How can First Generation Attorney's Achieve Long-Term Success?
First Generation lawyers are paving a path of their own making and it can be challenging and overwhelming to face this journey without family members to assist and guide us. It becomes even more complicated when we have to deal with a global pandemic.
Uncertainty For First Generation Attorneys
Part of the issue for first generation attorneys is that they face the uncertainty of not knowing if they are truly suited for the profession. No one else chose this, so why am I a good fit? In addition, we can feel that we don't have what it takes because no other family member did this, there is no proof someone like us, "made it".
Self Care is Essential to First Generation Lawyer Success
It takes a tremendous amount of courage, fortitude and determination to continue down the path at the best of times. And, right now, in the world, with a global pandemic raging, we have to implement ways to support ourselves to empower our journey and assist in creating ultimate success.
Below are 5 ways that you, as a first generation lawyer, can use to help you achieve long-term success, regardless of outside forces. These methods are applicable at any time. The biggest investment you can make is in you.
Law is A Marathon, Not a Sprint
No one explains that law isn't a sprint but a marathon. If you set yourself up to push through, it makes it almost inevitable that you will eventually become burnt out at worst or disillusioned at best. Set yourself up for success as a first generation lawyer by continually investing in you.
These five methods aren't overly complex, but they are essential to your physical and mental well being. As a first generation lawyer the biggest gift you can receive is giving yourself permission to care for you.
5 Ways to Achieve Long Term Success in Law
Self-care does not mean 5 star vacations. It can be simple every day tasks that you can use to continually send yourself the message that you recognize and value you. Self-care can be as simple as drinking water throughout the day. We may talk about drinking water, who hasn't heard that we need a lot of water to stay hydrated, but it is easy to to reject the idea as too simplistic or obvious. Except it isn't.
Staying hydrated is a means to excellence. It helps our cognition, concentration and focus. But it does more. It allows our body not to suffer along with our emotions when we are highly stressed. No matter where we go or what we do, our body is along for the ride. Because we often push through, we may be used to ignoring signals from our body including the need for rest, hydration and nourishment.
Our Elite Mentor, Judith Gordon, Founder of the Thriving in Law Center, mentioned a client who strives for two meals a day. Let's try for at least that but ideally more. Strive to make your self-care a priority to put you in the best position possible to deal with stress, anxiety and challenges.
When we are facing big challenges, it helps to set some goals to help you move through to the other side. Although some challenges we can't change and they may go on for some time, setting smaller goals on how you are going to cope day to day takes back control and allows you to celebrate your wins each and every day. Focusing on the positive makes the day lighter.
Setting smaller doable goals that can be completed daily allows us to cheer our successes and provide ourselves with positive messages countering negative self-talk that we aren't getting enough done, we should be faster, more accomplished etc. Instead of continually focusing on those types of messages, we will have concrete examples of accomplishments.
Sometimes we expect a certain outcome, people to act a certain way, or to achieve certain things by a certain date. Focusing on an expected outcome is focusing on what is beyond our control. Instead we can focus on what we can do. If we have done what we can, we have done our part and that is the only part we control. The outcome is not up to us.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive letting go of expectations is incredibly freeing. We let go of the anxiety, the guilt, the what ifs, and the pressure. Instead, we take our energy and direct it to positively taking action.
I have always found this challenging. Not that I'm not appreciative of many things, I am. But when you are feeling really beaten up by life, it can be really hard to drag out your list of appreciation and really mean it.
One technique that has worked for me is to first focus on something that I enjoy; a simple example is the sun setting and lighting up the hills with a golden glow. Once I tune into my enjoyment, it is much easier to be appreciative of what I'm experiencing and it naturally leads to more appreciation.
This is a big one but it is the most important. We often hear that we are all completely unique, there are never two people exactly alike, not even identical twins. But for me my initial reaction was "so what, there are billions of completely unique people".
My perception missed a crucial point. Only the unique you has your story, your knowledge, your expertise, your challenges, your resilience, your determination, your unique combination of everything about you. Combining all that and moving forward is tapping into the unique you.
Knowing that you are unique and believing in you allows you to look at the situations you face and move through them with everything you got to the other side. The focus becomes you and what you bring to the table, not other people, other people's lives, or other people's success.
5 Tips for Continual Success
Getting into the habit of using these 5 ways to achieve long-term success sets you up for a career in law that you enjoy, not survive. And as a first generation lawyer, you have the freedom to pave a path to your dream career, to choose what you want and to go for everything you desire. Setting up your mind and physical health to be optimal, creates the foundation for the life in law that you design and ultimately, the one you will achieve.
Faye Gelb, founder of Her Legal Global is passionate about empowering lawyers to have a career that makes them smile when they wake up in the morning. Lawyer, Entrepreneur, startup cofounder, front end web developer, photographer and business consultant. Her goal is to help you use your law degree and have a career you love, on your own terms, throughout your career.