What is the Goal of Goal Setting for a Prosperous Law Practice?

Part 1 of 2

As a lawyer, you would not have made it this far without effective goal setting. The very exercise of identifying a goal, determining key incremental steps to take to reach that goal requires a very deliberative process of mostly linear thinking. Why, then, are so many lawyers unable (or unwilling) to attain the goals they set in building their practice through leveraging strategic marketing tactics?

Goal setting is a crucial factor in any effective business development and marketing plan. The goal is typically along the lines of “build a healthy practice”; “get more clients” (as if they may be “gotten”); “generate more visibility for myself and my firm”, and so on.

While all of these goals are very possible when supported by concrete marketing tactics, so many lawyers fail to attain their goals. What gives?

So many times, we hear “I’m so busy” or “I’m not rewarded for non-billable time” and I just shake my head.

Unquestionably, client obligations and commitments must be met, but if effective time management techniques are employed, it should not be to the exclusion of executing action steps to build and grow your law practice.

By setting goals at the beginning of a marketing planning process, you decide what you want to achieve and then move step-by-step towards achieving these goals. Whether it is setting guidelines for yourself around how you want to proactively expand your network in a six-to-twelve month timeframe or develop more work from select clients in 2012, you will need to set goals to help keep you on track.

Goals provide long-term vision and short-term motivation, and help you to organize your time and resources so that you can maximize your concrete action steps. The following information will help you get started in your goal setting.

Why Set Goals?

Quoting the great American industrialist Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Studies show us that setting goals is a significant contributor to success in personal and professional life. Goals provide direction and purpose to our lives. Not only is having goals important to success, but setting achievable goals is important to reach your potential.

We find that the clearer we are about what our goals are, the faster we will be to achieve them. And in doing so, the generally more happy and more successful we will be. To that end, your very health can depend upon setting and achieving your goals.

How to Set Goals

Before jumping ahead to tactics (the specific action steps you will undertake to accomplish your goals), the question “what do I really want to achieve” must be answered. The answer to that question is largely dependent upon at what stage of your practice you are. Whatever that may be, put a stake in the ground by declaring your goals, exercising a degree of realism at the same time.

While we advise that goals be realistic and attainable, you want to challenge and stretch yourself in the process. Be willing to extend a bit beyond your comfort zone. It does you no good to set goals which are beyond your realistic grasp, even with aggressive action steps to take you there.

The most productive way to state your goals is to actually write them down. Literally. Nothing like a good old piece of paper and a pen…or, a keyboard and a monitor, whatever the case may be.

What Next?

After honing in on your most important goals, the next step is to create a list of what steps you need to take to achieve them. This is the proverbial “where the rubber meets the road”.

By breaking down the goal, “expand my network”, you may want to consider the following action steps:

  • Qualify who specifically I need in my network to increase my client base
  • Research to what business/professional organizations these individuals belong (think industry groups)
  • Research local chapters of those targeted groups in your area and check event calendars
  • Schedule event dates in business calendar and attend.

That is but one sliver of a “what next” action step. To outline a series of action steps to take in achieving a goal, continue to ask the “what next” question until you broken each action steps into manageable tasks with a deadline by which you plan to have completed the individual task. By following this simple step-by-step process, you are well on your way to achieving your goals.

Stay on Track By Prioritizing

To make your action steps more achievable, outline a time frame, a way to track your steps further into smaller increments. For instance, instead of embarking on a yearly marketing plan, set smaller 90-day goals which may be broken down into monthly and even weekly goals.

As a lawyer coach, I am delighted when my clients approach their marketing plan execution in this manner by sending me their monthly goals and then updating me as they accomplish the steps needed to benchmark the goal. By these deliberative steps, I know they are committed to reaching their overall goals and our work together is valuable and worthwhile.

Sadly, many lawyers I’ve worked with over the years readily plan their billable work but do not take the same definitive steps to plan their non-billable work. To paraphrase Harvard professor and business management advisor David Maister: “What you do with your billable hours determine your income, what you do with your non-billable hours determines your future. Think of those non-billable hours as investment time.” Seriously.

To learn the requisite concrete habits you must develop to become the rainmaker you are meant to be, click the buton below for a free download of Top Habits of Successful Rainmakers. Do it today!

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