Lawyers have a penchant for perfectionism. They have a tendency to focus on the things that they haven’t done, that they just can’t get to (like marketing, or client calls ‘just because’), or that aren’t being done as well as they would like to do them.
Get out of the overwhelm rut
Too often, lawyers get mired in the piles of work that never seems to end (which is a good thing - a steady stream of work means a steady stream of cash, too) and they become discouraged looking at their ever-growing ‘to-do’ list. It’s not surprising that this can be overwhelming. As a result, lawyers forget to take the time out to acknowledge what they have done and all of the great things they are already doing for their clients or their practice. This applies to lawyers in all situations, but can be a particular problem for solo lawyers or for young lawyers who are striving to succeed.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or if you simply want to create new energy in your practice, stop, take a breath and start a new habit: take stock of and celebrate your successes.
Form a New Habit: Celebrate Your Successes
Sometimes you can only see your accomplishments by looking back at where you’ve been and how far you have come.
Sometimes lawyers become discouraged and want to give up before they have a chance to achieve something big simply because they've set their sights so high and have such overwhelming expectations that success seems so far away as to appear unachievable. That’s one of the reasons why I am such a big fan of David Allen’s “next actions.”
I often encourage clients to focus on David Allen's concept of next actions - breaking down any goal or task into the very next action that must be taken to make progress toward that goal. This is effective because it reduces overwhelm. To make it even more effective, acknowledge and celebrate those actions as they are completed.
Regularly Acknowledge Accomplishments
Remember: “inch by inch, life's a cinch; yard by yard life is hard.” When you celebrate the daily small accomplishments and the larger milestones, you help build up momentum that keeps you moving toward the larger goal and completion of the project. Acknowledging and celebrating achievements helps you bounce back from failures or mistakes and overcome setbacks; you won’t get so discouraged when things don't go your way.
Author and motivational speaker Jon Gordon encourages people to make yourself a success every day of your life by celebrating successes daily.The “Law of Attraction” states that what you focus on grows - when you focus on success, your success grows; when you focus only on failures and shortcomings, you experience more failures and shortcomings. If you can’t take time to consider your accomplishments on a daily basis, at least take stock weekly or monthly and celebrate your successes. Reviewing your successes regularly inspires you and increases your confidence level by providing ‘proof’ that you can do what you set out to do.
Create a success file. One way to acknowledge your successes and combat those discouraging feelings is to create a “success file” as tangible evidence of your achievements. Include thank you notes and emails from clients and colleagues. File a copy of testimonials in your success file. Got a recommendation from a client or colleague on LinkedIn? Save a copy to your success file.
Track positive client outcomes. Keep a log of successful outcomes achieved for clients, and add that info to your success file. Create a timeline and put visual reminders of your successes on it so that you can see it at a glance. (This can be helpful for marketing purposes, when it is time to raise a client's fee or to obtain additional work from an existing or former client, too.)
Share your good news with others. In my old firm, we would announce favorable verdicts over the office intercom as soon as a case was over so that the whole office could feel a part of the success – and could congratulate the trial lawyer. If you work alone, share your successes on social media, with family and friends or with your mastermind group.
Acknowledge the success of others. Celebrating success shouldn't be limited to yourself - look for ways to celebrate the successes of others both inside and outside of your firm as well. Even acknowledging the success of others can help build your own success. Create a 'success circle' with supportive and like-minded friends or colleagues where you each agree to share and celebrate successes regularly.