Dear Law Firm 10:
My 13-year career as a tax attorney has been moderately successful, but when I look back at my career, I become depressed. What have I accomplished? What impact have I made? Nothing of much significance. So the New Year’s resolution I’m considering for 2013 is this: to find a career that is more fulfilling. If I commit, I’m worried that I risk giving up a secure job and income. Am I fool? Should I just be grateful for what I have and suck it up?
Look, there’s a difference between being grateful and being happy. If in fact you feel “depressed” when you think about your career, then it’s safe to assume you’re unhappy. That’s not to say, however, that you don’t appreciate what you have (the fact that you’re torn about this and engaging in analysis along these lines is strong evidence that you don’t take your situation for granted). But you can’t spend your life settling for unhappiness simply because it looks like you have a great, lucrative career that plenty of other people would be happy with—because you’re not those other people. You’re you. And you’ve hacked away at it with moderate success for 13 years, but your instincts are telling you that something is lacking. You’re only a fool if you ignore your gut feelings despite having recognized them.
As an initial matter, you’re actually more evolved than 87% of the world because you actually possess the ability to intuit your own dissatisfaction. I’m digressing here, but I’m convinced that people adore the constant, mindless distractions of texting, email, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram because it allows them to successfully block out that nagging sense of existential dissatisfaction that everybody has. But here’s the problem with ignoring those vague feelings of dread that crop up from time to time. If you ever want to have the life that you DESERVE, and if you want to end up in the places you were MEANT to be in, then you MUST be cognizant of the things that make you feel depressed and take action accordingly. Unless you deal with that shit, make tough decisions (and act on them), and ultimately embrace change when it’s time for it, you’re going to end up like everybody else, living a life of quiet desperation.
So here’s what you need to do, if you want to balance your desire of finding a fulfilling career with your fear of foolishly squandering an otherwise comfortable professional situation: take stock of your current finances and pay off any outstanding credit card or student loan debt that you have (if any). Once that’s done, take the leap. I can’t underscore enough how important it is for you to follow through with this resolution, especially since I know there is a risk averse tax attorney dwelling within you. I’m sure you could find mildly positive things to say all day long about your current career on a “Pro” and “Con” list, but the one thing you definitely CAN’T say is that it fulfills you and makes you feel like you’re making a difference. In which case, the only other thing I need to tell you is, good luck finding a job that fits the bill. Trust me, you’ll regret staying put far more than you’ll regret having jumped ship, irrespective of what you encounter afterward.
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