On January 1 we make lofty and sincere resolutions for self-improvement.
Then on January 2 we start breaking them.
This year doesn’t have to be that way. In 2013 we can end the sad cycle of setting worthy goals and not following through on them.
Here we offer 5 New Year’s Resolutions every lawyer can make – and keep:
1. I will learn from 2012
The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings. Janus is always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and the other on the back – so that he could look backward and forward at the same time.
For this resolution, take out a sheet of paper and write down three things about your law practice that worked in 2012 (the new hire turned out awesome, immigration cases picked up, LinkedIn led to fresh business, etc.) and three things that did not (the old receptionist is burned out, divorce cases were a drag, yellow pages advertising was a waste of money).
You don’t even have to do anything – not yet. Simply bringing into awareness the good and bad points will change your law firm’s dynamics in 2013.
2. I will try to be good enough – not perfect.
Michael Jordan missed 9,000 shots in his career and lost almost 300 games. But he did not stop shooting or playing. He stayed in the game.
Resolve to hang in there and keep fighting the good fight – the swishes and sweet victories will take care of themselves.
3. I will daydream.
Olympic gold medalists, winning politicians and Carnegie Hall performers all have one thing in common – they visualize themselves being successful.
Promise to spend a portion of 2013 creating a mental picture of what you want your work life to look like. Maybe it includes more time with family or at the gym. Perhaps more flat fees and less hourly billing.
See it, then be it.
Sounds simple, but of course it isn’t. Not when so much of our time is spent racing around putting out fires and chasing our tails.
But close your eyes, relax and let your thoughts wander to a place of professional peace and prosperity. Then start heading there.
4. I will go home.
Resolve to leave the office at two o’clock or earlier every Friday afternoon. Give the staff time off as well. You might be surprised. Productivity might actually go up – and morale definitely will.
5. I will get rid of my worst case.
Do your law practice a favor and fire the one client who is causing you the most migraine headaches. While you’re at it, ask your staff if they’d like to give a client or two the pink slip. Brighter days will surely follow.
Key to Success: Keep it Simple
Webster’s defines “resolution” as an act or process that breaks a complex notion into simpler ones.
The reason we don’t keep our New Year’s resolutions, psychologists say, is that we bite off more than we can chew.
Sometimes by doing nothing – daydreaming, going home, letting things go, accepting imperfection, not repeating past mistakes – we can achieve real and lasting change in our lives.
And we’ll feel better about ourselves – and our law lives – when we honor our own promises.
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. His New Year’s resolution is to eat more chocolate. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 919-619-2441.
Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina and is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which helps lawyers and firms improve their well-being and create saner, more successful law lives. He is available for talks, presentations and confidential consultations.