Regardless of your desired profession, you will find yourself thinking about work/life balance at some point during your college career. This is especially true for law students. Over the course of our first year we have had the privilege of hearing from a multitude of professionals. Like most professions, the work hours, practice environment, yearly salary, etc. have varied tremendously among speakers. Therefore, like any student aiming to find his or her place in the field, I often ask these speakers similar questions in order to narrow down my search. Now… this may be extra prevalent for aspiring lawyers, but one question keeps coming up: What’s your work/life balance like?
Why do we ask this question?
I can’t say for sure why you ask it, but I have a hunch that it’s similar to my reasoning. This question is important to me because I often find myself in a predicament between my top priorities in life. My family (currently me, my beautiful wife, and our Golden Retriever) mean the world to me. Top priority, hands down. However, I am also ridiculously passionate and driven when it comes to my education and my future career. Without rambling on… you can probably see the “battle” arising between these competing forces: the desire for kids, family time, travel, etc and the desire for a challenging and fulfilling career. Do these forces need to conflict though?
The current approach:
This is how I was thinking about the future and I am willing to bet many of you were too. My very simple design shows the ultimate goal: BALANCE! This is the image I was picturing when I asked speakers about the balance in their lives… but this approach is flawed!!
In my opinion, this approach is flawed because “work” and “life” are on opposite ends! Before we even graduate, we are setting ourselves up for failure. We are viewing work and life as opposing forces, each one competing for our time and energy. Now, I’m the furthest thing from an engineer, but I believe there is another way to achieve such balance…
My new approach:
Why do we consider “work” to exist somewhere outside of our “life?” We have one life and we all know that it goes by quickly. Why on Earth would I pursue a job that I don’t want to consider part of my life? My new goal is to find my niche in the legal field that enables me to pursue a career that I actually want to consider as part of my life. Life is going to keep changing drastically over these next few years and I am beyond excited for these changes. However, I know for certain that I never want to view my job as something I consider external to my “actual life.” Rather, I envision a life that includes not only the ones I love and the time spent with them, but also a job and a career that I love and am passionate about. PS… if you are a few decades into your dissatisfying career, currently smirking with pessimism and labeling me as “naive”… all I can say in response is that this won’t be the first norm I’ve successfully flipped in my life.
Why doesn’t everyone take this approach?
It’s hard. Pardon some opinions here, but people often choose the easy route. Finding a job that hits your passion points and genuinely sparks enjoyment isn’t easy. Honestly, it’s a challenging adventure in itself. You need to network with others, leave your comfort zone, and reflect often. It takes many hours and tons of energy. It’s much easier to accept your first job offer and then remain where you are comfortable. The chances are pretty slim that the perfect job is going to find you, so you better start searching. Also, you need to search within yourself. No worries, I’m not going philosophical on you. But think about it… how can you find the perfect job if you don’t know what you are searching for? It’s not an issue to start with this broad approach, but as you search you need to reflect and narrow down what resonates with you.
Let the adventure continue!
As always… I welcome constructive feedback, comments, and conversation. I enjoy dialogue and encourage you to reach out via LinkedIn or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).