As paralegals we are focused on taking care of others and making sure that everything operates efficiently and effectively for the client’s benefit. However, in order to be the best paralegal that we can be, it is also important that we take the time to reflect upon what we can do for ourselves to make our professional and personal lives better. As we approach the New Year, it is a good time to reflect on the past year as well as the coming year to make resolutions that will help you succeed in reaching both your professional and personal goals.
Just remember, the key is to create resolutions that are both practical and realistic. Otherwise, your resolutions will fall short of your expectations for a great New Year. Below are examples of successful resolutions that you may want to consider for 2015.
1. Join a Paralegal Association
If you are not a member of your local paralegal association, make joining a priority in 2015. In addition, you need to join a national paralegal association too (even better, join several). Paralegal associations are great ways to network with other paralegals. They also provide workshops and CLEs that will help you advance in your career.
2. Get Certified
Becoming a certified paralegal is not required; however, it can open many more doors for you to advance in your career. Several paralegal associations offer certification programs. Probably the most well-known and widely accepted program is through the NALA. NALA also offers specialization exams where certified paralegals can take the next step to become certified in a specific area of law.
3. Attend More CLEs and Workshops
CLEs and paralegal workshops offer you the chance to learn new skills, expand your knowledge and network with other professionals. Make time during 2015 to attend as many of these classes as possible.
4. Find a Better Work-Life Balance
It is tempting to give all of your time to your career as you are trying to grow, learn and advance in the paralegal profession. However, if you neglect your personal life, you will burn out much faster. If you are spending 10 to 12 hours a day at the office, take a long look at your priorities to find a better work-life balance. You need time away from the office to relax and enjoy your family and friends. It will make you a better paralegal if you learn to balance your work with the rest of your life.
5. Take on a Leadership Role
Get involved with your local paralegal association by accepting a leadership role. It is an exciting and rewarding experience that teaches valuable qualities and skills that help you in both your professional and personal lives. It also looks great on your resume since employers look for paralegals who have leadership experience and skills.
6. Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle
This is a good resolution for anyone to adopt. Exercising, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of rest are things that we should all strive to do in 2015. Consider joining a gym, enrolling in exercise classes or taking a healthy cooking class. Investing in your health is even more important than investing in your career.
7. Invest in Your Retirement
If you are not contributing to a retirement account, make retirement planning a priority in 2015. Planning for your future is important. Take advantage of your employer’s retirement benefits. If your employer does not offer retirement benefits, meet with a financial planner. At the very least, open an Individual Retirement Account and contribute part of each paycheck to your IRA.
8. Find a New Job
If you are unhappy in your current position, make 2015 the year that you find a new job. There are many opportunities for paralegals in the workforce other than at a law firm. Banks, commercial companies and education institutions are just a few examples of employers that use paralegals in various roles. If you are unsure where to begin, start with your local and national paralegal association. They have many resources for those searching for paralegal jobs. Here's some pointers I wrote previously on polishing up your resume!
9. Increase Networking
In many cases, we never think of the importance of networking until we are job hunting. However, networking is beneficial in many other ways. Having a strong network provides you with resources when you have questions with a case. You can use your network to find solutions to problems. Make it a priority to attend paralegal functions and reach out to others during 2015 to expand and build your network. Technology (i.e. social medial, texting, email, etc.) makes it very easy to stay in touch with those in your network as well as meet new people to add to your network. Consider joining LinkedIn this year – it is a great way to build your network. In a previous post, I gave 5 Networking Tips for Paralegals...be sure to check it if you'd like more details.
10. Have a Positive Attitude
It is easy to become negative and cynical when you are working in the legal field, especially if you are dealing with sensitive and emotional issues. Make 2015 more positive by replacing negative thoughts with positive affirmations. We all slip into a negative frame of mind some days – the key is to force ourselves to look for something positive to concentrate on rather than wallowing in a negative muck.
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Good luck in 2015! We hope that the New Year brings you many opportunities and much success.