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Take a moment to review the last year. Think about the triumphs, the failures, the unexpected wins and the unanticipated losses. A year is made up of all these things, but valuable lessons remain hidden unless you give yourself the time and space to reflect on them.

To start, think about the goals you set for yourself this last year and what you accomplished. Maybe you wanted to add a partner, buy a building, build your client base or start your own firm. None of these goals come easily. Recall the challenges you faced in pursuing these lofty ambitions and how you overcame them.

Now acknowledge yourself for the persistence, dogged determination and single-minded focus you had to maintain in order to accomplish – or even make progress toward these goals.

Next, reflect on the disappointments, and forgive yourself for not doing, saying, anticipating, managing or preparing everything exactly the way you would have liked. Maybe you mishandled a case; didn’t deliver a result you wanted; under-prepared for a hearing; didn’t give credit to a team member; or didn’t take enough time for your family.

You no doubt experienced the fact that some things you tried this year worked and some things did not. There is no shame in this: embrace your failures and forgive yourself. Rarely is a year (or a practice, or a life) built on one triumph after another. The most successful among us constantly experiment and “fail forward” in order to make progress.

It’s humbling, but part of re-energizing yourself to try again includes being complete with your failures. So don’t beat yourself up. Embrace with open arms the practice you have now – not the practice you could have or should have. Acknowledging your failures frees you up to examine your commitment to the goal and if appropriate, to try another approach.

The next step in this year end review process is to be grateful. Grateful for the team you’ve built or the referral sources who continually express their faith in you by sending business. Grateful for the talents you have and bring to bear to help others. Grateful for the wealth you’ve managed to accumulate in a world that is doing without. Grateful for the family and friends that surround you and support you the best they can.

Finally, after you’ve acknowledged yourself, forgiven yourself and are newly grateful for what you have, ask yourself one final question: what was the most soul-satisfying thing I did last year? Then, do more of that in the coming year.

Mark Powers & Shawn McNalis

Mark Powers, President of Atticus, has been coaching attorneys for nearly thirty years. He is the founder and developer of the first personalized training program dedicated to teaching attorneys the lasting skills and habits necessary for practice development. These skills include strategic planning, client development, customer service, prioritization, time blocking, managing interruptions, financial management, staffing, and delegation… [read more]

Shawn McNalis, Atticus Curriculum Director and Practice Advisor Trainer, is a former Imagineer with the Walt Disney Company and credits her 15-year career with Disney for her creative, collaborative approach to advising attorneys. In partnership with Mark Powers for 20 years, Shawn is a senior practice advisor, director of curriculum, and a trainer for Atticus… [read more]

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