Changing Your Job To Simplify Your Life
My journey from lawyer to writer.
Who in their right mind would decide to leave practicing law to embark on the unpredictable and notoriously low-paying job of being a writer? Uh, that would be me.
Life is frequently complicated when we start something without proper preparation. For example, I decided on a whim to go to law school. That was a mistake. I was having difficulty finding a job after graduating from college and I needed to come up with a Plan B. Law school was my Plan B.
I hated law school, and for more than 20 years after that, I hated practicing law.
One of the most difficult things for me was managing demanding clients who frequently had unreasonable expectations and didn't want to pay for services rendered when they weren't 100% pleased with the results. In addition, the judges, opposing counsel, and court staff were often rude and condescending. And I had to act, pretend, bluff, and be "on" at all times.
The whole law gig just wasn't for me.
To complicate matters, I was diagnosed initially with depression and ultimately with bipolar disorder.
I cannot think of a worse job for a person with bipolar disorder than being a lawyer. Practicing law involves constant ups and downs and lots of drama that you have no control over because you cannot control the behavior of others. This is a horrible way for anyone to exist, let alone for someone with bipolar disorder who needs balance and routine.
Over time it became clear that I needed to leave law sooner than expected, so I began to look at other areas of work. My first area of interest was in life coaching. I read tons of books and watched videos online to learn all I could about coaching. You can teach yourself anything by utilizing free resources online. It is astonishing what is available online and all for free.
Unfortunately, my bipolar disorder became so severe that leaving the practice of law wasn't something that could wait any longer. What was originally an optional career change had become a necessity. I had no choice but to move on to a different career—immediately.
My path from law to writing wasn't a direct line.
My first stop was selling used cars. I sucked at it. They fired me before I could quit.
Then my bipolar disorder became debilitating. I spent years unable to work due to severe depression and mood swings.
My life was a mess, and medications weren't offering any relief. So I would try a medication, it would help for a little while, and then I couldn't get out of bed again.
Finally, after trying a myriad of medications, a new drug came out that worked for me, and I was able to start rebuilding my life again. I remain on it to this day.
During the years that I could not work, I spent my time (when I could focus) reading about opportunities for online writing.
I learned about creating content, blogging, and freelancing. I was fascinated to learn that there was a world full of people who earned a living by using their computers from their homes. Some earned a little money, and others did very well without leaving their homes. And they worked for themselves.
As someone who couldn't be counted on to show up at work on a set schedule due to my moods, working at home and working for myself was the perfect solution.
By using the internet to educate myself about a career opportunity that I was unfamiliar with, my highly complicated life of mental illness had become simplified.
But not everyone is receptive to ways of life they aren't familiar with.
Despite knowing that I wasn't capable of working outside of the home on a "regular" work schedule, my husband still wanted me to get a "real" job. He knew having a "real" job wasn't a realistic option for me, but he still wanted it.
As a compromise, my husband and I agreed that I would have one year to establish myself as a writer. After that, I would be responsible for specific household bills each month, and whatever I did to earn money to pay those bills was up to me. I could write, get a "real" job, or clean houses; it was up to me.
I landed a gig freelancing and earned a nice chunk of change from my writing to pay the bills. And I managed to make enough money to put some away for bills so that I could take some time off to catch up on some work around the house and figure out my next step in my writing career.
Leaving law has not only simplified my life, but I am far happier than when I was practicing law for those more than 20 years.
Twenty years is a long time to be miserable because of your job. Fortunately, I am no longer a nervous wreck waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't dread answering the phone, checking a text, or reading an email because I will be faced with someone complaining to me about something I can't control.
I no longer live a life surrounded by angry and unhappy people seeking to get even with someone they feel has wronged them.
At last, I am happy. My time is my own. Life is good. Life is simple. I am free.
Enjoy this article? You might also enjoy When I Embraced Simple Living 11 Years Ago, My Life Changed.
Linda Kowalchek is a member of the typewriter generation and an occasional Top Writer on Medium in Advice, Inspiration, Writing, and This Happened to Me. She also writes stories about life and relationships under the name L. K. Smithe. Don’t forget the “e” on “Smithe.”Feel free to reach out to Linda at email@example.com.