Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Poised Between Fear and Desire

BW Richardson comes to the realization that setting priorities means doing those things that lead to your most cherished goals: http://bwrmontag.blogspot.com/2006/07/light-bulb-pops-on.html

My trouble is not that I don’t know what I need to do but that I perversely procrastinate about doing it. Right now, I commute over 40 miles each way to work as an administrative functionary in an intermediate holding company for a global services business. Our office exists only for the benefit of the executives, and we spend all our time and energy justifying our phoney baloney jobs. I don’t do anyone any harm in my position, but it is decidedly unrewarding. On the plus side, work is easy, and I don’t have to put in long hours. My bosses are not particularly tyrannical, but they have a hard time concealing their contempt for their underlings. It’s hard to work up a whole lot of enthusiasm for enriching them.

What I think I really want is to be self employed and to work closer to my home. I want to be part of my community, not just sleep there. If I l worked close to home, I could dispense with the dog walker, the lawn guy and big gasoline costs. I would be about $10,000 better off in reduced annual expenses right out of the gate. This translates to over $15,000 of my gross salary.

The trouble is that I have no confidence, no mojo. The last time I was self employed was a spectacular failure, and I am concerned that unresolved character flaws may have contributed to that failure. I would like to think that I learned from my mistakes, but I am not sure.

One big mistake was being undercapitalized and stretched too thin. I had a hard time practicing law and managing the offices and supervising staff at the same time. I reckon that I can solve this by reducing the scale of the operation and by limiting the number of clients. What I would like to do is to specialize in family matters like divorce, both mediation and advocacy, child custody and visitation, adoptions, guardianships and such like. I think I could keep it together if I focused on a limited area of practice and found a niche. Also, I like working with people on such emotional issues rather than engaging in commercial matters, which I find tedious and less rewarding. As for the scope of the office, I reckon that I would let space in an existing firm just enough for my requirements and share a receptionist. I don’t need a secretary or legal assistant, and if work gets to the point where I need one, it’s time to raise fees and scale back. I don’t want to have support a staff or physical plant, and I would like to have time for pro bono work.

My plan would be to ease into practice by moonlighting for a while to see if I could build a base of business before taking the plunge into private practice. Actually, I don’t really relish the idea of practicing law again, but I can’t think of another business that is likely to enable me to cover my nut. I already have the law degree and 20 plus years of experience as a lawyer, so it makes sense to use these skills. I’d rather be a cabinetmaker or some such thing, but I don’t know how to make cabinets or do much of anything besides lawyering.

A big obstacle is licensure. I am not licensed in the state where I live, and I simply hate the idea of taking another bar exam. When I was young, it was easy. I always passed with flying colors. Now I am older and more forgetful, and I reckon it will be harder. I plain don’t want to go through it, and I have been dragging my feet on this for a couple of years now. Every week, I promise I will start the ball rolling, and then I put it off.

Here I am, poised between fear and desire, and I’m stuck on the fear side. I used to be fearless. Failure can teach you to fear.

What I really want is to win the lottery and not to have to work at all.

1 comment:

quasibill said...


If only you were in my neck of the woods. Your experiences and current fears/desires sound eerily similar to mine.

Reading this felt like looking in a mirror.