Dangerous Daydreams For Lawyers
Do you daydream about the sort of law practice you want to have "someday"?
Or howabout the kind of life/lifestyle you want to enjoy "someday"?
For the time being let's set-aside the fact that the lifestyle is driven by the law firm and please allow me to warn you about a dangerous mode of thinking I hear too many lawyers talking about, far too often.
"In 10 years I'd like to have a X practice doing Y work for Z clients."
This is not a goal. This is a daydream.
Daydreams are perfectly harmless, so long as you don't call them "goals".
Because daydreams that are mislabled as "goals" can be – and most often are – quite distructive to a law firm. (Unless you're talking about the mislabeled daydreams of clients because when you get right down to it, that's where a ton of legal work actually comes from in most litigation, bankruptcy, dissolution practices).
The difference between a daydream and a goal is the commitment that we're prepared to make to turn it into reality.
Daydreams require no action because they're not "real". They don't have a lot of emotion behind them to give them force. There's no sense of loss or disappointment if our daydreams don't come true. Because we don't actually do anything to make our daydreams come true. So our ego is never put to the test.
I'd be excited to win the lottery. But I have no way to improve my odds of winning the lottery. So not-winning the lottery doesn't force me to re-evaluate any part of my life, nor should it. Because winning the lottery is just a daydream.
Here's what a lawyer's daydream looks, sounds and feels like. Go ahead and try saying this out loud:
In 10-15 years I'd I'd be thrilled to double my practice and transition from X to Y practice area with no less than 75% of my cases and clients being what I'd consider to be "A" or "B" level cases or clients.
How does that feel? Sort of soft and cuddly, right? Afterall, 10 years is a long time away so there's no real sense of urgency.
Now compare that to what a real goal looks and feels like. Try saying this out loud:
I'd be thrilled to double my practice in 18 months and transition from X to Y practice area with no less than 75% of my cases and clients being what I'd consider to be "A" or "B" level cases or clients.
Feels a lot different doesn't it?
You may have even resisted and refused to say it out loud. That's because you have integrity. That's also exactly why it's dangerous to mislabel daydreams as goals.
Because each and every time you fail to achieve a goal, you are teaching yourself a negative lesson. And the next time you want to achieve anything, you know it's going to be that much harder to accomplish. Because your ego has a memory. Probably a better memory than your mind. Your ego remember every disappointment in your life – even the long-forgotten ones.
So what's the solution?
The solution is to get real about your goals and be honest with yourself and be honest with your family too, if the improvements you're talking about making in your business are just daydreams.
As for me, I have the following goals and the following daydreams (amongst others and subject to change as opportunities enter my conscious-awareness 🙂
- I have a goal to enroll 100 new members into my various coaching programs by December 31, 2011.
- I have a goal to lose 15 pounds by December 31, 2011.
- I have a goal to make myself sufficiently-redundant in my business by December 31st so as to be able to take-off for 30 consecutive days with only "emergency access" to me.
- By July 2012 I have a goal to be seriously in the market for a new home that we can not-outgrow for at least the next 5 years.
- Before August 2011 (this year) I will host a snorkeling/dive trip/mastermind event for 12 awesome lawyers to seriously-supercharge their single-shareholder solo or small law firms.
- I would love it if Minidog was sufficiently-trained that I could take him with me for walks "off leash".
- It would be fun to get a new boat this year.
- I would feel great about myself if I could complete the next Miami Half-Marathon.
- I have this neat idea for a new business that would be like an incubator service for start-ups in South Florida and then we'd replicate it in other markets around the Country.
- I'd like to find an agent to rep my sculptures to galleries and collectors.
I invite you to leave a comment and share some of your goals and some of your daydreams too. Daydreams are fun. Daydreams are even productive. Some of my best goals are an outgrowth of some of my best daydreams (witness: www.National-CLE-Tour.com) . What are yours?