Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Let me ask you something tricky. How many of those resolutions have you actually kept? I bet not many. Is that any way to set yourself up for an amazing year?

No, it is not.

Use the Christmas Tree Method

What should you do instead? Make ONE resolution. I call that the Christmas Tree Method for keeping your New Year’s resolutions.

Pick ONE thing that you want to make happen in 2019. Not three or five. Just one. I understand that doesn’t sound very ambitious, especially for a go-getter like you, but hear me out.

You see, each resolution you select is like the star at the top of your Christmas tree. Supporting that star are the branches of the tree. Those branches represent the supporting goals that you have to achieve to get the star.

Every branch has its own smaller decisions and actions (ornaments) that need to be completed. You see where I’m going, right? You set yourself up for failure when you say you want to grow your business, lose 10 pounds and spend more time with the kids next year. You just overwhelmed yourself.

Image credit: Pasal Claivaz

Identify your one goal then break it down

Suppose your goal is to meet a new revenue number in your law practice. For fun let’s say you want to make $10k a month in 2019. That’s the star.

What do you have to do first to achieve that? That’s the bottom branch on your tree. Maybe the first move is to understand your current finances. You gotta know where you’re starting to plot a course to where you want to go, right?

The ornaments (actions/decisions) on that branch would be:

  • Talk to your bookkeeper
  • Look at your financial reports
  • Calculate your utilization, realization and collection rates
  • Determine how many leads you convert each month
  • Identify your different case types
  • Look at your payment systems
  • Decide where to make changes

Depending on how organized you are and whether you have a financial team (bookkeeper, accountant, wealth advisor) or not, finishing this level might take days or weeks. But it’s worth investing the time and money because this information is the foundation for achieving your star goal.

The next branch is deciding why you want to reach $10k in revenues. What will that do for your law practice or your life? Will you be more confident? Make more profit?

Take a minute to visualize that goal. What does it look like, feel like for you, your team, your family, your colleagues when you reach that goal. Use your imagination to make the scene brilliant. What are you doing? What are you wearing? Feel the emotions. Make it real. This vision will keep you motivated on the days that you don’t want to do what’s required.

Does fear work better as a motivator for you? Then, imagine what it will be like when you don’t get the star. How will you and your family feel? Will there be the disappointment, dread, guilt? Pile it on. We are hard-wired to avoid pain so you’ll be helping yourself succeed.

The next branches up the tree are the individual actions or decisions you have to make. That might be learning who makes the best client for you in terms of profitability. Or, it could be turning over the invoice and collection systems to a virtual assistant so the work consistently gets done. Maybe it means joining a mastermind so that you get accountability to stay the course. You are working your way to the top.

The branches at the top of the tree are sparse and smaller. You’ll have less to do but it will require greater focus. Ever notice that the closer you get to achieving a goal the more great ideas you get? There’s something new & shiny jockeying for your attention. Don’t succumb to those distractions.

Your work will be deciding to re-commit to the goal on a regular basis because your lizard brain will be working hard to protect you from disappointments.

You’re gonna learn a lot about yourself along the way. If you want company on the journey, you know someone to call bullshit, you’re welcome to join me for Streamline.


Dina Lynch Eisenberg, JD, is the CEO of, an outsourcing training/consulting firm for successful lawyers and entrepreneurs based in Oakland, CA.

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