I’d like to share a little more of my personal story. A critical turning point that has changed the trajectory of my life.
I distinctly remember the moment I knew that I no longer wanted to be an attorney.
During my first year practicing law, I was assigned to a team that worked solely for one of our firm’s biggest corporate clients. It was a full-time job, and a lot of the work was done while the financial markets were open, which meant I could barely step away from my computer screen between 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. On countless days, my lunch sat at the messenger center for hours. Occasionally, I would be assigned something to do for one of my group’s other clients. This additional work had to be done either late at night or on the weekends, and it stretched my workweek from 50 to 60 hours to upward of 80 or 90 hours.
Luckily, this didn’t happen often during my years at the firm. But during the summer of 2010, I was assigned to a big project that involved launching a brand-new hedge fund. And I wasn’t taken off my full-time role, either. I was in the office every Saturday and Sunday that summer. In late August, a friend of mine invited me to his share house in the beach town of Montauk in Long Island, New York, for the last weekend he and his friends had on their summer rental.
After three months of working nearly 100 hours per week, I decided to take a few days off. I informed all those who needed to know at work and headed out to Montauk on a Thursday morning bus.
My friend, a fellow lawyer who I had met studying for the bar exam two summers before, had been there all week. After lunch, we went out to the beach, and it felt like the first time my skin had been exposed to the sun in months. It was incredible to be out there, not worried about work for the first time in a long time. I heard my friend’s stories about what an amazing summer he had been having and was hit with pangs of jealousy and resentment for how I had spent my time that summer. That night, we had a great time over a home-cooked meal.
When we came back to the rental house for lunch the next day after spending the morning in the surf, I checked my BlackBerry and there were a string of e-mails from the partner I was working with to launch the new hedge fund. He needed something important done for Monday morning, and he wanted me to do it. I had an out-of-office reply on my e-mail, but that didn’t matter to him. I called in and reminded him that I had taken a few days off with limited internet, and he replied that he didn’t care where I did the work so long as it was done by Monday. I took the bus back into the city that afternoon. My one and only weekend to myself that summer had been taken away. During the three-hour ride, a thought I had suppressed finally erupted: This is not how I want to live my life. It was then that I knew I didn’t want to be a corporate lawyer anymore.
But I couldn’t say goodbye yet, because I wasn’t ready. Like any long-term relationship, I was invested. But I was also scared. Scared to give up the coveted job I had worked so hard to get and that I had come to identify with. Scared to give up the income that came with it. And even more scared because I didn’t know what I wanted to do next.
I had spent three terrible years in law school and another two grueling years at my law firm. Being a lawyer was what I believed I “should” be doing given my qualifications and experience. This is often how the world makes us feel, and most of the time we go along with it. This is social hypnosis. It happens with ours career, relationships, and lifestyle. And it’s hard to break. It took me nearly two years before I had the courage and direction to make a graceful exit from my law firm.
In that time, I sought counsel from an amazing career consultant, but I also continued my regular twice-daily meditation practice, which gave me both the clarity and fearlessness needed to take a leap.
We all have limited time. What we do with it will define our experiences and determine our happiness.
If you feel like what you “should” be doing isn’t bringing you fulfillment, then I can’t encourage you enough to take the steps to find what it is that will. I’m happy to help you in this endeavor. Click here to sign up for an Initial Consultation and we’ll create a plan that will help you get moving in the direction that is best for you.