Are you willing to go on a journey with me and see if it makes 2007 your best year ever? 
I contend that no matter how successful you have been in the past, 2007 can be your best year ever. I also contend that for most people, it is the small things that will make the biggest difference. If you are interested, I want you to answer the following questions about yourself. You can email your answers to me if you would like my thoughts. I will also give you my Top 10 Tips for Making 2007 Your Best Year Ever. 
Here are my questions: 
1. What are your hopes for your career in 2007
Create 3-5 goals that will lead you toward the hopes you have for 2007. 
2. What are your hopes for your career over the next five years? 
Create 3-5 goals that will lead you toward the hopes you have for your career over the next five years. 
3. What is the one thing you could do in 2007 that you have not done before, that would have the greatest impact on your career? 
Several years ago, I decided that the one thing for me was to use my time more wisely. I also decided that I needed to plan my time each week and write down what I planned to do. 
4. What is holding you back
In my case, I know I lack self discipline, and more than anything else, that was the most critical thing holding me back. I knew what I should do, but did not have the discipline to always do it. 
5. What are you willing to do to become more successful
I like the quote attributed to a wide variety of college football and basketball coaches. “Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win.” 
Here are my Top 10 Tips: 

  1. Write down what you want to accomplish in 2007. 
  2. Prepare a Plan so you use your non-billable time wisely. I can provide you with templates to consider. 
  3. Decide on one area to learn that will enable you to be a more effective lawyer in your field. One year I decided to focus on communication to juries. I bought every book I could find on the subject, listened to every tape and read every article. 
  4. Read or listen to one book a month on success, client development or other topics that will make you more effective. If you send me an email, I would be happy to send you my list of books that will make the biggest difference in your career and life. More importantly than reading the books is actually implementing 2-3 things as a result of reading the books. 
  5. Use your time more effectively. Time is our most valuable resource. Whether we care to admit it or not, our challenge is not that we do not have enough time. Instead, our challenge is that we do not use the time we have effectively. Occasionally, I challenge myself to write down things I do – or things I should do that by not doing them – wastes my time
  6. Think of ways to apply the 80-20 rule. Let me give you examples so you can think about it. Twenty percent of the things we do creates eighty percent of our success. What is that twenty percent for you? Eighty percent of a typical lawyers business comes from twenty percent of his or her clients. Which of your clients generate eighty percent of your business? 
  7. Decide how much non-billable time you plan to spend developing your career and client base in 2007 and divide by 50. Each week give yourself a report card on whether you spent the number of planned hours and how well you spent it. 
  8. Get more face time with clients and prospective clients. One of the lawyers I coach has discovered that each and every time he meets with a client in person, he comes away with a new matter either right then or shortly thereafter. 
  9. Send me an email that tells me all I need to know about you to recommend that a potential client hire you. Why am I suggesting this? First, if you do not know why a client should hire you, the clients clearly won’t know either. Second, this will cause you to think about your elevator speech. How many times have you met people who ask what you do? Telling them you are a litigator, or a corporate lawyer or a tax lawyer may be absolutely accurate, but it will not likely get you very far. 
  10. Some of you might think this idea is a little hokey, but try it anyway. Several times each day for a week, close your eyes and say to yourself as emphatically as you can: “I am the best and I love what I am doing.” Psychologists, including sports psychologists have told us for years that affirmations and visualization can create peak performance. Our brains cannot distinguish between what we experience and what we vividly imagine. We are no greater on the outside than we think we are on the inside. Twenty years ago I read: Peak Performance: Mental Training Techniques of the World’s Greatest Athletes by Charles A. Garfield and Hal Zina Bennett. I applied what the authors suggested to athletes to my law practice and I believe it works. 

There is something else I urge you to do in 2007. Spend more time with your family without feeling guilty. When you are with your family, be in the moment with them. Focus on them both externally and internally. Do not let your mind wonder. You can spend more time with your family, if you spend your billable and non-billable time more efficiently and more effectively.