This is the 20th December Bar Bulletin column that I have used to make resolutions, give suggestions for improving your practice, try to convince myself I will never be perfect, give suggestions on how to live a more stress free life, and offer many other tips for making the next year better than the past year.
I actually have copies of 15 of the past 19 columns, and in reading them I noticed two seemingly different themes – change and balance.
If you have read any of my articles, you know I am a great believer in change and in looking for new challenges.
In 1996, I resolved that we should all be more computer literate – at the time, most attorneys were still using DOS and Word Perfect; there was no email, and Al Gore had not yet invented the internet (just joking, folks); mobile phones were attached to your car, and those who may have had a mobile phone had to carry it around in brief case.
In 1999, I suggested that attorneys get their own domain names, a website, and a scanner.
In 2012, I talk about ways to build your practice by using tried and true methods such as joining organizations, networking with other lawyers, writing articles, and utilizing new technologies such as social media, websites, and blogs.
At this point in my life I am thinking a lot about change, balance, and what I want to do with the rest of life since we are constantly told that 60 is the new 40. One of the wonderful advantages of the work I do with MSBA is the opportunity to interact with so many people who also embrace change; additionally, I get to meet so many young (and young at heart) lawyers who have an entirely new way of looking at the legal world. What a joy.
As for balance, a state of mind I want to eventually achieve, I am coming to the realization that the world will never be exactly as I want it to be no matter how hard I work or rant or rave. According to Henry David Thoreau, “Things do not change, we change.” The challenge is knowing what to accept and what to work on improving.
After all these suggestions and recriminations, it is time to revisit some of my past columns and pick what I think is worth re-sharing. If this appears to be a lazy way to complete this assignment, I assure you it is not. It can be excruciating reading what you have written to see whether or not you have lived up to your own standards. It can really put a damper on the coming New Year.
I will leave it for you to decide whether I have put my money where my mouth is when it comes to giving advice, but from my point of view, it is has been a great 2012 and 2013 is looking to be a banner year. What follows are some of my favorite resolutions:
- Keep them simple and realistic. You are not going to change the world this year or even next, but you can make small and measurable changes.
- Tell others your goals. This almost forces you to live up to your own standards. If the goals are for your firm, you might consider sharing them with staff. If they are more personal, share them with close friends. Again, keep them realistic. Caveat: Do not over share by making this your Oprah moment.
- Take a break from negative people or activities. This is easier said than done, but it can be a life saver. Life is too short to be around negative people or activities. Positive people make you feel better.
- Never stop changing. The world is going to move forward with or without you. The past was not really as wonderful or peaceful or easy or thoughtful or caring as we think it was. And even if it was, there is no way you can go back to it. You can only stand still or go forward. The choice is yours.
- Keep an open mind and do not be afraid to change your opinion. We should never stop learning.
- Do something that makes you uncomfortable whether professionally or personally. Start small. A small success will give you great confidence. Give a speech, attend a networking event and speak to someone new, go hiking, climb a mountain. You decide. It will change you.
- Expand your circle. Meet and interact with new people – even people who may have different backgrounds or opinions. You may not become close friends, but your point of view will expand and your life will be richer.
- Be nice. When given the choice to be unpleasant or pleasant, choose the latter. Everyone will benefit especially you.
- Ask yourself two questions everyday – one at the start and one at the end: What good will I do today? What good have I done today?
- Stop whining. Most of our lives are pretty easy, all things considered. But even when they’re not that easy, whining will not help.
- Life is a marathon and not a sprint. Everything you do today will affect your success (or failure) in the years to come no matter your age.
- If you are not happy with where you are or what you are doing, plan to make changes. It is completely up to you. It may not be easy or painless, but it will be worth it.
I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and great New Year. I know it is going be a good year.