It’s all too easy to become comfortable at work, to fall into a patterns of repetition, doing the same thing over and over, becoming complacent and eventually stagnating rather than progressing. It’s easy to convince yourself that the path you’re taking, which is often the path of least resistance, is the correct one.
I’m guilty of having fallen into this trap before, and in my circa six years as a legal recruiter I have spoken to a vast array of lawyers who have done the same. It’s all too easy to focus on working hard without thinking about the steps that are necessary, those deliberate steps, that will allow you to progress your career in the right direction rather than the simplest direction.
Over the past 12 months or so I’ve agonised various thoughts about my own career progression and have thoroughly considered my own path before taking some deliberate steps to move things in the direction I want to go in rather than the one laid out before me without my own input. The steps I took have had an incredible impact on both my professional and personal life and so I thought I’d share the things I’ve learned in an effort to help others.
It is important to consider, with complete and unequivocal honesty, including your strengths and weaknesses, the mistakes you’ve made and the problems you have solved to identify the direction you would like your career to go in.
Be aware of your strengths and hone them. Be aware of your flaws and do your best to amend them. Weaknesses can be both technical and personal, a truth many of us are not as open to acknowledging as we may assume. Identifying and making positive changes to personal weaknesses is far more difficult than fixing the technical ones.
Following this, think about the skills and experience that are required for you to get there. Some of these may be obvious and in play already, some may need to be attained.
Don’t be afraid to talk to people and take advice, about your desire to progress and tell them where you would like to get to. Be honest and seek advice on how to up-skill and achieve these goals. Of course, I would naturally advise that you speak to an experienced legal recruiter such as myself, but I would also advise that you speak to friends, family and colleagues. You may be pleasantly surprised at the support, knowledge and encouragement you will receive. As such, you must be willing to learn from those around you, even those that you may not consider high esteem. Putting your needs first is no bad thing but one must do so with an open mind.
This next one is quite difficult, but very important. Be aware that your perception of yourself might not be the way others perceive you and as such, it’s worthwhile finding out how others perceive you. Do note that most people (especially in the UK) are unlikely to be honest with you about any negative perceptions they might have; you will probably have to piece it together.
With all of the above take your time to put together an honest, sensible and logical plan to address the changes you need to make. This is where most people come unstuck, making grand plans including a silver bullet or quick-win scenario that rarely plays out. There will almost always be something you have to compromise on in the short term for the overall long-term benefit.
Now you are at the point where you can be deliberate in implementing your plan. Make a decision and follow through. It is difficult, it takes guts and often necessitates a leap of faith but if every step you have taken up to this point has been executed to a point where you are duly well informed of yourself and how you want your career to progress, then you won’t be let down.
When written down like this the process looks reasonably straightforward. In fact, the most difficult part of the process is being completely honest with yourself, looking past self-delusions, and being deliberate and intentional when it’s time for implementation of your ambitions.
Speaking from personal experience, this does work; and if you’re a qualified solicitor who wants to become more deliberate in your career planning and progression, feel free to get in touch. I speak to hundreds of solicitors and law firms every year and I’m always happy to offer objective advice on the steps to take to reach your ultimate goal.
Gishan Abeyratne – Associate Director
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