Why I Decided to Quit the Law

with Goli Kalkhoran

I’m the quintessential risk-averse, people-pleasing, type-A personality. I studied hard, got good grades and followed the predictable path to a great law school, never really questioning what being a lawyer actually meant.
Not surprisingly, when I actually started practicing law, I hated it. But like most people who follow a traditional path and spend a lot of time, money, and energy to get that degree, I accepted that, regardless of my happiness, I had to work as a lawyer. I really never even considered any other possibility. Instead, I just daydreamed of winning the lottery.
In 2014, after the birth of my son and a move from Arizona to California that forced me to quit my job as a Federal Public Defender, I was in the market for a new job. Naturally, I looked for legal careers in Orange County. But with each application I filled out, I literally felt sick to my stomach.
My husband mentioned that I could “try to do something other than law.” After nearly flipping over the table at the absurdity of such a statement, it got me thinking. But I immediately went to the chatter in my head: What would people say? What would people think? I spent so much time and money and energy becoming a lawyer. Was I going to throw it all away? WHAT WOULD I EVEN DO?!?! Seriously, I was convinced that I had no other interests and/or skills.
But behind all of the mental chatter, he had planted a seed. (God bless him!) Could I really just quit?! It took me almost a year to admit – mostly to myself—that I was going to officially quit practicing law. In that time, I was finally able to give myself the space to try other things and strip back all of the old stories I had created about myself to find what truly made me happy. Since that time, I started a business (you can check it out here- www.usiebooth.com), got to spend time at home with my two young kids, and found interests I never knew I had. I’ve made a million mistakes and am still figuring it all out. But most importantly, I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hi, I’m Goli. I’m a former lawyer who quit to give entrepreneurship a shot. I also have a podcast where I interview other people who have made the leap to live a more fulfilling life
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Forget what other people think. Live a life that you are proud of. 
What would you say to 16 year old you?
Live a little! Learn to let go and experience life a little more. You don’t have to have it all figured out right now. (In fact, you’ll never have it all figured out and that’s part of the fun!)
What is your greatest fear?
That I let my fears (fear of failure, fear of other people’s opinions etc) limit the life I lead. 
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Yes! Who hasn’t had doubters!? It used to paralyze me but I realized I was living a life I hated just so other people thought I was “successful”. Once I realized how insane that was, I was fine with people doubting my choices as long as I knew I was doing what I wanted to do. 
What message do you think every woman should hear?
You are allowed to be happy. Guard your happiness with everything you have. 
What is it like to be a businesswoman?
Like anything, it has its ups and downs. I think entrepreneurship sounds really appealing because you don’t report to anyone. And while there are so many great things about it (creating your own schedule, calling the shots, etc.) the reality is that the buck stops with you. There is a lot of pressure when you’re making all of the decisions and there is no clear path. 
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
You eat an elephant one bite at a time. It can be very overwhelming starting something new and that keeps people stuck for a long time. I realized that all you have to do is take small steps every single day. You don’t need to look at the entirety of the project. Just make a little bit of progress at a time and in the long run you will accomplish incredible things! 
What motivates you most?
Through my podcast, I’ve been able to connect with a lot of people that feel like they finally found their tribe and that motivates me immensely. 
How do you manage your work-life balance?
I prioritize what means the most to me and I work around that. I have 2 young children and so my schedule really revolves around when they need me most. I try to schedule all other business activities around that, as much as possible. But I’ve also accepted that it won’t be perfect. Sometimes I’m going to drop some balls and that’s ok. 
What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I try to read 20 minutes before bed every night and I always do a gratitude journal. My gratitude practice has fundamentally changed the way I view the world and has relieved so much stress in my life. 
What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
I have a serious (and I mean serious) sugar addiction. I’m working on it. 🙂
Were you scared to start your business?
Yes! I was terrified! I didn’t know anything about running a business. I felt like a fraud when I told people that I was going to start it. But little by little, with each thing I accomplished, I started gaining the confidence that I could figure it out.

More About Goli

Goli Kalkhoran is a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur. After practicing law for 6 years, she left the grey world of the law in search of more creativity and balance. She founded Usie Booth, a digital photobooth company that provides an affordable, portable photobooth solution for businesses and individuals. In addition to her business, Goli hosts a podcast called Lessons from a Quitter where she interviews other people who have quit traditional professions in search of a more fulfilling life.

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