I believe to be successful, you must be willing to look inward and figure out what is important to you. So, at the risk of being too touchy-feely, I want to share some thoughts on that.

Six years ago, March 3, 2006 (it seems like yesterday) I spoke to the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) as part of a program titled: Crossroads: Mapping Out the Rest of Your Career. My presentation was titled: Strategy for Your Career and Life. I also wrote an article Strategy for Career and Life that was published in the Texas State Bar magazine.

You can actually watch the presentation in several video clips I have posted to YouTube.

Your vision is what you want to accomplish in your career and life. Your purpose is why you want to accomplish it. Your core values are how you want to live. Mapping out the rest of your career requires you to know:

  • Where you are now
  • Where you want to go
  • What route (based on your values) will be the best one to get you there

What does discovering your values have to do with becoming a successful lawyer? Simply stated, you can be outwardly successful without focusing on your values, but you cannot be inwardly fulfilled. The key is to dig deep and discover what matters most to you. Doing so will enable you to make the commitment and maintain the discipline you need to achieve your life and career purposes.

How can you discover your values? Think about what you want others to say about you, including your family, best clients, colleagues, support staff, and adversaries. How do you want to be remembered? What qualities do you admire in others that you want to cultivate in yourself? What brings meaning to your life? If someone were to take something or someone away from you, what would you grieve for the most? Think about the times when you’re in the zone. What do you do for its own sake? Your answers will help you to determine what you value most in your life.

Sir Laurens van der Post, a naturalist and author, may have said it best:

There is nothing wrong in searching for happiness, but we use the term as if it were the ultimate in human striving. What gives far more comfort to the soul … is something greater than happiness or unhappiness and that is meaning. Meaning transfigures all.

P.S. You likely noticed there was a stage with a podium in the background. I was one of several speakers that day. Each of the other speakers stood behind the podium and put PowerPoint slides on a screen. I stood on the floor and presented with no slides or notes. That was actually a scary experience. In order to feel more secure, I gave my outline to a couple of participants and told them that if I missed something on it to raise their hand and ask a question.