In my last two blog posts, I have discussed why you should have a plan for 2010 and my thoughts on how to get started. I have asked lawyers I coach to share with you how they are preparing their 2010 business plan.
James J. O’Keeffe, a new partner with Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore, recently shared with me how he is preparing his 2010 business plan.
I’m preparing my 2010 business plan by looking forward and working backward. Based on our coaching sessions and some of the books that you’ve recommended, I’ve got a list long-term goals defining where I’d like to be in five and ten years in each of my roles—father, husband, productive lawyer, client developer, etc. With those in mind, I’ve decided where I’d like to be at the end of 2010 with respect to each role. I used those targets to identify goals that I’d like to accomplish next year. I tried to make sure that those goals are objectively quantifiable, challenging, and more or less within my control.
I know that some people find it very useful to break their yearly plans down by hours, quarters, weeks, and so on. That doesn’t do very much for me. With two small kids, a wife who works, an old house, and a busy job, yearly planning beyond the “big rocks” is just too ambitious right now. If something is important, I will get it done. If not, there’s no sense in planning for it, anyway. As the year progresses, I do plan my activities on a weekly basis and review my goals quarterly. That probably mitigates the lack of precision in my up-front planning. But trying to sit down right now and figure that I have x hours of investment time, to be divided across y activities over z weeks would likely only set me up for failure. It would also drive me nuts.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that I am lucky enough to work at a firm that gives me significant freedom when it comes to annual planning and goals.