In the last months of my career as a Barrister there were signs telling me that something was off in my life. I was feeling less and less inspired by the content of my work, even though I still found the skills I was using, challenging and fun. I was in a bit of a rut.
My relationship with my boyfriend was no longer bringing me joy, inspiration, or fun. (If I am honest, there was a voice in my head for quite a while telling me to jump ship on that one, long before I had the courage to do so). In addition, my scalp felt like it was pushing the hair on my head out with boiling daggers (a very bizarre and unpleasant feeling).
I probably could have gone on like that for a long time but as history now has it, in quick succession, I left my partner and my job and embarked on a new chapter of discovery and transformation. I learned one or two things along the way, and now 10 years on, feel inspired to share some of them here, in case they may be useful on your journey.
Acknowledge Where You Are
Back in 2008 as a successful Barrister, it was hard for me to acknowledge that I was unhappy. I had so many ways of spinning it to my friends, colleagues, and even myself – to convince myself all was well. Yet when I was alone and quiet, I knew deeply that something was off in my life.
If this is you right now, breathe deep, and allow yourself to feel the imbalance, as this is important data. Where do you feel it? In your body, heart, emotions, anxious thoughts, or is it a full-body / full-being experience? Really notice what your symptoms are and where they are showing up.
When misaligned, the body gives direct sensations as feedback to direct you towards new thoughts, actions, and behaviours. Become familiar with your symptoms of imbalance so you can allow them to propel you forward, and so you will feel the contrast when you find greater balance.
Gather your Allies
Having a network around you that supports your shift is highly desirable, if not essential. Allies can be a team of friends, family members, and/or professional helpers. I was exceptionally lucky to find champions in my new partner, teacher, and a few key friends who knew what I was capable of, and could hold me in my new energy, rather than tethering me to my old identity. They could see who I was becoming and were not attached to an old idea of me.
This was much more challenging for some other key players in my life who were more invested than me in my identity as Barrister – so choose your allies carefully and don’t expect everyone who you would hope to be there for you, to be able to. They perform a different function, stress-testing your resolve, and don’t worry, they will come around later.
Assess the Practicalities Optimistically
When looking at the pre-leap practicalities with a harshly rational eye they often do not stack up well, but leap anyway. You are likely quite comfortable right now with finances and your future trajectory relatively predictable and safe, yet you are also probably paying a price in terms of waning wellbeing, creativity, and inspiration. Do not under-estimate your courage and your ability to make things work when you need to. You cannot foresee all the opportunities that will flow to you when you make this change. Scan the horizon optimistically; expect to be tested but also delightfully surprised.
Make Peace with Your Decision
There are going to be many days ahead when you question what you did and why you did it, so now is the opportunity to get really clear on your intention and vision for your new life. This will be invaluable down the line to return to when the doubts creep in, or the going gets tough. Remember you are choosing the road less travelled. Whilst the rewards are great here, the price of passage (in terms of uncomfortable personal growth and increased self-awareness) can be high.
Now is the time to complete the following sentences in your notes:
I am leaving my current situation because:
My intention is to create:
In my vision of my future self I am:
In my vision of my future self I feel:
Leap and the Net will Appear
You will never feel that you have enough money in the bank, a good enough plan, a clear enough map, sufficient support, or courage, but at some point, you need to just leap anyway.
Like the monkey travelling through the jungle on the vines, you have to let go of the last vine before grabbing hold of the next. In that moment between vines, the monkey is in freefall: suspended mid-air – the monkey is flying.
Just like the monkey, you don’t have wings – but don’t let anyone convince you for a second that you cannot fly. You were born to soar joyfully through this life, and the helpers are all around.
Leap and the net will appear.
By Neil Seligman
Enjoy this? The Conscious Professional Blog is full of awesome thoughts and advice to help dig you out of your rut and get you inspired!
International Mindfulness Advocate and Conscious Visionary, Neil Seligman @mindfulneil is dedicated to sharing the power of mindfulness globally, transforming lives, and inspiring excellence in all aspects of human endeavour. He is the Founder of The Conscious Professional, the Author of 100 Mindfulness Meditations, and the Originator of Soul Portrait Photography.
*Neil offers Powerful Communication talks and workshops through his firm The Conscious Professional.
I graduated from Bristol University in 2000 with a law degree and a qualification as a Reiki Master. I spent the next eight years as a Barrister, practising law at a leading civil set in Central London. Inspired to find deeper purpose, I spent 2009-2012 travelling, exploring my creativity through photography and performance and my connection to the meditative dimension of life that had always fascinated me.
When I founded The Conscious Professional in the Summer of 2012, suddenly the twists and turns of my career made sense.
Since then it has been a delight to watch The Conscious Professional emerge as a leading Mindfulness, Resilience and Wellbeing Consultancy in the UK and internationally. Our clients include DLA Piper, Accenture, Warner Brothers, RPC, JLL, King and Amey and we are thankful to be a Recommended Provider by the UK Legal Education and Training Group. Beyond London, the UK and Europe, I regularly speak in North America and Asia/Pacific regions.
As The Conscious Professional has grown it has been a pleasure to be featured in titles such as The Huffington Post, The Mirror, Yoga Magazine, Female First, Small Business, Best Magazine, OmYoga Magazine, Attitude, SWTV, Soul & Spirit Magazine and more.
My first book '100 Mindfulness Meditations' continues to be a favourite amongst teachers and students of mindfulness alike and it is a joy to lead retreats at Champneys, and select centres around the world.
I am a brand ambassador for Warrior Addict.