Are you Drifting in your Legal Career?

Tell me if this story sounds familiar. You go to law school, you know exactly what you have to do: you want to become a lawyer.

All your courses are set out for you, and you know what you have to do.

You know you need to get a piece of paper that entitles you to be a lawyer, and then you probably need to do some form of practical legal training, and then of course, you become a lawyer, and all your goals are complete and you know exactly what you’re going to do.

You’re going to go to work and you’re going to work hard as a lawyer, but then something starts to happen..

I’m assuming you’re hard working. I’m assuming that you know what you’re doing (or you’re learning what you’re doing), and that you’re smart, you’re articulate.  But over the next few years what you realize is in fact you are now just doing day to day work.

You’ve in fact lost that sense of purpose, that end goal, that direction that you had initially when you were doing your law studies. Why does that happen?

There’s a few names for it. Michael Hyatt in one of his books calls it “drift”. I’ve heard it called erosion, but ultimately what it is is this overwhelming sense of a lack of purpose.

Purpose is ultimately what has to keep us going in our day to day work, and if you don’t have that sense of purpose, what you end up doing is just turning up each day, working hard, going home, and thinking is this actually all there is to it? Is this all I have to look forward to in my legal career or is there something more? Is there something greater that I can be looking at doing?

That’s what addressing this sense of drift really has to do, and it’s called drift or it’s called erosion, because it happens incrementally. It’s not like you wake up one day and go totally off the rails. It happens gradually.

It happens as you accumulate extra things in your life that you don’t really have any value for. It happens as you take on more responsibility of things that you actually aren’t that interested in, and it happens as you realize that you haven’t said no to anything in two or three or four or five years, and then all of a sudden five years down the track you actually have no clue what you’re doing, why you’re there, where you’re headed, or what it is you actually want out of your legal career.

That is what drift is about. All of a sudden you are somewhere where you don’t recognize.

You didn’t intend to get there, and you’re just sort of floating aimlessly out at sea so far as your career, your prospects, and sometimes your personal life are concerned.

So what I want to encourage you to do today is actually take some control back. Figure out where you are, but identify where you actually want to be, because that sort of process of getting that first step underway of thinking: why is it I want to be a lawyer, where is it I want to be in a couple years, and how can I start working towards that is a way of reclaiming that sense of purpose and that sense of direction.

Because if you just turn up at work each day and hope that things are going to get better, then it’s probably not going to happen.

It might, it might not.

But if you want to avoid that sense of a lack of purpose and a lack of clear direction in your life, then you actually need to do something about it. You don’t just wake up one day with all of these issues having happened. They creep up on you. They are gradual. No one thing has caused you to be where you are.

It is a series of decisions and it is a series of deciding to do one thing or deciding not to do another thing that has led you to where you are now, and if you want to get out of that you’re going to need to make a series of decisions too, and I’m going to go through in a few more articles and address some of those as well, but for the moment I just wanted to say to you, if you’re drifting, if you feel like you actually can’t reclaim that sense of purpose in your career, and you feel like you are not somewhere where you have deliberately and consciously decided to end up, then perhaps you need to start making some better decisions.

Perhaps you need to really start to address that sense of drift.

Identify the drift. Be aware of it. Be aware of where you are in your career versus where you expected to be or where you wanted to be, and we’re going to start targeting in on some of the causes of that in some future videos.

Happy Lawyering!