And we turned in our blue books. And we did well on some and not so well on others. Our confidence grew and shrank. We did OCI interviews (or didn’t get invited to any) and finally we got a job. And we have grown and matured and had our ups and downs. We’ve taken a long path full of uncertainty. And we’re at a point now in life where we want to change.
Remember, we’ve done something difficult and time consuming and uncertain like this before.
You can do it. Take the small steps, get to really know yourself, and acknowledge you’re doing something big and difficult.
Look at me … I finally wrote this post.