What are your law firm and legal career goals for the new year?
How many times have you heard the old sayings: “If you don’t know where you’re going you won’t get there” and “If you don’t know what you want that’s what you’ll get”? They are talking about the importance of having goals. And, despite some pundits’ opinions and occasional chatter about achieving success without using goals, goals are exactly what you need in your law practice. But you need to distinguish the three types of goals available and use them wisely. The three are:
- Aspirational Goals. Or, what I often call them, “fuzzy goals.” These are long-range goals for which there is not yet a path clear enough to set achievable goals. For example, becoming a judge. A younger lawyer does not have the experience, connections, and credibility to achieve that goal at this time in his career. However, if he is clear on becoming a judge, he can bear that in mind in making decisions that will affect his legal career. Decisions such as what kind of law firm to join, should he include a stint as a prosecutor, what practice area to choose, what political connections and Bar connections to nourish…
- Achievement Goals. These are goals that are clear and specific. For example, an income goal for the year, monthly billable hours, the number of new clients to retain per month, cases to have tried by year’s end… Having specific goals will act as a motivator and keep you energized to achieve those specific goals.
- Performance Goals. This is where it gets real and where you have control. Here you plan specific actions that will lead to accomplishing your Achievement Goals. If you have an Achievement Goal of increasing your income by 25%, how will you do that, what’s the plan? Perhaps a focus on developing 10 new referral sources, reducing overhead by X%, or generating 6 billable hours minimum per day.
The three types of goals work together. By honoring each type of goal individually, and the three as a whole, you will be able to:
- Keep in mind Aspirational Goals for what you want long term and let that help you in your important career decisions.
- Set clear Achievement Goals that will act as motivators to help you achieve them.
- Follow a Performance Goal plan with specific steps to take to achieve your Achievement Goals.
Tip: Write down your Aspirational, Achievement, and Performance Goals and review them regularly. Put them in a place where they will be seen; your computer monitor and bathroom mirror are good spots. Seeing these three goal types together and seeing them frequently will keep them in mind and help you stay on track.
Have a Great Practice!