The hardest part of making any change is taking the first step. Lawyers commonly suffer from ‘analysis paralysis’– getting stuck in the planning phase or wanting to make sure that conditions are ‘perfect’ before taking action. Or they fail to focus on activities that fall into Steven Covey’s “important but not urgent” category.
By definition, the “important but not urgent” doesn’t have a set deadline. But if you’re committed to making a change, the secret is in creating external deadlines and taking action one step at a time. Here’s how:
- List your goals;
- Choose an outside deadline for each goal;
- Write down the smallest possible next step that needs to occur in order to move things forward;
- Schedule a specific appointment with yourself to accomplish that next step;
- Share the deadline with someone else, and ask them to hold you accountable for meeting it;
- Where possible, publicize your goal deadline more widely (for example, announce that your new website will be launched by September 1, or schedule a seminar and invite clients in advance).
External deadlines use the power of peer pressure; once you share the goal and the deadline, you’ve made a commitment to others, even if the only one that really benefits is you. External deadlines also work because when you share your deadlines with others and ask them to keep you accountable, you’ve created a cheering section – and perhaps even an offer of help. And finally, external deadlines force you to get over your perfectionism and take action.