The world comes into existence as you move toward it.
— Paul Auster

Why talk about achieving your heart’s desire in a blog on negotiations? Because you must know how you value a thing before you can even begin to think about negotiating a price for it.

If we don’t know what we really want, we are more apt to accept in compensation for our life’s work what one author has called “frozen desire” – money — even when money fails to satisfy.

A legal colleague of mine was fond of saying that everyone was always trying to find something to do with their legal skills other than being a lawyer. “The legal journals are filled with ads for people who will tell you what else you can do with your J.D.,” she used to say.

“My husband, the camera man, subscribes to professional journals too. But there are never any ads there telling him what he might do with those skills other than be what he chose to be.”

The “why” of this isn’t hard to figure. The law, which used to be called a “jealous mistress” is stressful, demanding, and adversarial. A typical conversation: “Hi honey! How was your day?” “Good! I slew two junior associates, made a senior partner drink the blood of his client and tore the heart out of the kid in the mailroom. How was yours?”

Having been recently chastised by a senior partner at an AmLaw25 firm for taking a negative attitude about the adversarial system in front of his client, I’ll admit that it’s not all that bad.

Still, I know you’re out there – you unhappy lawyers in particular – still wishing you could find a way to do what you most want to do and that this isn’t it.

For you – the short course on finding, and achieving, your heart’s desire.

First, the hardest part. You must give up whatever it is you are currently addicted to – money, property, power, prestige, safety, drugs, alcohol, food, spending, cheating, clinging, worrying, or even simply saving against an uncertain future. You won’t get anywhere if you fear change, loss, or failure.

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by Victoria Pynchon

Victoria Pynchon is an attorney-mediator and arbitrator. She is also a principal in the She Negotiates Consulting and Training firm for which her blog “She Negotiates” is named. In addition to writing for the legal blog “On the Docket,” Pynchon also authored the book “A is for A**hole, the Grownups' ABCs of Conflict Resolution.