Building Your Dream Career

Sheila Murphy
August 21, 2023

We all know the difference between how it is to work on a project where we are engaged and pumped up and one we are not. There is a tremendous difference in the level of energy and creativity. Yet many of us settle for not being pumped up in our careers and are sleepwalking in them.

If you don’t want to settle for a career where you go through the motions and know that you deserve and want more, here are my three tips for building your dream career. As Sister Mary Clarence said in Sister Act 2

“If you wanna be somebody if you wanna go somewhere, you better wake up and pay attention.”

Tip 1: Gain Clarity

Here is a truth bomb: What is my dream career may not be yours. Yet many attorneys assume that they know their career path—it is the one that everyone around them is on. That is WRONG!!!

You need to go from Group Think to You Think and become clear about what you want. Perhaps in-house or a smaller law firm or maybe even leaving the law? Just because everyone at your Big Law Firm class is shooting for being an equity partner does not mean it is for you.

As part of this assessment, you should understand what you love or like about what you do and dislike. Is it the work or the organization? Come up with a few career paths that excite you and are curious about.

Tip 2: Get Information

Notice I mentioned a few career paths. I was very intentional with that statement. Until you know what the possible courses entail, you should not decide. Unfortunately, the grass can look greener until you have all the information.  

I recommend talking to at least three people that have been successful in each of the career paths that you are considering. Get the real scoop on the pluses and the minuses for each and what it took to succeed. I would also ask them for recommendations of others that you will take.

Talking to several people opens your mind as to what is possible and different ways to get there. It is important to remember that career development is not cookie-cutter. You can’t just duplicate what one person has done and apply it to yourself. You also need to understand your market, strengths, and brand.

This information is also critical for you to formulate your plan once you decide on the path.

Tip 3: Move Forward

A dream is just a dream unless you take action to move it forward. You want to keep the focus on the goal. Many do this with vision boards, screen savers, or notes on their computers. Knowing and being reminded of what will improve your career and life helps keep you on track.

And it would be best if you also had a written plan of the steps you will take to make your dream a reality. As we have discussed before, a written plan increases success dramatically and, in the long run, will save you time and energy. Critical to these plans is accountability. You need to know how you will hold yourself accountable. You can calendar check-ins or use an accountability partner or coach.

You deserve more than an unfulfilling career, and the ability to change it up rests in your control. All you need to do is to start by taking the first step.


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