As a Korean-American immigrant, I have achieved the ultimate dream of becoming a lawyer (not as great as a doctor, but my parents approved). Like many immigrant families, we valued hard work, getting good grades, and being “successful.”
After four years, I didn’t exactly quit being a lawyer. I still practice law, although on a very limited basis. I wrote a book for the American Bar Association, The Anxious Lawyer, which I am delighted to say is being sent off to the printer this week! Six weeks ago, I signed contracts to write for Forbes and Bloomberg.
Perhaps as an outsider looking in, all of these events may seem like it was by design. Nothing could be further from reality. When I gave myself permission to leave law, I had no idea what the future would hold. I didn’t know what my next job title would be, how I would make a living, or what I would tell my parents. All I knew was this: something needed to change.
I meet a lot of lawyers who are in similar situations. They are incredibly unhappy where they are at, yet, they don’t want to leave because they are afraid of uncertainty. I believe the most important lesson one must learn is letting go of resisting uncertainty.
For me, having a daily meditation practice helps me to get more comfortable with uncertainty. Each day, I intentionally carve out a bit of quiet space to practice not doing anything, but rather, practice simply being. I’m not planning my day, week ahead, or writing my 10-year plan. I’m just focusing on one breath, followed by the next.
I find this to be extremely soothing. It calms the nervous system and I can show up to unexpected challenges and life’s delights with ease, clarity, and compassion.
I saw this interesting diagram which said that your life’s purpose is the intersection of four elements:
- Work that you love;
- Work you’re great at;
- Work the world needs; and
- Work you can get paid for.
I find that most lawyers who are dissatisfied are actually quite good at their job, the work is needed in the world and of course, they are paid for it. The hardest part is the first prong — doing work that you love. For many, we have become so habitualized to doing work that makes us completely miserable, it’s hard to fathom having work that we absolutely love.
Four years into my journey into finding, defining, and living my purpose, I am learning to be comfortable with uncertainty. I’m also figuring out what I love doing. The work that makes my life feel full, joyous, and meaningful. At the moment, it’s collaborating with three amazing lawyers to plan an Unconference, writing, running workshops, and doing one-on-one work with lawyers.
If you’ve been resisting change because uncertainty makes you feel anxious, welcome to the club. You’re in extremely good company. The first step is to simply acknowledge that this is how you feel. Saying to yourself, “I know I have to make some big changes but I am afraid of uncertainty,” can make it feel less daunting. Also, recognizing that being uncomfortable with uncertainty is a common human experience, shared by all — this also helped me to feel less afraid.
My invitation to you is this. Find your purpose. Find that sweet spot of work you love, are good at, the world needs, and you can get paid to do. Consider that you have a unique set of skills and talents that is completely your own, that no one else in the world has. Figure out what that is and bring it out into the world — without apology, without needing permission.
P.S. If you’re a woman attorney in the Bay Area, please join us for a Shape the Law Unconference on April 29th. We’ll be spending the afternoon discussing questions around wellness, wealth, and wisdom.
Read More: http://abovethelaw.com/2016/04/getting-comfortable-with-uncertainty/?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=28066213&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–DPZBuNmBoNotv-oSUJNkfUEzJ61PV0ZojIbHdjecLcVUJ3wt6sEUoBJWZbRVIO7RG2AsGugFPZ7tvpT66_Z6SutDC0w&_hsmi=28066213&rf=1