January 17 has been designated Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day because that is about how long most people who make resolutions actually stick with them. According to research conducted by Statistic Brain, only 8% of resolution makers are successful with their resolutions. That’s a pretty sad success rate. According to Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, people make resolutions as a way of motivating but aren’t ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, which accounts for the high failure rate.
With law firms deep in the compensation and performance review process, we see many “plans” being hastily prepared—from individual attorneys, client service teams and industry or practice groups—in order to check the box on that requirement. Like New Year’s resolutions about exercise or weight loss, most of these plans require a fundamental shift in long-ingrained habits like how we work and communicate on a daily basis. So before you ditch your New Year’s resolutions or business development plans for 2016, rethink your goals and develop better habits at the outset:
- Set realistic and specific goals and priorities. For example, commit to visit three to five clients at their place of business every quarter.
- Create accountability. Write down your goals and plans. Find an accountability partner. Tell someone else what you want to achieve and then check in periodically to discuss your progress.
- Develop good habits in small incremental steps. Calendar one hour a week for the next three months to spend time learning more about two clients’ businesses in order to improve your ability to issue spot and add value.
- Take action. While analyzing, assessing and deciding are all important, you can’t do something without DOING something.
- Be patient. Business development is mostly about cultivating trusting relationships, and that takes time.