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Is This the Summer to Invest in Yourself?


Is This the Summer to Invest in Yourself? Ahh, now that summer is in full swing, many partners are using these next couple of months to enjoy a well-earned vacation and reconnect with family, or some are enjoying extended overseas travel, while others are enjoying more golf outings and grilling out with friends at a nearby lake. But many overlook the importance of using this time to reconnect with themselves. These long days of summer can also be an opportunity to rejuvenate and refresh your mind, body and spirit… perhaps reevaluate your joy level. If not, why not? When law firm leadership recognize their firm is approaching a crossroads and seek direction, their leadership team may opt for a deeper probe. The focus could be in a multitude of areas, and some examples may include firm vision, leadership evaluation, or associate satisfaction. In our profession, we refer to these examinations as 360 Assessments. But what about your own pulse? When is the last time you looked inward? How’s your joy level -- are you satisfied, overjoyed, or has complacency become the new normal? If you’ve read any of the recent articles regarding job satisfaction among law firm partners and associates, you’re probably aware that it is at an all-time low. In fact, there was one survey taken from over 65,000 participants from a variety of professions and law firm associates ranked No. 1, meaning they received the most votes out of all professions for being the worst job, period. What can you do today to make sure this doesn’t happen to you? Maybe the place to start is by asking yourself, “When is the last time I took the time to invest in myself?” Why not conduct your own 360 Assessment to measure if you’re where you want to be? Are you happy? Is the word JOYFUL even part of your vocabulary? And more importantly, if not, then why not? I should love the 360 process. On the surface, the information collected should reflect valued insight on the interior of whatever is the focus of the assessment. But truthfully, most 360 Assessments are lacking the single most important component. They’re fundamentally flawed. (More about that in another blog.) The bottom line here is, when it comes to rating your own emotions, it is difficult, if not impossible, to be objective. There is another option. A couple weeks ago, I ran across another article about attorney job satisfaction nearing an all-time low. It stated that practicing attorneys are becoming more and more dissatisfied and disenchanted (unhappy) in their day-to-day life and their practice. I decided to do my own fact checking and talked with a few partners I’ve known for years. One conversation took place over a lunch meeting and I mentioned the recent surveys and asked if this was all just “fake news” or if they believed there was some truth to the article. After the chuckling died down, the group begin to explain that the profession offers many things, but happiness within oneself is not one of them. They continued, “Yes, you can experience satisfaction when you’ve closed a great deal for a client, or helped another client avoid some expensive litigation within a family business, but personal happiness?” Shaking of heads in agreement, “This profession can offer many things -- wealth, power, prestige -- but happiness is not one of them.” A deeper dive of the article revealed that the job dissatisfaction increased as the size of the firm increased. Maybe you participated in one of these surveys and this is old news. But shouldn't it raise a bigger question? Where does happiness come from? Where should it come from? Some blame the egos of others. One partner stated, "Our firm would be a much more enjoyable place for everyone if only one senior partner would just leave!" Yet, others indicated their work environment or lack of work/life balance was to blame. As you can imagine, some even said their unhappiness was due to lack of clients, or firm leadership, even firm culture.

But what responsibility do you have in your own happiness? Isn't this question worth a deeper discussion? But with whom? If any of these stories describe your own feelings and situation, then maybe it is time to begin your personal 360 Assessment. With over 25 years of studying law firm behavior and individual fulfillment and satisfaction, we can offer the insight to help you get on the path to happiness and overall job satisfaction. Be prepared, the answer could be a recommended career change, but statistically speaking, most who we speak with come away with a deeper understanding of what is preventing them from finding happiness.

We each have these six basic core needs -- certainty/comfort, uncertainty/variety, significance, love & connection, growth and contribution. Depending on life circumstances, the order of these priorities will vary for each person. Case in point, if you are entrepreneurial minded and driven towards leadership, growth and reaching for higher levels of success, you likely see certainty as complacency, as you have a deeper desire to embrace change and enjoy the adventurous journey and rewards that change offers. While another person, because of their life experiences, seeks the shelter of comfort in certainty, because they are more risk adverse. Their need for certainty is greater than their need for variety and adventure.

If you're familiar with these Captains of Industry -- Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs or even Walt Disney -- these individuals, in some way possessed the desire for growth and change (core needs) at a much higher level than others. Change did not frighten them as they saw change as a new challenge. The point is this, if we fail to recognize our core needs, in whatever order fits your personality, you will have an ongoing challenge of finding what makes you happy.

In the end, it’s up to the individual to take the necessary steps to reach for it and we would enjoy the opportunity to help you get there. To talk with us in a confidential setting, contact us at teamjag@jaglaw.com and take the first step to reaching your goals, personally as well as professionally.


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