A Paralegal’s Struggle: Does a New Job Equal a New and Better Life? Or Is the Grass Really Greener on the Other Side?

The following is a story about a paralegal who thinks working at The Other Firm would solve all her problems. Read on…
Everything would be different — if only I worked at the law firm down the street. I call it The Other Firm…the charming one with the fancy letterhead, latest software programs, firm-provided BlackBerry and annual paralegal retreats.
I think my life would be totally better there…I’d have lots more fun with my co-workers, bill more hours with that fancy software program, communicate with everyone by email, and get my toes done at the spa during the paralegal retreat. Because I’d make more mo’ney, I’d have a whole new wardrobe, buy a new car and plan a vacation in Jamaica or Turks & Caicos.
It’s my current job — too stifling, not enough pay, too little vacation, equipment and software that’s not top of the line — that makes my lust for a job at The Other Firm totally understandable. Or so I’ve convinced myself.
I visited The Other Firm to deliver copies of deposition transcripts; I stared in awe at the huge list of attorneys on their sign. I kept my voice low when I entered the reception area. Though I didn’t have to worry that anyone will hear me because the carpet was so plush it was like walking on clouds.
I study The Other Firm’s web site; I watch for job openings there; I take a virtual tour of their practice areas. All the while, I imagine the job I could have if I went to work at The (picture-perfect) Other Firm.
Things would be different. Better. Much better! Right?
From the moment I took my current job, I’ve had plans to move on. I’ve always believed this job is just a place to put in my time until something better came along. Maybe that’s why I’m always looking over my shoulder at The Other firm!
Even though I know I’m fortunate to have a good job, especially in this economy, I continue to lust after a job at The Other Firm. It just seems so much desirable: bigger case loads, prettier office furniture, more historic appeal. I think my condition is chronic; the attraction to The Other Firm never stops!
A few months ago, I hatched a plan to move to The Other Firm. One evening, while I was walking my dog, I ran into a paralegal from The Other Firm. I told her I always wanted to work at The Other Firm and then she said there was an opening in the Estates and Trusts Department. I immediately imagined that new Volvo I’d buy and how I’d look in the new boots I’d seen at Nordstrom’s with my name all over them.
And then I thought about what moving would really mean.
The truth is, I don’t ever want to work in Estate and Trust Administration. I know nothing about that. What I do know is litigation and I’m one of the best at trial preparation. I’d really miss going to trial.
And I really don’t want to have to spend a fortune on a wardrobe…’the business casual at my current office really suits me…and my budget. The furniture I’m using right now is just fine and I doubt a slick new desk would have anything to do with doing better work. Most of all, I really don’t like to lie in the sun, so Turks & Caicos would be totally wasted on me.
While I am waxing poetic about snazzy new software and firm-provided BlackBerry, I am ignoring all of the things I love about the job I have: It’s just the right niche; there are wonderful colleagues who include me in their lives, challenging work that I truly enjoy, and a boss who thinks I’m the best paralegal to come down the pike.
In short, I’m accepted, valued and challenged. 
In my lust for The Other Firm, I’d forgotten this: what’s important about a job is that it’s more than just a job… it’s my home away from home, a place where I feel comfortable, a place where I’m really happy 90% of the time.
It’s the place I negotiated my first raise. It’s the place where I celebrated passing that difficult certification exam. It’s the place where I’ve fostered friendships. It’s a place where I truly feel safe and secure.
This job is not perfect and I know I may never be cured of job envy. I’ll probably continue to watch for openings at The Other Firm but the next time I’m tempted to send my resume, imagining what my life would be like if I worked there, I’m going to remember that while it might look ideal, it may not be all it’s cracked up to be. After all, as some unknown philosopher said,
“If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, you can bet the water bill is higher.”
What I’ve learned is that when I covet another job, it’s not the job I’m after, it’s a different version of my professional self I want. It’s easy to be tricked into believing it’s my current job that’s holding me back. If I moved into a new job I’d be a better paralegal, my total billable hours would shoot through the roof; my benefits would be better; I’d have better equipment; I’d…the list goes on and on when you covet The Other Firm.
Now I’ve determined that I’ll enjoy the job I have and that I’ll settle into doing the best job I can for the people who truly appreciate and value me. Striving for excellence…here…is the noblest goal I can have.

©2010 Vicki Voisin, Inc. Do you want to use this article in your newsletter, ezine or Web site? You can so long as you include this entire blurb with it: Vicki Voisin, “The Paralegal Mentor”, delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by achieving goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She publishes a weekly ezine titled Paralegal Strategies and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network. More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com

1 comment:

Lizzie T a/k/a Wifelady said...

Great article!!! I feel the same way - it would be great to move on to something you think is bigger and better but you already are in a place that's pretty great too! It's just not the time to move on -- when that time comes you'll know it 100% without a doubt!

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