Why Making Real Change Can Be So Hard
In the course of our travels here at Beyond Billables we have had the chance to engage with some amazing people forging their own path. These people have inspired us to be better and think help professionals find real freedom and purpose. Mike and I have also written about our own journeys and processes of change and why this has driven us to help individuals and the profession as a whole. We are all to a greater or lesser degree stuck in a groove of our own and other's making.
You know the old patterns of thinking and conditioned reactions to change, adversity and different perspectives? It's where we often find comfort in challenging or stressful times. We tend to fall back on what we know and what is safe or the way others tell us things should be done. The flip side of this is we massively limit ourselves and constrain our potential.
More often than not it's the internal voice that is constantly nagging away telling us why we can't do this or that or concerning itself with what others may or may not think. In a profession like the legal profession, which is so status orientated and competitive this mindset is exacerbated.
Fear of the unknown
Fear of the unknown makes it difficult to ignore that voice and seek comfort in what you know. For many people the fear of the unknown is too much to contend with, even when they recognise they're stuck! It's not easy for lawyers as there are very few avenues where they can seek help with their career. Outside a select few, there is little help on offer to transition outside the narrow range of private practice and in-house jobs. Beyond the job itself, how many people do you know that help people find meaning and purpose in their work? How much support do people in the profession get to pursue a career where they can progress and develop?
We believe a constant process of progress and renewal is key to career satisfaction. It's these things that will sustain you in the long-term and provide you with the framework to have a more fulfilling and purposeful career.
So what holds people back from getting after it if they are truly unsatisfied?
Well we have heard every excuse under the sun.
"It's not the right time”“It's too risky financially”“What will my friends, family and colleagues think”“I just need to get the next promotion then I can re-evaluate”“I hate my job but what's the alternative?”“I don't have the time” and so on and so on!
The sad thing for us is that when we press people about what they want out of life they speak about it like it's some sort of far off, unachievable dream.
“I'd love to try this but its just not realistic”.
The good news?
When you break it down to basics the main thing holding people back from going after what they want is themselves. Everything external is usually a convenient excuse for why it's too hard.
This is a good thing in the sense that once you realise this you can narrow down your own focus on the real enemy that's holding you back, yourself. Now, fighting with yourself is going to be tough, but a bit of personal responsibility goes a long way.
I see it as a constant wrestling match and the only way to beat that inner voice of doubt and fear is to go about doing what you want to be doing. The key is to take the fight off the playing field of your mind and bring it into action in the real world. Every time you take an active step of “doing” something towards your true goals is a strike against that doubtful self.
Step by step, piece by piece you can break it down by actually doing- not thinking or dreaming but actually doing. The mind can't argue with action the way it can with limiting thoughts and the best part of it is that it's really simple. Start moving, one step at a time and over time you will begin to beat that inner voice down.
And how can you start to make headway?
A good place to begin is to sit down and have a serious think about what your goals and values are. Are you setting them in the direction of your choosing or someone elses? Once you do that, you need a plan that will allow you to execute.
This does not mean wholesale change, it simply means carving out space and time to creating and actionable plan that works for you. Make it achievable, in small bite sized actions, and it will be something you will want to execute.
What you need to work out is 'how do I incorporate these steps into an already busy schedule and career'? Well the answer is easy if you really want it: you just do. You stop making excuses and just do.
It may be you are interested in fashion design or coding. Okay, so go and sign up to a course and do the modules one by one for however long it takes until you get it done. Find the time, make the right sacrifices, give up what you know is bad for you and replace it with what you really want to be doing- even if its only an hour a day.
Can you find an hour a day?
Thats 7 hours a week learning a new skill or pursue a goal you have set for yourself. Or 28 hours a month dedicated to a new direction. Over time, this builds a formidable ability and confidence to make change happen. It gives you the great satisfaction that you're moving your life forward how you want to. Try it and see where it takes you.
So why am I writing this?
We really believe there has never been a better time to find more meaningful and balanced careers in the legal industry. You deserve a career that is aligned with your values and dreams.
You deserve to pursue a career that provides you with the satisfaction and autonomy you are after.
So if you are still asking yourself questions about how to do this or that, stop. Stop asking questions and overthinking things and start doing. You know you are smart and resourceful enough to figure it out along the way.
Written by Beyond Billables co-founder, Maciek Motylinski.