An Attitude Revamp (or, How to Get Your Groove Back)

fiji birthday drinkOn Tuesday, we talked a bit about how there will be numerous times in a person’s life that you realize that you are, perhaps, a bit off track from where you would like to be. Maybe you wake up one day and realize you own nothing beyond dowdy suits, Mom jeans, and pajamas — a wardrobe revamp is in order. Other times you wake up and realize it’s your attitude that needs an adjustment. There are different varieties of this. The two big ones that I’ve seen involve a realization that perhaps you’ve been phoning it in for far too long, either because you were dealing with a personal issue (planning a wedding, having a baby, dealing with a sick parent, etc, etc) or because you just aren’t engaged in your job anymore. Other times, you realize that it’s your job that makes you unhappy; you may suddenly feel that you’ve been beaten down for so long that you don’t even remember the last time you felt calm, fulfilled, and at peace with the world.  This is a type of burnout that can happen with any job, but I’ve seen it especially with those professions — BigLaw, I’m looking at you — that consume most or all of your waking hours for years at a time.  Sometimes the right answer might be to just suck it up, deal with it, recognize the commitments you’ve made and the value of what you’ve got.  Other times, a vacation can help — but you can’t solve every problem by a week or two in a tropical locale.  (Pictured: fiji birthday drink, originally uploaded to Flickr by mjecker.)

For my $.02, the first situation is the better of the two — you still intrinsically like what you do and where you are, but you just need to reengage with the job. Some ideas for that:

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  • Revamp your routine. If the first thing you do every day at the office is surf the web for two hours, stop that — don’t even turn on your computer if possible. I recently read about someone who “turned the mouse off” during work time to cut down on distracted browsing; you can also just put your mouse out of reach, turn it on its back, or unplug it.
  • Restyle your office (or move offices, if possible). It’ll make you feel like you’re at a new job again.
  • Reengage with your profession again. Attend a thinky seminar or conference, and really listen — take notes as if your life depended on it. Take some time to apply what you’ve learned to your current job (and, perhaps, to your boss’s job). Set up a meeting or write a memo if you come up with tangible ideas as a result.

The other main kind of “attitude revamp” I’ve seen people need is when your job makes you miserable — perhaps even your profession — and you can’t easily get a new job (or a new profession). The only thing, in my experience, that I’ve seen work for this is to reconnect with some older, core version of yourself from the time before The Job. For example, maybe you were on the swim team in your youth — and you can just rejoin an adult swim club that does drills and the like. For me, I found myself in this situation a few years ago, right after I’d missed my best friend’s wedding to do a doc review — and the only thing I could think to do to reconnect with ME again was to take a humor writing class, which I hadn’t done since I was 17. I signed up at Gotham (with the very excellent teacher Sara Barron) and realized in pretty short order that a) I could write something other than a law brief, and b) I was kind of good at writing, as well as giving other people in my class useful feedback on how their own stories could be better. As soon as I reconnected with the “me” I’d been when I was 17 — full of hope and ambition and sarcasm — weirdly enough, good things started to happen. I met my future husband later that month. I got on a much better project at the job, working closely with a lawyer I truly admired, about two months later. I decided to start this blog about four months later. None of those things had anything to do with my rediscovered humor writing skills — but so much to do with my rediscovery of me, the person I’d been before I’d spent nearly 15 years throwing myself into school and work.

Readers, what are your tips for getting your groove back? What other major attitude revamps have you been through?

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  1. This is really timely for me. I’ve realized in the last 6 months that my attitude had gotten to dangerously bad levels of apathy. I had children in 2008 and went on maternity leave feeling on top of my profession – without reservation I would say that I was the #1 associate at my mid-sized firm, and I expected to make partner that year. I came back to a merger with a BigLaw firm and then the economic downturn, and this past year, the worst hours year of my life. I’ve gone from being on the verge of partnership to being happy to have a job, feeling unseen, feeling like I was starting over and my years of work meant nothing. I found it devastating to think of starting over trying to impress people, and then I didn’t have any work to do to impress people.

    How did I turn it around? I’m still in the process. I devoted a lot of time to community service and just getting to know people outside of law. I tried to embrace the fact that I was getting a (not entirely wanted) slow period that I could use to spend more time with my kids than I would get to if I were working 2000+ hours. And I just tried to find things to identify “me” other than my career – I trained for a 5K, I chaired an event, etc. I’m now waiting on an inevitable hours-based paycut, but I’m also finally getting back to a place of just appreciating what I love about being a lawyer and the talents I have. I may never be a partner, but I still have a lot to be grateful for.

    All in all, it’s much harder to revamp attitude than wardrobe.

  2. What a great post, and just what I needed today. I’ve been thinking a lot about taking a fiction writing class — my 6-year-old self would like that!

  3. A couple years ago I went through this – a combination of a horrible boss (the kind that makes “Miranda Priestly” in the Devil Wears Prada look positively kindly) and losing two close family members in six months had me seeing life in shades of black and charcoal. It took me a long time to come back from that place… I gave tax accounting one last shot, and after an extensive hunt found a new position. I chronicled my accomplishments each day by writing down every thing I accomplished – no matter how small – on a notepad, so that at the end of the day I felt good about myself. I also took grad classes in areas that interested me (yay electives), and began reading industry newsletters, attending seminars, etc., to remember what I love about tax accounting.

    Some days I still go home exhausted, and wonder about opening a fruit stand in Florida… but by focusing on what I have accomplished, staying connected to others who love what we do, and giving myself time away from work – I don’t bring it home with me, if I have to work on a weekend I’ll go into the office – and making a concerted effort to enjoy the outdoors through walks after work with my dog or sitting on the deck, I keep some sanity.

    • Chicago K :

      Shayna, I had to giggle at your fruit stand comment. On stressful days, I used to(jokingly) tell people at work I was going to be an organic farmer and open up a stand to sell jam by the side of the road. One day, a coworker brought me in an article from the Onion. The headline was something along the lines of, “Farmer Never Expected He’d be Waking up at 4 AM to Fill Out Forms for Goverment Subsidies.”

      Made me laugh, and even though it was satirical, reminded me of how even the “simple” jobs never really are…

    • Another Sarah :

      Throughout college and law school, I had a running half-joke that instead of working I was going to open a tiki bar on a beach in the Caribbean. I figure even if it’s not the most glamourous lifestyle, almost 100% of my friends slaving in a high-rise every day would be wicked jealous at my self-proprietorship, surrounded by alcohol, at the beach. :-D

    • Oh yes! For me, it’s barmaid in Key West.

      • Before I took the bar, I completely filled out the Peace Corps application and requested Borneo as my first choice, then put it all in envelope in case I failed. Now I think the Peace Corps (in my idyllic/delusional vision, a la the tiki bar or fruit stand) in some rugged, verdant, non-active volcanic coastal area, would be ideal. It does not exist, I know, and even if it did, they are not inviting me and my three kids! But I still want to go there.

        And I loved this post. Have been totally overwhelmed at work (a good problem to have, to be sure), to the point of ADD-like inability to get even the smallest things done (delegate discrete research assignment), let alone the big things (write major brief, almost out of time, NFE – yikes). Not to mention the usual work/life balance bs – manage kids, camp, nanny changes, back to school, new carpool, dog ate the couch, try to be loving/attractive wife, get to the gym for sanity and health, haven’t paid bills yet and they are about to be overdue, what have you.

        How does one actually get her ‘groove’ back (find her groove, it’s been lost so long?) when one is running perpetually on hamster wheel? I’ve recently been doing a lot of chatting on this site, kind of like making new friends (I moved to my present city only recently so don’t really have too many locally) – I really like the ‘sisterly’ camaradarie here, but at some point, virtual is not real and real is where I need my ‘groove’ back.

        That said, I am inspired by several comments of corporettes who have trudged through various ‘not-groove’ periods and come out on the other side. Thanks!

    • Tax Lawyer :

      Shayna, did they care at the tax accounting position whether your CPA license was active or inactive. My problem with switching from a law firm to an accounting firm to do tax work is that all the accounting firms seem to want an active license.

      With 40 hours per year of required CPE, and 17 years at law firms that would not give me the time off to keep my CPA license active, it lapsed long ago. I was not about to use my meager vacation time at biglaw to attend accounting CPE classes. So now I am trying to re-activate my CPA license, and it is proving very difficult. How did you manage this?

  4. Thread hijack – any tips of how to deal with a break-up if you meet your ex at work every single day and he likes public displays of emotions? I need a major attitude revamp, but don’t feel like having everybody at work know about every baby step I take…

    • If it’s just an early morning or late evening chance meeting, text or e-mail or call someone from your phone so you look very busy, and just don’t pay attention to him as you pass.

      If it’s more often than that, you might need to take him aside, maybe with someone from Human Resources, and explain that work is not the place to display these things.

    • Yikes. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, and particularly so at work where even if he the one being emotional, you are likely to get half (or more of) the blame.

      This is the kind of thing that needs to stop immediately. I’d start by getting in touch with the ex outside of work (call/email/in person, whatever you’re comfortable with) and tell him that you understand he’s upset and may want to talk about that, but that work is a completely unacceptable place to do it and that you won’t engage with it there (your choice whether you will engage with it anywhere else – I don’t know how fresh the breakup is or whether you want to stay on good terms – but I think it’s harder to avoid scenes at work if you’re having them the rest of the time). Tell him that if he has another emotional outburst at work, you will have to talk to HR because you aren’t going to let his behavior hurt your career.

      Once you’ve had that conversation, do NOT engage with him at work. If you two can say hi in the hallway while you continue walking, that’s fine, but any conversation just gives him an opportunity and an excuse to get emotional with you again. He is doing it to get your attention and possibly (consciously or not) to hurt your standing with your employer and with co-workers. You need to give him no attention at all.

      And again, so sorry you have to deal with this – I’ve had exes like this, but not in the workplace where they are screwing with your career as well as your personal life.

      • Anonther Anon :

        Hugs from someone who just took an boy-related emotional kick this weekend.

        Good luck!

    • Tax Lawyer :

      Wow, I am the last person to give anyone advice on relationships, given my history. But I can tell you that I had a co-worker and very good friend who went through a bitter divorce while working in the same office of a big firm at the time.

      It worked out well for them, but only because he had some clout with management, and managed to get her transferred to a different office location.

  5. I really disliked my old Biglaw job, left it for a new one a few years ago, and got here only to find that the new job in and of itself wasn’t enough to “adjust my attitude.” I spent the first few months avoiding calls and work, leaving early, etc. It was a serious problem, obviously, especially since my switch coincided with the beginning of the recession when people were getting laid off left and right. I woke up one day to realize that I couldn’t continue on that path. Here’s what I did:

    1) Forced myself into a routine. I had stopped going to religious services and exercising, things that were both important to me. And I was getting up at somewhat random hours. Each day just felt unstructured. That was bad for me, so I re-instituted structure in my life.

    2) Took up hobbies. My dad told me that it is unreasonable to expect to always like your job. You need not be fulfilled by your job; that’s what the rest of your life is for. So I focused on things that do fulfill me: started volunteering and taking language classes again. I love feeling well-rounded and knowing that my true worth to society and my family has nothing to do with my transaction-structuring skills.

    3) Engaged in a serious career evaluation about what paths I could take, how long I should aim to hold the current job, what I wanted to gain out of it. It gave me a sense of professional purpose again.

    4) Had a difficult talk with the assignments partner at my firm about how I’d been struggling, and made clear that I was turning over a new leaf ON THAT DAY. It really worked. I know that partners had been worried about me, and that my conversation with her was shared. And having it known that I knew I needed to shape up showed that I was taking responsibility. More importantly, I think it paid off once review time came around because I could tell the reviews were structured pre- and post-turnaround consciously. This makes for a better review file. Rather than looking like a “mixed bag” performance, it was clear that I had forced people into thinking about my performance on the time line. And the comments were therefore “Rough start, fantastic since February.”

    BTW, a year and a half later — I love my work, and my colleagues like and respect me. I went from wanting to leave the law altogether to loving my job.

    • Wow, you have my admiration. I was having that kind of a time too–I just got married, and then found out I was expecting (shock!). My hours (and work product) sucked. I would drag in whenever and leave as soon as no one was looking. Having a talk like that with the partners would probably have been a great idea. Scary as heck, but helpful. I realize in retrospect I was dealing with depression that probably warranted some outside help, and they deserved to know that. Now I’m back from maternity leave feeling much better and more optimistic about my job and abilities.

  6. I get really weighed down by accumulations of stuff, so when I start feeling that ominous “I hate my life” feeling, it helps to purge whatever space is dragging me down. I think it’s also helpful to set a small goal, like cleaning a bookshelf, so you can see a tangible accomplishment. Boosting your self-confidence with little victories during bad times can be a big motivator to tackle bigger problems.

  7. I started an IP legal/consulting firm last year. I left my job as in-house counsel in 2007 to be a SAHM and was miserable. For the first year of my daughter’s life, I kept myself telling myself that this is what I wanted so you are going to make it work. But it wasn’t working. Then one day I had an epiphany. I realized that this wasn’t good for me or my baby. I said to myself, “This is your reality. Now how do you want to proceed?” I knew that I missed work and adult conversation. So, I took the plunge. I won’t say it’s easy. My daughter only goes to daycare 2 days a week. But, I’m making it work, and I am a lot happier.

    I also take time for me. I have a standing “date” for dinner every month with my best friend. I’m reading books again. (I love to read and was too exhausted to do it when my daughter was little.)

    • Wow, KelliJ, I have liked your comments in other settings, but I really like this one. Good for you!

      Note on the reading: before I became a mom, I read a book at least every few days. For the first few years after I had kids (one and then twins 2 yrs later), I could not read more than a page of People at the grocery store. I missed reading terribly. Now that they can all brush their own teeth (and talk back and not go to sleep on command with a bottle, but – bless their souls – 2 of the 3 will read their own books in bed alone – YAY), I can read about a book a week and it is precious to me.

      Good for you re your consulting enterprise. And good for you that you are doing so well with your daughter – you are smart to grab this time with her (you don’t get it back) while not completely checking out of what you need in the adult world. You are making it work and that is no small accomplishment with a toddler and a solo work gig. Pat self on back repeatedly :).

      • Suze — you get the pat on the back repeatedly as well for passing on your love of reading. Not only is it obviously a great habit that will serve your kids well in so many ways, but in the years ahead you’ll find so many opportunities to connect with them over books.

      • Tax Lawyer :

        Suze, I have an idea for you, and I have been trying to spread it nationwide with respect to child-rearing. It came to me out of the blue after spending a weekend with my brother and his children.

        Children generally need a forced time to go to sleep. If you make this time early (say 8:30-9:00pm) and enforce it, the kids will desperately want to stay up later.

        So tell them that they can stay up as late as they want, so long as they are reading at bedtime. They will start reading like mad–kids just don’t want to go to sleep when we want them to.

        Not only will they become much smarter and more literate, generally after an hour or so of extra reading, they fall asleep anyway.

        A great way to make our next generation less video-game-addicts and more intelligent than the alternative.

  8. I am interested to hear other people’s responses to this. I feel like I am in the middle of a funk…I just feel a bit foggy. At the same time bored and overwhelmed, like I have too much to do and not enough to do. I like my work but it’s not anything to write home about.

    Then again, I have a 2 yo and a 6 month old, so I guess it’s normal to still feel foggy all the time!

    • mom of three :

      Yes, normal…will pass.

    • You probably haven’t slept in two years – anyone would feel foggy :) my only kiddo is four and life is so much easier now than it was when he was 2. Hang in there, this too shall pass :)

      • This is where I am – with a 3 yr old and 1 yr old (who doesn’t sleep through the night and is still nursing) – and just generally in a funk/fog – so I am happy to read that this will pass. I read the comments here about making time for oneself and exercising reading and the like, and I literally don’t have that time right now – but knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – that eventually the baby will sleep through the night and I will be able to get up at 5:30 not to nurse, but to go to the gym, having had a decent night’s sleep, helps me get through the fog in my life right now.

  9. Following on what MM said – I have found that job dissatisfaction and poor performance are a self-repeating cycle – you feel disgruntled, so you start slacking in small ways. Then you get negative feedback or are passed over for something you wanted, and you feel more disgruntled, then you slack off more, leading to more negative consequences, etc. I was in this cycle very early in my career and it took my boss – a totally amazing guy who is still my mentor – sitting me down and saying “what you are going to get out of this job is directly proportional to what you put into it, and right now you ain’t putting in sh* t. Snap out of it.” It pulled me out of the downward spiral and got me back on track, quickly. So if someone has gotten into “slightly slacker” mode and is feeling malaise – resolve to get back on track in one week or less. Dress up for work. Get there on time and stay until the end of the day, every day. Make an effort to network around the office, be cheerful and open (not just hide in your office/cube all day). Do something nice for your boss, assistant or receptionist. Make task lists so you get things done without procrastinating. I know all this is Good Work Habits 101 but in the midst of a tough time, it’s easy to let things slide and then all of a sudden you’re the grumpy, sullen person in the office people avoid.

    I have also found that boredom breeds discontent, big-time. I don’t believe in being overscheduled (see below) but having too much time on your hands can also be bad, because it gives you too much time to brood and pick over things that are not really that important.
    I think we all go through periods of general dissatisfaction with our job, marriage/relationship, life in general, etc. I apply the same rule to my marriage and my career: it’s not going to be fun all the time. They shouldn’t actively make you miserable, but long-term careers and long-term marriages are not built by managing constant excitement, thrills and triumphs. Most of it is about showing up and making an effort every day, consistently, even when you don’t feel like it. I also think a lot of women get depressed because they are constantly catering to the needs of others, and ignoring their own needs. Yes, you are a wife/girlfriend, mom, employee, daughter, friend, etc. But you’re also still you, and you need things too. Take a half day off and go do something for yourself, whether it’s the spa or sitting in a park reading a book. Say “no” more often – I find I get the most unhappy when I have not said “no” enough and I am overcommitted. It’s OK to need time to do nothing, because usually in those moments you do something that feeds your soul somehow. Make time to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of other people.

    • You are so right that boredom breeds discontent.

    • All great advice.

    • One more thing I wanted to say – I think everyone needs one person in their life who does not want or need anything from them. What I mean is, I love my husband, my son, my mom, etc. but they all want or need things from me (and rightfully so). My employer and my coworkers want and need things from me (again, rightfully so). Many of my friends and acquaintances want and need things from me. And beyond that, many of these people need me to be a certain person, doing and saying certain things, which is not always who I feel like being. My two very best friends, however – one I’ve known since childhood, and one I’ve known for over 10 years – do not want or need anything from me, other than my companionship. When we talk, or go to lunch, it is a completely unfettered and agenda-free conversation. Sometimes in the middle of a tough few weeks, when I feel pulled in a million directions, I stop and make plans for lunch with one, or a phone call with the other (she lives far away) and it is literally like being able to breathe again after being held underwater. I can say anything to them, and they can say anything back. There’s no judgment, no hidden agendas, no maneuvering, no subtext. Just friendship and understanding. I don’t know what I’d do without these two friends, who have many times kept me from collapsing under the weight of my own life. There’s bound to be someone in everyone’s life that can be this person – having that person as your backup can be a tremendous relief.

      • This resonates with me very deeply — my college roommate is that person for me, and we are now 10 years out, both with 19 month olds, and we can pick up the phone or email and it’s like we’re 19 again, and there is no expectation of anything other than our friendship. You’ve made me appreciate her even more than I already did.

  10. Great post!

    I’m working my way out of two-year slump at work. I spent a year in an interim position in which I was not considered for the job and got extremely burnt out and frustrated. And also knowing way too much about how my company is run.

    I made a list of what I wanted to accomplish in my current job and in my career and decided that I needed some more education, and I’m now going back to school (part-time) for graduate degree. Hopefully, it’ll give me some ideas to apply to my current job and will also prepare me for the next level.

  11. HotInTheCity :

    I had a complete over-haul of my life about 4 years ago. Maybe it was a quarter life crisis, but I hated everything about me. I was obese, hated my career, and was really worried about the health of my marriage (which was a mere 1 year old at that point.) I’m type A, so I started making lists. I started with that one, listing the four major areas I was unhappy with (which, really, was my whole life, lol.) Then I made a list for each area. For job, I listed why I hated it (boring, micromanaging boss, and unclear work objectives.) Then I made a list of solutions for each thing on that list (or maybe an even more narrow list and then a list of solutions for that narrower list.) So, for example, for my micromanaging boss, my solution list was: 1. send daily emails, even twice daily, updating her on my progress so she backs off (and it worked.) 2. Mention to bosses’ boss that I want to try a different group when a spot opens up (and it worked. It took 4 months, but I was moved.) And 3. Find a new job (I ended up switching careers since I decided it wasn’t really the job, it was the career. I hated engineering in general.)

    Anyway, I’ve lost 80 lbs and went back to school, which in turn made me happier and made my relationship with H better. He and I did have to work on a few things, but overall, I am much much happier in life. My lists worked.

    • delurking :

      Well done! That sounds like you did great!

    • Ick, engineering… I can relate. Landscape architecture for me. AutoCAD all day was torture. I’m still trying to figure out what to do now. What field did you move into?

  12. This is kind of a different situation, as I’m still in school, but I had a similar problem with my drive in school.
    One of my very close friends who I always compared myself to in terms of dedication and drive dropped out of university because she realised she wasn’t happy. That forced me to evaluate how happy I was, and it dawned on me I wasn’t.
    I needed a prescription to help me sleep, I never saw my friends that I didn’t share a flat with. I was used to being one of the most intelligent people in my high school, and I was pushing myself to get the same kind of marks in university that I got in high school. I was simultaneously wearing myself out to do that and becoming increasingly unhappy because I couldn’t.

    So, I told myself I needed to either take a break from school or revamp how I approached school. I decided to revamp. Our semester exams happened after Christmas, so for the short two week period I was home for Christmas I was either revising or had my exams looming over my head. That Christmas I didn’t revise while I was at home, I had two weeks between getting back to school and my exams so I revised before Christmas and after. Of course two days before my first exam I was a wreck, beating myself up for not taking my revision seriously. I forced myself to calm down and not pull an all-nighter. Lo and behold I did so much better on those exams than I’d ever done. That was the reassurance I needed.

    I still cringe a little when I get my marks back and they aren’t as high as they were before, but then I take a deep breath and think about everything I did in the two weeks before that assignment was due that made me happy. That is the key. I look at what I’m missing, but then think about what I would have to miss to reach an impossible goal.

  13. Great post!! I also am working my way out of a slump. The impetus to start to readjust was, for me, the totally superficial but also really annoying fact that I couldn’t update my wardrobe on “normal” store websites because I had never lost the baby weight. (All the posts I saw on corporette–and the size I could wear wasn’t even listed!) (And yes, the first thing I did was get my hair cut and colored). I have 2 small kids (3 and 1.5 yrs) and, about 6 months ago, finally decided it was time to be more than an exhausted, schlumpy mom. I have lost (almost) 20 pounds of baby weight, started a great exercise class which–oddly enough–counts as “me” time (in my head) and am gradually revamping my wardrobe to once again be more updated and professional. I feel better about everything. And, even though the job isn’t as great as it could be, I also feel as if I am repositioning myself for another forward adjustment–either where I am now, if the opportunity presents, or elsewhere. Thanks again for a really great post.

    • ChickintheStix :

      Momof2, I’m so inspired by your post! Congratulations. Our children are the same age, and I’ve been telling myself that I’m just in this holding pattern (body, work, brain) until they’re older and I get a little more sleep. Reading your post, though, is my (to misquote Oprah) “Well, duh!” moment: change is no accident! Takes intention and movement. Thanks for that.

  14. It’s far, far to easy to lose track of what you wanted out of life. Finding activities outside of your average routine will really help open you up to having more fun, and finding new possibilities. I would highly recommend going through a program such as “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Campbell. You can pick it up at most bookstores and do it on your own. In some cities, workshops and classes based on the book are also taught.

  15. Thanks for this post, and for everyone who has commented. I really needed this today/this month.

    • me too. fabulous post.

    • Me too.

      • Agreed! I think it’s weird that sometimes you can be in a slump and not know it, but then looking back, think, “Wow, I was so unhappy–why didn’t I do anything about it?”

        I met this amazing woman (an MD at Deutsche) at a Women on Wall Street event a few years ago and she said that once a year she does a “self inventory.” Such a great idea.

        You can’t get where you want to go if you don’t know where you’re going!

        • In-House Europe :

          Was that MD by any chance a German woman named M- P- ? if so, I agree she is amazing!! :)

  16. I can’t say how much it helps just to know other people have slumps too! I was feeling like a total failure. Thanks for the encouragement that there can be life after slump–my career is not over and my life can still be not depressing.

    • Me too. I am glad to see I’m not the only one.

      This is so timely, Kat’s reading my mind. I am bord at work (there isn’t enough stuff to do at the moment) and people are leaving in droves, which is driving me to think about it too. I could be an SAHM as we can afford that financially but I would go nuts after a couple of months, I’m sure. I have been really apathetic about work and thinking about quitting.

      Then last week, some new and interesting work came up and I felt much better when I left work for the day.

  17. Experienced Counsel :

    How did she lose 80 pounds? 20 pounds?

    • I lost 50 with WeightWatchers Online. I loved that I didn’t have to go to meetings (no time) and the tools were so helpful. I couldn’t believe that just counting the points of what I was eating (and making healthier choices) I could lose that much weight! I’ve kind of slacked off a bit, but I’ve been maintaining. I’m gearing up mentally to start an exercise routine (really liked the lunchtime workout post on here) and am considering going back to WW to lose the next 50.

  18. So much good stuff on here today!

    My version of the fiction writing class was to take an improvisation acting class. I’m not an actor, and I don’t consider myself to be a creative person — I took it because I wanted to learn how to listen better, to get in touch with my instincts, and to get outside of my own head. I started out with a plan to take the level 1 class for 8 weeks, and my goal for the first class was to make it through the class without crying or throwing up (yes, seriously).

    Before I knew it, the 8 weeks had gone by and I went on to level 2, and then level 3, and so on. Now, almost a year later, I’m about to finish the top-level class and have spent the last 5 months performing improv on a little stage in front of an audience on Friday nights. It has been many things (amazing, exhilirating, etc.) but most of all it’s been FUN, which is something I hadn’t even realized was completely missing from my life for a few years.

    Have I lost the weight I put on during my Big I-Hate-My-Job/Life/Relationship Slump? Nope. Have I managed to turn my living space into an organized sanctuary? Not at all. Do I sometimes get terrified by the fact that I’m approaching mid-30s and have no prospects for marriage, kids etc.? Sure. There is still much for me to do, and my improv class hasn’t fixed everything. But for the first time in a very long time I’m re-discovering things about myself that I had just kind of locked away and forgotten about. I’m more relaxed, playful and easygoing than I have been in years … and that is just the attitude re-vamp I needed.

  19. Sconnie MBA :

    Great post and great comments!! It’s really comforting to know I’m not the only one who’s gone through the whole “why am I in this city and at this awful job and where is my life going” mess. I am not an overly dramatic person by nature, but the frustration would literally make me bawl at times. My solution was to transfer to a different office (and state), start exercising in earnest again, and revisit activities from my childhood (softball, ice skating and German classes). I quickly became more cheery and confident personally and professionally, and like Kat, met my future husband within two months of the transition.

    I am happy now with where I am professionally, but the next big change in the next few years will be children – any advice on how to balance family and career???

    • “any advice on how to balance family and career???”
      If I have anything useful to share, it’s this:
      In one SATC episode, Carrie’s boss from Vogue says that the answer to “having it all” (meaning in that context, career and relationship) is to “stop expecting it to look like what you thought it was going to look like.” And that is what I had to do. You cannot be a working mom and do everything perfectly; you just can’t. That’s not to say you can’t work and have kids; it just means you are not going to have the picture-perfect life you see in the movies (which everyone says they know they can’t have, but a lot of women secretly lust for anyway). You can have it all, but not necessarily “all” of everything every day. Instead of having a uniform, level set of priorities, your priorities and activities will evolve and change on a day-to-day (or even hour-to-hour) basis. Kids are all different and they are their own people; some kids are “easy” and some are “challenging.” I ended up with a “challenging” one, who also has special needs, and so we’ve had to make a lot of adjustments to our life to cope. But he is totally worth it, and the changes we’ve made, we needed to make anyway. Be flexible, be open, and don’t hold on to perfectionism – and you’ll be fine. Good luck :)

    • There is no magic answer to this question. What is “balance” for one person is totally off kilter for another person. What balance means to you is going to depend on your personal values. I had to learn that the hard way. I don’t want to put my daughter in full-time daycare. I want to be a hands-on mom as much as I can. This means I can’t go back to work full-time. I turned down some great opportunities to further my career and make big money because they required too many hours or too much travel. My little, part-time solo practice provides the work side to my life right now.

      I think Susie Welch said it best (and I am paraphrasing here…) “There is no such thing as work-life balance. If you want to be a CEO at a Fortune 500, you’re going to have to put in the time and effort needed to get there which means you won’t be spending that time at home with your kids.” It’s from her book 10-10-10 which is phenomenal.

      • KelliJ, you are my hero. See my earlier comment, which I wrote before reading this one!

        I don’t really have the choice on working full time (became the involuntary sole supporter of 3 kids), but your sentiments resonate so much with me. Just good for you! Keep at it, and enjoy that you have this time with your daughter AND you are doing your own work thing.

      • Sconnie MBA :

        These comments are great ladies – thank you! Amy, it really hit home when you said to “be flexible, be open, and don’t hold on to perfectionism” – those are the three biggest things that frustrate me now and I can only imagine how it will be if I let those take over once children come.

    • In the immortal words of Nike, Just Do It. You just take each decision – the big and the small – make the decision that makes sense for you, and move forward. Reevaluate if it doesn’t work. Nothing is permanent. Working late one night doesn’t translate into never being there for your kids. Staying home with a sick child doesn’t translate into not being good at your job. Just do the best you can and don’t make those little decisions harder or bigger than they are. In modern motherhood, there’s this sense of impending doom if you make the wrong decision at any point, but that’s not reality.

  20. I really needed ALL these pep talks. I’m at almost 20 years into a BigLaw career, and I am just … DONE. The boredom breeds discontent mentioned above is so true, and pretty much every description of being a slacker is me. But I keep dragging my feet on taking real action – oh, I’ve taken lots of baby steps like reading up on new careers, how to think about what you want to do, drafting a resume, even talking to some people about it, etc. So I feel like I’m moving ever so slowly towards the goal. But now I’m really at the point where I have to actually DO something like SUBMIT a resume or ASK for an informational interview. This may be just what I needed to take that next leap. THANK YOU!


  1. […] there hasn’t been a ton of time for doing some of the things I’ve done in the past to get my groove back, such as taking a writing class just for the joy of […]