We live in a world of materialism in which the common trope is “more is better.” Having more will make us happier. Getting the next best thing will make life better. We have all fallen for this way of thinking so much that it has seeped into our practice mentality as well. I’m here to tell you today that this is a dangerous way of thinking and will not make you happier as a lawyer or a person. How I know this to be true is a topic for a different blog post altogether.
Whether you are a solo practitioner, run a small legal firm or are a partner at a big firm, you have professional goals and ambitions. I am not dismissing the goals and targets set by lawyers in a larger firm, but for a solo or small firm practitioner, the weight of those goals rests more heavily upon your individual shoulders, which makes the obsession of meeting your next goal even more intense. This concept was discussed at length in the SLAP article entitled, “Simply Focusing On Your Future May Equal Failure.
Buying into the idea that making a little more money, signing one more client, or getting a few more hits on your website is the key to your happiness becomes even more real when you are going it alone or with only a small support team. Here’s the problem with that way of thinking: you will never actually reach all your goals because you will just keep on making new ones, which means you will always be chasing that sense of satisfaction.
Just like you can never find the end of a rainbow and the legendary pot of gold at the end of it, you will never reach the end of your list of goals and targets. “Just one more step!” you’ll say to yourself again and again. But don’t get me wrong – creating ever-evolving goals is absolutely necessary to growing your business and finding success, but if you base your happiness as a person and as a professional on these goals, you will never fully achieve that feeling.
At the end of the day, it’s all about balance. You know you need goals to grow, but what I hope you will take from my advice today is to not base your sense of self and satisfaction on achieving professional goals. Just as motivational speakers will warn you against relying on materialism to achieve personal happiness, I am warning you against basing professional happiness and fulfillment on the “next thing” on your professional agenda.
Set goals, grow, but don’t forget to enjoy each level of success and to find things outside of work to fulfill you. If you have found yourself in a perpetual cycle of growing dissatisfaction because you never seem to reach your list of goals, take a step back and reflect.
Balance your life out, find other interests, focus on family: the choice is yours. I am just here to leave you with this motivational advice because I fall into this cycle as easily as the next person. Let’s figure a way out.
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