Letting Go and Moving On: Why Giving Up Makes You Stronger

[This post originally appeared on Above the Law’s Career Center on January 10, 2019.]

My business partner, and fellow former attorney, Adam Ouellette teaches in the Leave Law Behind Career Coaching Program how to “not be attached to outcomes” – about “letting go and moving on” and how to “surrender” in life.

His teachings drive me crazy!

Not because they are wrong. But because I have had such difficulty in understanding what he means and how to apply them to my life.

I have always viewed these Zen type ideas of “letting go” and “surrendering” as being weak, something none of us attorneys want to be. What am I supposed to do, let the world walk all over me? Am I just supposed to give in to everybody and everything?

According to him, not really. As I’ve begun to understand these concepts better, I’ve realized that what you are supposed to do is to just give up the fight. And in doing that, you become strong and empowered.

Counter-intuitive, I know this “Letting Go and Moving On” idea. But it also begs the question: What exactly am I fighting that I need to surrender to and give up?

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Why lawyers remain unhappy

A main cause of why lawyers remain unhappy is ironically the exact skill that helps us excel as an attorney.

Let me explain.

As you likely know, Leave Law Behind is a community and program that helps unhappy and dissatisfied attorneys find ways to leave the law behind and create new career paths for themselves.

It also contains a huge amount of self-admitted perfectionists, myself included.

I made a typo

You see, while it is rare, every so often I may make a mistake and include a typo in my writing.

No matter how many times I review and re-read my posts, sometimes there is a small grammatical error or some other type of inconsistency.

A few years ago, I saw a typo for the first time right after I hit “Send” on the email newsletter … and published it on Facebook … and tweeted it on Twitter. It was repeated as people forwarded the post along and retweeted. Some readers even emailed me directly to let me know it was there.

My mistake was out there and there was nothing I could do about it.

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How To Get That (Non-Law) Hiring Manager To Take You Seriously

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What if you’ve interviewed for an alternative career with (non-law) hiring managers, and tried to leave the law – really, really, really tried to showcase your transferable skills – but it hasn’t worked out for you yet?

You have sent out resumes to alternative career/non-law jobs … you have even scored an interview for some roles … but the hiring manager didn’t like you … or thought you would want too high a salary … or thought you only had legal experience, and not enough business experience … or they didn’t know how to view your skills … or you didn’t really know how to pitch yourself … or you didn’t feel comfortable with your “Unique Genius Narrative” … or you just lacked confidence throughout it all and it showed.

So now you are frustrated.

You feel that these hiring managers didn’t appreciate how smart and well spoken you are. Or they didn’t realize how well known your law firm was. Or they didn’t seem to care how highly ranked your law school was. Or they didn’t know how hard it was to make law review.

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The lawyer career change question you can’t yet answer

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There is one lawyer career change question you think you have answered, but you likely haven’t as authentically as you want to. I still struggle with answering it too.

And that question is “What do you want?”

Sure, you have offered answers to this question:

– You want money.

– You want a fulfilling job.

– You want to be popular.

– You want to live a long life.

– You want to be happy.

– You want to be accepted.

– You want love and appreciation.

And yes, these are things you desire or wish to have in your life.

And whether you’ve realized this or not, you likely want all of these things because you think that the having of them will make you feel better and make you happy.

But you still need to shift your mindset and perspective in order to fully understand how to experience and manifest these things you want.

That’s because you (… and me and anyone … ) can’t really understand what you want until you have received and understood that which you don’t want (its opposite.)

Beyond absolutes

And this is true because we live in a world of relativity.

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8 ways unhappy or bored attorneys can make a better future for themselves

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If you’re an unhappy or bored attorney, you likely suffer from the empty feeling that your future holds no hope. You might be resigned to the fact of living a less than ideal or hoped for life.

Religions, spiritual practices and self-development trainings have all, in one form or another, taught us that we create our own realities.

As Einstein said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

As you live your life as an attorney, you are always presented with choices. Wherever you are in life right now (like, for example, an attorney who wants to leave the law) represents the sum of your previous decisions, actions and non-actions.

As the Dalai Lama said, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

What you repeatedly think about at a certain point in time will soon manifest itself in your tangible universe. You can experience your subjective reality in any way you choose.

And as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said, “The life of the law has not been logic;

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The Real Reason Why You Hate Being An Attorney

Why you hate being an attorney? I shot the below video to answer this burning and sensitive question you may be struggling with.

You likely have tried to answer. But I have a feeling there is a core, fundamental reason you have not yet uncovered. That’s what I reveal to you in the below video.

Click below to watch the video, or scroll down further to read the transcript.

And if you’re interested in seeing if leaving the law is for you, click here to take our free quiz. It’s easy and fun to take, and you’ll find out how far along you are in your journey towards leaving the law. And once you know your results, I’ll then follow up with some ways to translate that into smart, strategic action. Click here to take the quiz.

The Real Reason Why You Hate Being An Attorney

Okay maybe “hate the law” is a little strong for you. Maybe you’re just bored being an attorney. Or maybe you’ve had a good run as an attorney and you’re ready now for your second act. Or maybe you do hate the law.

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How to not let money prevent you from leaving your law practice

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Money. You likely feel you’ll never be able to make enough money in a “non-law”, alternative job. You worry you have too much law school student debt to pay off. Or too many personal expenses.

So ergo you never take that first step to leave your law practice behind.

I’m here to debunk this myth … and tell you that this “money issue” should not paralyze you.

I shot the below short video (4:28) showing you how to break free.

You can leave your practice and find an “alternative” career that you love and supports your lifestyle. Begin by taking Casey’s “How Much Do You Really Know About Leaving the Law?” quiz to see if leaving your practice is right for you. Start the quiz by clicking here.

Or click here to schedule a free call with me to discuss whether you should leave the law, and if so, how my coaching program will best work for you

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7 transferable skills lawyers have that the rest of the world would die for

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Let’s deep dive into one of the major doubts getting in your way of leaving your law practice: You do not believe you have the transferable skills to begin an “alternative” career.

You want to leave the law: You are unhappy and dissatisfied with your work situation. That’s why you’re here.

You suffer long hours. You find your day-to-day lawyer tasks mostly uninteresting. You are demotivated because you are not included in the partner track discussions. You feel you receive little-to-no mentoring. You are weighed down by high student loans.

And maybe, most importantly, you feel that your professional skill set is not really in alignment with the duties and responsibilities required to be a lawyer. You are not fully confident that you can be a real good lawyer. It’s turning out that what you are good at doing and what you enjoy doing isn’t what an attorney does. You’re pretty sure that this lawyer gig is really not for you.

But you don’t leave the law because you have sincere doubts that any of your legal job skills are transferrable to any non-legal jobs. 

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What rock climbing and leaving your law practice have in common

I was certain I was about to fall to my death.

Let me back up.

There is a new indoor rock climbing wall at the Glen Park Rec Center here in San Francisco. You know, the 30 to 40 foot gymnasium walls strewn with multi-colored, bolted-in climbable cracks, rocks and arches for safety harnessed climbers to ascend to the top and live out their bouldering dreams.

On a recent rainy day, I went there with my wife and children. I put on my helmet, strapped on my climbing harness, attached my carabiner to the rope, looked up at these multi-colored rocks lining the climbing route and yelled “On beley!” to the attendant to get started.

And even though this was my first time ever rock climbing, I expected to climb straight up all the routes and impress myself, my family and other onlookers watching below.

I mean, how hard can this rock climbing thing be? I’m in pretty good shape. It’s like going up a ladder, right?!

(You can see where this story is headed.)

Well, I was in for a hard truth. Rock climbing isn’t that easy.

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The most important thing you can do for your Unique Genius … and leaving the law

I’m a big fan of Jen Sincero’s “You Are a Badass” series of books.

In her book around Money, she has a chapter called “Align With Your Truest You.” What jumped out at me was her insight that:

“So often we discredit the things that come naturally because we’ve bought into the idea that success needs to be difficult, or that if something comes easily to us, it must come easily to everyone, and therefore isn’t worth pursuing in any serious sort of way.”

Permission to believe in yourself.

As you frame out your Unique Genius (Module 4 of the Leave Law Behind Career Coaching Program) and really begin taking those steps to align what you do well with alternative jobs out there, please keep this insight from Jen in mind. I feel this is what we’ve seen surface in the recent Unique Genius Spotlight Live Trainings.

You are detailing (or soon will detail) your skills and strengths. You are bucketing them. You’ve got (or are getting to) an idea of what types of jobs might be a fit for you. Sure, you have more research to do and more jobs to find and more informational interviews to go on.

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