In Chapter 2 of PASS The Bar Exam: A Practical Guide to Achieving Academic & Professional Goals, I wrote about developing your Plan for Success. That plan for success, I said, starts with looking at the timeline of what must happen between where you are now and your goal in order to achieve what you desire.
I wrote about how to get the most out of every step on your way to achieving your goal –sorting out what is critical and what may be distracting. The choices you make along the way can make achieving your goal much easier or much more difficult.
Then, after looking at that big-picture timeline, I recommend drilling down and looking at two months prior to achieving your goal, and taking a week-by-week snapshot. Often times where people get derailed or give up is just prior to achieving success. Those last few weeks are critical.
A mentor of mine once suggested that at all times, one should have a one-year plan (with one or more goals), and a five-year plan. I have taken this advice to heart myself and talked with many of my students about the same.
As a college student, law student or graduate student, it’s fairly easy to develop these plans around your curriculum while you are in school. At the beginning of school, when you start in your first year, your longer term plan may be to graduate from the program of study doing your very best. But, do you stop and look at each year, one year at a time?
If not, I urge you to give it a try. What do you want to accomplish each year of school? (If you are having difficulties setting these goals, picture yourself one year from now talking with someone who asks you how last year when and what you accomplished. What will make you happy to look back on and describe for that person?) Do you want to be able to say:
- You got good grades,
- You were accepted for a certain internship,
- You volunteered for a cause you believe in,
- You networked (made lifelong friends with classmates, got to know professors, met professionals in the field you intend to pursue).
Then, consider a five-year plan. Where would you like to be working? What work environment would you like to be in? What would you like your personal life to be like? Do you have health or fitness goals? Do you have community service goals?
A well-known driving safety tip is to keep your eye both on the immediate road ahead and at the same time on what is in the distance and surroundings ahead. The same principle applies in goal-setting and achieving success. Focus on today. Knock off as much as you can on today’s To Do list. But develop both a one-year and a five-year plan. Even if they change radically (which is fine as unforeseen opportunities may come into your path at any moment!) it will still help you steer the vehicle that is you safely and successfully toward your destination.