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You’re not thinking big enough

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Time to start thinking about next year. Setting goals, making plans.

How much would you like to grow your practice and income? Ten percent? Twenty? Twenty-five?

You’re not thinking big enough.

Do yourself a favor and choose a bigger goal. A much bigger goal, such as growing your practice and income by 250%.

Crazy? Impossible? Not going to happen?

For just a minute, stop thinking like a lawyer and hear me out.

There are two reasons for choosing bigger goals.

The first reason is that when you set a target of 25% growth, you tend to focus on doing things that can bring incremental growth–better execution, new ways to do what you’re already doing well, fixing things that are holding you back.

That’s okay but if you fall short, you might achieve only 5 or ten percent growth. When you shoot for 250% growth and you fall short, you might “only” double your income.

Which leads to the second reason.

Setting a big, audacious, crazy goal of increasing your income by 250% forces you to do things that are radically different than what you’re doing now.

You can’t simply do things better, you have to do better things.

You’re forced to get creative, think outside the box, and take massive action because that’s the only way you’re going to hit your target. Small, incremental goals don’t have the power to inspire you to do that.

So ask yourself, “How can I grow my income 250% next year?” And get excited because things are going to change for you.

Because while your conscious mind is telling you it can’t be done, your subconscious mind is looking for ways to make it happen.

Thinking outside the box about getting more referrals

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Measure What Matters: a different take on goals setting

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If you’re looking for a new take on goal setting (and achieving), take a look at the book, Measure What Matters, by John Doerr. I just read a synopsis and was intrigued by the way his system has you choose and monitor key metrics to keep you moving toward your goal.

His O.K.R. (Objective, Key Results) Goal Setting System has three key ingredients:

(1) An Audacious Objective. Set big goals that inspire you but that aren’t so big that you don’t believe you can achieve them.

(2) Quality and Quantity Key Results. Choose 3-5 metrics (e.g., revenue, new clients, referrals, new subscribers, etc.) that allow you to measure progress towards your goal.

Metrics should be quantitative, e.g., 100 new newsletter subscribers per month, and qualitative, e.g., from search terms like ‘divorce attorneys Orange County’–so you’re getting subscribers who are searching for an attorney to hire, not just looking for free information.

(3) Color-Coded Check-ins. Each week, month, or quarter, look at each of your key results and label them green, yellow or red.

GREEN: indicates you are 70 to 100% on target. Continue doing what you’re doing.
YELLOW: you are 30-70% on target. In this case, you should develop a “recovery plan,” to get back on target.
RED: you are 0 to 30% on target. Create a recovery plan or replace the key result with something different.

Doerr says that if one of your key results are almost always green, however, meaning you’re nearly 100% on target most of the time, your goals or the key results metrics aren’t challenging enough and you should adjust them to get a mix of green and yellow.

I like this system because it forces you to choose appropriate metrics, helps you monitor your progress, and allows you to change what you’re doing when you’re either not hitting your target or you’re hitting it too often.

How to get more subscribers for your newsletter

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What were you doing one year ago?

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Author and artist Karen Lamb said, “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”

So true.

A year goes by in about ten minutes. A year ago we were making big plans and setting big goals and here we are, one year later, having done nothing about them.

News flash: we’re not going to live forever. We need to get on with things before it’s too late and we shuffle off to the big after-party in the sky.

How can we do that? How can we accomplish more of our goals?

One way is to have fewer goals. Sure, make a long “someday” list but in the short term, pick a few things that matter most.

How about this: pick one thing you’d like to be, do, or have one year from now. Something exciting. Something you could start today and make happen in the next twelve months or less.

Make it something good. Something that makes you all tingly inside when you think about it.

Got something? Good. That feeling will help you to get started and keep going when you get distracted by other things.

But it may not be enough.

You’ve been down this path before. You had exciting plans last year and, well, here you are.

Why should this year be different?

Okay, here’s what you need to do. Instead of relying merely on your desire for gain, as exciting as it is, a fear of losing what you want is more powerful.

You imagine having it. You want it. It’s yours. And then it’s not.

Imagine it’s one year from now and you don’t have it. You’re not even close. You haven’t even started.

How does it feel to realize that you let another year go by and did nothing?

Disappointed? Sad? Angry?

Get in touch with THAT feeling. It will help you to make this year different.

Transform your practice by getting more referrals

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Plan, do, review redux

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Success means different things to different people. And the definition changes. Your goals from three years ago might be very different today.

So today, review your goals and plans, to make sure you’re going where you want to go and you’re on track to getting there.

Here are some questions to ask:

  1. RESULTS: What does success look like for me? Imagine things five or ten years from now. What are you doing? Who are you doing it with? Big firm or small? How many clients? What type of cases? How much money? How much time?
  2. SKILLS: In order to achieve the results I want, what skills do I need to acquire or improve? Which tools do I need to acquire, upgrade or master? What books should I read? How should I continue my education?
  3. NICHES: Which niche markets should I target? What does my ideal client look like? What kinds of referral sources would be a good fit? What can I do to dominate my niche(s)?
  4. PEOPLE: What kinds of people should I associate with? Who do I want to meet, model, and work with? Who should I spend less time with?
  5. HABITS: What should I do more often? What should I stop doing or curtail? Which new habits should I acquire? How can I do them more consistently?
  6. SYSTEMS: What processes should I implement into my workflow? What checklists, forms, templates, and methods should I develop or adopt? How should I manage and track my tasks, projects, and goals?

Answering these questions will help you create a plan. Answering these questions again, at least annually, will help you evaluate your progress, correct course, and get where you want to go.

This will help you choose your niche market and ideal client

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Do your goals scare you?

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You have a goal. A big one, I hope. My question is, “Does it scare you?”

Some say our goals shouldn’t be stressful. When we think about them and work towards them, we should be filled with pleasant thoughts. If our goal doesn’t do that, they say, we should choose a different goal.

But is this true?

I say any goal worth having should be scary. If it isn’t, it means we’re playing it safe. We should choose goals that make us a bit anxious. After all, anxiety and excitement are two sides of the same coin.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t choose a goal that is so big it scares us to even think about it. We tend to dismiss those kinds of goals as impossible pipe dreams.

Take a look at your big goal. What benefits will you obtain if you hit it? How will you be better off? That’s what’s at stake for you and the idea of attaining this should make your heart beat a little faster.

Also, think about how you will you feel if you don’t reach your goal. Take a moment to explore the sadness and disappointment this would cause.

Ultimately, there should be a balance between the two. Just enough at stake on the upside to keep you excited and motivated every day, and just enough at risk to remind you why it is so important.

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A few thoughts about goal setting

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If you’re about to sit down and write some goals for the new year, there are a few things you should consider.

First, understand that the purpose of goal setting is to gain clarity about what’s important to you, and thus worthy of your focus and commitment. You have limited time and resources so limit your goals to no more than three. One is better. One big goal for the year, the achievement of which will make everything else easier or better.

Second, goal setting isn’t done until you determine what you need to do to achieve the goal and you commit to doing it.

You can’t control outcomes, you can only control your behavior. What activities will you do to achieve your goal? What new habits will you acquire? What will you give up so you have the time and energy to do what’s needed?

Finally, make sure your goal is something you truly want, not something you think you should want or something someone else wants for you.

When you think about the goal and imagine having achieved it, you should feel excited. As you imagine yourself doing the daily work needed to achieve your goal, you should be just as excited.

The right goal will pull you forward. When you wake up each day, your first thoughts will naturally be about your goal and the work you are doing to achieve it, and you will feel good about that. You’ll want to run to your desk and get to work. You’ll want to stay up late reading, making notes, writing down ideas.

If it’s the right goal, you will, as Napoleon Hill said, have a burning desire to achieve it. You will be single-minded in your devotion to it. You will be like a successful friend of mine who describes himself as, “a monomaniac on a mission”.

Examine the goal you have chosen and see how you feel about it. If it feels good, you won’t struggle to achieve it. Yes, you’ll work hard but the time will pass quickly, and if you fall short, you won’t mind that much because you’ll know where you’re going and you’ll know you’ll get there.

This will help you set and achieve your marketing goals

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Goals for the new year beyond

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My daughter and her husband are in town and have been going with me on some of my walks. I learned from them that I don’t need a wearable device to measure the number of steps I take in a day, I can do that with an app. And so now I’m tracking my steps.

But that damn app is mocking me. Granted, it’s only been a couple of days (over Christmas), but it’s telling me I’m nowhere near the 10,000 steps it sets as the default.

I’ve been walking six days a week now for several months and it’s going well. I’m losing weight and getting stronger and it’s a habit I know I can keep. But I’m so far from the goal it’s not motivating me, it’s doing just the opposite.

What to do?

Do I lower the goal from 10,000 steps for now and increase it once I hit it?

Do I leave the goal at 10,000 steps and work harder?

Or do I give it a week, see how it’s going, then decide?

You might have a similar process to go through in your goal setting for the coming year.

Let’s say you would like to gross one million dollars in 2018. You know that’s unlikely but not impossible. You also know that if you get to the middle of the year and you’re not even close to the pace you need to be, you’ll probably get discouraged and tell yourself “next year”. (You know this because that’s what happened last year.)

I have a suggestion. Something I’ve written about before (and done). It’s a way to set goals that you never fail to achieve.

That’s because instead of setting a singular goal, you set three versions of the goal.

Version one is your “dream” goal. Let’s say that’s $1,000,000 gross. You know you probably won’t hit it but just thinking about it gets you excited and motivated to explore new ideas and increase your activity level.

Version two is your “target” goal, something you know will take significant effort but is not out of reach. If you grossed $500,000 this year, your target goal for next year might be $600,000. You know you will have to work hard to get there but you see that this is something you can probably accomplish without herculean effort.

The third version of your goal is your “minimum”. It’s something you absolutely know you can do without much in the way of extra effort. You keep doing what you’ve been doing, and a little more, and you’re almost certain to get there. Your minimum goal might be $550,000.

Breaking up your goals this way all but ensures that you’ll accomplish one of them. You are thus continually hitting goals, feeling good about it, and inspired to reach higher.

If I apply this to walking, my dream goal is 10,000 steps, 5,000 is my target, and 4,000 is my minimum.

And, yippy skippy, I see I’m already close to hitting my minimum for the day.

What are the three versions of your marketing goals?

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The list’s the thing

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We like lists, don’t we? They help us remember what to do, when, and in what order. They help us do our work, buy our groceries, and remember who was naughty and who was nice.

As you sit down to plan the upcoming year, you might want to add a few more lists to your collection. Here are some examples, along with what you might include on each list:

  1. Daily: Outgoing phone calls, exercise, vitamins, writing in your journal, 15 minutes for marketing, personal development, reading, tidy up desktop
  2. Weekly: Weekly review, staff meeting, writing your newsletter, paying bills
  3. Monthly: Planning, review accounting ledgers, review goals, meetings, review advertising
  4. Quarterly: Board meeting(s), pay estimated taxes, update software, remind clients to conduct board meeting
  5. Yearly: Year-end review, goal setting, planning, sending docs to CPA, physical checkup, Christmas cards, remind clients to review leases

You’ll want to have sub-lists for many of these. For example, a checklist for your weekly review.

If you’re really into lists, you might also consider a list for every morning, every evening, every weekday, or every Saturday.

Put the date and time of the activities on your lists on your calendar. I suggest you maintain the actual lists elsewhere, however, to make it easier to review and update them.

I also suggest you create a “list of lists”. If you keep your lists in Evernote, for example, create a “Table of Contents” note with links to each of your lists. Drag that master list to your “favorites” in the left sidebar for quick access.

Evernote for Lawyers

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Asking questions

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You’re good at asking questions. You do it for a living. Questions help you discover the truth, open and close doors and get a grasp on where to go next with a case or a line of questioning.

Asking questions can also help you clarify your goals and what you’re doing to achieve them.

Look at your calendar and your task list. All of the projects you’re working on, upcoming appointments, meetings, calls, emails, things you have to research, documents you need to prepare. Your day is filled with work and you’re getting most of it done.

Things are good.

You’re bringing in clients, making money, building a future. Don’t stop there. Don’t settle for the status quo. You can always do better.

Make it a habit to ask yourself questions about what you’re doing. Start with the big picture:

How can I earn what I’m earning and work fewer hours?

How can I increase my income without doing more work?

How can I bring in more clients at less expense?

How can I bring in bigger cases or better clients?

Not, “Can I?” but “How can I?” Assume you can.

Cogitate on questions like these. There are answers. You will find them. But only if you ask.

More.

Before you start a new task, ask yourself, Why am I doing this right now? Maybe it can be done later. Maybe someone else can do it. Maybe it doesn’t need to be done at all.

Asking why helps you to prioritize.

That’s “how” and “why”. You should also ask yourself “when” and “what”.

What should I do differently? When would be the best time? What should I add or remove?

Don’t forget “who”. Who should I talk to? Who could help me with this? Who do I know? Who do I want to know?

Ask questions about everything. Perhaps you are in the habit of scheduling new client appointments at a time that’s convenient to the client. Is this the best policy?

I don’t know. Ask more questions. Does accommodating the new client interfere with something else you should be doing? Does it impair your ability to finish things you’ve promised to other clients? Does it send a subliminal message that you’re hungry for business?

Interrogate yourself about who, what, when why, and how. Use your skills to spot the issues. State the arguments, for and against. Yes, I know, you could argue either side and all sides, all day long. You’re good at that, too. But don’t get caught up in that. Make a decision. Take action. See what happens.

Then you can ask more questions.

More questions to help you decide

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Your goals are too big to box with God

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Time flies. Another year-end approaches. Are you on track to reach your goals this year? If not, it may be because your goals are too big or too long term.

There’s nothing wrong with big goals. It’s just that we tend to fixate on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and forget about the short-term activities it takes to get there.

When a goal takes months or years to reach, it’s easy to lose sight of what we’re supposed to be doing today. We need to couple our big goals with short-term goals that we can track on a daily basis.

One author says the problem with long(er) term goals is that there’s no sense of urgency. It’s too easy to tell ourselves that we have lots of time before the deadline, and our mantra becomes, “I’ll do it tomorrow”.

Before we know it, days turn into weeks and months and the deadline has come and gone.

His solution is to break up big goals into goals that can be accomplished in seven days.

“If you can’t accomplish it in seven days, the goal is too big. It’s all right to have a big goal on the horizon, but you’ll never get there if you can’t break it down into actionable steps. So ask yourself, “If my massive goal is all the way over there, what do I need to get done this week to move myself in that direction?”

I think most of us manage our lives with a weekly calendar, so breaking things up into weekly goals makes sense. We might not be able to see what a month looks like but next Monday is just around the corner.

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