Don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions? Fair enough. Here are 15 things you can just DO for your career in 2015.
Setting realistic and achievable goals, and working towards them will bring you great satisfaction at the end of the year as your reflect on your achievements. Goals, turned into action items, are achievable.
Know your worth
Find out what the going rate is for your level and area of expertise. If you have exceeded your budget, ask questions, based on what you know about the market.
Learn the art of a difficult conversation
Avoiding difficult conversations just makes the problem worse. There are some fantastic articles and blogs on the internet that provide guidance.
Prepare for your appraisal properly
Your performance appraisal, if annual, is about your performance over the last 12 months, not 12 days. Keep a notebook and make notes of things that have gone well, things that did not go so well, things you want to learn, or courses you want to attend. Keep a copy of compliments from senior lawyers and clients. Keep a record of presentations done (including internal) and articles published, and other contributions to the firm. If you are expecting constructive criticism, prepare for it, take it on board and act on it.
Find a mentor
If someone is acting as a mentor to you, keep the relationship going. If you need a mentor, let a relationship develop into a mentoring one, or ask a trusted senior colleague if they would be prepared to mentor you.
Be a mentor
Even if you have just finished your graduate year, you have the capacity to be a mentor to someone more junior. Make yourself available, answer questions and give advice.
If you hate public speaking, learn to love it, or at least not dislike it. The worst thing you can do is avoid speaking opportunities. Look for them and practice the craft and you will soon be owning the room.
Look for opportunities to write about your area of expertise – even if it for internal use only. Once you get into the habit, it will become easier. A wise person at a writing conference once said “Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block. They just do their job. There is no such thing as writer’s block”
The benefits of exercise for a healthy mind don’t need to be explained. Forget about losing weight for the moment. Get regular exercise, even in 10 minute bursts to get your heart rate up, and you will feel better for it.
Plan for breaks
Make plans for holidays – it will give you something to look forward to and allow you to have a break from the office. Closing your eyes and taking yourself off on a little ‘mind break’ by imagining yourself somewhere peaceful while breathing slowly will give you more energy for the next task.
Ask questions for clarity
If you are unsure of what is required of you, always ask questions for clarity. It will save a lot of time and frustration.
Volunteer in the firm
Get yourself known outside your own practice group by volunteering on committees. Your promotion will depend on the opinion of people other than your supervising partner.
Look for opportunities to introduce clients to other people and services in the firm. If your client is a property developer, introduce her or him to someone in finance, or litigation, should they ever need those services.
Accept responsibility; give credit
Make sure you don’t become defensive or blame others when something goes wrong. Accept responsibility if it is yours (and sometimes it might not be but you should accept responsibility anyway) and give credit when it is due. For example, a timely advice may not have just depended on you – your secretary and the person who helped with the research deserve credit too.
There are probably many other things that didn’t make our list of 15 things to do in 2015 for your career. What are you going to do?