Stretch Yourself in 2014

Kate Harry ShiphamSkill sets

By Kate Harry

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

It is the start of a brand new year.  2014.  What does this year mean to you?  As legal marketers are getting busier and busier, now is the perfect (only!) time to reflect to do things better, right and easier for the year ahead.

Here are some thoughts to get you started and to think objectively about your professional self.  What is working well and what needs your attention in 2014:

  • What are your work goals for the year ahead?  What is achievable versus what ‘stretch’ goals do you want to set yourself?  I’m a firm believer in always pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone to see what you can achieve (you might just be surprised!).  Set yourself three goals which you know, with a bit of hard work and determination, you can achieve at work.  And then set yourself one or two stretch goals and see how close you get to achieving these.  Pushing yourself to continue to do better, despite the busyness, chaotic and stressful lives we lead, can inspire you to achieve more than you thought you would.  And it is these goals that are the sweetest of victories!
  • What did you think you would be doing / achieving right now, but have not?  This is not an easy question to answer and it requires you to be brutally honest with yourself.  Stop and think about where you are and whether it is on track with your career goals and trajectory.  Some people don’t always know where they want to be in 2 years time or even 5 years time.  That’s ok, but think objectively about your years of experience versus what you’re doing.  Address the gaps and challenges this year one step at a time, rather than putting them off.  Make this year the one that you address the things you’ve been putting off.
  • What do you want to change at work this year?  Think about what you want to change this year to make your working day, and for those around you, a better one.  It might be looking at some of your relationships with key attorneys or partners and developing these further.  Or, if you are a mentor or manager, you might have been putting this role on the backburner because you’ve been so focused on your own work.  Developing (and spending the time in doing so) those around you will help you in the long term just as much as it helps them; so invest in this in 2014.
  • What personal goals do you want to set yourself in 2014?  These are just as important as the work goals you will set.  Common personal goals are vowing to lead healthier lifestyles, achieving that sometimes unascertainable perfect work / life balance or being a better husband / wife / parent.  Reflect on what is important to you in your personal life and when you feel the balance tipping because work is taking over too much, re-adjust a little to ensure you’re meeting your personal goals as well as your work goals; its ok to put yourself first every once in a while!

Being an optimist, I see the opportunity of a brand new year to take a fresh look at the world and set myself goals to ensure I’m being the best I can be at work, at home and with my friends and family.  But don’t just do life; set goals and really live life and see what you can achieve by stretching yourself and getting the most out of your circumstances and position.  You may just surprise yourself with what you can achieve.  And then, most importantly, sit back next new years eve and think about all that you did achieve in 2014!