April also brings the two-year marker since declining law school. When I did so, they asked if I wanted to defer a year, and I declined that too. They asked what I was going to do instead, and I had no answer. A week or two later, I quit my job as a paralegal even though I didn’t have one lined up, since I saw no point working in the field I had just opted out of.
Those were scary decisions, and the past two years have had plenty of uncertainty as a result. But I haven’t doubted once that declining law school was the right thing for me. Here are the five biggest lessons I’ve learned about my career since making that pivotal decision.
1- Nothing is as permanent as it might feel.
When I was deciding on whether or not to go to law school, I put so much pressure on the decision. I thought that it was now or never so I better choose THE RIGHT THING. Now, two years later, I probably still could go back to law school and it wouldn’t really be all that different. In fact, there would be some benefits to having had worked so much beforehand. The point is that if something is calling you, try it out, because you can always change your mind.
2- Work gaps are only a big deal if you let them be.
I was very concerned when I quit my job without another lined up that I was dooming myself from ever getting a good job again. I believed the dusty idea that you are better off looking for a job when still employed. In fact, I had a much easier time getting a job when I wasn’t employed than when I was. This is largely from how I leveraged branding myself online to employers. Those personal branding techniques are what I teach in my branding ecourse, Urban 20 Someone.
3- If your job is stressing you out daily, look again.
Though I don’t regret anything in my career path, I can now look back and see that my job at a law firm was way too stressful, and I wasn’t even a lawyer! I had just thought that’s how it’s “supposed to be” in New York when paying your dues. Looking back, that type of stress has all sorts of harms and if I ever got in that stressful of a situation again, I’d look elsewhere. Not worth it!
4- Side hustles are essential.
I do not know how I went so many years with one source of income. Sure, I tried to “side hustle” in other ways; babysitting, tutoring, and so on. But those didn’t really make a dent in my overall finances. Thanks to my side hustling and now, my side business, I’ve refinanced my student loans, save for retirement with that money, and am able to learn and do so much more. I can’t imagine life without it. (If you’re looking to start a side business, I have a free email course on that you can sign up for here.)
5- Listen to your gut!
It took me too long to figure this out but it’s the most important piece of advice I’ve ever received. When we look up to others, it’s so easy to listen to their advice. And while advice from others is good, no one else knows what you desire and what you’re capable of than you. So, leap before you’re ready, listen to your gut, and go for whatever is calling you. The rest really does fall into place after that!