Wouldn’t it be great if we could take one day, work hard on ourselves, and become better lawyers and better people with just a few hours of effort?
In reality, self-improvement isn’t a destination—it’s a journey. And for lawyers, self-improvement is a critical yet lifelong series of ongoing small improvements. There’s simply no shortcut to instant progress.
As lawyers, constant self-improvement is something we should strive for, both at work and at home. Here’s how to ensure you’re in the best position to constantly better yourself.
Be on the Lookout
Start by reframing how you think about self-improvement. Instead of believing that you need to make significant, overarching changes to yourself or the way you work, keep an eye out for small ways you can fine-tune your habits or techniques. Think about self-improvement like lawyer-author Jeremy W. Richter, who wrote a book contending that you can become a better lawyer by dedicating just 0.1 hours a day to the effort. Then, pay attention to how you can improve yourself in your day-to-day life—it could be as simple as instituting a pre-work meditation routine to help you become more focused at the office, or joining your firm’s leadership development program.
Make Improvement a Team Effort
Like so many things in life, self-improvement is easier to prioritize when others in your orbit are also dedicated to it. Once you’ve committed to seeking out small-scale changes you can make to better yourself, encourage colleagues and friends to join you. Foster ongoing dialogue with others about what’s worked and what hasn’t, what you’re doing to keep your self-improvement efforts alive, and what obstacles you’ve hit along the way. Consider taking courses or attending training workshops together if possible.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
As we become more experienced, it can be easy to believe that we’ve figured it all out and there’s nothing more we need to learn in order to be successful. After all, if you’ve worked on the same kind of case 50 times, what more could you need to know? As it turns out, plenty. With complacency comes an increased risk that you’ll eventually miss something important to your work or even just sink into a rut. While it’s good to feel competent and confident, you should never feel too comfortable when constant self-improvement is your goal. Which leads us to the last recommendation …
Never Stop Learning
If there’s one way above all to keep improving, it’s to constantly be in a position of learning. This can be accomplished in ways both large and small. Perhaps there are trainings available that might improve your practice skills, or a short retreat that could help bring you up to speed on emerging trends that could impact your job. On a smaller scale, you can learn simply by reading books or articles, or even listening to podcasts on your commute. What matters is that you invest time into gaining knowledge and approach everything with an eager, open mind.
Over the next week, spend time thinking about small changes you can make to your day-to-day actions in the name of self-improvement. Pick one thing and focus on making that change a habit. This can be as simple as committing to reading a relevant legal publication every week or dedicating effort to improving your communication with your clients.