I was recently speaking with a member of the Leave Law Behind community, and we were fleshing out a nice action plan for her to use in order to leave her job by the end of 2013. It all is falling into place:
- She has the deep, burning, sincere desire to leave law altogether and no longer practice
- She has a fairly good handle on her financial situation and cash flow needs and is reducing the anxiety she feels about money, the overwhelming need for security and being tied to a job mainly for the paycheck
- She has little-to-no hang-ups about the time and financial investment she put into law school and is ready to move on
- She has begun to work on fleshing out her unique genius to better understand her strengths, skills and passions (and how best to critically match these skills to potential new jobs, ventures and start-ups)
- She understands that she needs to “get out there” and begin networking, meeting people, creating opportunities and hitting the pavement – she has a few leads already and now is building up the courage to reach out to them
- She has a steady job at a mid-sized firm that continues to pay her bills
So what’s wrong? Well, it’s that last point, about her current job. She feels that she is beginning to hate her job. She can’t stand going back into the office. She doesn’t want to see the partners, she doesn’t want to deal with the politics, she doesn’t like the work, she just doesn’t want to be there.
We talked a bit about this, and tried to focus in on some specific areas that are causing her the most grief. Mostly, she wanted to vent and get things off of her chest, but there are still some areas of her work that just grate on her, that just annoy her, that bring her down and that she just doesn’t want to be around any longer.
And we know that properly leaving the law takes time – 6 months, 9 months, 18 months, 24 months. It doesn’t happen overnight. You need to think critically, do your research, plan, make mistakes, be honest with yourself. So how do you stay at a job that you really don’t like for longer than you’d like in order to find a new job and lifestyle you will like?
It can be difficult to completely change the areas of your work environment that bring you down. But keeping in mind the following three points will help mitigate your worry around your current job and help propel you to a role, profession and lifestyle you will love:
1. Remember, you have a job and the bills are being paid: There are over 12 million unemployed Americans who would love to have a paying job right now. Let’s take a step back and, while it’s not all perfect, let’s appreciate what we do have. Besides health issues, there really is not much else that causes such high levels of anxiety more so than running out of money. Rest easy, your bills are being paid.
2. View your job as a subsidy: Instead of dreading going into the office, view this job (and the paycheck, internet access, computers, network, etc. that comes along with it) as providing the helpful tools you need to launch into the new job, lifestyle or venture that aligns with your strengths and skills. Let’s shift perspective: This horrible job is not a horrible job . . . it’s a much needed, resource filled stepping stone.
3. Never again will you get this low: This may sound counter intuitive (or even cruel), but make yourself hyper-aware of how badly you feel in your current job. Let the not-so-good feelings rise up and even take you over for some time. Let yourself go as low as you can . . . savor the lowness . . . relish the anxiety. Because you never want to feel this way again. And you won’t. Use this low period at this job to see what you don’t want in life and from a job, and in turn you can begin to figure out what you do want (either exactly the opposite of what you have now, or some variation). It’s good to know what we want in life . . . and it’s also essential to know what we don’t want. And most of all, while you work for “the man” and feel like you’re being sucked dry, use that as the catalyst to create a life where you can clearly make the connection between how your effort at work (a new role, a start-up, a new industry, your own business) leads directly to the reward (more money, self-worth, helping the world, innovation).
Leaving the law is not easy. If it was, everyone would do it. I wouldn’t need to write about it, we’d all have the answers already. And part of properly leaving the law may be reconciling yourself (for the time being) to continue at that job you just don’t like. But that job you just don’t like is often the engine, the reason, and the catalyst to finding the one you do.