Many of my friends recently embarked on a new journey - no, not traveling - a new chapter in their lives, the transition from school to working life. For many, this is their first real, full-time job out of school, and they're starting careers that may last them a lifetime. And some of them already have plans to move on and start their own businesses. Others have doubts that they will last in this career. Still others are actually happy in their jobs. To be clear, we're talking about lawyers and the legal industry. My friends are not struggling artists, waiting for that big break.
When people go to law school without a clear goal or plan in mind, they find themselves in a boatload of debt. The "lucky" ones manage to land a big law job; at the same time, law firm life is grueling (or soulless, pick your adjective), and they're left wondering whether they made a huge mistake. For my friends who have been wondering if this is the right move for them, I point them to this insightful article on the New York Times from 2012. Essentially, the author explained that like many others, he did not have a clear passion or career goal, but he believed that all is not lost: people can learn to love their jobs. "The traits that lead people to love their work are general and have little to do with a job’s specifics. These traits include a sense of autonomy and the feeling that you’re good at what you do and are having an impact on the world."
This philosophy seemed to make sense. I worked for quite a while before going back to law school, and I did enjoy my work at first. It was interesting, I was learning, I was generally good at what I did. Getting recognition for good work only enhanced my job satisfaction. I did gain more autonomy as I progressed, but I didn't see that I would be good at what I needed to do down the line in that organization, and I certainly didn't feel that my work was having an impact on the world. So I decided to leave and go back to school. I'm glad to say that I truly enjoy the work that I do right now. I have autonomy, I'm learning, I think I'm doing good work, and I feel like I'm having an impact on the world. So perhaps this guy's philosophy really works.
Bottom line: if you have a passion, FOLLOW it. Hopefully you'll achieve success like Lupita Nyong’o ("When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid" or just watch her heartfelt acceptance speech).
If you don't have a passion - TRY TRY and TRY again. And don't feel bad, because you're just like the rest of us.
Either way - just keep swimming like Dory