If you never set goals, how do you find out what you truly want? If you walk through life with vague notions of “success” and “accomplishment”, you might never discover that what others have defined as happiness, security, and fulfillment aren’t at all aligned with what you believe those things to be.
By asking ourselves what we really want and constantly re-assessing our lawyer goals, we gain the benefit of introspection and self-reflection. We can figure out what it is we really want in life – and then we can go out and do it.
To be successful, you need to set meaningful lawyer goals based on your “why.” You need to know where you want your legal education and law job to take you. You need to have direction. And it all starts with your “why.”
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Why You Need Clarity on Your Personal Lawyer Goals
Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.Tony Robbins
The first step in laying the foundation for successful personal development is to gain clarity around the vague ideas you have floating in your head. With clarity comes:
- A long-term vision. Your vision is the ultimate goal or your purpose for doing what you do. Goals help you live out your vision, allowing you to create small milestones to get you there.
- Short-term motivation. The whirlwind of daily life often blurs one’s vision. With detailed goals, you gain powerful momentum through each completed task, keeping you motivated day in and day out.
- Self-control and discipline. Being an attorney and owning your own law firm requires self-control and discipline for success. Achieving your goals builds character, teaching you the importance of showing up—especially on those days that feel particularly grueling.
- Better and faster results. Research shows that business owners can spend up to 21.8 hours a week doing things that contribute little to zero value to their business. When you have goals to meet, your productivity increases and you save precious time.
- What kind of work do you want to be doing?
- What type of people do you want to serve?
- How do you want to work as a lawyer?
- How many hours do you want to work each week?
- How much vacation do you want to be able to take?
- How much money do you want to make?
Whether or not you believe in work-life balance, it’s imperative that you decide what is most important to you across all areas of your life—work, personal, family, friends, and community. Determine how you want your life to be, then set goals to ensure you live out your intentions.
With goals in hand, honestly assess whether your firm can move you forward.
- How close is your firm to getting you to those goals currently?
- How confident are you that your firm will be able to get you to those goals in the next 5, 10, or 15 years?
If your firm is not situated to help you live out the vision you have for your life and career, then it’s time to rethink your current situation. Determine what steps are necessary to land in a law job that is better suited for you.
If you believe your firm can get you where you want to go, then it’s time to get to work, writing down lawyer goals for the next several years and then breaking those big goals down into actionable steps.
How to Set Career and Personal Lawyer Goals for 5, 10, and 15+ Years Into Your Career
There is a set process for you to follow when setting goals for the near and extended future.
- Define them. As we’ve already covered, it’s important that you define your goals as they relate to your overall vision for your work and personal life.
- Write them down. According to at least one study on goal setting, people who write down their goals are 33% more successful than those who simply create a plan in their head. And those who are successful create clarity by being specific, laying out everything they need to achieve step-by-step to reach their overarching goals.
- 告诉某人。 对自己负责是最重要的，但人性使我们更容易实现自己的目标，如果我们以外的人知道这些目标。我们稍后将更详细地讨论问责制。
- 保持承诺。 始终把你的目标清单放在面前。让你自己的目标和你客户的目标一样重要，并兑现你对他们的承诺。创建一个行动计划，并在日历上安排时间来完成它。
- 庆祝胜利。 无论目标或行动步骤有多大或多小，都要庆祝一路上取得的每一项成就。 庆祝进步 产生滚雪球效应，帮助你保持积极的努力，让你取得更大的成就。
- 不断评估。 建立一个系统，确保你每季度和每年评估一次你的目标以及你在实现目标方面取得的进展。这将允许你改变行动计划，并根据需要更新目标。
SMART代表具体、可测量、可实现、相关和及时。据国际知名作家兼演说家布莱恩·特雷西（BrianTracy）介绍， SMART目标 “能够解决与常规目标相关的所有缺陷，为您提供一套目标，为您带来最大可能的利益。”以下是如何实现您设定的每个目标中的每个字母：
- 具体的 你制定的目标应该尽可能具体。考虑一下你想要完成什么，为什么它很重要，你需要什么资源，以及你在追求它时可能遇到的任何限制。
- 可测量的 您将希望能够跟踪您在实现目标方面取得的进展。指标允许您将大目标分解为小任务，并设定里程碑。它们还可以帮助您评估您的努力。
- 可达到的 设定你可以实现的目标。让他们富有挑战性，因此值得追求。然而，不要达到如此之高，以至于你感到无助或无法完成它们。
- Relevant. Choose goals that tie back to your vision and overall career and personal life plans. Do not fall victim to the whims of others or to fads of the time. Stick with what feels right and fits well.
- Timely. A goal is not a goal unless it is time-bound. Set a deadline for every goal you define.
How to Set Short-Term vs. Long-Term Lawyer Goals
You will want to set both short- and long-term goals. You will want to set immediate goals of items you want to achieve in the near future. You can put those under your one-year goal timeline. You will also want to plan for your firm’s growth as well as your own personal and professional development out to 3 or 5 years, and again out to 10 or 15 years.
With long-term goals, the truth is, no matter the timeline, you want each goal to follow the SMART format. The differentiation comes when you have a one-year goal you are trying to achieve. At that point, you will need to break down your short-term goal into semi-annual, quarterly, and monthly action items to ensure you hit milestones and stay on track.
Include All Levels of Development in Your Lawyer Goals
The first goal most attorneys define is financial, often around law firm revenue or annual salary. Financial goals are important, but they only scrape the tip of the iceberg when it comes to setting goals for your law firm. Also consider setting goals around the client experience, client satisfaction, technology use, marketing efforts, organizational development, and community impact.
Professional development for lawyers also remains top of mind, often due to CLE requirements. But there’s much more to consider than meeting law practice requirements. Also, think about additional skills you want to build. Identify if you want to speak at CLEs, not just attend them. You may want to join a bar association or take on pro bono cases. Whatever it is, if you don’t get specific and write it down, you won’t work on it.
To find a mentor who best fits you, consider not only practice area and time in practice. Look to personality, skills, engagement outside the office, and even work-life balance. You’ll be spending some time with this person; considering their personality and values is as important as everything else.
Get an Accountability Partner
Instead of looking to a mentor to help shape your career, you could instead look to your direct peer network to find an accountability partner. You two will support one another’s growth and challenges, encouraging each other to push forward even when times get tough.
It’s incredibly important that the accountability partner you choose is someone who isn’t afraid to ask hard questions or call you out when you’re mailing it in. Your goal here is to grow; having someone pat your back and say, “it’s ok,” when you hit a bump in the road and fell off the wagon will not serve you.
Join a Mastermind
If individual attention isn’t what you’re looking for, or if you’d rather feed off the collective wisdom of a few, consider joining a mastermind group. This is a small network of trusted attorneys who you can turn to for accountability and business support. Such a group provides a set structure that ensures you intentionally carve out time for your law business to work through problems and opportunities.
When looking for a mastermind that would fit well for you, consider one that has people who will be committed to the group, who will show up, and who you can trust. Note that the job titles in the group don’t matter; it’s the quality and caliber of the people that counts most.
Find Your Tribe
At the least, consider joining a group of like-minded individuals to network and talk about what you’re going through. Your tribe can offer you the support you need while also acting as your accountability touchpoint. Your tribe can come in one of many forms, from exclusive communities like Lawyerist Insider to networking groups like BNI.
Set, Achieve, and Evaluate Goals With Lawyerist
Starting your own law firm is the catalyst to living out your vision. While financial and law firm growth goals are important to your business, they don’t provide enough motivation on their own. You must know your “why.” Align your career goals and overarching vision for your firm with your purpose, then set SMART goals to get you there.
Also, remember that goal setting is never a one-and-done thing. You must work at it, revisiting your goals on a regular basis to assess where you are, where you’ve come from, and whether you’re still seeking what you set out to pursue in the past. If you’d like help setting your goals, working through challenges, and celebrating successes, turn to lawyers just like you who are doing the same. Become a Lawyerist Insider today.