Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Recent Move to a New Situation

I don't usually like to cross-post material from one blog to another. A lot of cross-posting can create the perception, whether accurate or not, that the blogger either does not have enough to say or is too lazy to generate content for multiple blogs, or even that he is not really serious about his blogging. Nevertheless, I'll share one post from one of my other blogs, Steve's Midlife Crisis, because it is relevant to my practice of law and offers some specific information about where I currently am in my life.

I originally posted this three months ago, so it talks about an upcoming move. That move has already happened and, for the most part, it is going well, although I am still learning to adjust to the new routine.

Getting Ready to Move On to Another Situation

At the end of April, I will be leaving the office I have rented for the last ten years. It's a charming little office in a building designed by Henry Ives Cobb in the revived Venetian Gothic style and completed in 1893. The office is just the right size for me. It has a hardwood floor and is filled with solid oak furniture: a heavy desk, a tall bookcase, a file cabinet, a small conference table, and a printer stand. I bought the furniture in 1994 from my friend Steve Oster at Oster Contemporary Furniture. Steve's a great guy and, although I don't see him or talk with him very much these days, I still consider him a really good friend. Also, he did set me up with some excellent furniture.

Perhaps naively, I had hoped to stay at my office until I was ready to retire. Some of that was no doubt due to everything that was happening during that week, ten years ago, when I moved. During those days, my mother was quite ill, my maternal grandmother passed away, I had an oral argument in the Illinois Appellate Court the same week I moved, and I was waiting for the state to pay me on a case I had litigated as court-appointed counsel for an indigent prisoner. After that convergence of events, I wanted never to have to move my business location again. Of course, things are rarely that simple and it was not to be so. Ah, impermanence!

I suppose a change is in order, considering my last office move was at the end of May, 1997. Nevertheless, I am taking a leap into the unknown here because I am choosing to be without an office for a while. That is something new because I've worked in an office environment since my IT career began back in 1985, and I've had my own private office since I started my law firm in May, 1994.

Since I don't have room for all of my office furniture, boxes of files, and law books at home, I'm going to rent some storage space for a while and keep everything there. That's not my preferred way of handling these developments, but my head and heart are just not into looking for new office space now. I don't want to force myself into finding new space until I have a more clear vision of what I want to do and how I want to do it. I can write and do technology and blog consulting almost anywhere, and the nature of my law practice is such that I don't really need to have a fixed office. I have the luxury of being able to wait.

Instead, at least in the short term, I'll be joining the ranks of the "neo-nomads" or new "bedouins." (Hat tip to Jim Ware at The Future of Work Weblog.) I'll be like the mobile professionals in the San Francisco Chronicle article, and like Chris Brogan and Alan Weinkrantz. Brogan says his office is a coffee shop, while Weinkrantz likes to work at Apple Stores when he is traveling.

Becoming a technomad makes sense for me for a few reasons. First, I've used laptop/notebook computers as my main machines since I was in law school. I haven't worked with my own desktop PC since I was in college. (However, that will change soon because my dad is going to give me a spare computer he has so I can network it with my laptop at home.)

I like being mobile. For a long time, along with my laptop computer, I was almost always pretty heavily armed with a cell phone, wireless PDA, and RIM device for text and instant messages. For those reasons, my good friend Philo Janus, the author of the excellent, recently published Pro InfoPath 2007 (Berkeley, CA: Apress, 2007), has referred to me as the Compleat Connected Attorney(tm). Philo is right. I like being able to work in a variety of places.

Second--and this may be a midlife issue--I feel a strong impulse to simplify my life. For a long time, the meaning, nay the sentiment, of this passage from Mr. Thoreau's Walden eluded me, but now I think I understand it in my bones.

"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.

* * *

Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion.

* * *

Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry. Men say that a stitch in time saves nine, and
so they take a thousand stitches today to save nine tomorrow."

Life really is at once complex and simple. As a younger man, I reveled in complexity. Complexity equaled delight for me. Whether it was the integral calculus, polyphonic baroque music, intricate literary subplots with many characters, recursive software algorithms, multidimensional arrays, nuanced and multi-part arguments in constitutional law, or trick plays in football, my mind was in a state of bliss when I had complex, really tough problems to solve. Nowadays, having endured the slings and arrows of the labyrinthine, I appreciate, even yearn for, the simple.

Finally, in my spiritual practice, I am cultivating the intention to feel at home anywhere. Maybe that's why I have attracted this move into my life. Perhaps I am ready to put that intention to work, to take it out into the larger world and start living it instead of just thinking about it. It won't be all coffee shops and quaint cafes; there are a variety of other quasi-office arrangements available. Ever since I was a boy, I have thrived on variety. It seems this change of work setting will give me even more variety.

I will also face some new challenges. I'll be hanging out in places where I can meet many new people, both prospective clients and sources of referrals. I have plenty to offer those people, too. While I am not exactly sure I can call myself an introvert, even if I am, I can improve my networking skills by learning from others like Rob May at BusinessPundit.com.

Of course, I don't know how all of this is going to play out. I do know, however, that I am ready for the challenge.

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