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How Badly Do You Want Meaningful Work?

Look how psyched this guy is to start on his new path!

Look how psyched this guy is to start on his new path!

Many of you email me that your work feels petty and meaningless. You say it’s combative for the sake of being combative. It doesn’t connect with anything you care about. You’re unhappy. You’re wishing you could be doing something else.

My question to you is what are you waiting for? When does wishing turn to action? For the past few months, I’d been debating writing a piece about how short life is. A little voice inside my head kept saying, “too morbid – no one wants to hear that.”

Well, the horrific attacks in Paris this weekend have silenced that little voice. We all hurt for the victims of that disgusting violence. Anyone with a trace of empathy could picture themselves in the shoes of those victims.

As someone who spent years in the music business, I can’t even count the number of nights I’ve spent in rock music clubs. Add in the nights as a band manager where I worked the concert merch table to help sell my bands’ t-shirts and CDs, and the whole nightmare hits way too close to home.

life-is-too-short-to-be-stuck-in-a-career-that-doesnt-fitLife is so short. That’s what I heard in my head all weekend as I watched news coverage or thought about the brutal attacks. That could have been you or me lying in a pool of blood after going out for a fun Friday night.

What if that was you, in your 20s, 30s, 40s, your life cut short by religious extremists? If you had the opportunity to reflect at that moment, how would you feel about the way you’ve been spending your professional time?

We often live like we’re in some kind of dress rehearsal for the real thing. We spend our time doing one thing while we keep putting off the things we really want to do for “later”. But this isn’t a dress rehearsal and we don’t necessarily get a “later”.

My college roommate was in his medical residency in New York when we were 27. He assumed his back ache was a pulled muscle from weight lifting in the gym. Turned out to be colon cancer. He died at age 28. My dad’s best friend came home from lunch not feeling well on my first day of 10th grade. During that lunch hour, he dropped dead of a heart attack. He was 43. Just a decade ago, when my mom was 57, she had sharp pains in her neck. The doctor thought it was arthritis. It turned out to be lung cancer that had spread through her spinal cord. She’d never had a cough and had quit smoking at age 35. She died at age 58.

Morbid enough? There’s more. In the past year, I’ve had 3 good friends with close calls.

One came down with a bad cough at Lollapalooza in Chicago. A month later when the cough hadn’t gone away, tests revealed a tumor on her lung. It wasn’t lung cancer, but it was a cancer. They had to remove 1/3 of a lobe of her lung. Another friend (who is also a JDCOT video guest) was watching the Superbowl this past February when he suddenly got double vision. He went to the hospital, only to learn that he had a rare cancerous tumor on his brain stem. A week later he had major surgery. Another friend recently had an itchy mole removed. Turned out to be cancer. He had to have surgery to remove a chunk of his back and his lymph nodes to be sure it hadn’t already spread through his body.

All of those friends are lucky. Although they were randomly struck by bad news, they also randomly caught their situations early and are now fine.

 But what if this was you? All of these stories, from tragic events to health issues, should remind us that our time here is limited. How does this concept impact the way you spend your time?

Consider this: before you travel somewhere, you probably think about how you’re going to spend your time at your destination so you can maximize it and get what you want out of that trip. Why not treat your life the same way?

Before starting JDCOT, I asked myself how I’d want to spend my professional time if I won the lottery and money was no longer an object. I also asked myself how I’d want to spend my professional time if I knew my days were incredibly numbered.

I concluded that I wanted to help lots of people. I wanted to share whatever I’d learned through being a legal recruiter and always pursuing careers that matched my interests and strengths. I wanted to have my own interview show. I wanted to help people by incorporating voices beyond my own. And finally, I wanted to leave something behind that could be helpful on an ongoing basis.

You can similarly take your own inventory. Before making any kind of career change, though, you of course need to balance your decisions with your personal financial situation. If you’re responsible for feeding people beyond yourself, you have to take that into account. If you have loans to pay off, you have to take that into account. If you’ve purchased “things” like real estate and cars, you have to take that into account.

Might downsizing allow you to pursue the change you’ve always wanted? What are the financial parameters you have to work with if you were to make a change? How important is that change to you?

 I ask several questions along these lines in the
The Career Mirror, the free JDCOT self-assessment questionnaire , to help you start thinking about your next steps. Taking a step back from your frustration and analyzing what you see in the mirror is the best first step to figuring out what you want to do next.

Rather than getting overwhelmed by thinking about all of the details of looking for a new job, leaving your current job, and making a major change, break the process down into bite-size pieces. Take the first step by checking in with your self and asking some important questions.

If you were told today that your days were numbered (they’re already numbered, but I mean numbered), and you had to do something professionally (you can’t just drink umbrella drinks on a paradise-like beach), would you be satisfied knowing you spent them doing the work you’re doing? How would you want to spend your professional time?

For help taking your next step, you can visit this page for unhappy lawyers, download the Career Mirror and begin receiving additional guidance by email. Life is short, so make the most of it.

 

GET MY FREE SELF-ASSESSMENT!

Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

it's free!
You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.