It’s Still the New Year, Right?
(Excuse the lateness of this post. Can we agree that we have all of January to sort out our resolutions and goals for the next year? I didn’t get my act together by January 1, so here goes!)
In 2019, my New Year’s post was all about what Biglaw associates could do to make the year the best ever, from a career-standpoint. I talked about things like working with someone you’ve never worked with before, joining a new firm committee and finding meaningful pro bono work. All valuable things to try out – if you are Biglaw associate.
This year, I’ve decided to do something different for my last post of the year(ish). Instead of narrowly focusing on Biglaw associates or attorneys, I’d like to broaden the discussion by writing about what my New Year’s goal is and hope to hear from you on what you’ve decided to do (if anything).
By sharing what I’m planning to do for 2020 maybe I can give someone an idea for what they might like to consider changing or working on for 2020. Whether you’re a Biglaw associate satisfied in your career, one looking for a change in 2020, or aren’t a lawyer at all, I hope you find something useful in this post!
What a Chunky Tadpole Showed Me
I was recently lucky enough to visit a nature reserve in Costa Rica that had a large space devoted just to frogs and toads. From bright colored poison dart frogs to dull, grumpy-looking toads, the amphibian section of the reserve was full of interesting creatures and staffed by an enthusiastic young woman who was eager to show us around and talk about each of “her” frogs and toads.
Like everyone else, I’m aware of the metamorphosis frogs go through from egg to tadpole to frog, but I learned something new that day. When she showed us the tadpoles (including some very chunky ones), happily swimming around and eating colorful flowers floating on the surface of the water, she explained that she liked to keep the tadpoles very well-fed.
We assumed this was because she wanted to take care of the animals, which was part of it, but the main reason was this: she wanted to keep them in the tadpole stage for as long as possible because once they became frogs, they were taken elsewhere and she no longer had tadpoles to show the visitors.
How does being well-fed equate to a longer life as a tadpole?
Turns out, that when a tadpole has plenty of food, it is less inclined to become a frog, so it will remain a tadpole for as long as possible and the change from tadpole to frog will be very slow.
I felt an immediate connection to the chunkiest of the tadpoles in the tank. They looked so happy to be there, content to be living among other tadpoles with no predators and plenty of delicious food. Their little legs were starting to stick out and it looked like they were going to be fully transitioned into frogs soon, but they sure were clinging to their current life as tadpoles. Who would want to leave this paradise (I imagined them thinking)?
The truth is, the life of a frog is so much richer than that of a tadpole. Sure, there are predators and you have to go out and hunt your own food, but you have the freedom to live wherever you want, you can eat any delicious bug you want, hide under any leaf, climb any tree, make frog friends…you get the gist of it. A comfortable tadpole wants to stay a comfortable tadpole for as long as it can because that’s all it’s ever known. It’s scary to leave because it can’t imagine what is out there on the other side – even if that other side is so much better.
What Do Chunky Tadpoles Have to Do With Anything? My 2020 Transformative Goal.
Like those tadpoles, I, too, love where I am right now in life, which I’ve come to realize is making it very difficult for me to motivate myself to take the next step in a few areas. Aside from the giant leap I took when I left the law and ventured out on my own (which, as I’ve discussed before, took years to finally arrive at), I’m usually content to do the things that I’ve always done because I have a great life. And maintaining the status quo is less risky and less scary than taking a chance and trying something new.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with staying where you are. But the more comfortable you make your environment for yourself, the more likely you’re going to stay exactly where you are. So if you want a change, you have to shake things up and get a little uncomfortable.
When I first left my stable job, the safety nets I put in place were essential and were what enabled me to leave. But those safety nets are now holding me back. As I approach two years since leaving Biglaw, it’s beyond time to cut the cord on my safety nets and finally put myself out there.
Keeping up with the tadpole and frog analogy, I’ve reached *peak* chunky tadpole status – legs poking out and all – and it’s time to give up life in the pond.
Completing a total metamorphosis is a very broad goal. The less specific a goal is, the less likely you’re going to accomplish it (so I’ve heard). So, as I go about my life, I’m going to start to evaluate my comforts and see what is holding me back and what I can drop. For starters, below is my first attempt at identifying three things I know I can give up the safety net on that will make a big impact in reaching my transformative goal.
Giving Up the Safety Nets
It’s time to stop dipping into my savings. Full stop. I won’t go into the details of the “how” here because I don’t think that would be helpful or interesting to anyone, but it’s basically going to mean spending less and making more. If I am no longer allowing myself to use my savings for day-to-day living, I’ve got to come up with that money somehow, right?
2. Freelance Writing
I just heard yesterday that a company I’ve been writing regular posts for is going out of business so they obviously won’t be needing my freelance writing services anymore. Of course, I knew that the freelance writing business was a constantly evolving one and that you could never rely on a client to always be there, but when this happened I actually realized that. I had stopped sending out pitches, but now I’ve reset my goals again and that means sending out pitches like crazy.
Group classes are what holds me accountable when it comes to fitness. I never used to miss or cancel a class because, if I did, I would have been charged a huge fee not just for the missed class, but also as a penalty for not showing up. Guess what happens when you work at a gym? They let you sign up and cancel classes, for free, whenever you want. This is not good for my accountability! So I’m going to sign back up for a (limited) ClassPass membership, where I’ll pay a small amount monthly to get back in the habit of paying for and attending classes. Adios, safety net of free cancellations!
Do You Have Goals for 2020 That You’d Like to Share?
What are your goals or resolutions for the new year? If there’s anything you’d like to share, please do! Or if you have any suggestions on how I can better accomplish my transformative goals and get out of my comfort zone once and for all, I’m all ears!