Are you working on projects that are sucking the life out of you?

Are you working hard but not getting noticed?

Do you have skills and talents that are not being used in your job?

Do you shy away from promoting yourself because you don’t want to appear pushy and aggressive?

Jennifer, a 36-year old senior associate in a large, prestigious Chicago law firm, felt all of this.  She said, “I cannot work in my job one more day.  You have to help me get out.  I think I want to open a bakery or become a massage therapist”.  She worked hard to become a lawyer because she saw this as a route to helping real people, but lately, she didn’t feel like she was doing anything that mattered.

Many women lawyers and senior managers come to us so frustrated with their current work situation, that the only option they can see is to completely change careers.  Usually, this new career involves scones, rural farmhouses, and friendly neighbors who stop by to drop off some fresh eggs.  That’s a wonderful vision, but is it really what will make them happy?  Perhaps there are things that they value a lot that they will give up if they completely jump ship.

After Jennifer unpacked all of the things that were horrible about her job, we asked her the following questions:

What are the parts of your current job that you do care about?

What have you accomplished that you are proud of?

She was surprised to find herself with many positive things to say.  It turned out that it wasn’t so much that she wanted to leave the job, but she couldn’t figure out how to make it work for her.  Without taking the bakery/massage therapist option off the table, we looked at her current job more closely.  We strategized ways to increase the good stuff that she appreciated about her job, and reduce the things that were making her miserable.

Jennifer realized that she loved the personal interactions with clients, but lately she had been stuck staffing large cases where she was spending most of her time drafting and reviewing documents.  We brainstormed areas in the firm where she could have direct client contact and strategized ways to move into these areas.

It also turned out that because she was staffing these big cases, she wasn’t developing her own clients, which was an essential piece to making partner in the firm.  We worked with her to develop a business plan that she could execute using the skills that came naturally to her. 

In the end, Jennifer decided to keep the bakery option as a possible Plan B, but for now she was finding ways to be happier and more successful in her current job.

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