Finding Your Dream Job - Lawyers Assistance Program of British

Finding Your Dream Job
Lawyers Assistance
Facilitated by Robert
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
• 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
• Fortunately, law is a wide field offering
many variations-legal, quasi legal and non
• 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
• 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 lifefear confusion and delay resultsee chart on brain function
• To do brainstorming you must get
access to your right brain
• Left brain-Right brain Exercisewhat 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
• 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
• 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
• Another Theory about getting unstuck
involves a psychological approach (Wong,
• 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
• Ideal self-this the part of you that is created by
parental attitudes and expectations and the culture
• 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 itthey 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
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 quasilegal 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 itdenying 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
• 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 coworkers etc.
• Environment-office atmosphere, physical
structure, work schedule, degree of
freedom and flexibility
What do I have Passion
• 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
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
• 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!!

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