Last week we talked about work/life balance and the draw that lawyering has on your time. This week let’s talk about expectations of other folks that may also put that work/life balance out of wack.
How many people go to law school because Mom or Dad thinks its a good idea? Quite a few. Mom and Dad would be proud to have a lawyer in their family to brag about, even if it is not the ideal job for the son or daughter. Many times its the line of least resistance to just accept the support they would get from your family in going to law school instead of insisting on their own choices of career.
Think about how work/life balance can really get upset when the work part is something that you hate to do. Yet, we all know many attorneys who really don’t like their work life. In my coaching, I find that sometimes it is not actually the lawyering part they hate but the area of the law that they are practicing. This is fairly easy to fix. The real problem comes when one day the attorney wakes up and says, I want to be an artist, plumber, surgeon or anything but an attorney.
Usually by this time, the attorney has a student loan to pay off, maybe a mortgage and children to raise. To make a dynamic shift in career is really taking a chance and involves great risk. This is the time that we as coaches suggest that the attorney explore his or her support system and find out what kind of back up there might be for drastic changes. Many people have been surprised when the spouse has said “I would love to go back to work. You can take care of the kids and save day care costs. Then you can go to school at night or explore the alternative careers you might like to pursue.” Or they may find that there really is no support for this change other than their close friends.
Then this is the time to seek out attorneys who have made drastic changes in their professional life and find out how they did it. These are the people that are going to give them support and ideas about how to go about a change. They may even find groups of people who have done this and have really good advice for them.
This is also the time for brainstorming. We, in America, have so many different opportunities that sometimes just uncovering what might be available (even from crazy advice) is a clue to how to solve our problems. Keeping an open mind and a resolution that they deserve a happy work life is tantamount to truly having work/life balance.
So, we can all celebrate with Ma, I Did It! I gave myself permission to make myself happy by doing whatever it takes to follow my own path!