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Find yourself a ‘pacesetter’ and imagine your future

Jessica Markham

Jessica Markham

I’m a big fan of the Gretchen Rubin podcast, “Happier.” Rubin recently talked about the concept of having a “pacesetter.” The idea is that it’s useful to identify someone you can look to who is five, 10 or 15 years ahead of you in your field who is accomplishing things you would like to accomplish. This is not the same as having a mentor, as a pacesetter can be someone you may not ever have met before.

I have had several pacesetters — specifically the several women in Montgomery County who had started family law firms before me. In them I could see “future me” more clearly than when I looked at the sea of old white men doing the same thing. (No offense to old white men.) Seeing women practice family law made me think that I could also do it and that I did not need to look a certain way to make it happen.

Is there anyone you can look to who is doing things you would like to do? Being a bar president? Leading the charge in pro bono representation? Instigating legislative changes you believe in? Becoming a fellow of a certain organization that you aspire to join?

Talk to these people. Ask about their journeys. Learn lessons if you can. But if you can’t – if you don’t even know these pacesetters – that’s OK. Put them on your vision board, see yourself in their careers and use them as inspiration.

Jessica Markham is the owner of Markham Law Firm, a family law firm in Bethesda.

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