New Year, New You?
Article Date: Friday, January 01, 2010
Written By: Melissa Dewey Brumback
By now, if you are like the vast majority of Americans, you have given up on your New Years Resolutions – if you even bothered to make any this year, that is! Though I’m no expert in the subject of resolutions, I have spent a lot of time thinking through what makes a successful resolution. If you have the desire for a “new you” in 2010, it is not too late to start. Here are a few tried and true tips, whether your goals are professional or personal.
1. Make the commitment today.
Many lawyers are perfectionists by nature. If we didn’t make the resolutions on January 1, we figure we’ve already failed. After all – who makes resolutions in mid-January? In fact, the old adage “there’s no time like the present” should replace your perfectionist tendencies. Don’t wait for next month, next Monday, or even tomorrow. Take 10 minutes now to determine your goals, and start right away. Tomorrow, after all, is always a day away. If you don’t do it now, your bills will pile up, the partner will be after you with a new assignment, and that angry client will call – there never is a “good” time to begin. So just start now.
2. Limit yourself to one goal at a time.
Like many lawyers, when I decide to turn over a new leaf, I inevitably want to turn over the whole forest at the same time. This never works. Trust me. Instead, if you have many goals, make a list and prioritize. Take the number one goal first. Work on it for 21 days (the amount of time it takes for something to become a habit). Only then should you begin work on another goal. If you try to do it all at once, you will go nowhere.
Corollary to Rule 2: Keep your goal small. If you have a large goal, break it up into smaller sub-goals, and work on them one at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and developing your referral base or slimming your waist line won’t happen that quickly, either!
3. Make your goal measurable.
Who doesn’t want to work more productively, get more clients, or lose some weight? Those are not measurable goals, however, so it is impossible to know if you are achieving results, if you’ve slipped up, or if you are on the right track. Instead of trying to “increase business,” plan a business lunch with a potential referral source once each week. Instead of “getting in shape,” commit to three 30 minute sessions at the gym each week.
4. Plan for setbacks.
Again, watch out for perfectionist tendencies. As sure as Duke and Carolina will always be rivals on the basketball court, you will experience setbacks. Your carefully planned gym visit has to give in to a partner emergency. Your plan to eat healthy foods each lunch is messed up by a pizza planning meeting. Setbacks will happen. You should try to anticipate and minimize them as much as possible. Keep healthy snacks in your desk drawer. Plan alternative work outs for when it is raining outside. Figure out how to sneak in your meditation during your lunch hour. Planning will help curtail these roadblocks to your success. But in the event you do experience a setback, accept it, shake it off, and move on. The quicker you can get back on the wagon, the quicker you will reach your goal. Don’t worry if it is a step backward for every two steps forward . . . as long as you keep heading toward your goal.
5. Celebrate your successes!
Once you reach your goal, or even your sub-goal, celebrate. Allow yourself the chance to enjoy the moment. Don’t sabotage your successful weight loss with a piece of cake . . . but maybe enjoy a new shirt.
Melissa Dewey Brumback is co-Editor of The Advocate, published by the NCBA Young Lawyers Division, and a partner at Ragsdale Liggett PLLC in Raleigh. She once managed to keep a New Year’s Resolution for the entire year!
Views and opinions expressed in articles published herein are the authors' only and are not to be attributed to this newsletter, the section, or the NCBA unless expressly stated. Authors are responsible for the accuracy of all citations and quotations.