How we’re letting the wrong things influence our major decisions

 December 4, 2012

By  Casey Berman

I received a lot of good emails from readers after the “What to Consider When Considering an In-House Counsel Position†article was published last Friday in Above the Law (thank you).  Many were interested in the leave law behind coaching services.  Others wanted to know more about what it meant to be an in-house counsel.  And still others asked for my thoughts about a real life job decision they were about to make.

And as I read through the emails (and I replied to them all) I noticed a consistent theme, particularly from those in the latter group about imminent job and career decisions to made.  I noticed that many were planning on making decisions (leaving the law, taking a break from it all, jumping to a new job, quitting the firm job, planning a job search) without really considering whether this new decision would be a fit for their individual strengths, their passions, and their interests.  They are not thoroughly and properly planning to leave the law.  Rather they are contemplating moving from one thing they don’t like (the firm) to a new thing . . . without spending the time and the personal due diligence, to vet as much as possible whether this new thing has a high potential to turn out to be a good thing.

They were influenced by timing (“I only have a few days to reply to this job offer, I need to make a decision nowâ€), friends’ advice (“some friends say I should leave the firm, others say I should stayâ€) and family reasons (“I can get a cool job with a family friend’s companyâ€).  But nowhere did I hear:  “I feel this new job or opportunity will really allow me to utilize the skills I think I’m proficient at, and provide me an environment I’ll enjoy and in which I’ll be motivated and happyâ€.

I know that last line sounds cheesy.  And I know many of us may be impatient to take the time to perform this personal due diligence when we are (i) completely unhappy in our current job and/or (ii) very excited about a new possibility.

But to properly leave the law, you want to allow yourself to be in large part influenced by your skills, strengths and desires.  You want to try and give yourself the time and space to really know yourself and your wants.  You don’t need to rush, take your time, do it at your own pace.  Set realistic timelines – to leave your job, or to research opportunities or to set up informational interviews.  Take the time to learn to motivate yourself.  Put in place the mechanisms to sincerely grow your confidence.  Allow yourself the courage to think critically about what you are good at and enjoy, and then work hard to make sure that whatever you do (new job, a venture, volunteering, side job, company you found) is in alignment, or close alignment, with what you are good at and enjoy (your Unique Genius).

I know I’ll get some emails today from readers saying they don’t have the time, or they don’t know how or they really hate their jobs and they need to leave the law now!  But this is where enjoying the journey comes into play.  The struggle for courage, the hard work to make a plan and the time it takes to leave the law are all necessary components in the most important case of all … your life.

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