There are still several months left in 2012. Are you making this your best year ever as a lawyer? You get to define what “best” means for you. As I will share with you below, my definition changed over my career.

I was perusing blog posts the other day and found Scott Ginsberg’s How to Matter. Scott  begins by saying: “The human need to feel needed by (and valuable to) the world is about as deep as they come” and then lists 9 specific ideas. If you get a chance to read it, I think you will see how the ideas apply to you, not only as a lawyer helping clients, but also as a mentor for younger lawyers in your firm.

I went through three stages developing my sense of purpose. Early in my career I did not give much thought to why I was practicing law. I just got out of bed every day and did it. I enjoyed what I was doing, but there was nothing special about it.

I then went through a stage where it was all about me. I focused on generating a lot of business and building my reputation. I wanted to be the best in my narrow niche. This was a good strategy for learning and developing business, but there was something missing.

When I stopped focusing on myself and instead concentrated on how to help my construction clients become successful, I actually became infinitely more successful. I know it is because my mission changed from me to helping my clients.

I was recently interviewed for a legal publication. The writer asked me why I gave up a successful law practice at the peak of my career. Scott Ginsberg’s blog includes a quote from Seth Godin that pretty much answers the question. He said:

Life is like skiing: The goal is not to get to the bottom of the hill, the goal is to have a lot of great runs before sunset.

What stage are you in? For whom are you making a difference that really matters?