Perhaps it is the fact that I live in a 650-square-foot apartment in New York City that I started looking more seriously into a minimalist lifestyle. After law school, I came to The Big Apple primarily with some clothes, an air mattress, and my desktop computer. I had a job in a small firm on Long Island–the one I interviewed for on 9/11–and I knew after experiencing that tragedy here that I was forever part of the community, regardless of where I might go.
At that time, I had a dream–of financial success, professional acknowledgment, and maybe a bit of the glamour I felt cheated of when I worked in minor league professional sport. When I got here, I had a lot to prove–mostly to myself.
Fifteen years later, I see that my dream clouded my vision. My need for approval and validation had me spending on clothes, shoes, and experiences I didn’t need and couldn’t truly afford. I wasn’t extravagant, but I figured I could whip out my credit card and worry about the debt later, when the big salaries my law school discussed would magically appear. Then, later came, and there was no six-figure salary, just a lot of debt. I had to look at my priorities in an entirely new way.
ACTION ONE: DEFINE THE CONFLICT.
My financial health did not seem to match my effort.
ACTION TWO: IDENTIFY THE INTERESTS.
I thought I had done all of the right things. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, management experience, and no student loan debt (before law school). I chose the highest-ranked school with the most affordable tuition and a diverse, non-traditional student body. I worked three jobs, lived simply, studied hard, ranked 2nd in a Mediation Advocacy Competition, and passed one of the toughest bar examinations in the country on my first try.
I believed there would be a big payoff. A financial one. And it would allow me to pay off my student loans before my retirement.
I expected my prior work experience to give me more opportunities.
I wanted to be able to improve my family’s financial status and enjoyment of life.
I wished it had been as easy as it seemed. (And I actually still wish this many days.)
I had to regroup, take inventory, and revise my strategy. During that process, circumstances changed. And they keep changing.
STEP THREE: PLAY WITH THE POSSIBILITIES.
If I could have this conflict resolve in any way possible, I would achieve all of the financial success and professional acknowledgment I wanted before. I can do without the glamour, but I would like to leave a legacy that continues to empower my (given and chosen) family, as well as the world. I want us all to achieve peace, unity, and happiness beyond what we think is possible.
ACTION FOUR: CREATE THE FUTURE.
- I will use daily affirmations to remind myself that this vision and this life are not about me.
- I will release anything that does not support my vision: clients who don’t pay, employees who don’t give their best to The Law Studio, devices and products that don’t improve our effectiveness, bad habits such as sleep deficiencies, clothes that don’t fit well, anything I don’t love or use, anger, grudges, stories of victimhood and weakness, 10 pounds, and pain.
- I will ask for help when I need it, and I will accept it.
ACTION FIVE: STAY ON PARR.
I will Plan, Act, Revise, and Repeat until I create the vision I want for myself, this life, and the world.