Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. If you're new around here, I was a lawyer for 11 long years before I quit my job in 2017 to start grace + hudson. As you might imagine, I know a little bit about career unhappiness. I also know a little bit about how to break free! This coming February, it'll be 6 years since I made the dramatic change from lawyer to jewelry business owner. I can hardly believe that much time has already passed. If your resolution for 2023 is to make some changes in your career to find more happiness, this journal entry is for you!
Looking back on my own experience, I can tell you there is one thing you should focus on before you make any career changes and that's this: you must change your thinking before you make any changes in the external world. Huh? Let me say it differently - you have to change your focus. If I had to bet, up until this point you have been mostly concerned with job titles, salaries, raises and promotions, correct? Where has your happiness, peace of mind, and personal sense of fulfillment come in to the equation? Yeah, that's what I thought. It's secondary or it doesn't even factor in at all.
Back when I was younger, I was focused on getting into the best college and the best law school, then I was focused on getting a job at the best firm making the most money, and then I was focused on getting a nice car and building a nice home. Everything, and I mean everything, was focused on building a life that looked perfect. My own sense of peace, joy, fulfillment? It was no where to be found. Life shifted for me when I lost my dad to cancer when I was 34 -- that's when I started to realize that life isn't about the outside "stuff" and that I had been chasing outside stuff my whole life. Hence, my unhappiness. Let me quote a passage from a book I stumbled on recently - it'll help illustrate my point:
"I'm learning that for a variety of reasons, I've spent much of my life focusing on form rather than substance. My focus has been on having my hair done perfectly, wearing the right clothes, having my makeup applied perfectly, living in the right place, furnishing it with the right furniture, working at the right job, and having the right man. Form, rather than substance, has controlled my behavior in many areas of my life. Now, I'm finally getting to the truth. It's substance that counts." -- by anonymous, as quoted by Melody Beattie in The Language of Letting Go
Does that resonate? If you're an over-achieving personality like I used to be, I bet this hits you right in the stomach. Form rather than substance. Ugh, that hurts to even read. It's so, so true. How could I have missed this? How could you have missed this? Be gentle on yourself. If you're like most people, you simply consumed the messages that your parents and society forced down your throat about work and career.
When you change the focus, when you start focusing on joy and peace and fulfillment instead of job title, salary, and promotions, the entire world changes. You start evaluating job opportunities differently, for example. Instead of being mostly concerned with salary, you are mostly concerned with - does this workplace inspire a sense of peace in me? Can I see myself being happy amongst this group of co-workers? Do I see myself feeling like a contributor and going home most nights feeling like I made an impact by sharing my gifts and talents? Does this job make good use of my gifts and talents - the ones I enjoy using the most (not just the ones that make the most money)? This is a game-changer.
Word of caution: you may have some inner work to do before you can really embrace this idea. If you've lived your entire life striving to impress your parents with your job title or promotions, or if your entire identity is built upon this "picture perfect" life you've tried to create and portray to the outside world, you're not going to be able to easily detach yourself from the things you've been assigning meaning to up until now. If I had to guess, I bet some self-worth and self-compassion work is first on your to-do list before you make any career changes. But that's ok - it's worth it. Take it from someone who's been there. I spent a good 2 years doing this type of work before I made my dramatic career change. It's the best investment of time I ever made in myself and it led to lasting change. And I can proudly say that I have so much peace and happiness in my work life now. If I can do it, you can do it too!
I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experience. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.
P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I have a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past few years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!