Three months ago I decided to leave my firm job three months from now. The clock is ticking with no new job in sight. I’m afraid. I’m stressed. I’m worried that nothing will work out.
I don’t regret trying firm life. It wasn’t a good match. So be it.
I do, however, regret giving in to my paralyzing fears about quitting. I regret staying much longer than I should have. It took a long time to make peace with not being able to make it work. But it hasn’t been working. It’s never worked.
I’m ready to move on.
But what the hell I am supposed to do with myself now?
Law school and transactional practice often narrow one’s field of vision. (Something I’m sure isn’t unique to attorneys.) Maybe it’s the training in risk aversion that thwarts a sense of creativity. Suddenly you can only see yourself on one track (partnership) doing one thing (private practice).
Even if you know you’ve got to get off the treadmill, you don’t know how.
You don’t know if you can.
You don’t know if there’s even a road out there.
It gets overwhelming. Discouraging. Suddenly all you want is to put your head in the sand and just let life happen to you.
But hopefully, you come to a point when you can’t just be reactive anymore. Hopefully, you feel that you’ve got to start asking hard questions and doing something about the answers.
Who do I want to be when I grow up?
Maybe you start to resist answers that are merely jumping from the treadmill to the elliptical to the stairmaster.
Maybe you’re ready to get outside of the gym into the world.
Begin at the End
To move forward it helps to begin with the end in mind.
When I look back on my life what kind of mark do I hope to have to made on the world? What kind of person do I want people to say I was? What values drive me? What strengths and talents do I possess that I must express?
Beyond the fear of change, just past that place on the horizon that you can barely see is a vision.
It’s undeveloped, but the negatives are starting to show something real that just maybe you can believe in.
Maybe you can imagine a version of yourself that creates new things and takes risks. Maybe you see yourself building the network and skills you need to create a life that works better for your personality and lets you leverage your “unique genius” to contribute in positive ways to my world.
Right now I feel that I’m smack dab in the middle of the desert. Miles and miles behind me and quite a journey before. If I stay where I am I know that I will die. I’m already weakened by hunger, thirst and fatigue.
There’s no point looking back. It’s just as long to travel back as it is to move forward and I know that there’s nothing back there for me.
Maybe that oasis up ahead is a mirage, but I know that the desert won’t go on forever. I’ll reach the other side.
I won’t back down.