Have you set any goals for your career? Have you set any goals for this year?

If you haven’t, you are not alone. One reason I gave up my law practice was because I discovered my firm’s newly promoted partners had not created a plan or set any kind of goals. At their orientation in February 10 years ago, I asked:

How many of you have created a business plan with written goals for this year?

I waited for hands to go up. I asked again. No hands were raised. It was at that moment I decided to work with lawyers.

I recently read this great quote from Oprah Winfrey:

Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you’re going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus.

Setting goals gives you the best opportunity to most effectively use your time and your energy. Yet, it is a difficult process. To set goals, you must focus on something other than just doing billable work. To quote John Lennon: ”Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” For lawyers “life” means doing billable work.

To set goals you must be willing to look inside and determine what you really want. Sitting down and writing out what you want to achieve in the short-term as well as the long-term can be daunting. Achieving goals requires a commitment of time and energy, and willingness to take a risk.

Yet, taking a risk can make your career way more enjoyable. I know because that was my experience.  I also know that feeling you have more control over your future can make the commitment of time and energy well worth it.

If you have been reluctant to set goals, I hope I have persuaded you. If you are ready to get started, read: Three Exercises to Help You Set Goals for 2012 and do the three exercises.