When your goals are bigger than your gonads

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If you ever feel down about how little you’ve accomplished this week/this year/this lifetime, you’re not alone. We all feel that way from time to time. 

We set goals that are beyond our current capabilities. We take on too many projects at the same time. Or we let our fears get the better of us and stop us in our tracks.

Hey, we have big appetites. Big plans. And that’s good. So what if we don’t hit all our targets? We tried. We didn’t wimp out and settle for what’s easy, we took a shot at something great. 

So don’t beat yourself up for what you haven’t done. Even if you didn’t come close to hitting your goal, the odds are you’ve done a lot more than you realize. 

Look at your calendar for the last six months. Look at all the tasks you’ve crossed off your to-do list. Think about all of your works-in-progress (cases, client work product, projects, etc.) and reflect on the progress you’ve made. 

Celebrate what you’ve done and how far you’ve come. 

Really. You need to celebrate your awesomeness. 

Take a selfie and show the world your best stink-eye. Take a day off the diet and get you some Rum Raisin. Sing along with some stadium rock and wave your foam finger. 

Because you ARE a champion. A bad-ass, foam finger waving, Superbowl-quality champion.

Just make sure your windows are closed and the shades are drawn. Your neighbors are worried enough about you. 

If you’re not into football, here’s something else to watch

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No, the damn thing didn’t get up and walk out the door

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My wife and I can’t find “the clicker”–the remote control for our TV. We’ve looked everywhere–in the couch cushions, under chairs, in other rooms, but no luck. 

Usually when we lose something–sunglasses, keys, our sanity–we retrace our steps, look again, and eventually find the thing. Usually, right under our nose.

But not this time. This time, we’re convinced the clicker got up and walked out the front door. 

Okay, we know it probably got thrown out somehow and when we get tired of getting up every time we want to change something, we’ll buy a replacement. Until then, the struggle is real. 

The other day I heard from an attorney who is having trouble finding something. She’s looking for attorneys in another jurisdiction to whom she can refer some clients. “It is not hard to find someone who talks a great game,” she said. “But when it comes to actually getting things done, it’s been almost always rather lacking.”

The answer is probably right under her nose. 

One of the best ways to find attorneys to whom you can refer your clients is also one of the best ways to vet them. Talk to attorneys you know. 

Ask them who they would hire? Ask them who they recommend?

When you hear the same names being mentioned by two or three attorneys you know and trust, you’ve probably found someone you can trust. 

If the attorneys you know don’t have any names for you, ask them who they know who might know some good attorneys and talk to those folks. 

The same is true when you’re looking for any professional or business. Ask people you know and trust for referrals to people they know and trust. 

Now if I can just get the couch to tell me where the clicker went. 

Go here for more ways to find referral sources

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How to stop being a perfectionist

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Are you a perfectionist? Sometimes? About some things?

Yeah, me too. 

Trouble is, our perfectionism causes us to spend more time on a single task than necessary, to the detriment of our other responsibilities. We get fewer things done and are often miserable as we struggle to do them. 

Perfectionism is a bad habit. Fortunately, habits can be changed. Or rather, replaced with a better habit. 

When I’m involved in a big project like creating a major presentation or writing a book, the weight of the task and my innate tendency towards perfectionism often lead me to procrastinate.  

No bueno

When I find that happening, I repeat a mantra. “Progress, not perfection,” I say to myself. It reminds me to keep moving forward and gives me permission to create a terrible first draft, because I know I can fix it later.

Another thing I might do is schedule a deadline. “No matter what, I’m going to finish the research for this thing this weekend.”

It helps when I share that deadline with someone who can hold me accountable. 

Finally, when I find myself pushing to improve something that’s already good, perhaps editing a draft for the 27th time, I remind myself that I’m not getting any younger and I have all these other things I want to accomplish. 

Does it work? Sometimes. But sometimes is better than never.

Anyway, I don’t think any of us can ever stop being a perfectionist. All we can do is get used to the idea that done is always better than perfect.

How about you? What do you do to combat perfectionism or procrastination?

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Who are you and why should I hire you?

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In any competitive market, your number one challenge is to stand out from your competition. After all, you have to get noticed before you can get hired. 

One of the best ways to stand out is to show the market that you are better at what you do than other lawyers in your market. If you can do that, you should. 

But proving you’re better isn’t easy.  

The alternative? Show them you are different. 

Let’s say you handle personal injury cases. Thousands of other attorneys offer the same services. What could you do to stand out?

You might create a blog that’s targeted to a specific type of client–industry, type of business or work, ethnicity, religion, or outside interest (e.g., classic car enthusiasts).

You might create videos of you sitting in front of the camera answering FAQs from prospective clients or telling war stories about some of your interesting cases.  

You might write a book about what to do when you are injured in an accident. 

You don’t have to do anything huge. Just different. Something other attorneys don’t do. Something prospective clients and referral sources will notice and remember. 

When they say, “Oh yeah, you’re the attorney who does those videos,” or “You’re the attorney who wrote that book,” you know you’re doing it right. 

In a competitive market, different is often better than better. It’s certainly a lot easier.  

How to stand out in a competitive market

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How I prioritize my day

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In the past, before I knew any better, I allowed my client work to dictate my schedule. Unless I had a court appearance, an appointment or a hearing to prepare for, my day consisted of starting at the top of the stack of files on my desk and trying to get through as much of it as possible before it was time to go home. 

As my secretary took calls and did the work I had assigned her, she would replenish the stack of files. When the phone rang, when the mail or a delivery arrived, that work got added to the mix.

I got a lot done but every day was chaotic and stressful and every day I went home exhausted. My big projects, therefore,  usually resided on the back burner.   

Today, I prioritize work differently. I do my best to follow two simple rules.

1. Instead of trying to get everything done, I focus on getting the most important thing(s) done;

2. I try to do the most important thing(s) first. 

The most important things are tasks and projects that provide me with the most value. In productivity parlance, they are my “big rocks” and big rocks go in first. (If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, watch this video.)

If I was still practicing, my big rocks would include things that provide my clients with the most value because that usually provides me with the most value.

I don’t always start with the most important work. Urgent matters crop up. Sometimes, I haven’t allowed enough time to finish something that’s due and I have to fit that in. And sometimes, I like to take care of a bunch of small things first, to get them out of the way and free up more time to work on a big project. 

But generally speaking, I prioritize my day by focusing on quality, not quantity. 

If want to do this, start by figuring out what quality means to you, not just at work but in other aspects of your life. If time with your family is important to you, for example, add this “big rock” to your schedule before you schedule anything else.

Because big rocks go in first.

Have you seen my referral marketing course?

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Try this technique with your to-do list?

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Did you notice that the title of this message is phrased as a question? It’s done that way on purpose, to illustrate a “hack” for breathing new life into tasks that are languishing on your list. 

The idea is that by phrasing the task as a question, you will think about it in a different light. You’ll either see the value of doing the task or give yourself permission not to. 

Let’s say you have a task you know you should do but don’t really have to do and have been putting off. Something like calling a professional contact to get caught up.  

On your list: “Call Joe Johnson”. Re-written: “Call Joe Johnson?”

When you read the task as a statement, it leaves you cold. You see it as a chore and your attention wanders off to other items on your list. 

Phrased as a question, however, you may start thinking about an interesting aspect of the task or the value of completing it. 

You may think about a case Joe told you about and be curious about the outcome. You might remember something interesting about his personal life. You might recall your last conversation about football, the referral you gave him last year, or a marketing idea you and he discussed. 

In this light, you may be inspired to make that call. 

In the words of the author of the article, phrasing the task as a question can help “Rekindle the excitement that made you write it down.”

Sometimes, converting a task into a question is as simple as adding a question mark, he says. Sometimes, you need to rephrase the task. And no, this doesn’t work for everything and it is subject to losing its effectiveness if you use it too often. 

But worth a try. Or rather, worth a try?


The Ultimate Guide to Social Media For Business Owners, Professionals, and Entrepreneurs, a new book by attorney Mitch Jackson and a distinguished panel of co-authors, is getting rave reviews, including my own. Lots of ideas from people who know what they’re doing. Check it out

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What does success look like to you?

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What does success look like to you? Fame? Fortune? Raising your kids to be good people? Leading a long and healthy life? Loving relationships? Changing the world? Seeing the world?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer. It’s your life, after all. Nor are you limited to choosing any one thing. (You can make a boatload of money and raise great kids.)

If I had to choose one thing, one metric for defining and measuring success, I would probably use the following definition that just arrived in my email: 

“The standard of success in life isn’t the things. It isn’t the money or the stuff — it is absolutely the amount of joy you feel.”

This takes care of everything, doesn’t it? If you are happy about your income, for example, doesn’t that mean you are successful? 

Now, if you’re happy about something like your income, it doesn’t mean you can’t increase it. In fact, I believe that being happy about your income is the very thing that will allow you to increase it. 

Why?

Because we get what we focus on.

Focus on the joy you feel about your income (or whatever), and you’ll get more of it. Focus on “not enough” income, however,  and you’ll get more of “not enough”.

Is this The Law of Attraction? Our subconscious mind and reticular activating system at work? God’s will? 

I’m not sure. But it’s what I believe. 

Thing is, we don’t have to understand how this works. We don’t even have to believe it. We just need to do it. 

And, even if I’m wrong about all of this, if we don’t get what we focus on and joy is just a three-letter word, there’s nothing wrong with feeling good about your life, is there?

It feels good to get more referrals

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What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

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You have a problem. An unanswered question. A big decision to make. You want something but don’t know how to get it. 

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? 

Here are five ways to figure that out:  

(1) Research  

Let’s start with the obvious: Sometimes, you just need more information. More facts, more ideas, more examples to look at and sift through. Learn more about the problem, the risks, and the options. Let what you find dictate the best course of action.

That’s where I usually start. You too, I’m sure. But sometimes, more information doesn’t help, it leads to more indecision. 

(2) Write it out (e.g., in a journal) or talk it out (e.g., into a recording app) 

Sometimes, the answer is already inside us, we just need to give it a voice. Speak or write your thoughts, your ideas, your fears, your questions. Get them all out of your head. 

What do I want? Why do I want it? What will it do for me if I get it?

Is there another way to get that? What information do I need to know? What skills do I need to develop? What are my strengths? Who is doing/has done what I want to do?

If that doesn’t give you the answer. . .

(3) Talk to someone  

Talk to a friend, a colleague, someone who has been in your shoes or someone who can be a sounding board for you and help you talk it out.  

Or, hire an expert, a consultant or coach. Someone who can advise you and help you sort through the options and make the right decision.  

Or, talk to a lot of someones, e.g., your clients. Conduct a survey, find out what they think, what they want, what they’re willing to pay for.  

Or, talk to God. 

(4) Do what you want to do, not what you think you should do  

Damn the facts, do what you want to do.  

Imagine yourself choosing different options and see how each one feels. Not the solution or result, the “doing”. Your gut will tell you which one feels right, and your gut is usually right.

(5) Do nothing

True, making no decision is making a decision but sometimes that’s the best decision. Leave things where they are. What’s the worst that can happen?

Doing nothing might give you space and time you need to let the right answer come to you. Walk away for a day or a month and come back to the question with a fresh perspective. 

Your turn. What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Have you taken my free referral course?

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Client street is a two-way street

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Keep your clients happy. Deliver good results. Service (with a smile). Do a good job for your clients and you will be well-paid for your work.

Yes, but that’s not the whole story. 

You work for your clients, it’s true, but your clients also work for you. 

Oh, not literally, but that should be your attitude. You should expect that your clients will do things for you beyond merely paying your bill (on time). 

You should expect them to provide a positive review about you, for example, on one or more review sites. 

You should expect that they will provide you with a written testimonial, and give you permission to use it in your marketing. 

You should expect that they will “like” and “share” and “upvote” your articles, posts, videos, and other content, promoting you to their friends and followers and social media connections. 

If they have a blog or channel, you should expect them to mention you or interview you or offer you a guest post. 

You should expect them to tell their friends and clients about you, pass out your cards and brochures, and refer people who need your help.

Now, some lawyers actually talk to their clients about these things. They ask them to share and post and refer. There are ways to do that without making either the lawyer or client feel uncomfortable. But you don’t have to ask.

When you expect clients to refer, even if you never come right out and ask them to do it, they’ll pick up on the idea and come through for you. 

I call it “building a referral culture in your practice” and I talk about this in my (free) referral marketing course.

Here’s the link to the course.

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Taking inventory

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If you want to make this year better than last year, a good place to start is by taking inventory. 

What do you have in terms of cases or clients, relationships, and hard assets? 

Go through your calendar and apps and note how you spent your time. Similarly, go through your financial apps and note how you spent your money. 

As you examine last year, write down the positive experiences–victories, successful projects, good decisions, areas of growth.

Also write down the negative experiences–mistakes, failed projects, unresolved problems, unrealized plans. 

What did you do well? What can you improve?

As you do this, consider the people in your life. With whom did you associate most? What value did they bring you? How might your relationships be improved? Is there anyone you need to spend less time with or remove completely from your life?

Finally, go through your notes and write down the opportunities you see for this year. Projects, new habits or relationships, areas for improvement. 

To create your future, examine your past and learn from it. 

But don’t dwell on it. 

Don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes or missed opportunities, but don’t rest on your victories, either. 

The past is prologue. Use it to write your future.

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