When talking about Mighty Summit on Twitter earlier today, there was a lot of discussion of dreams and goals and that one of the problems that several of us have with goal setting is that goal seminiars and goal setting advice are often geared towards self-employment. There is an idea that self-employment is the ultimate American Dream. When you are self-employed, you are working for yourself, you answer to no-one, and you can be an honest-to-goodness Self Made Person.
I am a take-charge, bossy person with what some might call natural leadership abilities, in that I cannot stand it when there is not a Plan and nobody is offering to do anything to further the Plan if there is one. These are the skills that might make me more inclined towards self-employment. Except for one teeny tiny detail. I have no desire to be self-employed.
When I look at my long-term career goals, they involve people. I want to work in an office with people I like. I want to have a job I like. I want deadlines and organization and somebody to answer to and somebody to help me stay focused and on track.
I spent an awful lot of time last winter in my unemployed state trying to figure out what it is I Really Want In Life. I asked myself, if I couldn’t be a lawyer, what could I be? The answer that occurred to me was, "anything I want." So I tried it. I started a photography company geared towards helping non-profits get more access to photography. I tried starting an Etsy shop. I contemplated getting advertisers for my blogs so I could be a writer. I tried to try my hand at freelance writing. These things did not get off the ground, which is why you are scratching your head saying, "I didn’t know she did that."
There is a saying on Pinterest that I keep seeing repinned, that says, "Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. (Harold Whitman)” At the end of the day, being a lawyer is what makes me come alive. And all the other dreams and goals I have take a backseat to that, because it is what makes me feel good, and it makes me happy, and to be honest, I’m good at it. I’m lucky. The world is full of unhappy lawyers, and I’m not one of them.
So, the obvious answer to a lot of people in my life, was to go lawyer. Start my own practice. Find clients. Have them pay me. Do lawyer stuff for them. There are a number of reasons why I knew this was a Bad Idea, but the biggest was that working for myself doesn’t appeal to me. (The others are that I didn’t know enough, and I would be lonely, and I would inevitably commit malpractice.) It took me about three weeks at a solo firm to know that I don’t want my own firm, at least not right now.
Meg said, when she sold her book, "we all have access to success." That access looks different every where you go. I’ve been crazy-busy lately, because I have been networking and volunteering my heart out to get myself out and about as much as possible, so that sometime, someday, I can get the kind of job I want doing the kind of things I want to do. This is a hard goal. It is pretty hard to hold on to, because the series of steps to get to the end are varied and complicated, and I’m not entirely sure what my dream job looks like. But for right now, I feel fulfilled to be working, and I feel encouraged that I’m working towards something, even if I don’t know what it is. It helps me to think of the stage that I’m in, not as dues paying or "building my trade" which are my dad’s words, but getting my career off the ground. Because when you think about it, there are a whole lot of steps between buying a ticket somewhere, and actually getting in the air on your way, no matter where you are going.