Do not worry about making the wrong choice. Our path in life and in our careers is not a straight line. Sometimes it takes you a while to get to where you are meant to be.
If you would have told me in 2018 that I’d be starting my own law firm three years later, I would have asked what kind of narcotics you were on. It had never entered my mind.
At that point I had one goal and one goal only: to become a partner at the law firm that I was at. I did not reach that goal in 2019 as I had hoped. I was disappointed. I felt like I had earned it and that I met the criteria. I was mad thet only 3/18 of the new partners were women.
I had a choice to make: do I stay or do I go. I decided to stick around. I was loyal to my colleagues and saw my future as a big law partner. I wished to be one of the women who did make it. Eventually. Despite having options and some discussions, I stayed. I ultimately reached my goal in 2020.
End of story?
Of course not. It turned out that was only the beginning.
As most of you know, I burned out not too long afterwards and ended up on a completely different path.
I remember thinking in late 2020, right before my burnout, that I again had a choice to make. I could either keep servicing the existing firm insurance clients or I could focus on building my professional liability, investigation and sport practice. I made the wrong choice then by trying to do it all for just a little longer. Predictably, I failed and ended up unwell. I was stuck in bed for weeks a complete mess. It was a painful time but, in hindsight, perhaps something I had to go through to find my way forward.
Eventually I felt well enough to work and returned. I was quickly met with a familiar choice: do I stay or do I go. This time, I was ready to go. While weighing my options then I realized that the best one for me in that moment was the freedom and control that came with starting my own firm.
I did not think it would be the beginning of a law firm of any real substance. I needed a place to work from where I felt safe, in control and where I could service my small roster of good and loyal clients. I thought it would just be me and maybe one assistant.
It was not until I started my own firm that my career really took off and my health simultaneously improved. My reputation grew without the marketing department of a big firm. I was appointed to interesting mandates that I care deeply about. I found the time and space to do high quality work. When I was too busy, I hired people. I saw my family more. I felt good. I slept well. I was and am happy.
Should I have taken that path in 2019? Maybe. But I was not ready. My wrong choices ultimately helped me realize what I needed to do. I needed the journey, the push and the motivation to take the leap.
Making choices themselves can be paralyzingly particularly for those who struggle with anxiety like me. It is amazing how good it feels once you have made the choice and can shut down the ruminating in your brain.
Remember: you will make wrong choices along the way. You just need the last choice to be the right one.