Use LCL as sounding board for career conundrum

Issue April 2005

Q:Lately, I have been feeling like a failure. I did well in law school, and was something of a "star" in my family. I was the first to go to college and then to law school, which made my parents proud. However, since getting my license, I have been doing a little real estate work here and there, but my income has been negligible, primarily because I have almost no motivation.

Although my fiancÈe is moving up the ladder at her job, I seem to be happiest when spending time playing my guitar or even painting a room. On workdays, I have no energy or motivation, and easily find excuses to do something else. Not only am I letting people down, but I can't very well set a wedding date when I'm in no position to bring in at least half the income. Why am I behaving irrationally?

A:You have been living with considerable pressure, first obliged to make good on your academic prowess as your family's delegate to the professional world, and now also to justify the expectations that your fiancÈe has brought to the relationship (or, at least, that you attribute to her). Perhaps you chose law school, after college, as a tangible and accessible route to recognized achievement. There seems to be just one problem - there is no link between legal work (at least the version of it that you have assigned yourself) and your actual interests or passions. The fact that you have energy for other activities yet not for work suggests that your "unconscious" may be trying to tell you something, namely that you don't want to do this work.

If this is the case, it does not necessarily mean that there is no job within the field of law (or that otherwise capitalizes on the skills and knowledge base you acquired in school) that could attract your interest. It does indicate that you would do well to get to know yourself better, beginning by identifying subjects and activities that "turn you on" and that might reconnect you with earlier passions or sense of personal mission. Your concern for the feelings of your loved ones is admirable, but it is equally valuable to pay attention to your own needs. We at LCL would be happy to serve as a sounding board and may be able to make some helpful suggestions as to the next step.


Questions quoted are either actual letters/emails or paraphrased and disguised concerns expressed by individuals seeking assistance from LCL.

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