The following post was written by Vicki Voisin, also known as The Paralegal Mentor, who publishes the bi-weekly ezine ’Strategies for Paralegals Seeking Excellence’ where she offers tips for paralegals and others who want to create lasting success in their personal and professional lives. Get tips and information at no cost at www.paralegalmentor.com .

I could not have said this better myself, so why re-invent the wheel?  Vicki Voisin offers awesome advice for paralegals, so be sure to check out her website and sign up for her weekly ezine.

Change is in the air! Whether it’s the advent of Spring or the current political campaign, it seems like everyone is talking about change. Change is always good, any time of the year. In fact, I believe that once you stop changing you’re just done…there will be no more personal growth in your life. Now, I’m not necessarily talking about drastic changes like a quitting your job, leaving your spouse, or moving to Peru. I am talking about making small changes that will keep you fresh and content with your current job and your career.

Do you feel like you’ve painted yourself into a corner? Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Well, nothing happens to the rut you’re stuck in unless you make the changes necessary to get out. If you continue to do the same thing in the same way, you’ll get the same results. It’s time to make a few small changes that will get you out of that rut. Here are some tips:

Clear the decks! Or, rather, clear your desk! Piles of papers and gobs of Post-It notes keep you from doing your best work. With all the clutter on your desk, you waste time looking for files and memos. Throw away what you can and then file the rest. Working in a clear, organized space will make you feel better instantly.

Set goals! Decide what you want to do and where you want to go. Then figure out the steps you need to take to get there. You would never eat a 12″ sub sandwich in one gulp, but bite by bite that sandwich will disappear. Setting short term goals to reach your long term goal is the only way to make sure you keep yourself on track. Put those goals on your calendar so that you will make time to do them. I have another example. Say you want to see ‘Wicked’ this coming August 2nd. But you say to yourself, “I don’t know if I can do that.What if something else comes up?” So you do nothing. Guess what…August 2nd will come and go and you will not have seen ‘Wicked.’ If you had put that event on your calendar, purchased your tickets and made travel plans, you would be in for a terrific experience on August 2nd. If not, you’ll be at home watching ‘I Love Lucy’ re-runs.

Challenge yourself! Think of something challenging that you want to do before you wake up on the wrong side of the grass. This should be something that is out of your normal routine…something that is a stretch for you. Would that be sky diving? A trip to Morocco? Learning Italian? Once you’ve chosen your challenge, plan the steps you must take to make it happen. You simply cannot learn Italian overnight. Also, forget the excuses. Never say, “I can’t do that. It will take too long and I’ll be (you insert the number that’s holding you back) years old before I’m finished!” I have news for you, you will (hopefully!) be 30…40…50…60…or whatever number you’re thinking. You might as well reach the age and have completed your challenge as get there and have regrets because you didn’t. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it and plan the steps you must take to climb your mountain.
Ask for what you want! I’ll let you in on a little secret…I didn’t have a reserved seat for the Richlin v Chertoff oral arguments. It would have been very easy to just wring my hands and decide to stay home because I wasn’t even sure I would get in the building. Instead, I stood in line for two hours on a chilly March morning and slowly inched toward the door. The oral arguments were to begin at 10:00 a.m. As that time approached, I could see I wasn’t going to get in. Instead, I was given the opportunity to move to the line of people who could watch for just five minutes. That was better than nothing (even though I was calculating that for five minutes in the court room, the trip would cost me about $300 per minute!) so I moved and was with the first group inside. When I sat down, I was totally awed by the Court and the voices of the Justices, but I couldn’t see them very well. Then I noticed one empty seat just across from me. The Marshalls were patrolling the room and looked like they’d throw me out if I even crossed my eyes. But when one walked by me I asked (very quietly!) if I could move to the empty seat. His response? ”If you move to that seat, you have to stay for the whole hour!” Yes! I asked for what I wanted and I got it.Never hesitate to ask for what you want. What do you have to lose? You’ll be surprised how often it works.
Look for the good in people! It’s very easy to see other’s faults, but it’s healthier to see the good things. Every person has a story. Every person has something interesting to offer. Acknowledge at least one positive quality in everyone you meet during a day. The negatives will slip away and you will find more joy in your day.
Exercise! Golly, how many times have you heard that? But it’s true! You need to exercise not only to keep your body strong, but also to keep your mind healthy. You will do your best thinking and problem solving while you take a brisk walk. Try to make exercise a priority.
Have you noticed a recurring theme here? Each of these changes requires that you work on yourself and your way of thinking. It is so important that you maintain your sense of humor, that you have fun, and that you always be learning something new. Taking a risk once in a while is mandatory. Work on those goals, make some long-term plans, smile at your neighbor, and I’ll bet you will find you’re no longer stuck in your rut. That said, I have one more point to make.
Evaluate your situation! In the beginning, I said I was not advocating any drastic changes. But think about this: You probably have an idea where you want your career to go. Think where you were five years ago and then where you want to be in five years. Are things going as you had hoped? Are you on a path that will get you to where you want to be in five years? Are you earning what you deserve? Hopefully your answers will be ‘Yes.’ If not, you may need to make more than a few small changes.
Your Assignment: Take ten minutes to assess that rut you think you may be stuck in and make a list of five things you would like to do by the end of the year. Then determine what steps you have to take to reach those goals, to make those things a reality. Next, schedule the steps on your calendar. By the end of the year, you’ll not only be out of your rut, but you’ll be marching down the road singing a happy tune.
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