I’m a planner. Every big decision is cycled through my brain countless times. Every possible outcome is considered. Once the strongest arguments for and against have been culled, I pose them to my friends and relatives to get as many varied perspectives on the issue as possible. Then I cycle it some more. Then I take action. I do this simply to give myself the best chance for a happy future. Success? Read on.
First, it’s important to know that I’m in law school. I’m two months into my first year. I decided to go into law school after spending four years strategically pursuing, and failing to find, a fulfilling career in marketing and public relations. After each failed attempt the planning cycle began anew, and at the end I found myself enrolling in law school—finally facing a worthy challenge, and as I saw it, my last chance at catching-up with that “happy future” that had turned out to be surprisingly elusive.
As some of you may know, surviving the first few weeks of law school requires some pretty intense adjustments. Once I got through that and finally had a chance to take a breath, I realized that I had yet to care about anything that I had learned. After a brief moment of panic, I focused on the fact that this was the first month of the first year, and it was bound to improve. It didn’t. I got through midterms with respectable academic success, but that wasn’t enough to outweigh the fact that I still hated law school. That realization led to real panic—my last chance for happiness was slipping through my proverbial fingers.
Melodrama aside, to an introspective planner like me, things don’t get much more bleak. Of course my natural reaction was to figure out what had gone wrong. After a few days without shaving and eating nothing but cold cereal, it hit me. (For those of you anticipating an incredible epiphany about the meaning of life, now is the time to lower your expectations) As embarrassingly cheesy as it may be, I realized that in spending so much time and energy in strategically planning my perfect future, I had stopped giving myself permission to focus on what would make me happiest right now.
I wish that solved everything, but alas, focusing on what makes me happy doesn’t pay very well, and as painful as it has been to admit, I believe it is only a lucky few who can find that perfect career, getting paid to do what they love. For the rest of us the key is finding an enjoyable job that allows us the freedom to do the things that that we really care about.
Does this mean that I’ve figure out what that job is? Nope, I don’t have a clue, but in case you’re curious, it has made one thing clear—law school is not even close. So, tomorrow is the day I become a law school dropout. What then? I don’t know, happiness I hope, but I’m certainly not planning on it.