Staying the Course When Deciding to Go Solo (Part II)
In part one of Staying the Course When Deciding to Go Solo I talked about creating that mantra that helps you to work through your fears of starting a solo practice, those fears which inevitably surface after the initial rush of adrenalin you get when you first make the commitment to do so.
In part two we are going to talk about how to break habits which have held you back from achieving your goal of solo practice and replace them with new habits geared towards your success.
1. Make a plan with a definite timeline: We've all heard it before. A goal without a plan and a timeline for achievement is just a dream. We all have dreams. But you have to have real goals with action steps that create a bridge between where you are today and where you want to go. If you have a goal for a solo practice it's time to create that bridge, a plan and a timeline for success.
But there is yet one more important ingredient. You have to stay focused on the end game, which is not solo practice in and of itself. The end game is achieving those 'dreams' solo practice promises. Is it more time with the family, making your own schedule, building an empire, never having to ask for time off? Whatever your idea is that solo practice promises...you have to stay focused on the end gratification in order to get you through the processes. These very processes are the ones which can dishearten you and cause you to forget your motivations.
Regularly think about your plans for the future as it provides a powerful way to stay truly motivated. It allows you to keep your engines revved, the same way you felt when you first decided solo practice was the right choice for you.
2. Become Automated: As lawyers, we are very practical and analytical. We have to be. But in many ways this doesn't serve us when it comes to opening a solo practice. (What, you're saying?) That's right. Opening a solo practice requires a certain leap of faith, faith in ourselves to not necessarily have all the answers but to understand we are trained to 'figure it out.'
So, on some level we have to silence our practical and analytical mind in the face of others' opinions, statistics and more. We simply have to have a singular reaction when an obstacle presents itself (real or imagined.) Instead of focusing on the immediate reaction, 'I don't know' simply tell yourself, "I'll find a way." If you tell yourself 'there is no obstacle I can't address', you have pre-determined you will surmount whatever obstacles present themselves in order to succeed.
Sometimes it is as simple as putting our heads down and placing one foot in front of the other. I've often had to do that when climbing a hill. If I look up and see how far I have to climb, I stop and imagine all the reasons why I can't do it. If I look at my feet and just place one foot in front of the other, I get much further along without distraction from my purpose. I quiet my thinking and just 'do.'
3 Stay Focused on the Long Term Goals: Life presents many distractions designed to throw us off track. It takes commitment, discipline and a real desire to become an entrepreneur to stay the course. Deciding to fulfill your own goals instead of those who write you a paycheck is a major life transition. It takes a certain spirit and tenaciousness, a change in mindset.
4. Keep Your Goals in Context:
One of the hardest things to do is keep your goals in perspective. The goals we set out for ourselves personally and professionally 5, 10, 15 years into the future are to help us improve the quality of our lives...but not just for the future. They are also set out to improve the present. If we focus solely on enjoying the fruits in the future we fail to enjoy the present. Then we start to get angry and want to toss our long term goals believing our goals to be wrong. No. It's not the goals. It is our singular focus on the goals.
Remember, building that million dollar practice and the tools to do so are the means to an end, not the end in and of itself As you already know, freedom to do as you wish on your own schedule is one of the primary goals of most solo practitioners. And as a solo practitioner you should plan to start enjoying those benefits as soon as you hang a shingle.