In just a few hours, I am going on retreat. I’ll be in Wyoming, which dials deep into one of my top values — freedom. (The image to the left is the view from my “office” during last year’s retreat.) A retreat is, for me, time devoted to looking at where my business is, what’s going well and what isn’t, and what the next steps are. I’ve gone on retreat around this time each year since I started Life at the Bar, and it amazes me what comes of the time.
One of the problems lawyers have with their practices is that we rarely take time to reflect on our goals and our progress toward them. Instead, we tend to be in fast forward motion, moving forward all the time, but not pausing to ask whether our motion is getting us toward what we desire. Michael Gerber, author of E-Myth Mastery and related books, argues that entrepreneurs must work on their businesses as well as in them. It’s the same for lawyers, because even those lawyers who are working at mega-firms are, in a sense, leading their own businesses. We too must stop and reflect on how our business, our practice, is running.
A retreat is the ideal way to do this evaluation. Not the typical law firm retreat, replete with meetings and cocktails and chatter, but a private retreat. A retreat can be enormously useful in as little as 3 hours, though a longer retreat is restorative as well as better suited for deep reflection. Depending on what you need, both personally and professionally, you might consider retreating at home, at the office, or to a hotel/retreat center. Consider what you need, both in terms of what creature comforts will facilitate your turning inward and also in terms of what support you need.
What questions should you ask yourself on retreat? The list is truly endless, but here are some good ones:
1. How well am I functioning in the office? What changes do I need to make either in the office environment or in how I prepare myself for my workdays?
2. What is my business vision? What kind of practice do I want, and how well am I developing that practice?
3. Who are my clients? How is client development working for me, and what changes do I need to make? What new activities do I need to undertake?
4. How satisfied are my current clients? How can I better serve them?
5. Am I an active member of the legal community? Am I meeting my own expectations for pro bono work?
6. Am I maximizing my energy through good self-care?
7. How is my work/life integration? Am I honoring what’s most important to me?
8. How am I performing as a leader? Who must I be to become a better leader? Where do I want or need to step up into a leadership role?
9. What one change can I make in my life or my practice that will create greater satisfaction for me?
As we move into fall and toward the end of the year, it’s an ideal time for review and revision. Give yourself — and your practice — the gift of a retreat. Please contact me if you’d like support in designing a retreat or in helping with strategizing to help you reach your goals.