In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, New York lawyer Joleena Louis shares how she motivates herself when times get tough in her solo practice.
One of the greatest challenges all entrepreneurs face is keeping the faith and not throwing in the towel when things get hard. It can be difficult to overcome your fears and not give up, close up shop, and go get a job.
These feelings can be even more prevalent among solo lawyers. The success of their firm and their career as a whole falls entirely on them. They not only have to be a competent and skilled lawyer, but they need to be an expert marketer and organized administrator as well.
I am not immune to this. I have these feelings, like everyone else. And they usually come out around this time of year when a lot of my current cases wrap up and I don’t get a lot of new ones (No one wants to divorce around the holidays). My income goes down, my stress goes up and I wonder if it would be easier to work for someone else.
In my heart, I know it’s not something I really want to do, but I can’t help having doubts when times get tough. These feelings are triggered by fear and as long as I remind myself of that, I can keep myself from making any major decisions.
During these times of fear, doubt, and uncertainty, there are several things I do to get myself out of this funk.
Remember Why You Went Solo
First, I think about why I went solo in the first place. It’s easy to forget why you decided to take the path of a solo lawyer when things are tough, but reminding yourself can help you stay focused on your ultimate vision.
Then I remind myself of the alternative. Do I really want to go back to working on someone else’s schedule, with the clients they choose, and not having the freedom to practice law exactly the way I want? The answer is always no.
Make Time for Yourself
When things get really bad I take a break. One of the things I enjoy most about being a solo is that I am my own boss. If I want to take a day off or relax for half a day, then I can do that. You have that flexibility as a solo, so why not take advantage of it during tough times?
With the holidays approaching, maybe try taking a few days off with friends or family and try not to think about work. That is exactly what I am going to do! This way when I come back I’m refreshed, level-headed and ready to hit the ground running.
Don’t Forget About Your Support Group
Lastly, when I am in need of help or advice, I know I can reach out to my support group. My boyfriend and family always encourage me to keep going. Also, I am constantly surrounded by a community of other solo lawyers. These colleges have become friends, and like me, they have these same feelings. So when I need to talk, we meet and complain over cocktails or dinner. They help me return to the right frame of mind.
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone and I think keeping faith in your ability to be successful is the ultimate test that you will take time and time again. If you stay focused on why are you doing this and remind yourself how far you have come, you’ll have the strength to keep fighting the good fight.