You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 43. Today, we’re talking all about how to quit your job. You ready? Let’s go.
Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.
Well, hello, how are you doing? I hope you are doing well. I am enjoying the last few days of my couple of weeks off for the end of the year. And, it has been marvelous. I’ve been doing a little bit more behind the scenes work than I necessarily planned to do, but that’s okay. I have a ton of big, exciting stuff coming up in the beginning of 2023, and I want to make sure that I’m ready for it.
I hope you’ve been enjoying the end of year, and maybe wrapping things up and getting prepared. I actually just had something come up on my Timehop, or like the memories on Facebook, and it reminded me that exactly four years ago today, I quit my job in big law. So, that’s what I wanted to talk about today.
I want to talk about how to quit your job, or really, anything else for that matter. Maybe, it’s a relationship that you want to quit. Whatever the case may be, I want to walk you through the process that I teach my clients to follow, in order to quit from a clean space. Now, what does quitting from a clean space mean? All right, there’s two ways to quit: You can quit from a clean space, or you can quit with a messy mind.
I feel like this episode is particularly timely, because it’s the end of the year, and I know after bonus season a lot of people plan to leave their jobs. Especially with the great resignation that we’ve been witnessing. So, if you’re planning to make a move, I hope this episode’s coming at exactly the right time for you. So, let’s dive in.
When you quit with a messy mind, you’re quitting from a state of victimhood. You’re normally carrying with you a really negative story about your experience, and you’re probably in a state of blame. Now, here are some examples of what your thoughts will specifically look like, if you’ve got a messy mind and you’re quitting from that space.
You’re going to be saying things to yourself, or to other people, along the lines of, “I can’t believe they’re like this. They can’t do it this way. They should be doing it differently than how they’re doing it. They’re doing it wrong.”
You’ll be thinking things like, “This is so unfair. I deserve better than this.” And that’s not to say what you do or don’t deserve, I just want to tell you that when you’re thinking the thought, “I deserve better than this,” normally, that thought feels terrible in your body. So, if you’re in a state of victimhood and in a state of blame, and you’re thinking, “I deserve better than this,” you’re probably not leaving from a clean space.
If that’s something you think, check in with yourself, and ask yourself; what’s the feeling I feel when I think the thought, “I deserve better than this?” If it feels calm and grounded, and loving and trusting, that is a place that you want to be operating from. But if it doesn’t feel like that, and my guess is that it does not.
If it’s coming from outrage, or righteousness, or frustration, or feeling disrespected, stuff like that, you’re quitting from a messy place. You’ll also be thinking thoughts like, “This place is the worst. These people are the worst. I hate it here.” And when you’re thinking this way, you’re going to be feeling emotions along the lines of feeling resentful, righteous, outraged, disappointed, frustrated, and annoyed, very angry.
You might even feel undervalued, disrespected, and unappreciated. Okay, now when you’re feeling those feelings, remember that the typical way we respond to negative emotions like that, is we respond negatively. And if you’re contemplating quitting a job while you’ve got this messy mind and you’re in an unclean space, then you’re going to be reacting to these feelings rather than taking really intentional, thoughtful action and moving forward towards something you want.
You’re going to be running away from these feelings, running away from this negative experience. And when you do that, you tend to take very unintentional action, so you end up with more of what you don’t want in the long run. This is also a really victimy story to be operating within. And if you’re the victim of your own story, guess what? You can’t be your own hero.
So, if you’ve got his thought process going through your mind as you’re contemplating leaving, I really want to empower you to step out of it, and to reclaim the power that you have in this situation and to leave from a place of strength, not from a place of weakness.
Lastly, and I mean this part with love, I promise. The story that you’re telling yourself, if it sounds a lot like the story that I just rehearsed for you, it’s very, very dramatic, okay? And I want to encourage you, or challenge you all, to have a lot less drama in your life this year in 2023. Okay? Drama is a total energy drain.
So, if you’ve got a really dramatic story that you’re telling yourself about your experience, you’re gonna find yourself emotionally exhausted. And there are so many other things that you could be devoting that energy to; like finding a new job, or thriving in a new position, or just enjoying your time off. Rather than devoting this energy to this negative story that you’re telling yourself.
I want to encourage you, and invite you, to dial down the drama when it comes to leaving your job. You can do it from a clean space. Now, I want to give you a little backstory… You guys know I love a good backstory… On how I created this framework.
I was actually taught by my coach, Brooke, that you’re not supposed to leave anything until you get yourself to a place where you can say that you love it. So, you gotta love it before you leave it; that’s what I was taught. And of all of the things that I’ve learned from her; she’s an amazing coach, and I love like, 99% of what she teaches. But I had a really hard time wrapping my brain around this concept: You’ve got to love it before you leave it. You’ve got to love it before you leave it.
Because if you really loved it, would you actually leave it? The answer is probably, no. Right? So, I really struggled with that. I was in one of her group programs, and it was actually the only time that I think I ever raised my hand to get coached live by her. It was to get coached on this issue, as to whether or not I should leave my job.
She gave me the same coaching that she teaches people, which is you have to love it before you leave it. And I was in such a state of burnout, that that just wasn’t attainable for me, to get to a place where I could love it before I left it. I’ve thought long and hard about this. I eventually got myself to the point where I made the decision to leave.
I created this framework, while I was leaving, because I was trying to rework the ‘love it before you leave it’ concept. I didn’t want to leave from a state of victimhood, or from a state of outrage, or from a state of blame. I knew that that wouldn’t serve me. I was already introduced to thought work. I had already become a certified coach when I was leaving big law, so I already had these mind management tools to get myself to what we call in coaching “a clean space.”
So, I ended up creating this framework. As a result of that, I knew I couldn’t get myself reasonably to a place where I loved my job before I decided to leave it, but I could get myself here. So, I walked myself through a three-step process. And this is the exact same process that I now teach my clients to follow, so that they can leave situations from clean space, as well.
Step one is that you need to accept the situation for what it is. Step two is that you need to own your part in creating a situation that didn’t work. And three, you want to appreciate the good that came from the situation. I’m going to walk you through the exact analysis that I did following this leaving from a clean space process, when I left my last two jobs. The first one is leaving big law. And then the second one is leaving the last law firm that I ever worked at.
So, let’s start with big law. Now, I worked as an associate in an Am Law 200 firm, in Detroit. And I didn’t like it; it was not for me. Okay? But that does not mean that there was anything inherently wrong with the firm. Big law gets a bad rap, but there are plenty of people who work in big law and enjoy it. Or, they value what that environment offers versus other people who don’t value what it offers.
When you’re completing step one of ‘the leaving and quitting from a clean space process,’ you want to accept the situation for what it is, and you want to accept it in the most neutral way possible. So, you’re going through and you’re really auditing your experience, auditing the environment that you’re working in. And, you’re doing it free of any judgments.
A good example of this, a judgment that I had of the firm that I worked at when I was in big law, was that it wasn’t very collaborative. So, that would violate step one of this process, that’s my own judgment; that’s not accepting the situation for what it is. The way that I would describe the firm in the most neutral way possible would be how many hours each day I spent alone in my office, on average.
And most days, I would spend at least eight hours by myself, because the job really involved just a lot of solo research and writing. Now, my opinion of that fact was that it wasn’t a very collaborative environment. But I worked with an amazing non-equity partner, and he actually thought that the firm was extremely collaborative.
He had worked as a law clerk to a federal judge for several years; I think he did two clerkships. So, he clerked for a total of four years. And during his time clerking, he experienced a much less “collaborative” environment than the one that we had been working in, in big law. So, he thought the firm was very collaborative.
Where I had come from a criminal defense firm, that was like an all hands on deck environment. We spent a lot of time working together, with one another, in the conference room. So, to me, that’s how I defined collaborative. It’s just a difference of opinion here, right? You want to make sure you’re describing the situation for what it is, in the most neutral way possible. So, one way would be for me to describe how much time I spent by myself.
Now, I also was not fond of how we staffed cases. I had come from a firm where we were an all hands on deck; everyone was equal kind of approach. And when I worked in big law, we staffed matters based on a hierarchy. Now, that’s just not my preference. I work with plenty of clients who actually love staffing matters based on a hierarchy, because they have a ton of clarity about who assigns what and who answers to whom. So, they really like the structure that staffing matters in that way provides.
Okay? Again, there’s nothing inherently right or wrong with staffing a matter based on a hierarchy structure, it’s just your preference. It turns out it’s not my preference, but that’s okay. In accepting the firm, and my employment within the firm for what it was, what was also true, is that I was at an associate level. So, I answered to people. That, again, ties into that whole hierarchy concept.
And, that I worked on a certain type of case. You know, I did complex commercial litigation, that was the practice group that I was assigned to. Now, my preference was not in line with that. I wanted to be doing criminal defense work, and I really wasn’t able to do that type of work where I was, working at the firm that I was at. We just didn’t handle the types of criminal defense matters that I liked to handle.
I tend to call them like, blue-collar crime rather than white-collar crime. And I really didn’t have much access to a lot of white-collar crime, which the firm did do. So, in making a very neutral assessment of what my experience was like at the firm, I would just describe the types of cases that I was working on.
Some of the facts that I was accepting were that I was handling complex commercial litigation matters. The firm staffed based on a hierarchy. I spent X number of hours working by myself each day.
We would also be able to go through accepting the job for what it is, that I worked in Detroit. Now, that was actually something that I liked about where I worked. And that I made X amount of dollars as my salary, and that my average bonus was a certain amount. Those were also factual things that we would accept, in step one of ‘the leaving from a clean space process.’
Do you see how calm that assessment is? It’s just very matter of fact; you look at the situation for what it is. And then from there, you get to decide if it is in alignment with your preferences or not, okay? For me, it wasn’t in alignment with my preferences. But that doesn’t make anything inherently wrong with the job.
Other people might see the same exact facts and decide that they are comfortable with accepting the job for what it is. So, you just want to make sure you’re accepting it for what it is. That’s the only thing that you’re doing in step one; accepting the job in the most neutral way possible.
Now, step two; you want to take ownership over your role in creating a bad situation. You’re probably leaving because the situation is less than ideal, right? It’s not falling in line with your preferences. But rather than being in that state of victimhood and blaming everyone else around you, including the firm itself, for your bad situation, I want you to take ownership over the role you’ve played in creating your current situation.
For me, if I was getting really honest with myself, when I was completing my analysis for step two of ‘the leaving from a clean space process,’ I had to own my bad habits that contributed to a less than ideal situation when I was working in big law.
So, I had found coaching, but it came a little too late at the time. I have since mastered the concepts that I teach my clients; like how to manage my time, and how to set boundaries, and how to have difficult conversations with people, and to speak up and advocate for myself and say no. But it took me a little while to master those concepts. And, I certainly hadn’t mastered them, yet.
When I was still working in big law, I had been introduced to them, but it took me some time. So, in the years since I’ve mastered these concepts, I’ve incorporated them into my life, and I now use them to be very intentional with how I spend my time.
But at the time, when I was struggling, I was still a people pleaser. I was over-promising and under-delivering. I was really struggling to manage my time. I was a horrific procrastinator. Because I had not yet learned how to take uncomfortable action and stick to and follow through with a game plan, in spite of the discomfort that comes from sticking to it.
I’ve had to learn and teach myself all of that stuff. It’s now the stuff that I have mastered, and I teach to my clients, but I had yet to really hone these skills when I was working in big law, and when it was coming time for me to leave that job. So, rather than being in a state of blame, I wanted to own the bad habits that I had, that had led to me having a less than ideal experience, right?
When you manage your time poorly, if you’re someone who manages your time poorly, you know that other people don’t love being on the receiving end of that situation. So, it leads to unnecessary conflict. It leads to a negative impact on your work relationships with your colleagues because people can’t rely on you. They can’t trust you in the way that you want to be able to have people rely on you and trust you.
You know, I would slip into really avoidant patterns with people. I wouldn’t want to communicate the bad news that I wasn’t gonna finish something on time. Or, I just wouldn’t know that I wasn’t going to finish it on time, because I was so bad at estimating how long things would take me. And I drastically underestimated how long something would take.
So, I wouldn’t communicate properly. Or, if I finally got the idea that it was going to take me longer than I thought it was going to, and I was going to turn something in late, I would just hide. I was really not skilled at having uncomfortable conversations with my colleagues, with my supervisors. I would just put my head down, and try and finish an assignment as quickly as possible. And, I wouldn’t communicate the bad news.
Now, in hindsight, I fully understand that this is not the way to go about handling this situation. I understand that what people crave, more than anything, is certainty. So, in the best-case scenario, you’d make a promise to deliver something, and you would deliver it, when you say you’re going to deliver it.
But if that’s not going to happen, instead of putting your head down and hiding, and just trying to get it done and turning it in late. Thinking that turning something in late is better than communicating bad news; when you have no work to turn in. I now know, that if you create certainty for people, that that is what people crave. Rather than getting something late, and you’re making them experience all of that uncertainty while they’re waiting.
So, these were all the things that I was doing in my role as a big law associate, that really led to me having a less than desirable experience. Now, if you’re in this spot right now, I want to encourage you just make this list from a place of curiosity, not from a place of judgment. All right? You don’t need to use this as an exercise to beat yourself up.
I could sit here, still to this day, and have a ton of shame over how I showed up in that job. But I don’t, because I recognize that I was really lacking the skills that I needed to thrive in that environment. I’ve since learned the skills that are necessary to thrive in that environment. I just didn’t have a lot of the tools that you needed, in order to do that job really well.
Now, that doesn’t make me wrong or bad for lacking them. And I’m so glad that I was able to find those tools and harness them, and learn them and master them, so I can thrive doing what it is that I do now. In fact, they’re probably even more necessary now because I work for myself.
So, you have to be able to hold yourself accountable, and be disciplined and follow through, because you don’t have the threat of someone, you know, laying down the law, or you know, coming down hard on you with a hammer, in order to keep you accountable. You don’t have fear as a motivating force, you just have to be disciplined.
I’ve since gone on to learn all of these skills and these tools, and that’s what I teach my clients to master. Now, hopefully they come to me and it won’t be too late for them. They’re able to turn it around faster than I was able to just doing this, when left to my own devices having to teach myself.
I say all of this, though, to say that you can tell this story, and you can assess your role and take ownership over the parts that you’ve created, that have led to a less than desirable situation without all the self-blame, and the self-criticizing, and really beating yourself up, and coming down hard on yourself and making yourself feel terrible. All of that’s optional.
You could just take ownership over the role that you’ve played, that you’ve had in creating a less than ideal situation. And the reason you want to do this is to be a truth teller. Because when you’re in a state of victimhood, when you’re in that state of blame, you’re normally only giving lip service to one side of the equation, right? You’re not telling both sides of the story.
I don’t want you to do that; I want you to be a truth teller. I want you to own the parts that you’ve played in creating a less than ideal environment for yourself. That led to you not loving where you’re at, and lead to you wanting to leave, alright?
There’s nothing that’s gone wrong, necessarily, you’re just owning the role that you’ve played. It’s not all “their fault.” You’ve played a part, as well. It’s okay for you to own it, alright?
And then step three, is appreciate. Appreciate what the position offered you. Maybe, it’s the salary that you received. Right? That was a big one for me. I was so appreciative of earning a really significant amount of money.
Well, at least at the time, for me it was very significant. It was much more than I would have ever made doing criminal defense work right out of law school, especially at the firm that I had been at. So, I was very grateful for that, and very appreciative of the salary.
I was very appreciative of the learning that I was able to do in this role. It was practicing law at such an advanced level, so it really made me a much better researcher, a much better writer. I worked on matters that I had never worked on before. I learned complete areas of law that were wholly new to me.
I actually still nerd out on some of the stuff that I did when I was working in big law. I created my own little special practice in FOIA law, Freedom of Information Act requests, and the litigation that goes around it. I was really young at the time, but I was like the firm’s foremost expert in that area. And it was so amazing to be able to craft an expertise in something, even being very young in my career.
I also got to work on data breach incident responses, and that was so fun. I loved how short those matters were. They have a really quick turnaround; you’re normally only dealing with them for a month or two. Unlike what you see a lot in complex commercial litigation, which is working on a matter for years and years and years. So, I got to specialize in those two areas.
And I would have never learned anything about those, had I only ever done criminal defense at the firm that I practiced in prior to coming to big law. I also got the opportunity to experience working at a big firm. And that is relevant to me now, for a couple different reasons: Number one, I understand what it’s like to work in a boutique space. I understand what it’s like to work in big law.
So, it helps me relate to my clients now, so much better than I would be able to relate to them had I not had that experience. I’m just able to speak the language. It also introduced me to transactional law, which I had never experienced before. I really don’t think law school gives you that much of an idea of what transactional work is like.
I’m able to relate to my clients that are transactional attorneys, in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to relate to them had I not worked in big law. I also got introduced to coaching when I worked in big law. Had I not gone to big law, I would have never gone down the path of learning about life coaching.
And, learning the impact that it can have on your life. Applying the coaching concepts that I learned from my coaches to my own life, and making those changes. And seeing that other people around me were struggling in the same ways that I had struggled. I would have never been inspired to go get certified and become a coach, so I wouldn’t even have the career that I have now, had it not been for me working in big law.
I also am so grateful to the people that I met while I was there. I still get invited to go to our firm’s alumni event every year, and that’s such a treat for me. I truly don’t have really anything bad to say about the firm, I think it’s a great firm. I recommend, people that reach out to me and talk to me about working there, I recommend that they go there all the time. It just wasn’t an ideal place for me. And, that’s okay.
I’m so grateful I got to meet the people that I got to meet while I worked there. I’ve stayed in touch with many of them; I look forward to seeing them every year. And I’m really grateful for the woman who runs the attorney development department within the firm.
She’s the one who really sat me down and said, “Hey, Olivia, I think you’re really unhappy here. And you know, you don’t have to stay if you’re really unhappy.” It was the first time that I had ever really acknowledged how unhappy I was. And I’m so grateful for her, just showing me what I was having a hard time seeing myself, because I was so in the trenches trying to succeed. Trying to prove something both to myself, and other people.
I was so really wrapped up in being concerned about what other people thought of me, that I wasn’t able to see my own experience there. And to see that I didn’t really love it, and to see that it wasn’t what I wanted. So, I’m so grateful that I had some really amazing people in my corner supporting me, to help encourage me to make the decision that was right for me.
Now, once I did this assessment, once I went through and accepted the experience and the environment for what it was, and I took ownership over my role in creating a bad or less than ideal situation, and I appreciated all of the amazing things that the job offered me, I was ready to leave from a clean space.
And, that’s exactly what I did. I made a really great decision. It was the decision that was right for me; to go back to the law firm that I had worked at during law school. I wanted to go back and practice criminal defense. I wanted to return and be part of the team that I had spent years with when I was a law clerk prior to graduating from law school and passing the bar exam. And, I was so excited to go back there and really thrive.
That was the right decision for me at that time. I also knew that I wanted to start this business. And, at the time I was a little delusional, I thought that I would be able to easily do both. It turns out that trial work and starting your own business don’t really go hand-in-hand with one another. That was just another learning opportunity for me.
And I’m going to talk about how I completed the same process for that next firm, in just a second. But I did get myself to a place where I wasn’t able to love it before I left it, but I was able to get myself to a clean space where I didn’t leave from a state of victimhood, a ‘woe is me’ mentality. I was able to just accept, own, and appreciate, and move on. Okay?
That’s what I want you to do. So, if you’re thinking about leaving, I want you to walk through this exact same process: Accept the job for what it is. Accept the experience for what it is. Describe it in the most neutral way possible. No opinions, no judgments, just describe the facts. Then, take ownership over the part you played in creating the experience you had. All right? You don’t have to beat yourself up when you do this, but you just want to be really honest. What were the things that you did that contributed to a less than ideal situation? Just take ownership of those. And then lastly, appreciate what was good about the experience. That’s how you leave from clean space.
All right, I’m going to walk through one more example. When I left my last law firm, very candidly, up until the point that I decided to leave from a clean space, I was in quite a state of outrage. I wasn’t getting paid on time. And as you can imagine, that was really impacting my livelihood and my ability to provide for myself. I’m a single gal, so there’s no one else over here footing the bill for my life, other than me. So, things were really rocky.
I had gone back to work at the criminal defense firm, after I worked in big law, with the impression that I was going to have a bigger stake in running things. And, I ultimately did. I thought I was going to have more autonomy than I ultimately had. I thought I was going to be able to be in control of more things, and make bigger decisions that would change and impact how the firm ultimately was run.
It turns out, when I got back there, that wasn’t really the case. So, I had a lot less authority than what I had envisioned having. And, I had some pretty strong opinions on how the firm was being managed. I worked for a really phenomenal trial attorney, but he’s not the best business owner. And I still love him and care about him deeply, it’s just not his strong suit. That’s okay.
If you are in a position where you’re less reliant on really consistent, reliable income, then you get to work there and have a ton of fun and work on the best cases. And if you’re able to weather that storm a little bit differently than I was able to, it’s really not that big of a deal.
Leading up to my ultimate decision to leave, I was in a state of outrage. I wasn’t coaching myself. I had many of the thoughts that I mentioned to you at the beginning of this episode; like, you can’t run a business this way, this is totally unfair, I don’t deserve this, I deserve x, y, and z instead. And it led to me feeling really outraged and frustrated, and slighted and all of these negative emotions.
And then finally, one day, I caught my thought error. And the thought error was that I was telling myself, “You can’t run a business like that.” It turns out, you absolutely can run a business like that, because he did run a business like that. And, he had run a business like that for a long time. So, this wasn’t really news to me. I knew to expect it to be a bit rocky when I was returning there, I just had underestimated my ability to tolerate the rockiness.
So, I went through this process, and I realized what was true. And what was true in that moment, was that he gets to run his business however he wants to, and I get to choose what I tolerate. I made the decision that I didn’t want to tolerate it anymore, and I decided to walk through. Rather than leave in a state of victimhood, I got myself to clean space.
I went through and I accepted the situation for what it was, which was that I would always get paid, but not on time. And for me, that didn’t work. That didn’t work to support the lifestyle that I wanted to live. And, I wanted more financial stability than that.
Now, I also appreciated that my decision was going to be to leave and to start my own business. And that it was going to probably be a much rockier road starting my business, in the short term, than if I just stayed put and relied on another person to pay me a salary, like I had been when I was working there. So, even though the income wasn’t dependable, it did always come through.
Whereas going off and working for myself, like there are a lot of unknowns there. I don’t believe that now, I believe that it’s very certain; I’ve built a business that is very stable and very consistent. But at the time, I didn’t realize how possible that was. Now, I went through, and I accepted that I wasn’t the sole decision maker. I wasn’t the main decision maker. That it was someone else’s firm. That they get to make and set rules and institute policies that I might not necessarily agree with.
But that is what it is, because it’s not my business. And if I wanted to be the rule maker and the sole decision maker, then I could absolutely do that. But I would need to work for myself in order to create that reality.
I also accepted the pay for what it was. So, I had agreed to take a pretty significant pay cut when I left big law, to go back and work at the firm that I wanted to work at. And I thought I was going to be more okay with taking the pay cut than I ultimately was. So, I accepted that that there was just a certain salary that went along with that job, and it wasn’t in line with my preference to work for that amount of money. I wanted to make more than that.
I saw working for myself is the clear way to do that. So, again, you can see how I go through this. I accept the situation in the most neutral way possible. Right? I did get paid, but not on time. I made X amount. And, I didn’t have the authority to be the final say on decisions about how the firm was run, how the business side of things was administered. So, I couldn’t control firm overhead. I couldn’t control firm spending or budgeting. I couldn’t control any of that; that just was true. That is what it is.
Then from there, I took ownership. In addition to the facts that I just laid out for you, there was also a decent amount of tension. Because while I had been away, I had been learning these coaching tools; I had learned how to speak up for myself. I had learned how to be less of a people pleaser, and how to set boundaries, and say no, and advocate for the things that I believed in.
So, I had come back to an environment that really had expected me to be like I had once been to be a people pleaser, to be the person who had no boundaries. And, I wasn’t the same person anymore. So, it created a decent amount of tension, right? They wanted me to be one way, the way that they had known me to be when I worked there previously. And, I was just a completely different person.
There was tension, there was some friction, as a result of that. And I recognized that I had created that. I had shown up and been different in this role upon my return, than I had been when I worked there originally. And, I wasn’t going to apologize for that. And, I certainly wasn’t going to change it.
I wasn’t going to go back to the old way of doing things, where I was martyring myself, and self-sacrificing, and abandoning myself, and people pleasing, and taking care of everyone else, and making myself my last priority. I wasn’t going to go back to that. But I did recognize that it was different than what they probably expected from me, and that it led to increased tension.
So, that was the part that I had to own in the scenario. I also needed to own that I made some decisions about cases that weren’t wise, as far as financial firm decisions go, and that that also contributed to the firm not being as financially successful. I worked on, essentially two pro bono cases while I was working there, over the course of the year that I was back.
And had I been making sounder business decisions, I would have turned those two cases down. I wouldn’t have done friends of mine favors and agreed to take them on. I would have been focused, specifically on the numbers. So, just like I wanted other people to be specifically focused on the numbers, I should have been willing to walk the walk of that, myself.
And, I hadn’t been. I had done things as favors, to be nice, to be agreeable. It was really the same behavior that other people were exhibiting, and I was complaining about that, and yet I was doing it myself. So, I had to take ownership of that.
Now, step three; appreciate the experience for what it offered you. I’m so, so grateful I was able to leave big law and go back to the firm that really felt like my home. I’ve had so many people tell me that it was a mistake for me to go back there, and I fundamentally disagree with them on that. I was really struggling with Adderall addiction when I worked in big law, in order to pull all-nighters and work around the clock, and stay on top of my work. Which, spoiler alert, I’ll tell you, it didn’t work. It didn’t help me stay on top of my work. It really led to me underperforming in a lot of ways. But I was really struggling with Adderall addiction at the time that I left, and it was so amazing to be able to go back to a place that I felt comfortable with. A place that knew me. A place that supported me.
And ultimately, the first person that I ever had a very honest conversation about struggling with Adderall addiction, I had that conversation with my boss at the small criminal defense firm. I trusted him enough to be honest with him about it. I am so grateful that I went back home to a firm that allowed me to show up as myself, even the messy parts, even the flawed parts.
I’m so grateful that I had an employer, and honestly a friend, who cared about me enough to have a really uncomfortable conversation with me. And I am certain, that it is one of the things that served as a catalyst to me overcoming that addiction. I also think, if we were being really honest, I probably knew that I wanted to just be a coach. But I wasn’t ready to completely shed my identity as a lawyer.
I think had I gone straight from working in big law to life coaching, I would have always had that question in the back of my mind; should I have gone back to work at this firm? Should I have tried a little bit harder? Should I have not given up so easily?
I don’t see myself as having given up, now. But it’s really because I gave myself the opportunity to go back there and practice criminal law as an attorney, not just as a law clerk. And to work on another amazing homicide case, with one of my best friends from law school, and an amazing trial team. I had so much fun working on that case with them. And, I really feel like I got what I wanted to get out of that career.
Both, when I was doing it in law school and after law school, I feel like I experienced the highs of doing trial work. And, I prefer what I’m doing now over that. I loved it when I did it, but I don’t have any regrets about switching to become a full-time coach and a full-time entrepreneur, outside of the legal industry.
I feel like I was able to do everything that I wanted to do, and I feel so confident that I’m in the right position. And, that’s only because I went back. So, I’m so appreciative that I had the opportunity to check that box and see for myself, and then leave from a clean space, and make a decision that was ultimately right for me.
That’s how you do it, my friends. That’s how you leave from clean space: Go through, accept the situation for what it is, in the most neutral way possible; no judgments, no opinions, just the facts. Decide whether or not it’s your preference. If it’s not your preference, take ownership over the parts that you contributed to, that led to it being a less than ideal experience. And then ultimately, appreciate what it offered you while you were there. Okay?
Following this process, completing this three-part analysis will get you to a clean space. That way you can move on without all the resentment, frustration, victimhood, and blame, that will keep holding you back in the next role. All right? And it’ll have you running away from something you don’t want, instead of running towards something you do.
I hope this helps you with whatever it is you’re quitting; whether it’s a job, or relationship, or whatever the case may be. Follow these three steps, and you’ll leave from a clean place.
All right. That’s what I have for you this week. My friends, I will talk to you in the next episode.
Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero, or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.