Finding Your Dream Job Lawyers Assistance Program Facilitated by Robert Bircher
Going for What you Really Want • Making transitions in jobs is a normal part of career development-not an aberration • Most lawyers accept the first (or only) articling job they are offered and many clamor to be “kept on” after articles-this is not career planning!! • In fact, the chances of being in the ideal job for you -after articling is remote-most people need to make several moves before they hit on the best one for them
Going for what You really Want • Fortunately, law is a wide field offering many variations-legal, quasi legal and non legal • Law offers many cultures including large firms, solo practice, corporate, government etc. • Finding the job you love is about inner self examination. It is not knowing what is available-”out there” What is out there are 15,000 separate occupations in BC-if you don’t stay in private practice you will only have 14,999 options left!! • It is not written in stone tablets that you have to stay in any particular area of law or even law it all-although this is a revelation to some lawyers
What do you Want? • Lawyers often do their career planning after they have practiced a while-the first clue being a sense of discomfort ranging from mild dissatisfaction to overt misery, anxiety or depression • At this point lawyers are often lost and waste time hoping for “something to come along” - it rarely will • The most effective first step is to get a more accurate sense of what you want or like
What do you Want? • Many lawyers are unclear about what they want-they have been conditioned to want what others tell them they “should want” parents, society, teachers etc. • Mom or Dad might have said" You will be happy if you get a high paying job in a big firm” you may now have that -yet are miserable due to the long hours and pressure and feel the trade off for big money was a mistake • Going to another big firm simply means you will have the same job in a different building-no real change has occurred
Why Can’t I Figure Out What I Want? • Finding your passion or dream job, theoretically should be easy-in practice it is actually quite difficult for several excellent reasons • Two theories help explain why it is so hard • Brain hemisphere theory: The left side of the brain processes information sequentially and specializes in logic and analytical thinking: the right side processes information holistically,all at once and intuitively • One side tends to dominate or become the default processor-for various reasons, including the filtering process of getting into law schools, the left side dominates in most lawyers
Why Can’t I Figure Out What I want? • Both sides function almost as separate entities or personalities • The left side functions to safeguard the person by keeping them where they are-in familiar safe, non-threatening territory (safekeeping self) • The right side functions to lead the person into new adventures and exploration of uncharted territory (Experimental self)
Why Can’t I Figure Out What I want? • The problem is that the left brain tends to override the right brain leaving us without the proper thinking tools to create a new life-fear confusion and delay result-see chart on brain function • To do brainstorming you must get access to your right brain • Left brain-Right brain Exercise-what thoughts do you have about career change and what side of the brain are they coming from?
The Sound of the Safekeeping Self • Your Left brain is overriding your right brain when; you talk about the reasons you shouldn't do this, you think things like: I need to do or complete x before I make a move, this isn’t realistic, I can’t etc • Or you confuse yourself every step of the way • Or you find diversions or digressions rather than do your job hunt
Getting Unstuck • In order to find out what your dream job is you need to be in your right brain-tough to do for many lawyers • One way is to take a sabbatical or break and do something radically different-as long a break as you can afford-travel, teach English, live in a monastery in Bali etc. • Another way is to engage more in right brain activities-listening to music-physical activities or creative activities (non competitive)-having fun etc • Trying to over-think (ruminating, obsessing) your situation has the opposite effect-it creates problems not solutions-gathering more information however is useful-informational interviews etc.
Ideal Self and Authentic Self • Another Theory about getting unstuck involves a psychological approach (Wong, McKeen) • Imagine having 3 parts to your personality-an Ideal Self, an Authentic Self and an Actual Self • Authentic self-your basic nature and personality which your mother could attest to even in your earliest days-this will be your unique and individual way of being in the world-it will be with you all your life and although the form may look different the essence never changes
Ideal Self and Authentic Self • Ideal self-this the part of you that is created by parental attitudes and expectations and the culture itself • Children soon realize that their behavior must be modified to please their parents if they are to survive-children then form an image of how they must be to please their parents-whom they are entirely dependant on for survival. This image of self that will be acceptable and gain approval is your Ideal self • Often the impulses of the authentic self will be in opposition to what parents (or any authority figure) want-this creates conflict-which later becomes internalized and continues long after we are beyond the control of our parents • For example many people are lawyers because their parents wanted them to be, or approved of it or for bragging rights," my daughter is a lawyer” (therefore I must have been a great parent!!)
Ideal Self • Being in Law to satisfy your ideal self is common-unfortunately it doesn’t result in much happiness. • Lawyers who are lawyers because it is in alignment with their authentic self are easy to spot: they absolutely love being lawyers and will take law books or files to the beach or on holidays-they are genuinely happy and look and act like it-they are also uncommon • If you rate your experience of being a lawyer out of 10 and it is less than 5 you probably are impacted by this phenomenon-you are in law because somebody else thought it was a good idea
Actual Self • Your “Actual self” is the compromise between your ideal and authentic selves • From the outside the child grows up and becomes “responsible, cooperative, a good student etc”. The compromises are made for the “Childs own good” • Unfortunately, every time that the Authentic Self is betrayed in an effort to behave more like the Ideal self, the person recognizes that abandonment and reacts with inner conflict (sometimes called self hate)
Ideal Self in Practice • To develop the ideal self, people learn socially acceptable roles (i.e. Lawyer) which are a social vehicle which helps maintain the image of the ideal self • If these roles are against your deep nature people learn to become disconnected or numb and lose touch with their feelings-in this state it is almost impossible to have any sense of what you really want • Other symptoms of this “disconnect” are anxiety, depression, addictions, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorders (workaholics)-also there is a lack of direction and a feeling of emptiness • What is missing in your life?-YOU!!
Conflict Between Ideal and Authentic Self • If there is a large disparity between these two parts a great deal of pain ,conflict and misery results • Fortunately law is such a huge field many widely different careers are possible, some may go to quasi-legal areas, some may need to leave law. Also in many small or solo practices you can write your own ticket as far as how you practice-thus, it is not difficult to find a niche-you don’t have to leave town, move to the gulf islands and make pottery to be happy-although for some people this is perfect!! • Exercise-write a job description for your ideal self and one for your authentic self-in or out of law and don’t worry about whether it is practical or not
Getting Unstuck • Everyone is faced with this dilemma to a greater or lesser degree-one path that doesn’t work is the “Path of Glory”-trying to achieve and strive your way out of it-denying your authentic self or trying to get rid of it-the thinking here is “maybe if I achieve and accomplish a lot I will finally be rid of this inner conflict" this of course only results in an endless treadmill of ultimately meaningless achievement • A more productive path is one of compassion-awareness of self and acceptance of these parts • Striving to be more in your authentic self is simply your ideal self sneaking in the back door
Getting Unstuck • Striving to get away from your ideal self won’t work either-it is part of you and won’t disappear • Self compassion and accepting that you have these parts is the way out • You can then listen to these parts and make good choices in life • This will result in an “experimental approach” to moving towards your perfect job-allowing a number of experiments along the way • Making changes becomes part of the process -not a failure to be ashamed of • Almost all really happy people have done lots of experimenting
How do I Get There? What do I need to do? • You need to know your interests, skills, values, people and environment preferences • It is like having a shopping list before you go shopping-you won’t forget things and you will go to the right stores if you have one-if you have no idea what you want you will wander aimlessly • Interests-Subject matters to which you are drawn-topics that you read about
Creating a Job Shopping list • Skills-abilities you have developed over your lifetime • Values-intangible guiding principles, motivators or drivers-everything you do is driven by your values-unfortunately they are often unconscious • People preferences-type of people, how many, what kind of interaction with co-workers etc. • Environment-office atmosphere, physical structure, work schedule, degree of freedom and flexibility
What do I have Passion for? • EG.-”I want to be paid massive amounts of money to have coffee with interesting people and be on TV” sounds impossible until you talk with Oprah Winfrey • Assume you will be paid what you are now or what you want-don’t assume your dream job is poorly paid • There are many amazing jobs out there • The impediment always boils down your own fear-courage to change is what works!!
Completing the List • Creativity is a right brain activity, do not be “practical, sensible or realistic” i.e. asking yourself “how am I ever going to get paid for this” or “there is no such thing as a good paying job doing that”-This your left brain making a mess of things • Focusing on How am I going to get it before you are clear on what you want is a grievous error!!-This using your left brain for a right brain job • When you are clear on what you want the “how” follows even if what you want seems ridiculous
Finding your Ideal Job • Looking at your list what types of jobs would be perfect for you?? • Does it utilize what you love to do? • Show your list to a friend/partner –what would they recommend? • If you get some ideas the next step is to talk to somebody who already does it • Have faith you can do it-doubt doesn’t mean it can’t be done- it is just your left brain “trying to help”-if however it goes on overdrive it will talk you out of anything risky or scary and you will stay stuck • You may reach a point where any change can be considered positive-doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is craziness!!