I read Above The Law everyday at my paralegal internship. It really helps me get focused on legal issues while simultaneously giving me my worldly gossip fix. Yep, I said it.
I was completely intrigued this morning when I read the title, “Having your Dreams Crushed can Work for You.” My initial reaction was: “Yes! Please let this be true!”
The paragraph below hit the nail on the head and really communicated to me how I am sometimes my own worst enemy. It all stems from the mind and the things you choose to allow it to believe.
In the quote below, the writer is commenting on the lessons she learned while trying to discover her path in the legal profession.
So here’s the super-long-block-quote:
I now realize that I made two huge mistakes back then.
The first, was not really understanding why I wanted to be a prosecutor. In retrospect, what attracted me most to being a prosecutor was that I would have the opportunity to help and serve people. I had a very narrow view of “service” at this point in my life. If I had been really clear on my “why” (as Simon Sinek would put it), I would have understood my real reason for wanting to do the job. This would have allowed me to be rigid about my goals, helping and serving, but flexible about how to get there, job choice.
The second, was tying my personal self-worth to the outcome of getting a specific job. This concept is so crucial to surviving in the legal profession. The fact is, it wasn’t personal. I was qualified for that job, and I would have been great at it. There were a lot of applications and many factors to consider. The important take away was that their personal needs and opinions were not an actual reflection on my abilities or self-worth.
For the record, my story isn’t unique. One 2011 grad, who is happily employed at a small firm, says: “You’ll get rejected for most things. I applied to 50 big firms, 300 clerkships. I got rejected from most, I’m still waiting to hear from a few, safe to say I probably didn’t get them.”
Here is what I take away from Kerriann Stout’s story. She mentions two scenarios that I myself am guilty of. If you’ve read this far on the post, you too are probably guilty.
So what are we doing and how can we remedy it?
DREAM KILLER #1: Not Defining and Understanding your WHY.
This is so freakin’ crucial. As an educator, I pride myself on telling students why they should care about learning English and strive to become better communicators. (If only I would practice what I preach in my own life. We need a WHY in order to keep us going when things get hard. Look at life itself. Take a moment and think about why you do vertain things. It’s almost always unconscious. For instance, I like to drink coffee in the morning because it’s comforting and I believe it will bring me energy. The key word here is believe. I could achieve a feeling of comfort in a number of ways. Coffee is simply ONE WAY. What does this mean? Once you define the WHY as far as what you want to do, you won’t limit yourself to one particular role at a certain company. You will be able to meet that need in a more general way, and you’ll take less offense to job declines because you know there are many more ways to skin this hairy cat that is joblessness.
The REMEDY? GET CLEAR on your why.
- This isn’t always an easy process. It requires a bit of digging into your deep passions. You can ask yourself questions like:
- What gets me excited?
- How do I serve people, naturally?
- What puts a smile on my face? How can I use that to serve other people?
- What do I really care about?
- What do I think I could improve upon in our world?
- What are my strengths? What do people say I do well?
- How do people say I make them feel?
- Like the writer above, I’m still working this out as far as my desire to become a paralegal. I know that I love people, I love researching, analyzing situations and people, and I’m really good with helping people feel supported and heard. However, on a deeper level I know that I am drawn to family law specifically because I have a passion for family. As a product of a broken home I realize the importance of harmony and restoration within domestic situations. The happier and more understanding families we have in out world, the better off we’ll all be. I’ve helped families in my role as an educator, and now I’ll be able to do it again in my next gig.
DREAM KILLER #2: EQUATING YOUR INNATE VALUE TO JOB SEARCH OUTCOMES
Counseling is great and all, but this sort of thinking will definitely increase your need for it. DO NOT EVER lower your belief in yourself because of external circumstances. WHY? Your belief is literally one of the strongest super powers you have as a human. What do you think will happen if you start to actually believe you are worthless just because you aren’t receiving call backs? If you consider a few facts, which should be easy for legal minds to practice, you’ll soon realize that losses are gains depending on the vantage point you choose. Here are a few things to consider when you’re feeling worthless in the job hunt:
THE REMEDY? Poke holes in the idea that you are scum because a possible employer did not hire you!
- Maybe there is another job that would be a better fit for me.
- Maybe I haven’t come across the job that is most compatible with my WHY.
- Maybe I’m not even clear on my why. I’m just out here tired of bring broke. (If this is the case, I’m sure a Target near you is hiring.)
- What specific skills are listed in the job description that I can develop?
- What would someone who believed in themselves do in this situation?
- How can I increase my credibility and online presence? Remember, we’re living in the 21st Century folks! Get to tweetin’!
- The hiring team is most likely not conspiring against me, does anyone who is truly successful have time for that? Nah.
So the key here is really simple:
- Define your WHY. Also, be okay with this evolving. It may change as you continue to grow and develop your values and skills.
- Never EXTERNALIZE your value. Your value is not something that can be taken away from you. HOWEVER, if you let it, your mind can make it seem that way. So get your thoughts in line with what you truly want! You got this.
Do you believe setbacks can be teachers in disguise? Share some of your stories!