When someone would call our home phone and ask my dad to make a charitable donation, he used to say, “I gave at the office.”

Most of my clients give way too much at the office. And I’m not talking about buying Girl Scout Cookies.

You give your best effort, intellect, creativity, strategy and consideration.

You give mentoring, support, patience, dedication and loyalty.

You’ve acquired skills, stature, experience, friendships, calluses, exhaustion and depletion.

In order for you to leave big law, you have to give to yourself first.

“An empty bowl can’t serve others.”

That doesn’t mean shirking your responsibilities, it means choosing yourself first!

A client of mine recently chose to be with a friend going through a personal tragedy. She lost a late term pregnancy. My client said yes to the friendship went to comfort her.

“In Mandarin Chinese, they have two words for selfish.  One means doing that which is beneficial to you and the other means hoarding, greedy, and cruel.  We, in English, have pushed those two words together.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Author


To help you give to yourself first, here are three suggestions:

  1. Say no to something.
    Begin with small things. Maybe it’s easier to star by saying no to a personal request.A client of mine is saying YES to getting enough sleep. She is saying no to staying late whenever she can. She’s being ruthless about it.Working to leave big law takes time and energy. She is saying YES to that.
  1. Close your eyes for 10 minutes and do nothing.
    Don’t listen to a podcast, or meditation, just do nothing. Set a timer for 10 minutes if that feels too long, start with five.Imagine everything draining out your body, down through your feet. Let all your worry, fear and exhaustion empty out.Then fill yourself with images of your choosing, daffodils, sunshine, a perfectly crystal clear Caribbean beach, a happy memory.Pick an image that is restorative for you and go there for 10-30 seconds.
  1. Every time you hear yourself say the words “I can’t”, ask yourself… “Is that true?
    Then ask, “What else can I tell myself? What’s another story that’s true?”Start a new story with “I can…” or “I will…”Read more about how to do this here.


Fill up your bowl. Serve yourself first. Then you can choose how to serve others.


Feeling stuck? Here’s a free playbook to help get you moving on your Exit Plan.



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