How to move up in law

Understanding how to write a career plan if you are a lawyer, accountant or consultant is key to make partner and stay there. As the saying goes, “fail to plan, plan to fail”. And this couldn’t be truer if you are wanting to progress your career in the professions.

How to write a career plan

In this video, I’m talking about why the traditional approach to goal setting and how to write a career plan may not actually work for you.  A new approach will help reduce your feeling of overwhelm, so you are motivated to make time for your career each week. Watch this video to learn more.

Transcription: So finally, the third edition of How to Make Partner and Still Have a Life has been published. It has been the last year of my work. A lot of the book has been updated to focus more on mindset. One of the areas that we’ve looked at is how do you set yourself goals on the way in a meaningful way. And this is the topic that we’re going to focus on in chapter six, which is about creating and writing your career action plan.

Now in previous editions, we had the very methodical, systematic approach where you, you start with your big goal of I want to make partner; you then break it up into milestones, and each of those milestones you consider actions for what you need to do. Then, finally, you build these bright, detailed structure plan. That’s nice in theory.

But what we were getting in feedback was that that’s very, very detailed planning only worked for some people and for a lot of people it got them very overwhelmed. Now, this matches up with the reality that traditional goal setting in the way that your firm or your practise tends to do is likely hindering you. For example, think of two football teams. Both have a goal of winning the match, at the highest level. They’ve worked very hard, they’ve got the best team around them, but only one can win. In that scenario, having a goal of winning the match doesn’t work.

Think about times where you’ve either maybe tried to lose weight, or you’ve set yourself a significant endurance task such as running a marathon, doing a 100K cycle ride, whatever it is. How many times did you get to your goal? Or even, if you didn’t even get there because you gave up because it felt too big and when you’ve got it, just went off? Did those three stone go back on within two years? Did you run the marathon and you haven’t put your running shoes on ever since?

All of those benefits that you had haven’t been sustained. So what makes the difference? Well, the best way of looking at it is goals are great for short term performance. If you rise to the level of goals, you fall to the level of your personal systems. What do I mean by personal systems?

Personal systems are your daily habits, your weekly habits, your monthly habits that you do to underpin your best performance, to underpin the best sense of you. Now, the best thing about a personal system is finding one small thing that via train reaction is going to make you at your best. So for me, some of the things that help, one little thing, is once a week clearing down my email and downloading everything I’ve got in my brain and starting to allocate it to days with my calendar in front of me. That’s one small thing, but there’s a chain of things that help me do that.

What does that mean for you and your career? So first and foremost, I still believe that you need a plan, because if you don’t have a plan or anything can happen, and actually, the day job takes over. What do you need to create that plan? We talk about that in chapter six of the book and as it links to chapter two, is that you need that guiding direction. You need that purpose. You need, what is my overall direction down? You might call it your big goal, that’s fine. You may call it your purpose, you may call it what you’re there to do.

It might be your vision, but you need an overriding sense of direction. For example, my overriding sense of direction is I love a challenge. I’ve always had to be working on a challenge, and it doesn’t matter too much what that challenge is as long as that’s in alignment I’m at my best. As soon as I get into “business as usual”, I get downhearted, it doesn’t work for me.

So the first thing to do, as talked about in chapter two, is think about your overriding sense of direction. The next thing to do is think about what is it I need to do in the next three months to move my career forward. Now we talk about that as your one big focus in the book. What is your one big focus?

So, in the next three months, what do I need to do to move my career forward? What are the big things that I need to do in the next three months? In the book, we talk about how to take that one big focus, how to put those more motivating short term goals in place, and then how to make sure that, that one big focus then drives your actions over the next 90 days to move your career plan forward.

So let me restate that. Having a goal may work for you, but often it can lead to people being overwhelmed. What you need, as per chapter two, is that sense of direction, that sense of purpose, that driving force that is about what you’re about and what matters to you. Then you want to put a short term goal, which is a three month one big focus.

To buy your copy of the 3rd edition of How To Make Partner And Still Have A Life use this discount code ABMMPHL320 to get 20% off the new edition when you buy your copy direct from the publisher Kogan Page here.

We have a great course in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner called “How to Truly Commit to Moving your Career Forward”. It’s a game-changer and will get you focussed and help you to create the time and space to work a little on your career plan every.single.week.

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