Can you really earn more by working less?

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We’ve all been taught that more is better so how is it that some people earn more and achieve more by working less?

They do it by choosing the right things to do.

The most successful among us focus on doing things that allow them to take giant leaps instead of incremental steps. The kinds of things that let them leverage their resources and get “eighty percent results with twenty percent effort”.

It’s not that they ignore the little things. It’s that at any given moment, they’re able to zero in on the one thing they can do that will give them the most bang for their buck.

Real estate entrepreneur, Gary Keller, made this the theme of his bestselling book, The ONE Thing. He says that we can become much more successful by finding and doing the one thing (activity, task, decision, etc.) that can allow us to achieve extraordinary results.

Keller suggests that we look at our goals and for each one, ask, “What’s the ‘ONE Thing’ [I] can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

If your goal is to bring in ten new clients per month within 90 days, for example, out of all the things you MIGHT do, you should find and do the one thing that is likely to make it most likely that you will achieve that goal.

Start by brainstorming possibilities. You’ll probably think of hundreds of ideas, and if you don’t, read through my blog and courses. Put your list aside for a few days, come back to it and look for your ‘one thing’.

You may reason your way to a decision, but it is just as likely that your “gut” will tell you. If you’re not sure, go through your list slowly, think about each idea and see how you feel about it. If it feels good to think about it, if you find yourself getting excited about it, the odds are that’s what you should choose.

Your ‘one thing’ will likely be different than any other lawyer’s. You might decide that your one thing is to hire someone to create a new website for you. Another lawyer might decide that his or her one thing is to meet prospective new referral sources. Someone else may decide that advertising is the right thing for them.

All of these things, and others, might help you reach your goal, but you should consider them later. Right now,  you should find your one thing and do it.

Your website can bring you a lot of new clients

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Is this the key to success?

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Pastor, business owner, speaker, and author, the late Mark Yarnell, offered his recipe for productivity and success. He said, “Work on one thing at a time. Do it right. Finish it.”

Simple. But not always easy to follow.

Working on one thing at a time is difficult for a lot of people. But it’s easy to see the value of doing so. Numerous studies prove that multi-tasking is inefficient to the extreme. Fortunately, there are strategies and tools aplenty that can help us to curb this habit.

“Do it right” certainly makes sense, but we must recognize that the way we learn to do it right is usually by first doing it wrong.

This leads to the third piece of advice, to finish what we start. That’s the key to making everything work.

When we finish what we start, we can move onto something else. No chance for multi-tasking. We’ve also learned something so the next time we do it, we should do it better.

Finishing is the “Big Kahuna” of productivity. The more things you finish, the more you accomplish. The more you accomplish, the more likely you are to succeed.

Author Philip Roth said, “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress”. What have you started but not finished?

Before you go looking for new ideas and new projects, you might want to dust off some of the half-finished projects lurking on your hard drive or in the recesses of your brain and finish them. Then go work on something else.

Dust off your marketing plan

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Focus on your destination (with exceptions)

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I walked my daughter down the aisle a couple of weeks ago. It was an outdoor ceremony at a country club, with a panoramic view of rolling hills and lush gardens.

My daughter and I waited at the top of the hill overlooking the wedding party below. Everyone was seated except for the groom and minister. We received the cue to begin walking, my daughter took my arm, and we walked down a series of stone steps which led to the aisle at the bottom of the hill.

The steps were steep and uneven and I had to look down to make sure we didn’t trip. I knew we were being videotaped and that looking down would look awkward but it couldn’t be helped. All I could think about was that if I tripped on the steps or stepped on her gown, my daughter and I would go tumbling down the hill.

At the bottom of the steps was the aisle. We walked down it, I gave her away, took my seat next to my wife, and we watched our beautiful daughter and her groom exchange their vows.

It was a proud and happy day.

A marriage is a journey. The destination is a long and happy life. You get there by staying focused on the big picture and by not letting little problems stop you.

Your work is also a journey. The destination is a long and successful career. You also get there by focusing on the big picture and by not letting bumps in the road throw you off course.

Swedish diplomat and author, Dag Hammarskjold, said, “Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.”

Long term. Big picture. Stay focused on your destination.

Good advice for a marriage or a career. Glad I didn’t listen to it when we were walking down those steps.

A successful career starts with a plan

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Are you too logical to be successful?

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I’m pretty sure that most lawyers are left-brained. We’re logical, orderly, and rule-bound.

These traits help us to be good at what we do. They make us good at drafting documents to protect our clients. They help us to see the flaws in the other party’s position and forge the right arguments against them. They help us to fill out the right forms, check the right boxes, and avoid neglecting something important.

Unfortunately, these traits might also hold us back from reaching our potential.

Logical thinking is linear. A before B followed by C. This helps us to get the work done efficiently but it often blinds us to other options.

Right-brained people operate differently. They see many options, usually all at once. They are artists and inventors and creators of new ideas. They don’t necessarily follow the rules, they often break them. As if to underscore this difference, Thomas Edison once said about his laboratory, “There ain’t no rules around here! We’re trying to accomplish something!”

As lawyers, we can’t ignore the rules, although perhaps we can remember to question them. When it comes to marketing and building our practice, however, we should consider throwing out the rules and making new ones.

I’m not suggesting we violate the law or ethical rules. I’m suggesting that we observe what everyone else is doing and do the opposite.

That should be easy. Since most lawyers aren’t good at marketing and don’t do much of it, it doesn’t take much to beat them.

In a world of blind men, the one-eyed man is king. In a world of logic-bound lawyers, a little creativity can go a long way.

How to earn more than you ever thought possible: the formula

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Working hard or hardly working?

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All our lives we’ve been told that hard work is essential to success. The person who works harder than other people generally achieves more than other people.

But is that always true? Does someone who earns a million dollars a year work ten times more than someone who earns $100k? What about people who work incredibly long hours every day but continually struggle?

We’ve also been told that there are no shortcuts to success. It doesn’t happen overnight. Okay, then how do you explain the many tech entrepreneurs who are billionaires before they’re 30?

I don’t purport to have all the answers but clearly, there isn’t an absolute causal connection between effort and results, hard work and success. There are other factors at play. That’s why I continually look for ways to work smarter.

Working smarter is about leverage. Getting bigger (or quicker) results with the same or less effort. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to do that.

You frequently hear me prattle on about the 80/20 principle. I do that because it is the quintessential illustration of leverage and I encourage you to continually look for ways to use it to increase your income and improve your life.

Where does most of your income come, for example? The odds are that a high percentage of it comes from a few things you’re doing, the so-called “20% activities that deliver 80% of your results”. Look at your practice area(s), target market(s), and marketing methods. You’re likely to see that most of your income comes from a “precious few” things, not from the “trivial many”.

When you find your precious few, do more of them. Get rid of other things to free up time and resources so that you can make that happen.

If 80% of your income now comes from one or two marketing activities, for example, doing more of those activities could increase your income by 160%. That’s because you’ll have two blocks of 20% activities instead of just one.

Back when I was a cub lawyer, struggling to figure things out, I made three changes to what I was doing and my income skyrocketed. In a matter of months. I also went from working six days a week to just three.

So nobody can tell me there aren’t any shortcuts. Now, if you will excuse me, it’s time for my nap.

How I learned to earn more and work less. Yep, it’s all here

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Dream big, start small. Or big.

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Are you the type of person who jumps into the deep end of the pool or do you dip your toes in first?

Deep-end divers usually say the water may be cold and jumping in is the quickest way to overcome the shock. Toe-dippers say they prefer to become acclimated to the cold and go all in when they’re ready.

This isn’t a referendum on swimming habits, of course. It’s a metaphor for how you handle change.

If you have a big goal you want to accomplish or a big project with lots of moving parts, do you throw yourself into it with everything you’ve got and sort it out as you go along? Or do you create a detailed plan, study and prepare before you take the first step?

Either way is fine. What’s not recommended is “none of the above,” that is, sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing. Don’t do that. Better to do something and back away if you’re not ready or you decide it’s not worth the effort.

Every experience is a learning experience and the more of them you have, the better. Half-finished projects, abandoned ideas, and unfinished first drafts are all fodder for your creative brain. Try lots of ideas and you’ll surely find some winners.

It’s also okay to use different approaches for different projects. You might start some projects by diving in and splashing about. With others, you might check the temperature before you decide what to do next.

In either case, do something. Read something. Make some notes. Talk to someone. Great accomplishments often start with very small steps. Big steps are okay, too.

For a simple marketing plan, get this

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How could I earn $500,000 per year?

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I talk to many lawyers who tell me they couldn’t afford to hire themselves. This isn’t a condemnation of their fees, it is a comment on the sad state of their income.

They’re not making much money. What can they do?

The first step to solving a problem is to admit that you have one. If you’re not earning as much as you would like to, admit it. Acknowledge your current reality.

Because if you don’t, you’re going to have a hard time changing that reality.

The next step is to ask yourself a question.

Don’t ask yourself “why” you’re not earning more, however. All you’ll get are excuses. Instead of lamenting your current state of affairs and wishing it was different, ask yourself a question that primes your subconscious mind to find the solution.

Ask yourself, “How could I earn $500,000 per year?” and let your subconscious mind go to work for you.

“How could I. . .” is a powerful question. Ask it a couple of times a day, especially just before you fall asleep. Let it percolate in the deep recesses of your brain. Let your subconscious mind come up with ideas and put them before you.

Write down all of the ideas that come forth, and keep asking.

Your brain will no doubt tell you that one thing you need to do is bring in more clients. It might even do the math for you and reveal that you need 100 new clients or cases per year, for example. So now, you have a new question to ask: “How can I bring in 100 new clients per year?”

You’ll get ideas. “Well, I could advertise. I could get more referrals. I could add more content to my site.”

Referrals sound good. So ask, “How could I get more referrals?”

More asking, more ideas. Keep asking “how” until you have some things you can do. And do them.

There are solutions to almost any problem. You may find them by accident, but you’ll have a better chance of finding them if you ask the right questions.

Don’t ask why, ask how.

To get more referrals, get this

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Never apologize for wanting to get rich

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More than two hundred years ago, Adam Smith wrote, “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our own dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest.”

Some people mistakenly accuse Adam Smith of promoting selfishness. He was merely pointing out the economic truth that a society prospers because of the collective pursuit of its citizens’ self-interest.

The merchant and the lawyer make the world a better place by pursuing their own needs and wants. They want to do more for their families and themselves. To do that, they create better products and services and sell more of them.

As individuals pursue their own self-interest, they become more industrious. Competition forces them to make better products and offer better service and lower prices. As they do better for themselves, society does better. And the more that society prospers, the more that society can do for others.

Americans are the most generous people on earth, we are told. One reason is that we have more to give.

Everyone is driven by their own self-interest. Even Mother Teresa.

She lived modestly and gave herself to others, with little thought to her own material needs. She was driven by her spiritual needs and worked hard to get her message heard. She wanted others to heed the call to help others. That was her self-interest. By pursuing her self-interest, she did make the world a better place.

Never apologize for wanting to do better. Never feel guilty for earning more than your neighbors, or for wanting to earn more still. You work hard and you deserve it. And the more you do for yourself, the more you can do for others.

If you only do for yourself, however, it can lead to selfishness.

Andrew Carnegie, of the richest men in the world in his day and also one the biggest philanthropists, earned a fortune and then gave most of it away. He said, “Successful men should help the unsuccessful into more productive lives, and a man who neglects this duty and dies rich, dies disgraced.”

Earn as much as possible so you can give away as much as possible. Because avoiding disgrace is clearly in your self-interest.

The formula for earning more than you ever thought possible

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Are you stuck in first gear?

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Do you ever feel like you’ve stuck? You work hard and do the right things but you don’t seem to be getting ahead?

You’re in a rut, my friend, but don’t worry. It’s nothing five new clients can’t fix.

Five new clients who pony up big retainers or five big cases could be all you need to jump-start your machine and shift into high gear.

You know I’m right.

So yes, I’m going to pound on marketing yet again. Can you handle it? Unless you utterly loathe what you do and you need a new career, marketing is always the answer to what ails you.

But today, instead of digging into your bag of attorney marketing tricks, I’d like to see you go in another direction.

What do I mean? I mean exposing yourself to a completely different field. Immerse yourself in something unrelated to the practice of law and see how others have built or are building a successful business or practice.

Read a book, take a class, talk to someone. Get inspired by what they did and adapt their methods or ideas to your practice.

You might be surprised to discover some great ideas that have been right under your nose this whole time.

This morning, I downloaded a Kindle book, The College Entrepreneur. I’m not in college and I’m not interested in starting a new business right now but the book is receiving high marks and was free, so clickity-click and I own a copy. I haven’t read it yet but I’m almost certain I’ll find something in it that I can use in my business.

Get thee to a bookstore and start browsing. Don’t leave until you find something to read that has nothing to do with law or even marketing or business. Learn how others have climbed the mountain of success in whatever it is they do, and then go climb your own mountain.

When you’re ready to apply what you learn to your practice, get this

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Is that the best you can do?

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Does it ever seem like there’s an invisible ceiling over your head that limits your ability to earn more income? Do you ever wonder if you’ve hit a plateau in your career?

Wonder no more, my friend. If you believe you’ve reached your peak, you have, because your beliefs determine your reality.

Your limitations are all in your head. They’ve probably been there a long time. Parental messages probably had something to do with it, and a whole bunch of other things. But what’s important isn’t how you developed your current beliefs but how you can change them.

Because if you don’t change your beliefs about yourself and about what’s possible, those beliefs are going to continue to hold you back.

How do you do it? How do you change your deep-seated, long-held beliefs?

Hypnosis? Therapy? Visiting a sweat lodge? Can you read your way to a new self-image? Take courses? Hire a coach?

To some extent, all of the above have some value because doing them, even thinking about doing them, signals your self-conscious mind that you want to change.

But I have another option for you: get some new friends.

Yep, one of the best things you can do to change your life is to spend time with different people. People who have done what you want to do and people who have what you want to have.

While you’re at it, spend less time with, or completely disassociate from, people who don’t.

The so-called “law of association” says that we become like the people we associate with most. If you hang out with people of one political persuasion, for example, the odds are you are on the same side. If they work hard, you probably do, too. If they exercise and eat well, you are more likely to do the same.

If your friends and business associates read a lot, you’re more likely to do that, and more likely to read what they’re reading. If they invest their money wisely, you are more likely to think twice before buying into the latest fad.

When we associate with people, we tend to adopt their way of looking at the world. We learn their “language”. We adopt their habits. We share many of the same beliefs. Those beliefs influence our attitude towards what we do and don’t do, and those activities determine our results.

And let’s not forget that the people we know can introduce us to other people like themselves, and open doors to new opportunities. If you want new opportunities, you need to know some new people.

Think about the people you spend the most time with right now. Your closest friends. Your colleagues. Your professional contacts. The odds are that your income and lifestyle are on a par with theirs. If you’re happy about that, great. If not, if you want to achieve more, you should probably find some new friends.

Here’s how to find and meet new professionals who can send you referrals

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