The Lawyer Coach Blog
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June 2, 2013
As a lawyer coach I have had the privilege to coach many inspiring lawyers over the years. They are all very generous about sharing their practice and productivity tips with others. This Sunday I wanted to one of my recent favorites with you.
The three wishes practice:
This comes from a lawyer, who I will call Anne, who has a specialized personal injury practice. Anne has a dedicated legal assistant who helps keep her on track. Last year Anne went through a personal transition that threw her off her game. She fell behind in her work, and was feeling like her communication with her assistant wasn’t what it used to be. To get communication flowing again with her assistant and to ensure she was able to keep her practice in good shape she established a practice habit she calls “three wishes”.
How it works:
In the morning Anne asks her legal assistant what are your three wishes for today of the things you want me to get to? Lawyers are notorious for dropping administrative balls because other “more urgent” matters take precedence. With the “three wishes” practice Anne’s assistant has the opportunity to communicate about the important actions she needs Anne to take that day. For example it might be that she needs Anne to review and sign a letter that needs to go out, to return a phone call that came in the previous day, or to confirm the date and time for a client meeting the assistant is trying to set up. Whatever the assistant’s three wishes are, Anne will ensure those are three tasks that get taken care that day.
The three wishes practice was a huge hit in Anne’s office. Now some of her colleagues have taken up this practice too. The three wishes practice brings some fun into the daily routine that both the support staff and the lawyers enjoy.
February 21, 2013
I am now convinced that one of the most powerful drivers of success are positive habits. My Slaw.ca column this month provides a step-by-step guide to building and maintaining positive practice habits. To learn more about establishing positive habits try these books: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and The Habit Factor by Martin Grunburg. To get your positive habits aligned with your goals follow this simple recipe from Grunburg:
- Identify the goal.
- Visualize accomplishing it. How does it feel?
- Answer: Why is this goal important?
- Decide: What are the positive habits (3 to 5) that I want to develop that will help me achieve my goal?
- Answer: Why are each of those habits is important?
- Set the minimum performance target for each goal. Not every habit has to be repeated each day.
- Start your new habits.
I suggest you stagger your start so that you give yourself time to focus on getting one established before adding another. Habits for different parts of our lives, such as a healthy breakfast and combating procrastination with the 15 minute challenge can be started simultaneously without too much difficulty.
Track you progress daily by asking “did I accomplish my habit today yes/no?”
Build in some rewards commensurate with the degree of success you achieve. It is important to congratulate yourself and treat yourself to something special for successfully meeting your new habit formation targets. Sometime success is its own reward, such as the pleasure of walking into a tidy office each day. Sometimes it helps to reward yourself with a treat such as a massage, or heading home early from the office one afternoon.
December 31, 2012
I had the opportunity over the holidays to chat with a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, Meghan Franklin, about my views on why I am recommending that this year people ditch the making of New Years resolutions in favor of something more positive. Franklin’s article appeared on-line today and also offered commentary from Winnipeg psychologist Dr. Ivan Bilash and author Steve Siebold.
Here are my top five reasons for dropping New Years resolutions:
- New Year’s Resolutions start your year off on the wrong foot. They inevitability focus your attention on all the things that are wrong in your life.
- One is never enough. New year’s resolutions often snowball into such a large list of things that need to be changed that people don’t know where to start when it comes time to start taking steps to fulfill these resolutions.
- They set you up for failure. Not only are there too many new year’s resolutions, they are often the same old determinations that end up on your list every year. Resolutions are based on the outdated school of through that with determination and resolve you can force yourself to make changes in your life. The will power alone strategy is sure to burn out in days if not weeks.
- New year’s resolutions are the playground of our inner task master – that voice in your head that tells you that you are too lazy, dumb, out-of-shape, overweight, and 101 one other put downs. We all have these inner critics and they get way more bandwidth in our heads than they deserve.
- New year’s resolutions have little staying power. They come on the heels of holiday excess and offer a temporary sense of puritanical satisfaction that it is fleeting. As we get back to work and the business of day-to-day life they are quickly cast aside as we fall back on our usual habits.
Instead of New Year’s resolutions try one of the following:
- What did you do last year that was really great and you would like to do more of? Think of it as a “what I want to continue list.”
- What are you most grateful for? This is a list of the specific things that light up your life. If you enjoy writing this list consider starting a weekly or daily gratitude journal.
- What are your top priorities in life? This is a short list of one to five things that are most important to you. Write them down. Review the list every week and determine what weekly investments you will make on these priorities.
- If you are the sort of person who shudders when reading numbers one to three above then you might instead consider making yourself a “stop list”. This is the list of activities that take up time in your life and that you are going to stop doing in 2013. A lawyer friend shared a great Guardian article on this topic with me, you can read it here.
- Finally, consider setting an adventure goal for yourself instead of a boring resolution. An adventure goal could be anything from deciding to try a new sport like indoor rock climbing, to trying out a new food, or taking tango lessons.
But whatever you do, this year give the New Year’s resolutions a miss!