In November of 2019, I wrote down five goals for 2020. And I’ll tell you now that I only achieved two of them. So let’s talk about those two first.
How My 2020 Goals Fared
- I set the goal to publish my third book, Level Up Your Law Practice, by June 2020. As of mid-November, I’d only written half of it, and I didn’t fully know what the other half would consist of. But over the next 2 months, I wrote more than 20,000 words and finished the book.
I got the cover designed by my friend Cary Chu, and if you grew up on the Nintendo like I did, you’ll love the referential nature of the cover.
And I scheduled Level Up Your Law Practice to release in May 2020. But then in mid-March, we basically went into a nationwide lockdown for a while. I thought it would be a good idea to release the book early since so much of it deals with mindset and coping with difficulties, because it may be able to help some folks deal with the extraordinary circumstances that had been foisted on us.
But it turns out that the outset of a global pandemic is a bad time to launch a self-help type book. This rings true with the reading I did this past year too; most of it was sci-fi and fantasy that allowed me to escape for a little while from the real horror story that we were living through. I wasn’t particularly interested in self-growth or evaluation most of the year; I wanted to be entertained.
So despite Level Up being what I think is my best non-fiction book yet, it has had the flattest sales. But it’s out there, and hopefully it can find the people who need it.
- The second goal I achieved was to develop a relationship with a new corporate client. I can only take partial credit for this one, but it goes to show how you have to be prepared when these things come up.
During the summer, one of my partners was contacted by a former client about a new legal matter that they were dealing with. My partner was really struggling with cancer and couldn’t take it on, so he asked me if I could handle it. I agreed to and met with the client. We started working through the issue they’d come to us about. And eventually, they asked me to serve as their general counsel.
So this goal, I achieved not by my own marketing and branding efforts, but by having a good relationship with my business partner and being prepared to pick up the mantle when he was sick and needed me to.
Now for the failures
- I aimed to sell 1,000 books in 2020. I didn’t. Not even close. I don’t know how many I ended up selling, but it wasn’t that. I also realized that I’m not as interested in individual book sales as I am in the revenue it generates. So I expect that my future goals will be more revenue- or profit-oriented.
So while I failed to achieve the goal I’d set, I learned how a to set a goal that more effectively aligned with my interests and internal wiring.
- I had set a goal to finish and publish a mentoring book that I’m co-authoring. We made some progress on it, but it’s nowhere near finished. It’s just one of those projects that’s having a difficult time gaining traction.
- Finally, I set a revenue goal for my work at the law firm. While I had a decent year that ended up being comparable to 2019, I didn’t see the growth that I had hoped for. And frankly, I consider myself lucky to have maintained the status quo, all things considered.
Achievements I hadn’t planned on in 2020
I accomplished several things in 2020 that when I set my goals in November 2020, I hadn’t considered. So let’s talk about those for a minute:
- This podcast, Lawyerpreneur. It’s something I had considered for a while. But honestly, it was kind of a scary proposition. Putting myself out there to talk about things. To reach out to folks about being on the show and preparing to interview them. So much of it is beyond my comfort zone.
But after we shut down our law offices in March 2020 and I acclimated myself to what working from home full-time would look like, the prospect of this podcast really started gnawing at me. So I pushed down the fear I was experiencing and just did it anyway.
As a result, in 2020, I recorded more than 30 episodes that amounted to more than 18 hours of content.
- I published someone else’s book. We talked about this in Episode 27, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it her, but in March 2020, I learned that my friend Becki Lee had just written a children’s book. So we collaborated to bring her book, Do You Draw Pictures?, into the world through my publishing imprint, Scarlet Oak Press.
I loved working with another author to bring their book into the world. I hope to be in a position to do more of that in the months and years ahead. The slogan for Scarlet Oak Press is on its webpage: Giving lawyers a platform for their creative work.
That’s one of the things I really want to do, help other lawyers bring their words and their messages to life so they can help others.
- I wrote my first novel. It’s not the first novel I set out to write, but it is the first one I finished. The novel is called, Vulcan Rising, and I wrote it under a pen name so I don’t get my lawyer and fiction writing wires crossed. If you go looking, you can find it under J. W. Judge.
This was easily the most enjoyable writing experience of my life. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t difficult. But it has been extremely rewarding.
It was also kind of cathartic and helped me exorcise some old issues. In high school, I did a lot of creative writing. Some of it was pretty dark because I went through a pretty depressive and angsty period for a while. One day, I left my notebook laying out. One of my classmates found it and read it. Then they showed it to their parents, who then showed it to the school superintendent. And it became a whole thing.
So as an adult, to be able to write a dark fantasy/horror novel and explore some topics that others find off-putting was gratifying. But there’s still this fear inside me that asks – what will other people think of you when they know you’ve written this? And I guess the answer is: they can decide for themselves what they think of me; this was inside me the whole time; they may just not have known it.
So I’m not entirely comfortable with everything yet. But since I’m now working on the second book of the trilogy, I guess I’d better get comfortable.
Looking at the year ahead
For the first time since 2016, I didn’t write down goals for the upcoming year. Every year for the past five years, I’ve sat down in November and decided on my goals for the next year. Part of the reason for that is that I’m not really sure yet what I want from 2021. I’m still working on it.
There are a few of things I’m certain of as I work through this:
- By the time Vulcan Rising comes out in June 2021, I want to be either done with the sequel or close enough so that I can go ahead and set it for pre-order.
- I want to record another 30 episodes of Lawyerpreneur, with the great bulk of those being interviews with innovative and entrepreneurial lawyers.
- I have just launched a new community for lawyers. I called it CLAW Alliance. CLAW stands for Creatives Lawyers Artists Writers. I want it to be a place where lawyers who are doing creative work can support and encourage each other and amplify each other’s work. If you’re interested in checking it out, go to clawalliance.com. So I want to see this grow and become a thriving community that its members value.
- My goal is to publish two books by other lawyers this year. I’ve already got one in the works, so I have about 50 weeks left to get that second one done.
- And I want to write one non-fiction book, whether that’s the mentoring book I’m co-authoring or another book that’s been percolating in my brain.
Alright, so there they are – my goals for 2021. Guess I wrote them down after all. If you’re interested in sharing what you envision for your 2021, feel free to reach out to me. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, thanks for listening.
Today’s show is sponsored by ALPS, the nation’s largest direct writer of lawyers’ malpractice insurance. Right now you can get 25% off one CLE seminar from ALPS. Go to alpsinsurance.com/cle and use promo code LAWYERPRENEUR upon check-out.