Coaching: Small Steps Toward Big Goals

By Alexandra Duran
Women Lawyers Journal
Winter 2007

New Year’s resolutions are important. Starting a new year gives each of us a chance to reflect on what we have accomplished and how we can improve ourselves and our lives.

Because we know that good things come from new beginnings, however, we sometimes get carried away, creating an overly ambitious list of things to do and creating a cycle of failure. Instead, focus on discrete tasks.

Advancing Your Career with Small Steps

New beginnings have a greater chance of success when you take small sequential steps. Making simple, doable resolutions allows you to create small shifts – first in your behavior and then, eventually, in your outlook and feelings. Below are three such resolutions that will assist you in managing and advancing your career. They are straightforward, and their objectives are easily attainable.

Three Steps Forward

• Take five minutes at the end of each day to record your work-related accomplishment achieved that day. Define “accomplishment” broadly. Any progress made on a matter or transaction can be viewed as an accomplishment for that day, to be built upon on subsequent days. Listing your accomplishments does more than memorialize your actions and progress – it affirms a positive perception of your professional self. Your daily diary will also help you when you revise your resume.

• Set aside 15 minutes per day to keep up-to-date on the trends in your practice area. Because we often feel short on time and deadlines, we put off “keeping up” – even though it makes us more effective and valuable in the long-run. By dedicating just 15 minutes per day to staying current, you permit a “luxury” that you might otherwise deny yourself. Reviewing current trends also enables you to better brainstorm how you may wish to change your practice over time.

• Attend one networking event per month. Alternate your attendance between events that enable you to meet new client prospects with events that put you in touch with other attorneys, both in and out of your current practice area. If you can network even more, then do so. If not, then twelve events per year will at least keep you in the game.

That’s it.

That’s enough to get you started, because these small steps will help bring about a positive shift in attitude that, in turn, will help you advance your career.

If you have other resolutions, begin those with small steps as well. Aim high, but keep your feet on the ground.

And don’t have recriminations about not starting promptly on January 1st. Instead, use all of your energy to improve your career prospects going forward.

Alexandra Duran, a former general counsel of Fashion Institute of Technology who first began practicing law with a large New York law firm, is principal of Career Transitioning and coaches attorneys in advancing their careers. She may be reached at

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