January 01, 2015

Defining Moments: Happy New Year

Melanie Bragg

As we dive into the new year with winter dead upon us, after a frenzied holiday season filled with events, family visits, lots of commitments and balls to juggle, I ask you this question: Have you taken the time to sit down and acknowledge yourself for how far you came in 2014 and to set your goals for 2015?

What did you accomplish last year that you are proud of? Give yourself the credit you deserve, because appreciating yourself for what you do right goes a long way toward cultivating a healthy self-image.

I don’t know about you all, but when I got out of law school I hit the ground running. I was always focused on the next goal—getting out of college, getting into law school, getting out of law school, figuring out what I was going to do after law school and on and on, one goal to another. Several years ago I realized that while I raced from goal to goal, always challenging myself to bigger goals, I rarely sat down and said, “Job well done” to myself. I usually looked at what I had not done, what I had not accomplished, and I proceeded to make my New Year’s Resolutions list with what I came to call the “rollovers”—the goals that I put on there each year: lose weight, exercise more, bill clients faster, get more cases, etc. I rolled them over so long that I kind of lost interest and hope in them because I knew I would not really focus on them. I would just keep running from case to case, problem to problem, and monthly billing cycle to monthly billing cycle. Any of this sound familiar?

What are your “rollover” goals? Should you take them off the list, or is this the year to get down to it and do them?

We have heard the phrase “take time to smell the roses.” We give lip service to the concept, but in recent times I have made a sincere effort to actually do so, and the way I have found that leads me to success is meditation. Meditation is like any other practice: in order to reap the benefits, you have to start small somewhere, and then build up. As you get stronger, you develop your muscles. As you become more practiced, you can anchor feelings and emotions in your meditations and, in times of stress, call them up. You will begin to notice an increased sense of peace and less stress in your daily life. All of this adds up to greater productivity. And we all want to enjoy our lives more. We want to enjoy our work, enjoy our personal lives, and feel fulfilled in what we do. Meditation is a way to begin to cultivate those inner muscles that will serve you in a variety of ways.

Every year I make a personalized meditation tape with my goals and desires. I started it about 10 years ago with a surgery I was very nervous about. I did one for a big trial, then I did one for my heart surgery—which I was very nervous about, and I ended up seeing such great results I started doing an annual one. It is such great fun to prepare for it and to decide what things I want to teach my subconscious. You know our subconscious minds are always at work. We may or may not be aware of it, depending upon our level of self-awareness, but it is there. In 2012, I began to really acknowledge my progress each year, and I found it to be very valuable part of the practice.

How do you “track” your success and monitor your progress? How do you handle your stress?

And this year I was astounded. When preparing for the 2015 tape, I realized that 2014 was a big year for me. The whole restructuring of Bragg Law PC into the cloud and moving over to an all Mac system has given me such freedom I never had to better serve my clients and have flexibility in my life. We have really made some big strides in productivity, and there is no end in sight for this year. We are focusing on new ways of marketing and love all of the technology available to us now. The changes to the practice of law excite and encourage me.

What will be new for you this year? How will you stretch yourself?

I wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year! I hope that you do a few new things to expand and stretch yourself, both personally and professionally, this year. And I ask you to consider exploring some form of mediation to really jumpstart your life in new and exciting ways. I would love to hear about your practices in this area. How do you deal with stress, and what are your most effective ways of dealing with the demands of your law practice? GPSolo wants to know and wants to help by providing valuable content to practitioners. Email me at Melanie@bragglawpc.com.

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Melanie Bragg

Melanie Bragg has long enjoyed a reputation as one of Houston’s fiercest attorneys in her representation of children, the elderly, and mentally disadvantaged people.  Her firm, Bragg Law PC, is a general civil firm in Houston, Texas. She also writes and produces legal education programs through Legal Insight, Inc. (founded by Bragg in 1993). Her writing credits include HIPAA for the General Practitioner as well as the upcoming book Defining Moments: Insights into the Lawyer’s Soul to be published by the American Bar Association (ABA) flagship division. When she is not writing, Melanie devotes her time to her work as chair of the Book Publications Board of the ABA Solo, Small Firm General Practice Division and sharing ideas with fellow authors. She can be reached at Melanie@bragglawpc.com.