In 2017, after nearly nine years in the legal profession, I was a successful attorney working in the firm where I'd spent my entire legal career. When I first became a lawyer, I was intent on succeeding (and paying off my law school debt). I gave it my all, absorbing every experience and bit of information I could get my hands on. I was convinced that having integrity and working hard was needed to succeed and that it would ultimately be acknowledged and rewarded.
A few years into my legal career I began noticing that none of my colleagues appeared very happy or particularly healthy. They looked tired and older than their age but wore their "busyness" as a badge of honor. They rarely took vacations and when they did, they worked non-stop. My boss was checked out of the day-to-day happenings at the firm, leaving the weight of all of the cases I was tasked with handling sitting squarely on my shoulders. Two years into my career, I ended up in the ER with severe stomach issues, which not surprisingly turned out to be caused by my work-related stress. No one seemed to think it was a big deal and life went on. I left the ER with a prescription for anxiety medication, which after a quick Google search, I decided was not worth the risk.
As the years at the firm passed, I began to feel more and more out of place around my colleagues. They would boast about winning cases or their cut-throat strategies and I would think to myself, "I don't really care." I was making six figures, living comfortably and driving around in my brand new sports car but something felt off. I had forgotten why I wanted to become an attorney. I went to law school because I love working with people and wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of others and the world at large. Needless to say, I didn't feel it happening and I knew things had to change. I didn't know how but I knew I had to take the leap and get out before I burned out.
I confided in a close friend and I'll never forget her words to me, "Look at what you've accomplished in such a toxic work environment and imagine what you could do in a healthy one?" That was the truth of what I already intuitively knew but needed to hear spoken aloud. I gave my two-week notice and haven't looked back. I felt incredibly empowered because I knew I was finally moving in the direction of my true purpose.
My path was revealed to me shortly after leaving the firm when I came across an article about the suicide rate of attorneys, which happens to be the fourth highest among all professions. It broke my heart and made me curious about why these high-IQ, high achievers are often driven to the point of suicide and self-medication. It became clear to me that my mission was to work with people to create careers that don't lead to career burnout and lives they are genuinely passionate about. The world needs healthy and mindful attorneys who know how to take care of themselves and practice law with a purpose. Attorneys need to rise up to be the empowered advocates their clients deserve. People need to feel empowered to to step into their purpose and get clear on their true desired feelings.
Everyone deserves a life that fulfills them and connects them to their true self and purpose. "If not now, when?"