It’s the end of December, and many of us are making new year’s resolutions for 2015.
Carrying through with these resolutions, however, can be difficult. This happens because they can be too demanding, unrealistic or vague. By the end of January, our discipline often wanes.
And if we specifically aspire to leave law behind in 2015, I would suggest that we take a small baby step and consider one resolution. Just one.
The resolution I would recommend us to follow is to, in no uncertain terms, speak and think about ourselves in a positive, proud, self-respecting and appreciative way.
The most important goal we can make for 2015 is to celebrate ourselves.
Let’s mitigate the fear-and-doubt narrative we perpetuate each day.
What does this really mean?
This does not mean we are being boastful or arrogant. It does not mean we are being touch-feely. It does not mean we are thinking positive just for the sake of thinking positive.
No, this means something completely different. It means we begin to move our mind away from focusing on all we lack, and rather to focusing on all that we have.
It means we begin to tap into our inner cool and not focus on our inferiority.
It means we realize there is more to each of us than getting beaten down by demanding clients or all-nighter blacklines or non-mentoring partners.
It means we focus on all that we can do (issue spot, handle clients, speak well, present well, be dependable, meet deadlines).
It means we consciously remind ourselves of all we have done (upsold new business, handle stress, manage projects, closed deals, win motions).
It means we realize for once that our skill set can be used in jobs and roles beyond just being a lawyer.
It means we attract and beckon more positive and strong things into our lives.
It means we focus more on the positive of what we can achieve and less on the negative and the fear and the doubt that prevents us from achieving.
It means we empower the creativity of the right side of our brain and tame the critic of the left.
It means we choose to not overwhelm ourselves with too much change, and rather empower ourselves with easy to adopt habits that enable incremental change at a pace we can handle and be successful at.
So how do we do this?
Of course this isn’t easy. It takes work. We have to actually train our brain. We have to think about what we are thinking. We have to go against our inherent caution and anxiety and risk aversion. We have to force ourselves to think in a way that is foreign to many of us. We have to seek out and revel in what could go right and not dwell on and prepare for what could possibly go wrong.
Specifically, in 2015, we can’t just say “I want to leave the law”; it’s good to have the goal, but we also need to support this goal with specific habits.
Here are three habits we can start on right now:
1. Start small. To ensure we are not overwhelmed, we need to start small. We can’t just proclaim a huge goal like “find our Unique Genius within a week and non-legal dream job within two”. That just isn’t realistic.
Rather, we need to take some baby-steps to introduce these new habits into our day-to-day schedule so they become actionable.
Let’s first start with the habit of celebrating ourselves. We can literally say things to ourselves like “I am going to focus on what I do well and not let negative thoughts enter into my head” or “I am really good at writing and explaining complicated things easily and being a leader and I know some non-legal jobs will require that” or “I’m not sure how it’s going to happen, but everything is going to work out for me”.
I know it may sound corny, but saying these to ourselves is a whole lot better than getting down on ourselves. Try it.
2. Add more habits only when we’re ready. And once we get momentum in celebrating ourselves, we can then begin to introduce new habits that help us leave the law.
We can endeavor to “do initial talk with spouse to go over money situation” or “ask two close friends at a time to compliment me on my professional skills and strengths” or “list 5 fears at a time that are standing in my way of leaving the law” or “list the top two reasons my identity is still tied to being a lawyer and how I can overcome this”.
3. Control our mind. Our personal image is informed by the mind. The fear-and-doubt narrative our mind can perpetuate is really the main, initial obstacle to many of us in leaving the law.
But we have to remember that we control our mind, our mind doesn’t control us. Our mind is just another tool we have at our disposal to create our world and personal view. Let’s use this tool to create a view that celebrates each of us.
2015 can be our year. This can be our decade. Think big, and start little by little to put the process in place for change.