[Contact me if you’re interested in exploring a one-to-one leave law behind coaching course]
It’s Sunday and for many of us, the weekend is slowly winding down. We often can’t enjoy the rest of Glorious Sunday because we know that Normal Monday (and our job or commute or routine or boss we may not really enjoy) is fast approaching.
Taking a first step to leave the law creates momentum, confidence and provides a new outlook on your life. It also makes Monday look not so ominous. This is just what I talked about this past week in a live interview with Vibrance Radio. In the thirty minute interview, host Caroline Meyer and I discussed the five, achievable steps to leaving law behind, that the distinct legal skills and inherent talents you have right now are likely very transferable into another role or job, and why you should plan your next career move in part on whether or not you want to wear jeans to work.
Leaving Law Behind – leaving when the investment is high
This week I spoke with Casey Berman of Leave Law Behind, a blog and community which helps disgruntled or unsatisfied attorneys leave law altogether or change the way they currently practice. While Casey works with ex or wannabe ex lawyers and professionals, much of what he spoke about could apply to anybody with any type of experience looking to make a complete career change or change the context in which they currently work.
Although Casey’s current roster of work is full and varied (market research, mergers and acquisitions, advisory as well as tribe leader, educator and coach) he pointed out that his current roles are not so different from one another nor a distant departure from his formal education and previous work experience.
We spoke a lot about transferrable skills and inherent talents and how unfortunately, people that have a certain skill set get programmed to go down a well-beaten career path from a very young age and while still young, choose the most obvious careers without any serious thought. However, either from the get-go or later on in life, those same interests and same skills that led you to fall into a mainstream career can be utilized within a myriad of other possible work situations. There are many highly-prized skills that it takes to be or even become a lawyer that can be a great asset in many other fields. The same goes for any other professional, the time spent honing such skills as communication, critical thinking, perseverance, attention to detail among many others, aren’t lost. In fact, in any arena where someone has a degree of experience, it is important to look at the skills, strengths, interests and talents rather than focusing on the differences between what you are doing now and where you want to go. (See the article I wrote on The Aspiring Waitress)
Casey shared with us his simple and effective process which you can use if you are considering switching careers:
Get a handle on your financial situation. Know if you can afford to (or want to) quit your job now or continue receiving a paycheque while developing your ideas. Figure out how much you NEED to live. In my experience, it is never a pleasant feeling to be spending to live and not to be receiving. My top advice is to keep your job, scale back your current job, get a part-time job that you don’t mind or quit and pay yourself a salary. Be realistic.
2. Get over it
You can hone the ‘get over it’ skill by having a garage sale and selling everything for a quarter. You might remember how much it cost you for that great sounding tape-player or those VHS original movies but the same goes for our jobs and our education. Although you may have spent a small fortune acquiring your degree(s) and have invested a lot of time refining those learned skills, had great aspirations for yourself and others for you, if you are unhappy now the situation will only get worse. There is a time to cut your losses and move on. Know that even greater success is possible. Begin looking for that kind of evidence.
3. Find your unique genius
a) What do people compliment you on (This points to a strength of yours)
b) What do people come to you for advice about (This underlines what comes naturally to you)
c) What would you really do for free (This highlights the stuff you reeeeeaaallly enjoy)
4. Silence your fears
Know that you have been through it all before, you have been new at something, you have put yourself in risky situations, taken chances, failed and moved on. You’ve done it before you can do it again. Hindsight is 20/20 and as it had helped Casey to look back in the journal he kept, it might help you to look back in your life to a time when you thought you were standing on the edge of the universe and all was well. A time when a job or a relationship ended and you thought you would too but it ended up being OK or even being a blessing. Again, look for evidence.
5. Get out there
Start networking, blogging, doing interviews, asking for help, seeking information, taking people out for coffee, making mistakes etc. Once you get out there in life and tell the universe, “HEY, I’m ready for change!!!”, it will happen, it may take time, but it will happen.
“80% of success is showing up! – Woody Allen”
6. Make the transition
Take some time to build up your confidence, get your ducks in a row, let people know where you are heading and start sailing.
In addition to the soul-searching process of what to do next, Casey also responded with a valuable hint when I asked him in which way we can avoid falling into the same trap of going into something for the ‘wrong’ reasons. In addition to going back to identifying our ‘unique genius’ which combines our strengths, skills and stuff we actually enjoy, he suggests doing the job search inside out. Instead of looking at job salary and industry and trying to fit ourselves into those categories we should be looking at our wants and needs and leading with our strengths and finding a career that fits us (not the other way around)!
The most important thing would be that if the desire for change has begun, instead of ignoring it (as it will only grow and lead to greater and possible reactionary dissatisfaction), we can consider the possibility of what’s next by asking ourselves these simple questions and begin the incubation process now, without quitting our day jobs. (Don’t have time? Cancel the cable TV) Once an idea has solidified into a plan of action and has progressed to taking that subsequent action, that time and experience we have spent developing our ideas helps build the confidence we need to face the naysayers with our heads held high.
There is never a right time and major life transitions do take courage and can take some time but as Casey (and many others) assert, it’s worth it!!!
“Who better than ambitious, smart, educated, persuasive, intelligent ex-lawyers to change the world???”
If you are a lawyer, professional and are disgruntled or dissatisfied at your current work situation, don’t hesitate to contact Casey Berman and join the community at Leave Law Behind.