Do Things That Make You Feel Alive

Whether it’s photography, travel, painting, writing, or simply spending time with people you enjoy and who inspire you, do the things that make you feel alive, and do them as often as possible.

You can always make time for the things you love.

One of my favorite quotes:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Thurman

Wise words to live by.

Are Unhappy Biglaw Lawyers Living a Half Life?

One of the most inspirational and innovative geniuses of our time passed last week.

The news of Steve Jobs’ death made me think about what a profound legacy he left behind and how many of us have secret dreams and desires to leave behind a legacy after we’re gone by which people will remember us.  In other words, we don’t want to simply be here living life, going through the motions, then be gone, and then be forgotten by subsequent generations.

This all may sound a little morbid, but my point is, if you’re unhappy in your job and you are scared of the uncertainty of quitting, think about your life as it is.  How would you feel if you kept working at your job for another 10, 20, 30+ years?  What kind of legacy would you be leaving behind?  Will the world be better off because you have lived? And what about the alternative course?  Could you be making more of an impact and leaving behind a different legacy?

Although many attorneys make a positive impact by engaging themselves in activities benefiting their communities, spending time with loved ones, and providing invaluable pro bono services to people who can’t afford a lawyer, I wonder if some of those unhappy biglaw attorneys don’t feel that they are just living a “half life” – i.e., not fully living the life they want and simply getting stuck in the routines of their lives indefinitely.

If that’s how you feel, I can relate.  When I was in biglaw, I felt like I wasn’t fully living my life the way I wanted to.  I thought about the fact that I have only one life, and that it goes by so quickly, and I realized where my true priorities were.  I felt stuck and depressed, even miserable at times, in my job, but I saw no way out.  I kept asking myself – is this it?  Is this what life is all about?  You struggle, work your ass off, and then die?

I knew there had to be an alternative.  After all, not everybody lives their lives in this way, and in fact, many people I read about found new paths, and were happier and more successful after leaving jobs they were miserable in.  Even though these questions are the questions of the privileged few (many people who have to work to survive in any job they can get cannot afford these existential questions), when you have certain resources to get yourself out of a crummy situation, then do it!  Whether those resources be access to information online, books, $5000 in your savings account, or simply the knowledge that you can do better than you are today, then why not help yourself become a happier person, and maybe help more people along the way?  We only have one life, we might as well live it fully, rather than live only a “half life”.

Since quitting my job, I have had the fortunate opportunity to travel, just as I was yearning to while I was chained to my desk.  I have also started doing freelance legal work, which has surprisingly been extremely rewarding.  I am my own boss, I set my own hours, I work from coffee shops or from home, and I can take vacations whenever I want.  My income is nowhere near where it was last year, but some sacrifices must be made.  I have spent more time with my friends and family.  And most importantly, I am happier.  I am more confident.  I feel free.

And I no longer feel like I am living a half life.


What do you think?  I would LOVE to hear from you!  Leave a comment below and let me know.

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Interesting Article on Midlevel Associate Dissatisfaction

Here’s an interesting article on midlevel associate dissatisfaction.  Check it out here:

What do you think about this article?  Do you agree with the author?

Big Law Firms v. Small Firms – Does It Make a Difference?

When I was interviewing for jobs while at my big law firm job, and shortly after quitting, I interviewed with some small law firms. I thought that by going to a small firm, I could do interesting work, work with people I like, and have more hands on experience earlier into my career.  And maybe deal with fewer billable hour requirements.

I think I was mistaken.  Looking back now, I was going about my job search in all the wrong ways.  I was seeking an escape from the job I was in, rather than targeting the jobs and workplaces that I wanted to work for.  Ultimately, the small firms didn’t hire me, and in retrospect, I am so glad they didn’t.  I would have gotten paid less, would have had to probably work harder than I did at the big law firm, work on less interesting cases with less interesting and friendly co-workers (at least at those particular firms).  So what was it worth?  I probably would have been more unhappy at those jobs than I was at my big firm job.

Sometimes things don’t work out for a reason.  I know the reason the small firms didn’t work out was so that I would be forced to examine myself more critically and try to figure out what I really wanted, rather than choosing the easy ways out from a job I felt miserable in.

What do you think?  Is there a big difference in terms of happiness levels for junior associates when comparing big firms with small firms?

I would LOVE to hear from you!  Leave a comment below and let me know.

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Detaching from the Outcome

thailand buddha wat phra keo

Detaching yourself from the outcome is a great way to release your any frustrations, anger, or bitterness you might be harboring. What I mean by that is, you can have goals and strive for certain ambitions, but you shouldn’t become too attached to their outcomes.  This is because even if you achieve the outcome you are seeking, it will not drastically change your happiness levels (beyond the initial feeling of elation from the accomplishment), but if you do not achieve that outcome, it could become a great source of unhappiness and frustration.  Instead, try holding a space to welcome and be open to these outcomes occurring, but not in a way that makes them the end goal.

There is a saying that happiness is a journey, not a destination.  I believe in that 100%.  I also have a personal mantra that helps me deal with situations where unexpected things happen and I feel thrown off balance.

My personal mantra is:

“Whatever happens is for the best. Whatever doesn’t happen is for the best.”

Do you meditate or have a personal mantra?  I would LOVE to hear from you!  Leave a comment below and let me know.

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Why Passion is Important, Especially During a Bad Economy

I absolutely LOVE this quote:

“Passion is not a luxury that needs to be jettisoned in tough economic times. It is the most essential force a person can bring to a challenging job market … not only because we tend to do our best when we’re passionate about what we’re doing, but also because passion is what inspires a person to keep pushing to find a way forward, no matter how tough the circumstances.”

– Lane Wallace, The Atlantic

Read the original article for more on why you need passion for your career here.

I find this article especially useful for new law grads that are having a tough time finding a job, and are maybe questioning whether they are really passionate about Read the rest of this entry »

What’s Good in Big Law Isn’t Good for Happiness


I started thinking about some reasons why so many big law attorneys are unhappy and why the rate of attrition is so high at big law firms.  While some of these may seem obvious, the following are just a few examples of things that are considered good by big law standards, but that won’t bring you happiness:

  • working your ass off
  • making more money (via profit sharing, bonuses, or promotions)
  • accepting what other people tell you (e.g., your boss)
  • competing with others (for more work, more billable hours, more clients, etc.) and rank and self-worth at the firm largely depending on these factors
  • working so many hours that you start neglecting your friends, family, and especially, yourself
  • making partner and getting the corner office with the nice view
  • working while on vacation
  • all-nighters
  • never speaking up to say what’s really on your mind and not shaking up the status quo of the firm
  • never turning down work

While some of these examples are obviously not conducive to happiness (hello, working on vacation?!), some others may surprise you.

Generally, the ultimate goal while working in big law is to make partner and maximize profits.  Basically, the goal is to make lots of money.  But research has shown that once your basic needs are met, more money doesn’t mean greater happiness.

The problem is that many unhappy lawyers start looking to external sources of happiness (such as money, a nice car, a nice house, a nice watch, etc.) as their motivators that keep them working at their jobs.  So they start acquiring things, and they keep working so they can keep paying for those things, and again they buy more things to “reward” themselves for working so hard.  But what they don’t realize that is that even after acquiring all these things, they still would not be happy.

Any person that strives for things outside of themselves to make them happy will ultimately be unhappy.  It’s as simple as that.  And the big law firm model seems to reward behaviors that are more conducive to making people unhappy.  No wonder there are so many unhappy big law attorneys looking for a way out!

What do you think?  Does big law reward the very behaviors and ways of thinking that make people unhappy in the first place?  Leave a comment below.  I’d LOVE to hear from you!

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