It happens every year: the new Baby New Year gets lost in the Archipelago of Last Years, and we have to call in Rudolph to save his a . . . No, wait. That’s not right. That’s another story, for another time.
Let’s go again: Every year, you make personal and professional New Year’s resolutions; and, every year, they fall flat. You wanna lose a lot of weight. You wanna make a lot more money. You wanna have a lot more free time. This is a big problem. Literally. Most New Year’s resolutions fail because they’re too big. You try to lose 50 pounds. You try to double your income. You try to clear your weekend calendar completely. Those are all tall orders; and, in a very real sense, you’re setting yourself up to fail, most of the time.
Effective business leaders, including effective law firm leaders, are successful in part because they manage a continual check-in regime. They’re monitoring their personal and professional health on an ongoing basis, not just because a randomly selected calendar point has passed, not just because they had one extra piece of pie, or two (thousand), over the holidays. They’re constantly assessing the efficacy of their personal and professional business models. The savviest among them collect data, build reports from it and act on the results. They do this on a monthly basis, or a quarterly basis, every month, and every quarter. It’s an embedded process, an integrated system. So, they achieve results. They’re not waiting the year to catch up on what they should have been doing all year.
With that in mind, there are two ways that attorneys can make it more likely that they achieve their New Year’s resolutions; and, in fact, utilizing those two ways in combination is likely to increase the likelihood of success even more. The first thing you should do is to truncate your goals, to reduce the time frame for achievement into milestones. If you want to lose 50 pounds this year, instead try for losing 10 pounds next month, and see how it goes. Amend your goals as needed. Don’t try for perfection; allow yourself the chance to be human, which is where you’ll end up anyway. Losing 40 pounds is not as good as losing 50; but, it’s a sight better than gaining 10. Don’t lower your expectations, manage them. It’s the same thing in your law practice. Establish goals for the next quarter, measure whether you’ve met them, reassess and revise your annual plan, up or down, and move on from it. Do it once, and you’re more likely to continue to do it. That way, January 1, 2017, becomes just another quarterly milestone, rather than a desperate surge to do much better than you had done. It’s valuable to reduce the time frames on your goals in part because it’s really hard to act in exactly the same way throughout the course of a year. What behaviors do you consistently apply through the course of a year? I don’t even eat the same cereal every morning. Get closer and closer. Advance in increments for lasting results. Another way to manage your New Year goals is to reduce their impact. If the goal is achieving a healthy lifestyle over the long haul, isn’t it better to lose 25 pounds this year, and 25 pounds next year, rather than driving yourself like a sick animal, and then giving up the ghost having been overwrought. Moderation in all things. If you reduce the time and size impact of your goals, you’ll be more likely to achieve them, and also more likely to instill healthy habits, that will endure. It is harder to run a distance race than it is to sprint.
Tracking back to your law practice, there are a number of actionable goals you can meet in the next quarter. We’ve made up a short list, which you can review at this video.
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In the vein of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’, this little gem comes off of the lesser-known rock opera ‘Quadrophenia’, which rocks much harder than ‘Tommy’, even as it is equally concerned with identity. ‘The Real Me’ is more of a straight rock song.