We all class ourselves as working ‘professionals’, particularly those qualified with the prestigious title of ‘lawyer’ or ‘legal consultant’, but just how professional are you in your role really?
When you reach a certain level in any profession or industry, it’s all too easy to become complacent and become comfortable in a role. You learn what works, what doesn’t and then fine-tune your technique accordingly so you can do your job with minimum fuss or effort on your part. Of course, there may be the odd ‘spanner in the works’ or unprecendented event rear its head occasionally but the main duties of your job probably happen on a regular basis. You become used to these processes, you’ve become, what I term, a ‘Process-ional’.
Now, that’s not meant to be a derogatory term, in fact, it’s actually really impressive that you know your job so well. Unfortunately, knowing your job so well does have its downsides. Chiefly, the feeling of boredom or the feeling that your life has succumbed to routine. This could lead to poor quality of work or even mental illnesses in more extreme cases including depression.
So here are your options:
Your time at your current firm or business has come to a natural end and it’s time to move on to pastures new. You’ve probably already thought about leaving before now, well now it’s time to act on it. You’re in a good position though; time is on your side and you can make sure your next opportunity really is the right one for you. Take time to do your research and look at your options. You might even consider other career paths such as freelancing or starting your own business. Maybe this is the time for you to find that dream career.
If you don’t feel like moving to a new company and want to stay put, you need to change up your role. Speak to your line manager about revisiting your job spec or what promotion opportunities are in the pipeline. Ask them for feedback or maybe you could transfer to another department on a short-term basis or shadow a colleague to learn a little more about what they do. Whatever you do, if you’re staying put, make sure you’re proactively making the steps to change your situation; they won’t change by themselves. Your happiness depends on your choices.
Your other option is to keep the status quo. You’ve already admitted to yourself that you’re comfortable (or bored) in your current position but you’re OK with that. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being content with your situation, but if you prefer to be challenged by your work, like many of our Varios, perhaps you should re-evaluate your current career trajectory. You should be aware though that you are the master of your own destiny; only you can be the change you seek. As the famous adage goes, ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’.
So what’s the right path for you? Are you the model professional constantly striving to ‘level-up’ your career and increase your responsibilities or are you comfortable as a ‘process-sional’ dedicated to carrying out duties to a high exacting standard.
Well, that is something only you can answer I’m afraid. Different people have different goals in life. One thing to bear in mind though is that it’s not a black-and-white issue. Don’t feel as though you need to commit to your decision for the rest of your working life. Many legal professionals choose to become a high-flying corporate-ladder climber early on in their career but then find themselves opting to maintain a more relaxed lifestyle once other circumstances come into the equation such as family, children, home-ownership etc. Equally some freelance lawyers return back into full-time positions after enjoying a period of flexible working as they’ve found that circumstances have changed from when they first decided to freelance. Take our Possibilities Poll to see whether freelancing could be the right step for you.
It’s not always a life-changing decision you need to make either. If you feel as though you just want to ‘refresh’ your outlook of work rather than redesigning your career path, there are small tweaks you can do to motivate yourself; seeking more challenging work, putting yourself outside of your comfort zone or formal training can help develop or expand your skillset. Changing up your work environment occasionally could help rejuvenate your passion for your work or alleviate boredom. Surrounding yourself with positive or likeable people can rub off on you and make you enjoy the hours you spend working.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s always a good idea to take a step back and review your current career situation and see whether it’s still the right one for you.
Just as the second lockdown struck, so approached application deadlines for vacation placements. So, here’s an overview of how I got to know Pinsent Masons virtually.
Read about Taylor's experience of our Virtual Vacation Scheme
Anne Sammon is an Employment & Reward Partner in London. Anne has significant experience in tribunal and high-court litigation in areas including discrimination, unfair dismissal and whistleblowing.