What is the #1 Piece of Career Advice You Have Received?

After almost twenty years of practicing law at larger firms, I have been craving the freedom of setting my own schedule and the ability to work from home for a very long time.  My hesitation to go out on my own was rooted in the uncertain financial nature of self-employment.

After several meetings with colleagues, I felt strongly guided that it was finally time to start my own practice. One colleague and I discussed working together on a contract basis. This arrangement meant that I would remain self-employed, but that she could give me a minimum amount of work each month because she was not yet ready to bring on a new employee. It was a win-win situation. We planned to meet in a couple of weeks to finalize the details.

Imagine my surprise and disappointment when a couple of weeks later my colleague’s partner refused to sign on to the whole arrangement. She was only interested in bringing me on as an employee – the same situation I’d been dying to leave. Was I interested in that arrangement? No chance!

I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I had thought my intuition was leading me to go out on my own and now, I felt completely disoriented. Had I misunderstood the guidance that self-employment was the right path for me?

What I learned is that how we picture plans unfolding is not always how they are meant to unfold. I could see that meeting this attorney was vital to the guidance that self-employment was the right path for me and I never would have taken that step if it wasn’t for her. However, the mistake I made was to assume that my self-employment was going to involve her for more than just inspiration. My guidance had only said, “You should go out on your own and all will be well.” What I heard was, “You should go out on your own and all will be well because your colleague is going to send you lots of work so you can feel secure about it all.” Those are two very different statements.

I believe the universe was trying to teach me a valuable lesson by having plans fall through with this colleague. It was trying to say. “Do you see how you keep thinking your security lies outside of yourself? Well, it doesn’t. Your security is YOU.” I had been clinging too tightly to the belief that others had a better ability than I to produce the work I need in order to sustain my practice. It was simply a lack of confidence. Silly me.

For a long time I had been feeling that I wanted freedom and autonomy. Assuming I had to be beholden to others for my own security was the opposite of that. The universe was right when it lovingly smacked me upside the head and taught me a life lesson that I will not soon forget – being self-sufficient is the ultimate freedom.

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