The lazy days of summer will soon end as Back to School season starts. But before they expire it is not too late to take advantage of one of the summer’s greatest strengths: the opportunity to slow down and reflect on whether your career is being guided by you or is on automatic pilot. So says author and business coach Paula Black, who has just published A Lawyers Guide to Creating a Life, Not a Living. The audiobook features the voices and real stories of lawyers from public defenders, solo practitioners, judges, professors, and corporate and government attorneys.
One of those voices belongs to Miko Brown, a trial attorney who after ten years found herself no longer happy at a prestigious litigation boutique firm but unsure what to do about it. Brown says, “I was on cruise control and doing exactly what I thought I should be doing. … For reasons that were inexplicable to me, the more I succeeded, the more push-back and resentment I started feeling from many of my colleagues. I felt as though the firm was no longer trying to lift me up. Instead, it was trying to silence and neutralize me.”
Worse still, Brown realized that the added time she was spending trying to resolve her problems at work was taking her away from her true priorities: her family and practicing law.
Black says you don’t have to be a lawyer to find inspiration in the way Brown resolved her situation. Using Brown’s story as an example, Black offers the following tips for individuals who want to stop doing what they think they should be doing and focus on what they want to do instead.
Tip No. 1: Take a step back. Realize you have choices, as Brown did, and know that there is a way out of your miserable existence.
Tip No. 2: Take inventory of what you like and what is troubling you. If you can be honest you will see the situation clearly and you can start crafting a strategy to move toward a better life as Brown did.
Tip No. 3: Get out of your own head, think outside of the box and take risks. Brown says, “As soon as I made the decision to find a new job, I felt like a 1,000-lb. weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
Tip No. 4: Tamp down the “mommy guilt.” Brown says, “When I work with clients I like in an environment that I like, the time away from my family isn’t quite as painful. I’m also a better wife, mother and friend when I’m professionally fulfilled and happy. Now, all of the energy that I previously spent fighting the naysayers, I can spend on the people and work that feed my soul.”