Building the law career or legal practice of your dreams doesn’t just happen by magic or accident. With a considered plan for success, you can attract the work you enjoy and the clients you want to work with.

To achieve the career you desire, you need to set goals and work consistently towards obtaining them. Goal-setting is a skill that will help you attain whatever you want in your personal life as well as in your profession!

It happens to be something I live and die by. I have been setting goals for myself with varying success for well over a decade and that is the habit to which I attribute my personal and professional achievements … along with my amazing husband, our work ethic and my sometimes scarily optimistic mind set which at different times have all proved equally helpful!

In order to grow your career or your business, you should always be driving towards specific goals. What’s more, if you don’t have goals, it can be hard to know whether you are growing.

If you aren’t regularly setting goals for yourself already, start now! Set at least four goals for your life and career, it’s life changing and there’s nothing to stop you. Anyone that has ever worked for me will tell you that it’s how all my employee 1:1’s start and it’s never too late to begin.

By the way, if you are already setting goals but aren’t achieving them, you may find the following information helpful to get you back on track.

I must give credit here to a previous female boss of mine, who cleverly taught me and my colleagues to adapt our goal setting mindset. Showing me that not all goals were created equal, she taught me to adopt the SMART formula, for setting goals and measuring what matters.

Based on an approach by Peter Drucker—who also coined “what gets measured gets managed” SMART goals help solicitors with goal-setting to keep them on track for success!

S = Specific

Goals must be specific and therefore defined— You need to consider if your goal is something that can be accomplished. While “improve my law firm” is a dream, “increase my law firm’s referral rates” is something that can be accomplished—which makes it a specific goal. If a goal is specific, you should be able to identify:

  • Why it is that you want to accomplish it
  • How it is that you will accomplish it (that is, what resources you will or might need)
  • Any potential challenges or obstacles in your way

M = Measurable

Goals are set to be accomplished, right? Therefore, unless it can be measured it can be hard to know how close or how far you are from achieving it. We must of course be able to track and assess our goal’s progress. For example, if your goal is to “increase my own professional referral rates” it’s far better to make it measurable, by setting out to achieve increases by a specified amount eg. 20%, you can then track your goal and importantly know once you have reached it.

A = Achievable

Now we all know that setting big goals shows ambition as well as self-belief but setting unrealistic goals can have the opposite effect and can instead make our goals demoralizing and less powerful. For example, if your goal was to increase fees by 100%, you aren’t giving yourself a realistic, achievable goal. This works against you, eroding your self-motivation and making your goal meaningless and ineffective. However, you certainly don’t want to set yourself goals that are so easily achieved that it’s a walk in the park, as this would be equally meaningless. Rather, set a goal that will inspire and challenge you, one, that with hard work and sheer determination you could and should be able to attain.

R = Relevant

Whether professional or personal, your goal-setting should also tie in with your larger vision for yourself. Consider the goal you have set yourself and ensure that it is relevant to your long term plan. If your long term plan is to increase your personal revenue contribution, set yourself the goal of increasing referrals knowing that it will contribute to your success.

T = Time-bound

Now decide on the time-frame you will give yourself to accomplish each goal. Set an honest, realistic deadline from the outset to boost your chances of success. For example, your goal of increasing referrals by 20% cannot be achieved overnight. Consequently, it should be married to a suitable time limit, perhaps one year? At the end of this time period you will be able to properly assess whether your goal has been achieved or not.

Lastly, don’t be thrown off if there are times when you need to assess, evaluate, and tweak your goals accordingly. Setting smart goals and measuring what matters, means you must evaluate and review your goals regularly. If a goal becomes unachievable it’s yours to identify and reset the ones that are right for you.

Stay committed to your goals to help build the habits you need to succeed and raise your sights, be sure to set aspiring goals for whatever it is you desire. Using the above SMART formula will help you to identify the steps that will lead you there and become the lawyer that you want to be.

And for those of you fortunate enough to have successfully reached your own life goals, be it personal or professional, it’s now time to lend a hand and make a new goal of helping others to achieve theirs.