Sunday, October 19, 2008

Explanations


[Photo: farm1.static.flickr.com]

SO, WHAT HAPPENED?

I’ve gotten quite a few emails/comments on this question. The short answer is that (1) it was inevitable; and (2) something happened this week that made chucking the Plan the most natural thing to do.

On Inevitability

I think Jennifer said it best:

“I thought this might be coming. :) Based on my experience, once you mentally check out of a job you cannot check back it. You're done, even if you don't know it yet.”

The truth is that while I have been practicing law for the past few months I’ve already pretty much checked out of the profession. It’s hard to be an effective lawyer when your eyes start glazing over while reading contracts. It’s hard to build good client relations when all you want to do during conference calls is to throw the phone against the wall. It’s hard to draft good work product when you no longer care whether that one case is cited correctly.

Seriously, how can I continue coming into an office wearing $1,500 suits when my mind is in Alaska, or in a van somewhere out west, or on a freight train in North Carolina, or on a sail boat in the middle of the ocean. In the end, I came to the conclusion that leaving earlier than next year was inevitable after I asked myself this question: How can I continue to live in a prison voluntarily when I’ve found the key to freedom?

On Living

If leaving my job earlier than next year was inevitable, the only question on the table was when, precisely, I would leave. That answer came to me on Wednesday. An old friend came to town that night and we met for a couple of drinks. After catching up a bit I told him about my new commitment to voluntary simplicity and about leaving my job, selling the townhouse, even this blog. He seemed genuinely happy for me, which was strange coming from him. The last time I saw him he had been drinking Patron between two very expensive-looking women in the VIP section of some exclusive club in NYC.

Jack: “Dude, seriously, you look different.”

Friend: “Really, how so?”

Jack: “Well, I don’t know. Just different. Maybe more…serene…happier?”

Friend: “Well I am happier. I’m leaving for Botswana on Friday. Doing a safari and then heading to South Africa.”

Jack: “What! No fucking way! YOU are doing a safari?” I laugh out loud.

Friend: “Jack, I’m dying.”

Long silence.

Jack: “I’m so sorry”

Friend: “Don’t be sorry. We are all dying Jack. It’s just that some of us are dying a little faster. The key is to not live your life as if you are already dead.”

At that moment I decided to quit my job.

END GAME

I approached my mentor the next day to let him know I was thinking of leaving. He was very supportive. There are still some details to figure out but by February or so I will no longer have any connection with big law firm life.

I am now one step closer to freedom. I feel lighter. I am serene. I am ready to live my life.

54 comments:

Heather's Moving Castle said...

WoW!! What timing from your friend (and sorry to hear your friend is dying)! But talk about what you needed to help you "bring it on." Thanks for the update. I am ready to move on from my current life in a house. My hubby needs a wake up call, He isn't quite ready, but almost. he has plan. Like yours and it is just another excuse not to do it now. But at least you are free!!!
Some of us can drool over your freedom!! I may not have a job, but I have a house payment. I want to travel. I'm so grateful for bloggers who share their dreams. Way to go, Jack!

louise said...

your friend is so right. I worked for years in palliative care & it changes your whole perspective on life. Good luck on your adventures!

Jerry Critter said...

There is nothing like a friend's imminent death to give you the ol' proverbial "kick in the ass".

Sorry to hear about your friend.

Jill said...

Congratulations!

And I too am sorry to hear about your friend. But your friend has a perspective about life that I envy.

Lynne said...

wow, that is great. I bet you will really enjoy those last few months at work - you will feel so disconnected and relaxed.

Jennoit said...

Congratulations. I hope you feel fantastic.

Miles To Go Before I Sleep...... said...

I liked your post!

It was an excellent explanation.... and I have to say you're a pretty good at writing! You hinted at "things getting interesting" in the first post and followed up well with the second!

I can identify with how you felt at your job and Jennifer did say it the best. When I quit my hospital job, I would actually feel PHYSICALLY ill going into work each night... I knew at that point it was time to say adios!

I don't understand completely why it's not until feb. that you don't have to look back though.... did you have to give a long term notice? Do you have a case u have to follow up with first? Feb. is a lot closer then next year though!

I too am sorry to hear about your friend but he seems to be a very intelligent and strong individual... if he can say all he said to you, and accept his own death.... I admire him. I think it's wonderful for you to get the message you did though instead of just feeling sorry for him and then keep living the way you have come to despise.

Good luck! Hope you feel more at peace with yourself!

Daizy said...

I had a friend recently tell me he was dying too. I felt bad for him and expected him to want to quit his job and do fun stuff but he said no, he needed to keep his job for the income and health insurance for as long as he could. That made me so sad.

Good luck with your plan. We are all dying and need to make the most of the life we have. I had a sister who died at age 26. I wish I had your courage. I need 2 or 3 more years to have enough financial security. Hope I don't die before that.

Jade of the Jungle said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friend, the roll of the dice can be so arbitrary, so unfair. In a weird way though it sounds like having to look mortality in the eye has been the making of him, and I admire him for that.

I'm in the middle of the mother of all posts about the value of Time, and was saving this quote for the post, but it seems a fitting for you to have it instead:

"Life isn't measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away"

I'm really envious that you're on the brink of starting your adventure. Here's hoping it leaves you breathless!

Jx

Christian said...

You have a good friend. Realizing that everything is impermanence is where you find liberation and joy. It is best to accomplish this task before you are on the precipice.

Wish my nephew (see pictures below) would have realized that. He killed himself at age 14.

Pictures of Alex

Anonymous said...

Wow - if that wasn't some sort of sign I don't know what is!
I enjoy reading your blog! I am not really into material things as I grew up with lots of "stuff" but not so much happiness. I chose to stay home with my little girls and was given a hard time from almost everyone because what would I do if I wasn't working 60 hours a week? You just can't get the years back. I have yet to hear anyone on their deathbed say "Damn, I wish I worked more."

Lisa

Sub Girl said...

I bet your mom is pissed!!

Good for you! Not many people have the courage to give up what sustains for what makes us happy. Your quite the inspiration, you!

Elizabeth said...

I'm sorry about your friend, but I do appreciate his perspective on things. I hope you manage to enjoy the last few months/weeks at work - since you know the end is finally in sight.

PleaseRecycle said...

Cheers to you for taking this big step! I quit my job when my daughter was diagnosed with cancer (my jobby is freelance scientific editing so it can be done during naptime or after bedtime).

Just doing that thing you've been wanting to do and not delaying any longer is wonderful. Things will work out- you will make them.

Just a note: keep that health insurance. That is one thing I think is too risky to go without.

Fonk said...

Wow, now you really got me thinking...

Congrats on making that major life-altering decision. The "first day of the rest of your life", so to speak?

I'm curious, did you give them the explanation of why you're leaving? If so, what was their reaction? Or did you decide to just leave that alone, in case you ever needed that bridge again?

nea said...

i am really sorry about and for your friend, although it sounds like he is at peace with it and himself. and it sounds like you are too. that is wonderful. and i do understand, personally, that news like that from someone else can change your life in an instant.

LiveWorkDream said...

Right ON! Yes, it is tragic about your friend, and I"m very sorry for that. But for you to take that sign, and see it for what it is, and run with it so you can live your life, is exceptional. Congratulations. Not too many people would have had the sense or the guts to do what you've done.

It's only the beginning.

Kerry said...

Jack,

I'm praying for your friend. I hope that he finds what he's looking for on his trip.

It's amazing how someone else's experiences change you. My upcoming journey to India came from the breaking up of my engagement. I met a missionary who lives in India and works with street children, finding them foster care. She is doing the work that I always wanted to do. She let everything go to do something that's close to her heart. She is a productive member of society in a third world country, helping to build a community.She is living my dream.

Yeah, this is about to get mushy.

Keep this friend with you. When you make the decisions that will be difficult for you in the next year, think of this friend. What would he do, knowing that he is dying?

I once received a card that said something like:

Sing like nobody can hear you.
Dance like nobody is watching.
Love like you will never be hurt.
Live like there is no tomorrow.

This is what lead me to sell everything that I own. This is what lead me to live in a communal setting to save as much money as possible to go and live my dream. I have never felt more free and liberated in my life than I do right now. I literally only have the clothing that I will wear in the next year, my cat, and a car to get back and forth to work (as Raleigh is not big on public transportation).Yes, I still have a job. But only for 9 more months. My life TRULY begins in July 2009.

Live your dream Jack. Simplify the crap out of your life. Sell your $1500 suits on E-bay. Get rid of the townhouse. Sell the furniture and sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor.

When you make the decision to HAVE nothing... there is nothing to hold you back!!

AMIE said...

I just found your blog thanks to the ranting and raving over at Jill's corner with the anon asshole. I'm glad I found yours!

You have shined a light on my own life. I have been in a similar situation for the last few years. I am down to six weeks before I put in my notice with a job that I hate. I am going back to school and moving to a new town that I've never been. I am going to live on nothing.

I'm glad to have found your journey!

Anonymous said...

You are free! I busted my ass for 6 years (full and part-time) getting a degree in education, taught school for 8 years only to find out I HATED it. I absolutely was miserable for those 8 years. I quit my job and my husband and I bought a small farm along a river where we raise some cattle, horses, and chickens. I work part-time for the kindest man I have ever met -- in his eyes my family comes first before the job. We live bare bones in house desperately in need of renovation. We sometimes live paycheck to paycheck. Every year we take 2 - 3 weeks and travel some place new. It's not a fancy life but we are HAPPY! We are so HAPPY! We are a bit bohemian in nature but that's ok. When I watch tv once in a while and I see shows like the Kardashians and Kimora Lee Simmons, they make me absolutely sick the way they blow their money and go galavanting all around. They never are happy, though. You made the right decision Jack! Go and be happy!

Kris

Fifty-One-Fifty said...

I'm sorry about your friend...

Wow, sleeping on the floor would hurt my back.

Jack said...

Heather,

Thanks for the comment. I'm curious, what's does the plan involve? You know, this whole thing is so much easier because I am not married and do not have any kids. On the other hand, I am not married and do not have any kids. I wonder what is more conducive to happiness?

Louise,

Thanks. I can imagine how that kind of work can change your perspective.

Jerry,

Thanks. Ummm...sounds like you may have been in a similar situation...

Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack said...

Miles,

Thanks for the kudos! Always nice to hear from you. As for the details, let's just say that there are a couple of things I want to finish up before leaving this place. Plus, the longer I am actually on the payroll, the longer I have health insurance. Watch out for a whole post on this issue.

As for my friend, I don't know. I have a feeling he hasn't completely come to terms with this whole thing. But I know he 'gets it' now. That was what was so inspiring.

On a separate note, I should see about meeting up with you guys at some point...

Daizy,

Ouch! That is awful. Does he have family that can step up a bit? Sorry about your sister. Focus on those 3 years and just get the hell out! Freedom awaits.


Jade,

Thanks! I admire him for that as well. Let's be clear. He hasn't completely come to terms with this (my opinion) but he is now open to the possibility that what made sense to him before is all an illusion. And that's what inspires me so much. Always loved that quote.

Jack said...

Christian,

I am so sorry for your loss. I can't even begin to imagine how hard it is to love someone who leaves us that young.

As for this impermanence issue, one thing I am fully aware of is that you can tell yourself that you understand that you are mortal. It is quite another thing to internalize it. I know I am getting somewhere because I am starting a journey that will help me to internalize this concept.

Lisa,

You are right. You don't get those years back. It sounds like you are precisely where you need to be.

Sub Girl,

Well, she will be! Believe me, NOT looking forward to that conversation. Last she heard I was leaving my job at the end of next year. Urggggg....

Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack said...

Nea,

Thanks for the comment. I always appreciate it when you add input to my posts.

Liveworkdream,

Thanks. Yeah, it is only the beginning. In some ways, the hard part if coming up.

Kerry,

Sounds like an amazing journey. BTW, been reading your blog here and there from the very beginning. Can't wait to see what happens when you actually get there. I'm actually curious how far I will take the simplifying process myself. No joke, for at least a while (and depending on the climate) a tent sounds fabulous!

Jack said...

Amie,

Wow, I didn't know about the anon stuff on Jill's blog until you mentioned it. Hadn't had the time to go back and reread the comments.

Good for you! The key is that you recognize what you really want and to take the steps that are needed to achieve what you want. Good luck in the new town.


Kris,

Sounds like you found your own version of happiness. I am glad for both of you. I am just happy that I now will have a shot at finding something that makes sense to me.

Fifty,

Umm...it would hurt my back. Maybe some yoga is in order....

Christian said...

Health insurance? Really? C'mon Jack, you are 32. If something happens to you it will likely be something that would cost you so much it would not matter if you had health insurance. Those are the odds and the reality.

You will find you are healthier when you simplify as well. Less stress does wonders for the immune system. Believe me, I know. I have not had health insurance for 11 years. Study up on the uses of medicinal herbs and eat right.

Let it go Jack, let it all go.

Miss Scorpio said...

Jack, I think congratulations are in order for taking the plunge. I'm so jealous of the courage it took to take that step. Instead, I continue to wake up and ask myself "how did this become my life?" I am, however, sorry to hear about your friend.

Storyteller said...

yeah - what Christian said... I have a 4 yr old and haven't had health coverage for myself or for her EVER... I think tax payers paid for her delivery (thank you all/medicaid) But because of my choices for a more natural lifestyle and healthcare, my daughter has never been sick enough to need a pediatrician! - and luckily, neither have I... it seems that when you have health insurance you use it more... my guess anyway; I try to avoid accidents, and will my daughter and myself towards wellness! =)

about the meeting with your friend,
syn chron icity ROCKS!

and hey, for whatever it means, I'm free in March... hmmmm...

cyn,
a girl who doesn't believe in accidents, and who thinks you're pretty cool =)

Jade of the Jungle said...

Feel compelled to add my bit on the medical insurance issue, just so you get both sides.

I'm in my late 20s, don't smoke, nothing nasty in my family's medical history, I exercise and eat healthily maybe 70% of the time. I'm a pretty low-risk demographic and never had to worry about my health. In January this year though, a trip to the doctors changed all that when I was diagnosed with something pretty bad(and not the kind of thing you can prevent by healthy living, just one of those unlucky rolls of the dice). I'd never been more grateful for good medical cover. Not just in terms of the physical side - I thank my lucky stars here, they fixed me - but I was such an emotional mess as it was, I am eternally grateful that I didn't have to worry about the practicalities of getting medical help. Until you've been there it's easy to underestimate how important that peace of mind is.

I will never compromise on that side of things again.

J x

chuck said...

you'll enjoy this:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/27239479

Jennifer F. said...

Ooops, I meant to write you cannot check back in in that comment. You know what I meant though. :)

I feel so bad for your friend. How does he feel? How long does he have?

Good for you for living fearlessly.

Jack said...

Christian,

Definitely see your point of view. And believe me, one of the things that I want to focus on now that I will have the time to do so is to get myself educated on healthy eating/living a healthier lifestyle. On the health insurance things, though, I want to be more cautious. I'm with Jade (below) on this.

Miss scorpio,

Thanks for the comment. BTW, sweet blog. Always nice to see writing that is taking place in my backyard.

Storyteller,

Ditto what I said above. I definitely do want to be cautious and healthy, but remember, I am a bicyclist, love to mountain climb, hike, etc...all stuff that makes me more likely to be involved in an accident. Would rather be cautious if I can help it.

Jack said...

Jade,

Do read my response to Christian. I think I am with you, though I take his point that living a healthy lifestyle is conducive to less accidents and less need for dealing with doctors. Glad things turned out ok on your end.

Chuck,

Sweet! Yeah, I read about his closing up shop in an article on bloomberg this weekend. Funny how they focused on the pot thing and not on the larger point that someone could take leave of such an unhealthy, materialistic lifestyle without looking back...

Jennifer,

Of course we know what you meant! :) Thanks for your comments. They are always appreciated.

donna said...

what a wake up call jack!I believe that everyone we meet, we meet for a reason, and everything that happens , happens for a reason. I'm sorry to hear of your friend, but you meeting up with him right now was meant to be, it's what you needed to enable you to move on with your life. Hopefully he may also gain some comfort knowing he's helped you to do that, all the best. Donna

Miles To Go Before I Sleep...... said...

You totally should! We ROCK! (ok... that was tooting our own horn but we aren't too bad to hang out with :-)

BUT... if you wanna ride with John... it's gonna snow soon!!!

:-)

The Traveler said...

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Jack said...

Donna,

I'm taking what you wrote to heart. It is moments like those that make you take stock and figure out what is most important.

Miles,

Yeah, I don't know about making anything happen until at least the spring. BTW, I am working on something that I will be announcing soon and it is very much related to biking.

Traveler,

Thanks for joining the party! BTW, awesome photography. Is it all digital? Do you have a dark room in there?

Fifty-One-Fifty said...

I'd never recommend anyone to get rid of their health insurance. You never know what will happen to you in the future. I'm living proof that with the right factors in play, your health can deteriorate very quickly even at a relatively young age.

Jack,

I know some moves we can try.

NorthWoodsGuy said...

I am so living vicariously through you. As I've always said, "My heroes are people that do what they do for love and not for money."

Sorry to hear about your friend.

Christian said...

RE: Health Insurance

http://www.religiousworlds.com/taoism/ttcstan3.html

THE VALUE SET ON LIFE
In looking at the people, we might see
that in the space twixt birth and death,
one third follow life, and one third death,
and those who merely pass from birth to death,
are also one third of those we see.
He who lives by the way of the Tao,
travels without fear of ferocious beasts,
and will not be pierced in an affray,
for he offers no resistance.
The universe is the centre of his world,
so in the inner world
of he who lives within the Tao,
there is no place
where death can enter in.

Jack said...

fifty,

No kidding. I think my friend is living proof of that. And any time you would like to do some yoga, let me know!

Northwoods
Dude, I was perusing your site yesterday and really dug it. Definitely appreciate your comments. When did you get into Thoreau?

Christian,

Thanks for the comment and the link. I admit, I just don't know enough about taoism to respond intelligently. But I will read up. That's one of the benefits of embracing simplicity: you now have the time to learn.

ryan said...

Hi Jack,

I stumbled across your blog on another legal blog, and am fascinated with your decisions. Have you read 4-Hour Workweek yet? Good for ideas on how to wean yourself from stuff and communication noise. Also, Po Bronson's What Should I Do With My Life and the Roadtrip Nation series are good purpose-exploration books. As a lawyer and fellow alum I do plenty of regular soul-searching and trying to find out where I fit into the profession, if at all. Funny enough, the week I sent out resumes to try and switch careers Lehman fails and all Hell broke loose... so I'm staying put for a while to wait out the storm.

Have you considered that your feelings of emptiness might be that you want to have a family? I'm not saying don't de-junk, because I really believe that can be helpful spiritually to remove the attachments to material things, but maybe what you're looking for is also found in family bonds. I came home from a day of contract drafting and my sons wanted to put on a puppet show for me after dinner with a cardboard box stage. They made some little presentations, I read them some Peter Pan and we talked for a bit. That's really what it's all about.

Going back to the de-junking, my wife and I have had several occasions to cut back for moves and in a strange way I enjoy it. We lived in Hawaii and sold pretty much everything to come back to the mainland for law school. Then, because we were moving to a new place anyway after finishing school and odd lease timing we put our stuff in storage and lived the last semester of law school (with 2yr old and newborn) in a furnished apartment, bringing only what we could fit in our car trunk. Family of four and only needing a few suitcases for six months, with no noticable effect on our lifestyle and happiness really taught me a lot - why the heck did we have a 24ft Penske truck full of crap for anyway?

I've spent a lot of time since then thinking about how the possessions didn't make me happy and having less stuff didn't matter at all either. Existence isn't for accumulation. Stuff can be fun, but it isn't lasting joy. In fact, our family's happiest time was as newlyweds in Hawaii living off of a few hundred bucks a month in a tiny, A/C-less cinderblock apartment and an A/C-less but paid-off old car. A few months ago I made a point of going through my clothes and getting rid of a pile of them, and then selling a few things on Craigslist that I hadn't used in a long time. Still have a second pass to do. There really was a moral message in that classic scene from The Jerk where Steve Martin grabs the lamp and chair.

Do you find yourself oscillating between goals - of doing/being something "big" and of trying to live a simpler life? I know that I struggle with conflicting internal goals of big city mogul and international jet-setter chasing the large clients and doing $$ deals, and being a small-town country lawyer somewhere with water and mountains and earning enough to live a decent life. I've been trying to evaluate who I have those goals for (myself? my parents? the other people I want to impress?), and what it means for me and my family.

Jack said...

Ryan,

Thanks for the comment. Thanks for the suggestion; no hadn't heard of them thus far. Yeah, the market is bad, not question about it.

I find your thoughts on family very prescient. Going to be the subject of a future post of mine. Let's just say that I am not in a good place right now to be a family man, but the thought has crossed my mind.

The Jerk!! That is such a great reference. Classic indeed!

Oscillating between goals is just human Ryan. The trick is to recognize the options that make you happy, not just the ones that appear to others (or even to your own ego) to be the best ones. Take care of your family. But you have to take care of yourself first because how can you take care of your family if you aren't happy with yourself?

Michelle said...

Came across your blog today and think this is a great move on your part! Being a city lawyer sucks the life out of you but if you are an ambitious, intelligent person you fear that if you leave you will end up doing a low paid job with long hours that you find boring. Its also amazing how all that extra time can become normal so quickly and wasted in front of television shows. After 5 years I have had quite enough of being at the beck and call of huge companies and partners that think it reasonable to demand I work till midnight every night, sacrifice weekends and never make social engagements. I have spent a year and a half deciding what to do to get out. Its a long process and all the "things" you collect tie you down as you so clearly identify. I am planning a move into what is probably also a stressful career but one that I think will ultimately make me happier because at the core is people and not profits. I expect the process of retraining will cost me a fortune but I know that you need hardly anything to be happy - relationships and a secure place to live and food on the table - all the other material things only seem to matter when you surround yourself with people who have and value "things". Wishing you lots of luck.

Brian said...

I read your comments and been there, done that. I noticed you mentioned the big firm environment is where you worked. I had a full time high stress practice and finally burnt out. Decided to retire and moved. Decided to try large firms thinking the change and different environment might be the answer. They were worse, more stressfull, more political, more demanding, too structured and not willing to experiment, not willing to say no to a client, not accept a client or to fire a client. Finally realized this was the worst of all and destroyed the altruism of the profession as it sufficated the thrill and excitement of why we went to law school and wanted to be lawyers.

I took off and decided to toally downsize into retirement but keep my fingers into what I like to do as a part time practice of consulting. Small office, low overhead, only take engagements that I get excited about, fire clients if billings are not paid within 30 days and found: 1) a life-work balance, 2) though net income is lower I adjusted the lifestyle to reflect it, 3) can control expenses of operation quite easily to be more than competitive in the market, 4) when not thinking about money, billable hours, budgets, blah, blah, I can think about the clients and how to service them, 5) as a result the income is rising to where it was before all this started without the hassles and I'm enjoying it, 6) I work about 3-4 days per week, sometimes take weeks off to enjoy life and think about the moss growing on the north side of a tree.

Maybe the answer is not to just chuck it but, to take inventory of what you want and will accomodate your desired lifestyle and build around it. I did and it is wonderful.

J. Tanner said...

Piggy-backing a bit on Ryan's sentiment, and hoping this horse hasn't been beaten to death, yet...

How do you think you would have fared had you embraced the idea of voluntary simplicity at, say, the application/acceptance phase (or even at the graduation phase)?

I ask because I am in the larval stage--a 1L--and I feel as if my driving force has been and continues to be "comfortable simplicity," whereas many of my classmates are already scoping out the $1500 suits and gated communities, whispering, "Someday you will be mine."

My approach to law school was simple. I knew I was qualified to gain acceptance to most programs, but I applied to one (much to the shock/chagrin of my friends and family). I didn't apply for prestige. I didn't apply to guarantee a job in a large metropolitan firm. I applied (and gained acceptance) to a respectable southern school with very simple aspirations:

(1) I wanted a family with whom I could spend valuable time.

(2) I wanted a vehicle by which to build a comfortable financial future for my family.

(3) I wanted to have a legitimate, stimulating profession that allowed me to accomplish goals (1) and (2).

What is worrisome is this reality that so many lawyers are ultimately unhappy with their careers. I hesitate to blame that on the profession itself, which is why I ask you how you envision things would be different had you entered with simpler, less materialistic aspirations.

Do you imagine you would still be disappointed or disenchanted?

Jack said...

Michelle,

"...know that you need hardly anything to be happy - relationships and a secure place to live and food on the table - all the other material things only seem to matter when you surround yourself with people who have and value "things"."

How true. Do you know when you are making the transition? Will it still be in the legal field? Do keep in touch.

Brian,

It sounds like you found something that genuinely works for you. I confess, that's an approach that has crossed my mind. It's definitely something I have to think about when I figure out next steps. BTW, what's your specialty?

J. tanner,

That's a great question. I think I would stay away from assuming that just because you are pursuing a law degree you can't live a simple life.

In my case, I found that the lifestyle it generated UNDERMINED any urgency to live a simple life. I think someone else who is focused from the very beginning and can navigate those waters without drowning can absolutely find happiness and a good balance. On the other hand, if you value #1 so much, I would be worried that the time commitment and responsibilities inherent in the profession could have a big impact on my happiness. And there is the rub: in order to secure #1 you must compromise with #2 via #3.

Anonymous said...

I am returning to this post, having just been told that a friend's husband has been killed in a road accident. He retired early, in the summer of last year. I walked with him in the autumn and he told me what a release it was, not to have to confirm to the expectations of a profession that had become stifling and stressful - and how much he was enjoying a new academic course of study that he had enrolled on. He seemed relaxed and happy. At least he had some short time to enjoy life and find himself. But it was not long enough. Carpe diem.

Elizabeth Jane

J. Tanner said...

Jack,

Thank you much for the input.

I tell you, my strategy for navigating the water is to stick to the wading pool. I've situated myself in a limited environment--the kind of environment that inspires the "rural town lawyers" far more than it produces the D.C. or NYC power-players.

Fortunately, I have a regional role model. A cousin 10 years my senior "lives the dream," in a manner of speaking. Two kids, one on the way, a relatively low-stress 9-4 job as a small-firm litigator, a nice house, a hefty savings account, and a general pleasure with life.

I truly love my experience in law school thus far. It's stressful, but rewarding, and the material suits my mentality. I hope to be able to find my niche upon graduation.

Love this blog, so please keep it up. And good luck on all your endeavors!

Jack said...

Elizabeth Jane,

Carpe diem, indeed. Live for now.

J. tanner,

Thanks for the additional follow up. Maybe you have found the perfect balance. I wish you luck on your journey. Never wonder into the deep end or you might never find yourself again. Take care.

Bryan White said...

Wow, love the concept. I have had 6 month 'career breaks' a couple of times during my working life and they have been the happiest most fulfilling times in my life. I'm fairly settled in work and life now, but I quite often I pause and look back to those fantastic memories which can be summed up in one work 'freedom'.