Is your New Year’s resolution to enjoy your career?

10 steps for lawyers to achieve a great career in 2011


It is that time of year again when most of us are considering our New Year’s resolutions.


Rounded Rectangular Callout: Reduce stress		Join a gym  Run a marathon		Eat healthily  Stop smoking 		Save money    ENJOY MY CAREER     


Is ‘enjoy my career’ on your list of New Year’s resolutions?  If so, for how many years has it been there?


Through my work as a career coach, many lawyers approach me saying they do not want to waste any more time.  They have been unsatisfied with their career for years and as a consequence feel unfulfilled and stressed, while desperately trying to picture a life with a rewarding job.  When ‘enjoy my career’ had featured on their list of New Year’s resolutions, they had struggled to achieve it.


If this rings a bell with you, you are not alone.  In fact, many of us fail to keep our New Year’s resolutions.  We either make too many, we don’t take control or we focus on the negatives and lose motivation, leaving us feeling even more discouraged.  However, in 2011 you can succeed and to assist I have set out in 10 easy steps to show how the coaching technique of "goal setting" can help you be one of the minority who keeps their New year’s resolutions in 2011.


The 10 steps to achieving your New Year’s resolutions


1) Decide what you want and make it positive

In the first meeting with your client, the client explains their problem, you provide advice and ultimately the client will tell you what they want to achieve to enable you to run their case.  The focus of the case is not on the client’s problem but on what they want instead.  Treat your New Year’s resolution in the same way.  If you are struggling in your current role, think about what you want from your next role instead.  Positive resolutions will provide you with the motivation to succeed.


2) Make your New Year’s resolution specific

Now be even more specific about what you want, the time scale in which you want to achieve it and the evidence which will confirm your success.  The more you can picture, hear and feel the outcome, the more motivated you will be to achieve it.  Just as winning your court case will be evidenced by a judgment, becoming more confident at work may be evidenced by giving a work presentation.


3) Think about the consequences

When advising your client on whether to pursue their case, you advise on cost and time implications and how it may impact their life.  Now that you have a specific New Year’s resolution, have a think about what you will sacrifice and gain in achieving it and how it will affect those around you.


4) Take control and be proactive

Congratulations, you have now been instructed by your client!  Your name is on the file which means you have ultimate control and have to take the best actions to reach its conclusion.  You may transfer the file to another fee earner but while it is in your name, the case is your responsibility.  Your New Year’s resolution is also in your name; the only difference is that the resolution cannot be transferred to someone else.  It is your responsibility and you must be proactive in the actions you take to achieve it.  If you are not totally responsible for achieving your resolution, pick the part that you can take responsibility for.


5) Make an action Plan

In taking on your client’s case, you decide how you are going to run it and the steps you are going to take. Imagine how hard it would be to work towards a final hearing without preliminary hearings. Break your goal down into manageable steps so that you can sustain the momentum and motivation required to achieve all the steps in your plan.


6) Tell your friends or family

Your supervisor at work reviews your progress to ensure you keep you on target.  Tell your family and friends about your New Year’s resolution so that they can support you and keep you on track.  They will keep quizzing you and you will want to show them you can do it! 


7) Use all available resources

While running your case, you need to have time, knowledge and skill to put the best case forward.  To assist, you may use financial advisers, reference books, online resources as well as your colleagues.  In using all the available resources, you increase your chances of getting the best result for your client.  Think of all the resources you can draw on from around you and within you to achieve your New Year’s resolution.  Keep thinking!


8) Review your progress

For the duration of the case, you also need to continually review new evidence and adapt your strategy.  You do not want to miss crucial evidence and decrease your chance of success.  Think of your goal in the same way.  You need to continually monitor your progress and adapt your action plan to take into account new information and give yourself the best chance of achieving your resolution.


9) Reward yourself

Fantastic news, you won your case and received a thank you note from your client!  You feel confident, happy and motivated.  Remember to build in reward for achieving each step of your action plan and celebrate the final moment of success.


10) Start building momentum now!

Your client would not be impressed if you delayed the start of their case.  Do one thing today towards achieving your New Year’s resolution.  Impress yourself and your support team! 


Coaching is about goal setting, overcoming challenges along the way and motivating you to make the changes you have chosen to make.  It may be that coaching can help identify satisfying career options which are best suited to your personality or help you deal with the challenges you face at work so that you progress more quickly in your current role.  Ultimately, coaching techniques can help you to take control of your working life and achieve an enjoyable career. 


Use these techniques now to give you the best chance of success in 2011!


Tessa Armstrong is a qualified solicitor and coach providing specialist career support for



For more information or to arrange a free consultation visit her website at or email


C:\Users\Tessa\Documents\Tessa\a Tessa Armstrong Associates\Marketing\Logos\TAA_Stationery_Logo_Panel_qxd_Page_1 - Copy.jpg






Get in touch