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Pulling up my anchor

 June 19, 2012

By  Casey Berman

A favorite blog of mine is the The Minimalists.  Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are both former professionals who left the corporate track and now write about how to do and strive for more in life by buying and wanting less.  In their post from this week, they talk of how being anchored is a truism that may not make much sense any longer for many of us:  “An anchor is the thing that keeps a ship at bay, planted in the harbor, stuck in one place, unable to explore the freedom of the sea. Perhaps we were anchored—we knew we weren’t happy with our lives—and perhaps being anchored wasn’t necessarily a good thing.”

Going through college and law school, I often aspired to being “anchored”.  It was considered a compliment.  It meant that I had my head on straight and that I was focused on the right path, that I wouldn’t stray.  To take it further, it meant that an education and profession based in the field of law would lead to success.

I’m realizing that many of my individual needs and motives as well society’s expectations that originally anchored me in the career of law now do not really have my personal happiness, redefined sense of success and personal satisfaction in mind.  I’m now less concerned with being firmly set in a prescribed trajectory and more willing to make plans that can be adjusted as needed.  It’s becoming clearer to me that it may make more sense to become unmoored.

This caused me to think about what real life anchors continue to chain many of us as we continue to practice law and work day-to-day in jobs we don’t actually like:  School loan payments.  A required return on our law school and associate years.  Our identity as a lawyer.  Money.  The need for security and stability.  A sense of loyalty to the firm.  The goal of making partner.  And then making partner.  A perceived set of specialized skills.  Intellectual challenges.  Authority.  Responsibility.  Predictability.

I’m realizing that for many of us who want to change, anchoring ourselves in the profession of law may bring stability and respect from our peers, but it may not ever bring us exhilaration and fulfillment.

So for those of us at our wits’ end, unhappy with your practice and looking for a change, comment on this blog or send me an email:  What is negatively anchoring you to the law?  And what babystep could you take right now to begin on the path of pulling up these anchors?  I’m looking forward to your feedback.

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  1. One anchor that holds me down is that the value (esp monetary) that you get out of something should be directly proportional to the work you put in. This just isn’t true. Their are high-yield activities and low-yield activities. And I’m free to focus on high-yield activities and spend the rest of my time doing as I please!

    1. It’s a great point. Our dreams and our projects and many of our goals take time to show results and high yields. If we needed a high yield for these activities from the get-go, we might never pursue them! Thanks for the comment.

  2. My anchor is my primary home mortgage. It’s helped me focus on making and saving money because it is large.

    Eventually, I will sell my house and then the anchor will be no more. I just fear what I will do with the money that has been released……

    1. Interesting. It seems that this mortgage anchor actually was a positive motivator. You let it push you forward and achieve (I’m assuming for the most part) and not hold you back. That is great. Most of the anchors we see here at Leave Law Behind really weigh us down and prevent us from doing things that are in alignment with who we are (writing, blogging, new jobs, new beginnings). I need to write a new post on “positive anchors”! Thanks.

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