If you do not know where you are going, you will never know if you arrive. It is too common for those who work in professional services, such as law or accounting, to get caught in the loop of doing the current work, and not thinking about how they want to grow their practice.
You must have a clear vision of how you want your career to progress if you expect to reach the top of your potential. Regardless of if you work inside a large multi-national firm, a small boutique or if you hang out your own solo-shingle, having vision of the end goal is paramount to success.
Your vision will not necessarily be where you end up, as life will happen for better or worse along the way, but to have no path for what you are trying to accomplish in the long run usually leads to frustration for the lawyer, his or her staff, family and clients. It is easier to work long hours, or make the tough decisions, when you know that it is leading you closer to your long-term plan.
The vision you have for your future should be spelled out in your marketing plan. If you do not have a written plan, then you will most likely never do the work it takes to grow you practice. The excuse of current work will always be easier than making the choices that will propel your business to the next level.
In order to understand the whole of your vision you must dedicate time to thinking about the future and clarifying what it is you desire to create. This means setting aside the time to regularly explore the options you have in designing your practice. Many lawyers do not really believe they are in control of their business development and assume those who achieve great success were lucky or had some special personality traits that allowed them to attract the right clients. The reality is that you are in charge of your future, but only if you take ownership of the results.
Ask yourself the hard questions about what you want as the legacy of your career. Do not fall into the trap of thinking too big or too small. Be honest, and look for examples of other lawyers who are ten or twenty years further along in their careers and reverse engineer the steps they took to achieve their success. If your vision is unclear, you will never reach the desired destination.
Once you know what you want to create, take only steps that lead you closer to your goals. Share your ambitions with co-workers, family, friends, clients, etc.... The more people who know the type of practice that you are working towards, the more chances they will bring you new opportunities.
If this idea of looking forward make you nervous, find a coach or consultant who can and will challenge you to look at your past, present and future. Trying to do this alone can be a daunting task, which is why many attorneys allow their career to just exist without a vision.
Have A Great Day
Thom Singer is experienced in legal marketing and business development. He regularly speaks at law firm retreats inspiring attorneys to embrace their brand and increase their sales. He also teaches lawyers ways to improve their presentation skills as the firm's secret weapon for business development success. More information at www.ThomSinger.com.