If Bruce Lee Says It…

Further to last week’s post on the value of taking small, consistent steps toward your business development objectives, here’s a quote from Bruce Lee. It’s true in physical training, and it’s true for business development.

 

Make it a consistent week.

Little Hinges Swing Big Doors

I was listening to a podcast recently when I heard a phrase that’s stuck with me since: little hinges swing big doors. We can use that phrase in a number of ways for business development, but let’s focus on one of the most common blocks lawyers hit: being “too busy” for business development activity.

If you find that your business development plan keeps getting pushed away by billable work or other responsibilities, ask yourself what small step you could take that would further your plan. Such steps must be purposeful (your step has to fit in the context of an overall plan) and might include:

  • Make a five-minute call or email to a key contact: maybe you’ll set up a meeting (which constitutes a bigger step), but maybe you can share some news or a resource you’ve found that they might like, in which case you’re done in just a few minutes.
  • Post an update on LinkedIn to share an interesting article or to highlight something that a contact or colleague has accomplished
  • Comment on someone else’s LinkedIn post
  • Add one idea to an outline for an article you plan to write or a presentation you plan to deliver
  • Identify people you should contact to renew and build a relationship (see this post for an easy way to do that)

Will any of these steps individually yield new business? Probably not. What they will do (if they’re selected in the context of an overarching plan) is keep you moving, keep you focused on your business development plan, and prevent getting stuck.

Perhaps most importantly, executing on small steps gets you in the habit of consistently working on your business development plan.

Don’t get me wrong: big objectives belong on your plan as well. Writing an article, creating an infographic to help clients or referral sources understand some aspect of your practice, or putting together a panel presentation that will give you a forum to speak as well as to invite other speakers and attendees—these and similar tasks can make a bigger splash as well as spin-off more small steps. Break these projects into manageable steps and carve out time on your calendar to complete them. (That’s another of little hinges that swing big doors.)

But when billable work or other responsibilities are claiming almost all your time, it’s the deliberate small steps that will allow you to keep making progress until you can return to bigger objectives. You see, consistent and calculated small steps will always move you toward your goals more quickly than short bursts of significant activity with long breaks in between them.

Take five minutes to list a handful of purposeful small steps you can take. Put them on your calendar. When you get to the appointment you’ve made for the small step, if it feels like too much, try timing yourself (our estimates of how long something will take can be wildly inaccurate especially when busy), or remind yourself that you’re taking one step, not a walk.

Long Run Business Development Efforts That Will Pay Off Over Time.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that some lawyers are making mistakes that will undermine their business development efforts. These are short-sighted decisions that may seem smart in the short run but will cause great damage over time.

Marketing Don’t #1: “It’s all about me” newsletters. A lawyer I don’t know subscribed me to his mailing list, using two of my email addresses. That’s a mistake (and probably illegal) in itself. Absent a business relationship, all newsletter subscribers should be subscribers by their request. Getting this right is critical. No one should ever be surprised that they’re receiving your newsletter.

But that isn’t the only mistake. The newsletter is short and well-written, but it only recounts what honors and accolades this lawyer has received since he last wrote. Since I don’t know this person, I have no interest in what he’s done. Even if he were an acquaintance, an entire email about “me, me, me” is unlikely to hold my interest. I’ve received this newsletter two or three times over the last year (I didn’t unsubscribe because I wanted to see whether and how the newsletter would change over time—but it hasn’t) and I have yet to read a substantive article or even comments that are directed to the reader.

The take-home message for you who send newslettersMake sure there’s something that’s designed to be helpful for the reader. Yes, share your news, and let your readers know that you’re up to good things, but don’t let that be the sole focus (or even the primary emphasis) of your newsletter. Write for your readers, not at them.

Marketing Don’t #2:  Skipping relationship-building on social media. This error shows up in two ways: adding a connection without engaging or making a connection and immediately making some sort of business pitch. (I’ve also been subscribed to a lawyer’s newsletter simply by virtue of having made the online connection—see mistake #1 above.) Making a connection without engaging in some way means that the connection is unlikely to do much of anything for you, but it probably won’t alienate anyone. But going directly to business certainly could. You wouldn’t walk into a networking meeting, meet someone for the first time, and make a business request while you’re still shaking that person’s hand, so don’t do the equivalent online.

Relationship-building online should follow a similar trajectory as relationship-building in the “real” world. Meet (or make the connection online), explore areas of mutual interest to discover what you have in common, whether you like each other, and whether you’d like to have a business relationship. That process can take minutes or months. But it’s only when that process is concluded (or well underway) that it becomes appropriate to look for referral opportunities.

Even better, of course, is bringing the process to culmination by asking how you might help the person you’re getting to know. One of the best, and most under-utilized, questions you might ask a new contact (virtual or in-person) is, “How would I recognize someone I should send to you?” If you ask this question of someone who is likely to be a good referral source, you will almost certainly have the question returned to you.

The take-home message for you who network online:  Don’t skip the relationship-building phase in online networking.

Marketing Don’t #3: Don’t forget that you must invest in your practice to see it grow. Several lawyers recently have told me this is not the time to be spending money on business development, a perception that started at the beginning of the pandemic. There’s no harm in hitting pause in periods of great uncertainty, but getting stuck there is certainly risky. Some lawyers are still holding the purse strings so tight that their metaphorical hands must be going numb.

I’m certainly not going to suggest spending money willy-nilly, nor would I ever recommend a lawyer extend him- or herself beyond the bounds of sound financial decisions. However, choosing not to spend money can be a short-sighted decision made from fear. Growing a practice does require making smart investments. Just like no wise lawyer would choose to go with a typewriter to save on the costs of using a computer, no wise lawyer would reject a practice-building opportunity simply because of a financial investment.

That doesn’t mean that you need to make the Bentley-level investment every time; sometimes the used Chevy is perfectly adequate and perhaps even a better choice. If you notice yourself thinking that an opportunity is just right except for the cost, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What’s the financial outlay?
  2. What outcome might I see?
  3. What’s the likelihood of that outcome?
  4. What’s the financial investment-to-payoff ratio?
  5. What are the non-financial benefits that would likely accrue?

The take-home for lawyers considering a practice-enriching investmentConsider not just what an opportunity costs but also what results it is likely to offer. Not all opportunities will be right for you, but don’t allow yourself to miss out on something that offers an advantage simply because it comes with a price tag.

Internal Networking Tips (Especially For Lawyers New To a Firm)

Every lawyer must be able to bring in at least enough work to support his or her own practice. Of course, with rare exceptions, no one springs into business development fully formed. It’s a process that takes both time to perform and time for the results to appear. Successful BD requires effort and skill. Every lawyer should be actively engaging in BD activity of some sort, no matter their time in practice.

New (whether brand new to the practice or new to a firm due to a lateral move or a merge) lawyers face a special challenge in building a business development plan, simply because they’re new. Even more challenging than creating a personal BD plan in a new firm is figuring out how you fit into the firm’s overarching business plan. It’s tough to promote a firm or its lawyers without knowing the lawyers to some degree, knowing who covers what area of practice and what experience they have, and even how the firm approaches potential clients (what business does it want and what business isn’t a fit?) and how it handles new engagements.

When you’re new to a practice or new to a firm, networking is the place to start. Networking falls into two basic categories: internal and external. Nearly all lawyers have internal (i.e., in-firm) clients in addition to the external clients we normally refer to as such. A new lawyer needs first to learn about the internal clients among his colleagues: who handles real estate work? Is her practice limited to commercial real estate? Who are some representative clients?

Some of this comes naturally as you get to know other lawyers, but particularly in a large firm, it can take quite a bit of effort. Best ways to begin:

  • Read, carefully, each lawyer’s profile on the firm website, focusing on lawyers whose practice has some nexus with your own. Yes, you probably did this when you interviewed, but now you’re reading so that you can speak knowledgeably about the firm’s scope of practice and so that you know who to call when a potential client needs to talk to someone in another area of practice. Especially if you work in a larger firm, you won’t remember the details, but certain profiles will stand out to you. Make it your habit to read a handful of profiles each week and keep notes.
  • As you identify colleagues whose practices are complementary to yours and/or who stand out to you in some way, reach out to them, introduce yourself, and get to know one another. You’ll begin to build your own internal network as a result.
  • At all-attorney meetings or cocktail parties or over informal lunches, make it your habit to learn more about at least one lawyer’s practice. Ask good questions, keep the lawyer talking, and you’ll be regarded as a sparkling conversationalist — because, after all, we all enjoy talking about ourselves, and lawyers love telling their war stories. Good questions to ask: “Who is your ideal client?” and “How would I know that someone I’m talking with would be a good client for you?” (Caution: be sure that you’re really engaged in the conversation and genuinely curious. Otherwise, this question will sound fake, as if you’re just parroting a question someone told you to ask.)
  • If your firm publishes a newsletter of recent developments, read it. Follow the firm and key colleagues on LinkedIn and engage with their posts. This is a simple way to learn what’s going on in the firm.

These tips will help you to develop your awareness for cross-selling opportunities. So, if your client mentions a problem in another legal area (say you practice IP and your client mentions an employment issue) you can be ready to connect your client to a trusted lawyer in your firm. Cross-selling to satisfied current clients is probably the easiest kind of client development you can do.

And, of course, as you get to know your colleagues, you’re raising your own profile with them. That means that when they have the opportunity to make a referral to someone in your practice area, you’re increasing the chances that you’ll be one of the lawyers they consider. As you offer opportunities to others, whether that’s billable work or a chance to speak on a panel, you’re building value in the relationship. You will likely find, over time, that the value comes back to you—directly and in ways that you would never have anticipated.

Internal networking can feel like a sidestep from business development, but it’s a can’t-miss activity, especially if you’re new to a firm. Take some time to evaluate how plugged in you are to what’s happening within your firm and who’s doing what work, then create an internal networking plan for yourself. You may be surprised at the benefits that come your way.

Failing To See Options

Let’s start today’s newsletter with a little joke.

During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director how she decides whether a patient should be institutionalized.

“Well,” said the Director, “we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a
teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.”

“Oh, I understand,” said the visitor. “A normal person would use the
bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.

“No.” said the Director, “A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?”

This joke might offer special insight to lawyers because we so often develop tunnel vision. We may be creative when it comes to client work, ready to dream up new and inventive legal theories or approaches to help our clients achieve their goals. But when it comes to our own lives, we often fall into a rut. See if any of these statements might ring a bell with you: 

  • Of course, I have to be at the office from early til late; that’s how it’s always been. (If that’s your belief, how have the last couple of years shifted it?) 
  • Of course, I want to grow my book of business as big and as fast as possible; the end result is my only measure of success. (If that’s your belief, do you find that you’re bringing in good work or work that you regret taking on?) 
  • Of course, I have to speak (or network like mad, or write an article, or teach CLEs, or…); that’s how [insert a rainmaker you know] did it, and it’s obviously the way to succeed. (If that’s your belief, do you enjoy the BD task you’ve identified enough to do it regularly? Are you skilled enough to do it well?)

The truth is, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of those beliefs. The problem comes in when a belief becomes a rut or ignores important considerations. Building a big book of business quickly is appealing—unless it means you’re accepting any work that comes your way without evaluating whether the work or the client is a good fit for you. If you’re trying to build your book by following someone else’s plan and doing the same things they’ve done, you may find that your personality or preferences make their approach a poor fit for you, which will usually guarantee equally poor results.   

There may be costs, perhaps even enormous ones, involved in making a change to your approach to practice or business development.  But the highest cost of all lies in failing to see options.

If we feel stuck, without options, in an uncomfortable practice (or in a firm that isn’t a good fit, or in a BD plan that doesn’t reflect our skills and preferences), chances are good that we’ll fight for a little while but eventually give up the struggle, succumb to the familiar even if it’s uncomfortable. 

If we see options, the struggle may be more intense because we’re struggling with the situation as well as the options we’ve identified, but eventually, we’ll have the ability to make a choice. The choice may demand a huge investment from us, but we avoid the impotent sense of surrender.  

Choice offers power.

Sometimes the answer is both as clear and as obscure as pulling the bathtub plug when presented with the options of a bucket, teacup, or a spoon to use to empty the tub. Alternatives that may be obvious to someone standing outside the situation may be invisible to the person facing it. That’s why it’s often so valuable to talk with a colleague, a friend, a spouse or partner, or a coach or consultant who can see options that you might miss.

What challenges are you facing? What options do you have? Can you identify all of the options (including those hidden in plain view) and the results of each? That’s the moment of decision and the moment of power.

New Lawyer Skill Focus: How To Deliver Bad News

This is one of the most challenging communications issues that new lawyers face — really, that any of us face. Something has gone wrong, there’s an adverse ruling, or someone made a mistake. How do you deliver that news?

Whether you need to inform the client or a more senior lawyer, the process is largely the same. (Why? Because every other lawyer in your firm is your internal client. More on this another day.) For ease of reference, I’ll write about this process as an attorney-client communication.

  1. Let your client know you have something to discuss and ask for the amount of time you expect the conversation to require. In other words, don’t call and let the news dribble out while your client is checking her watch and needing to get to another meeting. Elementary, but critical: “Is this a good time to talk? I’ll need about 10 minutes of your attention.”

  2. Provide any necessary background. For instance, “Stan, you probably remember that we filed a motion to compel a few weeks ago so we can get documents about XYZ Corp.’s finances.” If there’s any confusion about the background, explain.

  3. Spit out the news you need to convey. “Stan, the judge has ruled against us.”

  4. Explain what the news means. This is, of course, the crux of the conversation. Two things may happen after you spill the news, depending on the magnitude of the news: either the client will be silent and wait for you to explain, or she may be angry. (Frankly, the former may be more difficult to handle.) Unless you (or the firm) made a mistake, do not apologize.  Do empathize.

  5. If there’s a solution needed, or if logical next steps exist, explain what they are. Can you move to reconsider? Knowing your judge as you do (and you do, if only by reputation, don’t you?) would you recommend such a motion? How can you accomplish damage control?  This is the most important skill in transmitting bad news, in my opinion, because it’s most often overlooked. Things do go wrong, but when they do, you want to be the person who has options to suggest. Be sure you’ve thought through what you’re proposing because you’ll lose credit for any “solution” you put forward that may create additional problems unless you’ve thought them through and have a credible risk/reward explanation.
Be sure to deliver the news as soon as possible, because bad news does not improve with age — and you’ll likely just get more and more nervous. And finally, tempting though it may be, don’t try to cover up bad news. Unless you can solve it (and almost without exception, even if you can) your client deserves to know what’s happened. This is an integrity issue; it also guards your reputation. Fail to share the news you should, and it will destroy trust.

Most of all, remember to keep breathing. You’ll probably have some really bad news to deliver in your time, and keeping it in perspective is useful. Learning from your mistakes is imperative. Depending on the magnitude, almost everyone will forgive one mistake.


But in law, two strikes likely means you’re out.

Representing An Unrealistic Client

One of the most challenging client relations issues that lawyers face is representing an unrealistic client.  It’s easy to see how a client can fall into what is, objectively, an unrealistic expectation about his situation.  After all, many clients (corporate and individual) are deeply invested in their matter, and many clients (especially individuals)  are likely to have few legal issues, so those they do have are of critical importance, stress-inducing, and wrapped up with a variety of emotions.

Since lawyers by definition deal with a variety of cases ranging from fairly minor to deeply complex, it’s easy for lawyers to lose sight of the client’s perspective on an issue.  Generally, we get a sense of the client’s perspective early in the case, but especially where something is largely paper-based or not on an urgent timetable, it’s easy to let that slip away in the press of business.  And that’s where things get dangerous and unpleasant.

The top client relations skill, then, is to observe the client’s point of view on a case and to keep that in mind while handling the representation.  The result is that if the case takes a small but unfortunate bounce, you might choose to call the client or meet with her rather than send the news via email or letter.

Moreover, keeping the client’s perspective in mind allows you to recognize if and when a client slips into unrealistic expectations about his case, such as the finances (whether that’s legal fees, costs, or the expected damages, settlement value, or cost of the deal), or the speed with which the matter should be resolved.  The quickest way to a dissatisfied client is to lose sight of how the client is viewing what’s happening with your representation.  The second quickest is to fail to tailor your communications with the client to take account of how he’s seeing things.

So, what if you realize that your client is expecting a recovery in the millions when you think (and perhaps you’ve even told the client) that the case is worth only in the range of $10,000, or that the case should be resolved within 2 weeks, etc.?

  1. Communicate.  Find out why your client thinks what he thinks.  You’ll often find that he’s been consulting with a well-meaning but underinformed friend who’s a lawyer or other “expert.”  We all know that a single fact can take a case from “high value” to “dog,” and it’s a reasonable bet that the client will have disclosed only some of the facts, that the “expert” won’t know the law in the area, or that the conversation was only casual commiseration and the client took a comment far more seriously than it was intended. 
  2. Communicate in writing.  We’ve all had the experience at some point of hearing a lot of information and remembering only some of it.  Obviously, the same goes for clients.  So you might consider drafting a detailed engagement letter that includes information such as the expected time to resolution, the expected fees for various stages of the engagement, and/or your initial assessment of the case — all, of course, with language that indicates that this is your best estimate but that subsequent events or discoveries could change the situation dramatically.  Writing such a letter not only confirms that you’ve discussed these issues, it also gives the client something to return to down the line to refresh his recollection.

  3. Address the unrealistic expectations right away.  As soon as you sense that your client is holding some expectation that you consider unrealistic, address it. Immediately.  And be sure other lawyers and support staff who deal with the client are prepared to notice unrealistic expectations and let you know about them, immediately.  Like mold on cheese, unrealistic expectations grow if not cut off.

  4. Explain why things are as they are.  So, for instance, if a client thinks a negotiation is taking too long when it’s about average, share your experience with your client.  Let him know how long things like this usually take, what’s causing any delay, and whether you think the delay is reasonable.  Depending on the situation, this step could be delegated to a paralegal or could be incorporated into a regular matter update to the client.  In other words, be proactive when possible. 
  5. Review your client intake procedure.  A good client screening process is important to your practice and your sanity.  If you find a number of clients who hold unrealistic expectations, perhaps that reveals something about the way you’re communicating with clients in the initial meeting.  (The same holds true if you find yourself surrounded by difficult clients.)  Consider whether you need to spend more time or energy evaluating clients before accepting the representation.  It’s impossible to screen out every client who will be challenging, but if you keep getting these clients, you’ll be well-served by investigating why that’s so.

Identify The Problem, Define The Solution.

When you aren’t achieving the results you want to see from your business development activity, you almost certainly have one of three problems. Identify the problem, make a thoughtful shift, and you will likely see your results change. (The difficulty, of course, is in knowing what change to make, but that’s another topic for another day.)

So, what are the three problems?
  1. Not enough quality potential clients (directly or by referral). You may not be having enough conversations that lead to “getting the business” conversations, or you may be having plenty of conversations, but with the wrong people. For instance, if you’re having numerous business conversations that don’t intersect with your area of practice, you have a “leads” problem. (Unless that is, those conversations lead to your bringing business to a colleague and getting an origination credit even though you personally aren’t doing the work.)

  2. Not enough sales conversations, or not being able to close the sale. Your connections may stall short of an opportunity to discuss a specific legal problem that your prospective client has and to offer your services, or you may find that you’re unable actually to land the work. You won’t be able to grow a sizeable or a stable book of business until you solve a sales-related problem. 
  3. Poor client service. If you don’t serve your clients well (in what you do for them as well as how you provide that service), you’ll have dissatisfied clients. Studies show that unhappy clients often don’t communicate their dissatisfaction but simply take their business elsewhere, leaving the former service provider unclear on what happened. If you’re losing clients often, if you aren’t receiving referrals from your clients, or if your clients have repeat business that doesn’t come to you, you have a problem with client service. Although this problem will initially affect your work with current clients, it will eventually undermine your opportunity to secure new work.

Do you have a problem in one (or more) of these areas? Identifying the problem gives you an opportunity to identify an appropriate solution.

Tend Relationships To Grow Your Practice

While discussing business development plans, I often tell my clients that rainmaking is all about relationships. I also tell clients that good relationships, personal or professional, should be nurtured – even that low-level employee of a corporate client may prove to be a valuable contact one day. This past weekend confirmed that for me.

Clients sometimes question why I suggest maintaining friendships from college and law school, and the weekend offers the explanation. I hosted a reunion for six of my closest friends from college last weekend. Although we stay in touch by email and conference calls, we rarely see each other face-to-face. I was struck by a realization as I looked around at my friends: we’ve come a long way since college.

Of the 6 of us, I’m the only lawyer. Two are in high-level corporate positions, working with multiple law firms and (coincidentally) dealing with issues that were at the core of my interest when I was in practice. And three of the women’s husbands (who are invited for co-ed get-togethers) are in corporate positions as well, responsible for hiring or coordinating efforts with lawyers for some aspects of the business.

The other three women are teachers, and each is also active in the community in some way. One is a community actor and director who serves on several theatre boards in her city, another holds offices in various groups that her sons have joined, and the third is a leader in more community groups than I can count. These women are well-connected.

In the years since college, we have all advanced in responsibility. Through long history together, these friends (and their husbands) know, like, and trust me, as I do each of them. If I were still in practice, these connections would be ripe for business development – not because I would “use” my friends to bring in clients, but because my friends would feel confident in hiring me (or others I recommend) and referring others to me. (And here’s proof: a special “welcome” to the lawyers who have recently subscribed to this newsletter at the suggestion of one of my college friends – you know who you are!). The reverse is, of course, true as well.

Multiple referrals have passed among us over the years, and anytime one of us needs to meet someone for business purposes, working through this extended network almost always gets results. If any of us had judged whether these would be professionally fruitful relationships twenty years ago, the answer would probably have been no. We were either poor graduate students or eager but hungry young teachers, hardly ready to refer business to anyone except perhaps a great restaurant. Circumstances have certainly changed over time. But my friends’ basic attributes have not: they’re sharp, nice, trustworthy, and service-oriented. Those attributes have led them to success in a variety of businesses and relationships, and our connections are now fruitful professionally as well as personally.

This is only one example of how contacts grow. The same is true of former colleagues, junior employees of corporate clients, and so on. Regardless of where or how you meet, maintain connections with people you like and trust. You cannot possibly know where life will take you and your contacts or how (or whether) connections will shift over time, but solid relationships often yield business or other useful resources.

A client recently told me that he wished he’d learned years ago to keep in touch with clients and friends at his peer level. As you advance in experience and responsibility, so will your contacts. In our mobile society, today’s low-level employee at one company may be tomorrow’s vice president at a competitor.

Coaching challenge: Think about good contacts (those whom you know, like, and trust) with whom you have not talked recently. Pick up the phone today and reconnect with a few, or perhaps issue an invitation for lunch or coffee. Nurture these relationships and you will likely find that they pay dividends over time.

Two Sides Of Business Development Disaster

Two levels of activity can undermine your business development efforts: doing too much and doing too little. Think I just won the obvious award? Stick with me for a minute.

It’s no secret that doing too little business development activity means you won’t build the kind of practice you want. If you want word about you to filter out so potential clients come looking for you, you’d better help that word spread. If you think you’re going to inherit a book from a retiring mentor, you’d better have a thoughtful transition plan and a backup approach since clients don’t always want to be part of an inheritance. If you sit and wait for clients to come to you, you may find yourself waiting for drips of business that will never quench your thirst. 

But can you fail to build a book of business because you’re doing too much? You bet. No matter your situation, your time and energy are limited. This is especially true for senior associates and junior partners in larger firms: you have billable responsibilities, administrative responsibilities, professional development responsibilities, and you may well be busy personally as well, with a young family or supporting elderly relatives. And, of course, client demands can come in a cluster, leaving little time for anything else.

If you’re just starting to take on a particular business development activity (or to take on business development in general), you may be tempted to jump into the deep end and cram in as much work as you can that might lead to business. Unfortunately, that isn’t how business development works in most practices.

Taking on too much at one time is a sure recipe for disaster. You start out with great intentions, and maybe even clear plans, but everything falls apart with one little slip. (This is why diet challenges like the Whole30 often don’t work either: imperfection means failure.) You’re more likely to find yourself overwhelmed and discouraged, experiencing a crash-and-burn rather than kindling a brightly burning flame that will power your practice.

Business development is a career-long marathon, an endurance race that requires you to keep moving no matter what. If you try to complete that marathon in short order, you’ll discover it can’t be done. And far too often, those who try to do it all burn out and give up, at least for a while, before realizing later that they still need to build a book of business and now they’re further behind than ever. So take a step, then another, and keep moving as those steps begin to form a road to success.

Action step: what are you planning to start, or what business development project has stalled?  Break it down into doable steps and calendar those. Keep your commitment to yourself and your plan, and you’ll see real progress.