Stop just for a moment. Did you realize that this calendar year is more than halfway over? Whether or not you have made this realization, it’s time to take stock of how things are going so far.
Chances are you do this frequently, assessing your intake of revenue, efficiency of staff, total cases opened, pending and closed, and the list goes on. Your to-do list is never-ending, especially as a solo or small firm practitioner, where there are fewer people to shoulder the burdens and tackle the tasks. This means that you may be evaluating your progress thus far this year and coming to the realization that you have not met certain major goals that you outlined for yourself at the start of the year. It may seem like a tale as old as time, but it doesn’t have to become the accepted norm in your office.
In a previous post, we talked about deciding what your big and little goals are for each day, but this concept should be carried over in a larger way to what your big and little goals for the year are. Hopefully you have made these goals (you know you have), but the problem comes not in making goals – but in meeting them.
Again, you are a solo practitioner or just one of maybe two in a small firm. How can you possibly get everything done in a day, a week, a month or even a year? I would like to propose a simple solution to keeping you on track with those bigger goals: find someone who will hold you responsible for meeting your goals.
Sounds simple, right? Maybe too simple? Unfortunately, because it sounds so simple, lawyers often dismiss the idea and carry on until it’s too late to meet the goals they so badly wanted and/or needed to accomplish.
To avoid this issue, this is what I suggest:
First, make a plan and set some goals. Prioritize those goals and then choose one or two big ones that you want to focus on long-term.
Next, choose someone to hold you accountable for attaining these goals. This person can be any number of people, including your partner (if you have one), paralegal, family member, or a colleague in another practice. Once you have established your goal(s) and picked someone to hold you to them, organize a timeline.
When do you need or want this goal (or goals) to be accomplished? Once you have an end-date in mind, set up a calendar with your chosen “partner” to establish when you will meet to discuss your progress. This meeting can be a lunch or dinner, over coffee or via Facetime or Skype; it doesn’t matter how you meet, just that you do. At your meeting, discuss your progress, which can include any format, such as looking at spreadsheets, charts or other tools of measurement, or simply just chatting.
If you find during a meeting that you have fallen short of you goal and it looks as though you won’t meet your end date, then revise the timeline and come up with strategies for how to meet your end goal. If you are on track when you meet, then discuss what has worked so far and what you need to continue doing to stay on track.
Meeting with someone inside or outside your office or personal life that can hold you responsible for your goals is so important for several reasons. First, it means that you are not just self-monitoring but have someone who is supporting and monitoring you on the side as well. Second, it provides you support to meet your goals, even if this support is just in the form of discussion and encouragement. Third, this process forces you to be more aware of your progress and how you are spending your time, resources, etc.
At the end of the day, this is one of those suggestions that just never has a negative. Even if all you glean from this person is support, support is something you need, especially when you practice alone or in a small firm.
Beyond support, this strategy may very well be the key to unlocking your success in meeting various goals that previously seemed unattainable. Whichever of these reasons speaks to you more, don’t hesitate any longer. Find someone who can support you and hold you responsible for your goals now to finish out the year strong and begin the next one even stronger.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h