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.
Here’s an interesting article on midlevel associate dissatisfaction. Check it out here: http://www.law.com/jsp/tal/PubArticleTAL.jsp?id=1202511938585&Suffering_in_Silence&slreturn=1&hbxlogin=1.
What do you think about this article? Do you agree with the author?
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
- 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!
If you know lawyers seeking a way out of big law, please send them over to the blog (www.escapefromthelaw.wordpress.com), or share this post on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below! I’m sure they would appreciate it.
The other day, I read this amazing article by former advertising executive Shannon Kaiser, and could relate to so much of what she wrote about that I had to share it with you. She is now a travel writer.
She wisely notes, “We are going to find ourselves in many situations that don’t work for us. But we have the power to choose happiness. We can bring our own happiness back by choosing to follow our heart and listen to our inner voice.”
And my favorite part of the article is the following, because I can relate to it so well:
“I would arrive to work lifeless, cold, and afraid to listen to my inner voice. I would say to myself, ‘I went to graduate school for a marketing degree, so I better stick to this.’ But it just wasn’t what I wanted.
I was pretending to be the corporate climber. The more achievements, awards, cities, clients, and money I could get, the more I could say I was worthy. It was all a big circus, as I quietly hid myself behind the illusion of success and fulfillment.
I secretly longed for freedom. Every day I would sit under the fluorescent lights and cry inside.
I felt like a caged animal that wanted nothing more then to break free. But fear, and fear alone, was holding me back.”
Can you relate to Shannon’s story? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
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If you’re anything like I used to be, you may be addicted to self-help books. I used to devour self-help books left and right, on topics ranging from love and relationships, business and career, fashion and style, dealing with difficult life situations, how to be rich, and especially on how to be happier. I used to even exchange self-help book recommendations with my girlfriends.
This all changed when I met with one of my old law school classmates a few months ago. I hadn’t seen him in five years, so we had a great time catching up with each other. When we said goodbye to each other, he said something to me which has not left my mind since that day. He said, “Be compassionate to yourself.”
While what he said was hardly revolutionary or unique, it influenced me in a way that completely caused me to look at myself in a new way – something that no self-help book had ever done.
His words really resonated with me. I thought about them long after, and I realized that I was being too hard on myself for a really long time. I was my own worst critic, and it was getting to me. And someone who I hadn’t seen in a long time, and who didn’t know me that well, could sense it.
After my meeting with my old classmate, I started to accept and love myself in a new way. I started to realize that I, with all my flaws and insecurities and fears and weaknesses, was an absolutely beautiful person just as I was, and that I didn’t need to “work” on myself anymore. I had become a perfectionist and was increasingly critical of myself. Over time, I started feeling like I was trying to be someone I’m not – the version of myself that society or culture wants me to be, instead of the true version of who I am. And I constantly was striving for something that I could never do – be someone other than me. This created an unhealthy cycle for me, and made me start to feel bad about myself since I kept striving and failing to achieve something unattainable. And the more I failed to achieve that unattainable ideal, the worse I felt about myself.
Notwithstanding all this, I certainly believe that by striving for improvement in my life, I was able to make certain decisions and take action to improve the quality of my life by reading self-help books and by getting inspired by the authors who wrote them. I have made countless good decisions that benefited myself and those around me because of things I learned by reading these books. My point is, if you find yourself reading tons of books on a certain topic, but you don’t find yourself applying those principles in your life, you may have to try a different approach in addition to those books. Or, you may have to accept that there are certain things you cannot change, and you just have to learn how to make the best of it. Sometimes that just comes with life experience.
While I still have many areas of my life that I could improve upon, I have come to the realization that maybe there are certain things about me that make me who I am, and these qualities just might not be ones I can, or frankly, want to, change. I realized all this after hearing just those four words from my old classmate – “Be compassionate to yourself.”
So every once in a while, put those books down and go out and meet people. Talk to people you know or strike up conversations with people you don’t. Do things you enjoy. Experience life in all its absurdities, oddities, and beauties. Along the way, you may gain some great insights that might not reveal themselves in the same way if they were written on a page (or even on a blog). The written word, while full of wisdom and knowledge, is incomparable to the impact of life experiences on a person.
I read a post on Careared that I thought was interesting. It’s on the “What do you do?” question that people tend to ask upon meeting you, as if the answer to this question allows the questioner to fit you into a certain box or category, will give them some insight into the type of person you are, or will allow them to determine if you can help them in some way.
I can definitely relate to this post. I can’t tell you the number of times I have told people I’m a lawyer, only to hear, “Oh you must be really argumentative”, or “You’re too nice to be a lawyer!” in response. It used to be bother me tremendously, but I think I’ve gotten over it.
Although people in all professions probably get certain stereotypical reactions to their “What do you do?” answer, people generally seem to have very strong opinions and ideas about what lawyers do and they make automatic assumptions about the personality of all lawyers. Usually these assumptions and opinions about lawyers are negative, but to me this only shows how narrow minded those people must be. It doesn’t say anything about me or who I am.
I guess all we can do is be ourselves, and show people that no matter what, we are not just what we do. Every person is so incredibly complex and jobs are only one aspect of people’s lives. For some people, their identities and egos become intertwined with their careers, but this is an social and cultural construct that doesn’t exist in other cultures.
Once in a while, you might meet a lawyer (or doctor, or dentist, or engineer) that doesn’t match your assumptions. Nice lawyers do exist, and so do mean nurses and teachers. I’ve noticed that nice lawyers generally don’t succeed in certain legal environments, however. This may also feed certain negative assumptions and stereotypes.
One of my favorite things is to surprise people and to challenge their beliefs. I love it when I don’t simply fit within certain boundaries or categories that people create upon meeting me. If I am able to challenge someone’s expectations in a meaningful way or help them learn something new or see things in a new light, it is an extremely satisfying feeling.
What are some reactions you’ve gotten to the “What do you do?” question?
I read an article on www.oprah.com about how to know if you’re in the wrong job. When I was still at the firm, most of these signs were there for me. To sum up the article, the 6 signs are:
1) They could never pay you enough to make you feel good.
2) You believe nothing you do makes a difference.
3) You’re not learning anything.
4) No one ever talks to you about the future in a positive way.
5) You hate your boss so much that it’s hard to think about anything else.
6) You feel that who you are at work doesn’t have much to do with who you are in the rest of your life.
The rest of the article is available here.
How about you? Can you relate to what this article talks about?