What’s on your bucket list?

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What are you not doing because it’s too risky, too expensive, or takes too much time?

What are you not doing because you are afraid?

We all have them. Things we would love to do but talk ourselves out of doing. Or postpone until it’s too late.

I’m too old. I’m not good enough. It would take too long.

But do them we must.

Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so.”

What’s on your bucket list? What do you want to do at least once before time runs out?

Something fun? Something daring? Something you’ve always wanted to try?

Pick something and do it now. Don’t wait until the time is right. Don’t avoid doing it because it is difficult. Jim Rohn said, “There are two types of pain you will go through in life, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”

It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay if you don’t know how. You’ll figure it out. “Leap, and the net will appear,” said John Burroughs.

Start with something small if you want. Then do something bigger. Make “trying new things” a habit, until you find yourself doing great things, things you’ve always wanted to do.

Twenty years from now, look me up and tell me all about it. Tell me how your life changed because you took a chance.

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What to do when you don’t feel like working

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It happens. You look at your calendar and your list of tasks for the day and you don’t want to do any of it. You don’t want to work, you don’t want to talk to anyone, you want to take the day off.

But you’ve got obligations. You have work to do and bills to pay. You can’t abandon your responsibilities.

Yes you can. It’s just one day. The work will still be there tomorrow.

Give in to your whim and take the day off. Sneak off to the movies or to the mall. Go sit in a coffee shop and read. Get back in your jammies and order in.

When you come back tomorrow, batteries recharged, you’ll plow through the work and get it done.

Before you take off, have someone contact your appointments and re-schedule them. And go through your task list for the day and prioritize everything so that when you return you can jump right in and knock out the most important tasks first.

But here’s the thing. Sometimes, giving yourself permission to take the day off is all you really need, not the actual time off. Knowing that you could play hooky provides the relief you sought. Once you have it, you realize that the work isn’t so bad and you’re ready to get back to it.

Remind yourself that you’re in charge. Even if you work for someone else, even if you have demanding clients, with demanding deadlines, you’re the boss. It’s your life and you get to decide how to run it.

If you really need a break, take it. Don’t feel guilty about it, do it. And enjoy yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

What’s that? You want to know what to do if tomorrow you still don’t feel like working? Don’t ask me. I’m taking the rest of the day off.

Get more clients and increase your income. Get The Formula.

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What will your clients want from you ten years from now?

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says that if you want to build a successful, sustainable business, don’t ask yourself what could change in the next ten years that could affect your company. Ask what won’t change, and then put all your energy and effort into that.

Bezos knew that Amazon’s customers will always want low prices and quick delivery and he invested heavily in the infrastructure and systems that allow him to provide these. He sacrificed short term profits to build something great for the long term. “When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it,” he said.

What should you invest in? What do your clients want today that they will still want ten years from now?

Well, more than anything, your clients buy “you”. So invest time and energy in becoming the best you can be. Invest in your skills, your knowledge, and your ability to communicate.

Work on your writing, speaking, and selling skills. Work on becoming a better manager and a better leader. Invest as much as 25% of your time in personal and professional development.

There are other things clients want from you, related to your specific practice area(s), services, and client types. Figure out what those are and invest in them, too. If you find that your clients really want services performed quickly, for example, focus your energy on finding ways to do that.

But mostly, focus on making the best you possible so you can attract the best clients possible.

If you want to learn how to differentiate yourself from other lawyers, get The Formula

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Happy people don’t become terrorists

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If more people in the world were happy, there would be less murder and mayhem and more peace and prosperity.

If more people were happy, the world would be a better place.

A happy world starts with happy people. It starts with you and me. We have a duty to the world, to our families, and to ourselves, to be happy. To infect our neighbors with our happiness, so they can do the same.

Let’s create a worldwide epidemic of happiness, shall we?

And so we have a plan. Our ongoing task is to find happiness in everything we do. To look at and think about things that make us happy, and avoid things that don’t.

Indeed, our thoughts are the only way to become happy. Dale Carnegie said, “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.”

If you’re not happy, change your thoughts. Stop thinking about what’s missing or wrong and start thinking about what could be.

When you see evil, recognize it and call it out. Protect yourself from it and take action to defeat it. But don’t dwell on it. Don’t let it consume you. Don’t let it stop you from being happy.

Over the years, I have become quite good at compartmentalizing my thoughts. If a negative thought enters my mind, or when I hear someone say something negative, I say “cancel” and let go of any emotions attached to it. For good measure, I often replace that negative thought with its positive counterpart.

We become what we think about. I want to make sure I think about what I want, not what I don’t want, and what I want is to be happy.

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Why you don’t have time for marketing

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You know that you should be marketing your legal servicees. You tell yourself, “I don’t have the time,” so you don’t.

The thing is, you don’t have the time because you tell yourself you don’t.

Every time you repeat to yourself (or anyone) that you don’t have the time, or you’re too busy to do something, you close the door on the subject. You do the same thing when you say, “I don’t know how,” or “I don’t know where to begin.”

Maybe you don’t want to do it. You don’t want to write content, network, or engage people on social media. You don’t want to make videos or advertise or do seminars. If you don’t want to do something, that’s okay. You don’t have to.

But if you want to do something, and you honestly think you don’t have time to do it (or to learn how to do it), you’re not going to find the time until you change your rhetoric.

Instead of declaring that you don’t have the time, case closed, turn the thought into a question. Don’t say, “I don’t have the time,” say, “How can I find the time?” In so doing, you will command your subconscious mind to find answers for you.

Ask, “How can I find the time to market my services?” Ask that question several times throughout the day. Do it for a week or a month. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself with more than enough time. (NB: I am told this works best when you ask the question out loud.)

It works the same way for anything you want or any problem you want to solve.

How can I earn more money this year? How can I lose twenty pounds without going to the gym? How can I improve my relationship with [whoever]?

Ask “how,” “what,” “where,” and “who” questions. Who can I ask? Where can I find? What are my options for getting? Questions like these frame the issue in a way that pre-supposes there are solutions, making it more likely that those solutions will be found.

Avoid “why” questions, which usually reinforce the problem. If you ask, “Why don’t I have the time?” your subconscious will find all the reasons, real or imagined, and justify your belief that you don’t have time.

You have the time. You can get what you want. Don’t shut the door on things you want but think you can’t have. Ask questions that lead to solutions.

Ask and it will be given; seek and you will find.

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Take a loser to lunch

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An excellent way to grow your practice is to spend time with other lawyers. Once a week, invite a successful lawyer to lunch and get to know about them and their practice.

Look for ways you can help each other, with referrals, introductions, promoting each others events and content, guest posts, and so on. Ask lots of questions about what they want and need and look for ways to help them.

But don’t stop there. Learn from their successes. Ask questions about how they market their services and look for ideas you can use to market yours. What do they do, where do they do it, how did they get better at doing it?

Jim Rohn said, “If you want to be successful, study success.”

Also keep your ears open for what hasn’t worked for them, or hasn’t worked as well. Learn from their mistakes.

If you can see what they’re doing wrong, offer suggestions on how they can improve. If they aren’t getting as much traffic to their website as they want to, for example, share what’s working for you.

On that note, every once in awhile you might want to spend time with unsuccessful attorneys. Find someone who isn’t doing well and take them to lunch. Ask about what they’re doing and then do the opposite.

More on joint ventures: The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Starting is the key to finishing

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I’m about to start a big project, a new marketing course. I’m excited about it but the immensity of it all weighs on me.

When I think about all of the work I have to do, I feel resistance. I want to do other things instead. So, I don’t think about all that I have to do. Instead, over the last several weeks, I’ve been making notes and working on my outline.

The project isn’t something I “plan” to do, I’m already doing it.

Yesterday, I talked about how you do big things by doing lots of little things. How I wrote 1009 blog posts and created an online marketing machine not by writing 1009 posts but by writing one post and then writing another. Once I wrote the first one, it was easier to write the next one.

It turns out there is a scientific basis for this, called the Zeigarnik Effect. “Just get started, because humans have an instinctive drive to finish a task once they’ve begun it.”

The Zeigarnik Effect is “a tendency to experience automatic, intrusive thoughts about a goal that one has pursued but the pursuit of which has been interrupted. … That is, if you start working toward a goal and fail to get there, thoughts about the goal will keep popping into your mind while you are doing other things, as if to remind you to get back on track to finish reaching that goal.”

Is there something you’d like to do but find yourself procrastinating? Start it. Do something, even if it’s just five minutes. If it’s something you need to write, write just one sentence.

You can write one sentence, can’t you? Do it. Write one sentence today. Tomorrow, write another sentence. Keep going, one sentence at at a time, until it becomes a habit.

But here’s the thing. Once you have started, you probably won’t stop. You’ll write more than one sentence. You’ll work longer than five minutes. This too has been confirmed scientifically. Once we begin something and realize that things aren’t as hard or intimidating as we thought they were, we tend to continue.

Go ahead and try it. Go through your list of projects, pick one you have been putting off, and do something on it (anything) for five minutes today. Or write one sentence today.

Because starting is the key to finishing.

Need ideas for blog posts or newsletter article? This will help

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You get a lot done by consistently doing a little

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I just passed the 1000 blog post milestone. 1009 to be exact. That’s 1009 ways someone could find my blog through search engines. 1009 snippets of my wisdom that could convince a visitor to follow me. 1009 pages someone might share with their connections or link to from their blog.

It’s a body of work that brings prospective clients to my virtual door and convinces them to do business with me.

Sound good? Sure. And daunting. If you had told me a few years ago that I would write 1009 posts, I would have thought you were crazy. And yet here I am.

How do you write 1009 posts? You don’t. You write one post, and then you write another.

You get a lot done by consistently doing a little.

That’s why I say you can successfully market your practice in as little as 15 minutes a day. It’s not how much you do today necessarily, it’s what you do in the aggregate over time.

If you have some big projects you’re thinking about tackling, don’t let their immensity put you off. Any project, no matter how big, can be broken down into bite size pieces. Isn’t that how we eat an elephant?

Also, the more you do something, the better you get at it. I’d like to think I write better today than I did a few years ago. I’m also faster. I can knock out a blog post or email in just a few minutes.

What do you want to accomplish this year? Okay, hit the deck and give me 15 (minutes).

Do you know the formula for marketing your law practice? Here it is

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Don’t break the chain

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You know a lawyer whose practice is rocking. More business than she can handle, lots of money, busy as all hell. Three years ago, she had just opened her doors. No clients, tiny office, nothing happening.

How did she get from a standing start to where she is today?

Many factors could have contributed to her growth, including talent, connections, hard work, and luck. But one factor may be more important than you might think.

Momentum.

When she started her practice, she did some things to bring in business, and then she kept doing them. She got better at them, and did them faster. She got progressively bigger results. Those results compounded and she continued to grow, until her practice reached the tipping point and became the juggernaut it is today.

Momentum is a critical factor in anything we do. Creating it is the hardest part of anything we do.

It’s like pushing a car from a dead stop. It takes a lot of effort to overcome inertia, but once the car starts rolling, it gets easier, and then easier still, until you have to do little more than lean on it to keep it going.

Alrighty then, how do we create momentum?

We do it with consistency.

Whatever it is you need to do, you do it regularly. You don’t “do” some marketing this week and pick it up again in six months. You do a little bit every day or every week.

You get better at it. It becomes easier. You do it faster and get better results.

Your results affect other areas of your life. If you build momentum with an exercise program, you get more energy to do other things. You might finally be able to read that book you’ve been wanting to read, or start that new website project.

When you write a blog post or newsletter article each week, you become a better writer, of course, but you may also become a better speaker. You may get better at networking, too, as you reach out to other professionals to invite them to do a guest post for you and as they do the same for you.

When Jerry Seinfeld was starting out, he promised himself that he would write one new joke every day. Every day he did it, he made a mark on his calendar. As the marks piled up, he kept going because he didn’t want to “break the chain”.

In any area you want to improve, find something you can do and do it. Walk for ten minutes three times a week. Write two paragraphs every morning. Invite one professional to lunch every week.

Get started and don’t break the chain. Consistency breeds momentum, and momentum breeds results.

If you need a marketing plan that really works, get this

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When was the last time you failed at something big?

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We’ve heard the rhetoric many times before. Lawyers are risk adverse, we don’t make good entrepreneurs, we’re not good in business.

And it’s true. Most lawyers are overly cautious. It’s in our nature.

But without risk, there is no reward. As Robert Kennedy put it, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

Fear of failure is the biggest obstacle to our success. But this fear is often unreasonable.

What holds us back is that we tend to overestimate the cost of failure. We imagine dire consequences and worst case scenarios that are greatly unrealistic in their scope and very unlikely to occur. (Researchers have found that eight-five percent of what we worry about never happens.)

We also underestimate the potential rewards of our actions. One good idea or relationship can make us rich.

It comes down to this: If you want to be more successful, you’ve got to try new things and take more risks.

If you try something and it doesn’t work, you learn from it. As Napoleon Hill tells us, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

Okay, take more risks. Got it. But how?

I think we start by taking small risks more frequently. We get in the habit of regularly trying new things, things that might not work but which have limited downside.

We get used to the experience of failing often, but on a small scale.

As we see that most things work out most of the time, and that when they don’t we easily recover, we eventually take bigger risks.

In other words, we learn how to take risks by taking risks.

Start by changing the way you look at the ideas that cross your path. Instead of rejecting many of them automatically, as we both know you do, collect them and put them on a list called “maybe”.

Then, once a week or so, choose something on that list and try it. If it doesn’t work, if you hate it, if someone you report to says you can’t do that anymore, you will have learned something and you can try something else.

And whenever you feel the tug of fear that seeks to hold you back, remember what Mark Twain said: “My life has been filled with calamities, some of which actually happened.”

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