New beginnings, a series of "firsts" and achieving your dreams

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Spring really is the season of new beginnings. As the cherry blossom came into bloom in Japan, I heard from the New Zealand Law Society that I was approved to practice on my own account in Japan. That thrilling news came on the back of my recent approval as a licensed Foreign Registered Lawyer in Japan (or “Gaiben” 外国法事務弁護士 as it is called for short). And in addition, I have recently been sworn in as a member of the Tokyo Dai-Ichi Bar Association.

This is a very exciting step in my career and my life, and I thank those former supervisors & bosses who wrote me references, my current and past colleagues whose faces lit up when I told them what I was doing next, my super-special all-weather friends, and most of all my family, who have guided and supported me over the years and particularly the last 10 months as I went through the long approval process in Japan and New Zealand.

Months of paperwork, studying and testing, memorizing and reciting oaths in Japanese, interviewing via Skype and signing yet more paperwork. Those last few meters in this lengthy marathon seemed to take forever but when the light peaks at you from the end of the dark tunnel, it’s a powerful motivation to just keep going. And this is only the beginning of a new exciting journey of my next transformation into a lawyer in control of my own destiny.  I’m the first Kiwi lass to open up her own practice in Japan – Catherine O’Connell Law. I’m also told by those in the know that I’m the first non-Japanese woman to launch her own firm in Tokyo. Those firsts are pretty overwhelming and something I am terribly proud of.

What I can say now upon reflection over the last year is this - don’t ever let anyone tell you what they think you are not. Believe in what you are. Don’t let them tell you that you can’t do something or that you are too old to do anything new; you are never too old and you can always pivot and do something unbelievable. Don’t ever let others tell you that your dreams are unachievable; that is limiting your potential by other’s limitations on themselves. Don’t listen to those who say it is risky; they are merely reflecting their internal risk-adverseness onto you.  

Your dreams are yours. Dreams don’t need to be extravagant, or glittering and sparkly, but they do need to be your dreams and not what others think or what others tell you to do.

If this ordinary Kiwi girl with a bit of backbone and determination can achieve her dreams, I reckon you can too!

What are your dreams, goals, wishes, hopes, desires and aspirations for the coming four seasons of 2018?