The (sometimes) Sameness of Life

! Stuck in rut.

! One day feels like the rest.

! Oh, that Monday feeling.

! No time to enjoy the more delicious things in life.

! Work/life balance is difficult to achieve.

No, this is not my belated Monday rant but, rather, it sort of summarises how I used to feel before I made my move into the legal profession.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved that (inner-glow) feeling of helping people find the next WOW job but the problem with recruitment was that after a while one assignment felt like the next, felt like the next and so on.

Was this just a lack of job satisfaction? Probably, but it was a bit more than that.

I felt as if I had become trapped by my own success and the more success I achieved, the more I was held tight in the vice grip of the job.

For me the key differentiator, and the reason I chose law, was that I wanted to use as much **mental muscle** as possible and more than that be self-fulfilled.

Did I have a plan? You bet I did – like the rather oft repeated saying: “If you don’t have a plan, how will you know when you have reached your destination.”

The current economic climate is not conducive to making rash or non-reflective decisions, and even if you are stuck in a rut you may be happier to tough it out, wait for the upturn and then look over the wall to see what the market is like in your chosen field. The war on talent will then rage supreme. If that’s you then skip the rest. For the rest of you, please feel free to read on.

There will never be a right moment to make that leap; I was 25, my wife and I lived at home with her parents and I worked at the same time as studying – no mean feat when you are on call 24/7 as your father-in-law is the local undertaker and you are the driver, pall-bearer and general factotum.

For me I just had to follow my instinct, passion and inner sense of what felt right. Once I had made up my mind there was nothing that was going to stand in my way. In common parlance I had the “desire” to make it happen.

Seth Godin has written about doing “[your] art” which is his way of describing someone who follows their passion and doesn’t go through a whole long process of rationalisation – they do it because it feels right.

For me, I didn’t know if law would be my ‘art’ but I did have a fairly good idea that it ticked a lot of the boxes: being a problem solver, utilising my **mental muscle** and lighting my fire again – the problem with going through the motions is that if you are not careful it really can dull your sense of self-belief and motivation.

Now I am not asking you to commit career suicide or give up on something that once inspired you, but if you find yourself with a sense of passive or, worse still, active disengagement, then take time out, do some mind mapping and think really hard whether you are following your passion.

Another way of approaching things is to have a + and – set of columns where you score the things that you like (+ column) and things that you don’t like (- column). You can weight them if you like but just counting one side against another will give you some fascinating insight into your inner voice and whether all those musings or misgivings that you currently have are borne out by the trial balance exercise. One tip, though, is to cover up the + or – columns as you are completing the other as otherwise there will be a temptation to even them up or create a false score to reflect your mood.

Once you have completed this exercise you should then have a good datum point to revert to if you want to further cogitate on your next move.

Of course, there will be lots more planning to do, soul-searching and heart ache but above all else DON’T SIT THERE AND DO NOTHING. As my hero Tom Hopkins has eulogised about on his excellent training programme, The Official Guide to Success: “If someone told you today that this was your last day how would you decide to live it”. Extreme – You Bet. But just think about it in the context of what you want to do. Would you seriously carry on ploughing that furrow if you knew that you had limited time available to you. No way. You want to live – truly live and not just for yourself but all those people who love you, inspire you and want to see you achieve your full potential.

So, next time you hear those mutterings that start to siphon off your life juice, resolve now to do something about it. You may never get another chance.

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