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Balancing Acts: A Guide to Goal Setting for Personal and Professional Success in 2024 and Beyond!

In the intricate dance of career ambitions and personal aspirations, attorneys often find themselves gracefully (and sometimes not so much) navigating the balancing act among the demands of their workload, pursuit of career advancement, and prioritization of personal growth and obligations. One thing that my friends, family, spouse, and coworkers tell me is that I’m a “doer.” I get things done. In the past, this title led to burnout and fear of failure. In recent years, I’ve learned to harness (and sometimes limit) this strength to accomplish my personal and professional goals. As we embark on this new year, this blog post aims to take you through my annual goal setting exercise to position yourself for a strong year ahead.

Let’s get started by auditing your progress from last year and reflecting on your success and failures.

First things first, did you set goals last year? If so, how did you do? If you didn’t set goals, why not and what got in the way? If you didn’t accomplish some of your goals, why not? What were the key barriers? The start of the year is the perfect time to reflect and celebrate your accomplishments and understand your failed pursuits. We’re all a work in progress, so acknowledging your failures is key to figuring out how you can improve. 

Next, let’s take time to envision what a successful year both professionally and personally means for you.  

Consider the following prompts to help guide you through this visualization exercise, and if helpful, journal out your responses on paper or in a note-taking app. 

  • Introspect and identify your core values: Consider what truly matters to you in work and IRL. What are your core values, passions, and long-term aspirations?

  • Reflect on your current position: Evaluate your current role, responsibilities, accomplishments, failures, and overall satisfaction. Do your core values align with your current position? If not, why, and how do you feel about it? What are the aspects of your career that matter most to you?

  • Envision your short-term and long-term goals: What do you desire in the next quarter, year, three years, and five years? How do these goals align with your core values? Do they contribute to your happiness, health, and well-being? 

  • Reflect on recurring feedback: What points of feedback do you typically receive from your clients, colleagues, friends, and family? How does it make you feel? If you’re unsure, consider asking two to three people that you trust to give you feedback on how they think your last year went and what they think you can do to improve in the new year.

  • Skill up your toolkit: What skills do you need to build to continue developing in your practice area? Are there any skills that you want to develop outside of work?

  • Consider work-life balance: How does your current role allow for the type of work-life balance you desire? Is work-life balance important to you? If so, why? If not, why? Do you currently have a self-care routine that contributes to a healthy lifestyle?

  • Account for accountability tracking: How do you currently track your progress and how frequently do you do so? Who, if anyone, do you consult with on your progress?

  • Confront your barriers: What gets in the way of your success? What could go wrong this year that would impact your ability to accomplish your goals?

As the last step of this visualization exercise, consider writing down ten to fifteen words that come to mind about what inspires you, what scares you, and what best describes how you’re feeling about this year.

Assessing your goals is an ongoing process that requires mindfulness and adaptability to ensure that your goals remain relevant and in harmony with your personal and professional journey. 

Next, for the best part, let’s make it real and write down those d@$m goals! 

Now that you have reflected on your vision for the year, let’s talk about identifying and setting your goals. Consider any trends that came up in the exercise. In my opinion, setting goals is best accomplished through the SMART methodology, which was first introduced by George T. Doran in an article published in Management Review in 1981 and has been iterated over time. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Consider copying this table below to help you write out each of your goals. It includes an example goal to help you get a hang of the exercise:


Note: the more specific you can get about the goal and the purpose of the goal, the better!

I will enhance my knowledge of data privacy laws in the United States by completing the CIPP US certification.


Note: quantify the success to give you an objective way to evaluate your performance.

I aim to score at least 90% on the final assessment of the CIPP US certification program, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of information privacy in the US.


Note: what is realistic based on your current and anticipated workload and personal obligations? Avoid overcommitting.

Given my current workload, I will dedicate one hour each day to the certificate program. On average, it takes about 50 hours to study for the exam, allowing me to be prepared for the exam in the next two months.


Note: consider how this goal aligns with your personal and professional vision.

Improving my data privacy skillset aligns with my career goal to expertly assist my clients with data privacy projects, such as privacy policies and data privacy addendums. 


Note: set a timeline to accomplish this goal and at least three evaluation marks to check in on your progress. If you haven’t made enough progress by the second check-in, consider whether you need to extend the timeline. Things change and it is okay to pivot.

I will complete the CIPP US certification program and earn my certification within the next three months, dedicating focused effort to Ensure timely achievement of this professional goal. I will evaluate my progress on a monthly basis to determine whether I’m on track towards accomplishing this goal within the three month time frame or need to pivot to give myself more time.

Complete this exercise for each of your goals for the year. If you’re unsure how many goals to set, consider between three to five goals, and see how you feel. If you’re motivated to add on, then feel free to do so, but consider setting priorities so that you’re always focused on at least one primary goal over the year to help keep you on track and focused. I encourage you to set at least one goal that focuses on prioritizing your physical and mental well-being to mitigate the risk of burnout and prioritize your health. Maybe that looks like getting established with a therapist this year, scheduling your health checkups for the year so you don’t forget about it, getting a facial on a regular basis, or establishing a relaxing bedtime routine. Self-care looks different for everyone but is so important for your mental, physical, and emotional health. 

Let’s talk about being human!

Stay humble. Work-life balance is not always in equilibrium. Actually, most of the time, it is not. As women, we typically have more on our plate than a reasonably prudent person can handle, and we strive to do our best. Sometimes, work will take priority. Sometimes, life will take priority. Sometimes, it will be in equilibrium. Work-life balance is dynamic, so it is perfectly okay to adjust your goals as circumstances evolve over time. This is why periodic review (of those time-bound goals) is so important! Embrace pivoting when things aren’t working out how you envisioned. Sometimes, this will open up something even better and unexpected!

Leverage your support system. As you embark on accomplishing your goals this year, remember to rely on your support system of your mentors, family, friends, and community to build you up, take care of you during the lows, and celebrate with you during the highs. This may look like your neighborhood mom’s group, CWBA committee members, long-time mentor, best friend, spouse or significant other, or closest family member. Share your goals with those that you feel comfortable with and check-in with them to let them know how you’re doing. Your support system can keep you grounded and accountable. 

Get efficient. One of the biggest challenges that most attorneys face is time management. One of the best pieces of advice that I received early on in my career is that if you don’t take control of your schedule, someone else will do it for you. If obtaining more work-life balance is a primary goal of yours, track your work hours to understand your efficiencies and inefficiencies, establish boundaries to protect your time, and utilize productivity tools to hold you accountable. When it comes to tracking your work hours, if you bill by the hour, review your billable and non-billable time over a four week period to understand how many hours you put in and where there are gaps. Consider blocking your schedule for focus time, calls, emails, travel time, workouts, and personal time to provide more structure over your schedule. I recommend ensuring you have a set of productivity tools that you consistently use for managing your daily life in the following areas:

  • Task management - organizing tasks, setting deadlines, and collaboration

  • Note-taking - capturing and organizing ideas, notes, and important information

  • Calendar - scheduling events, meetings, and keeping track of deadlines

  • Cloud storage services - access, store and share your files securely

  • Password managers - securely store and manage your passwords, reducing risks of security breaches, and reducing time spent trying to remember or reset your passwords 

  • Automation tools - automate your repetitive tasks, such as your weekly grocery list

  • Health tracking - to evaluate your progress whether it is focused on mental or physical health, and answer questions when your doctor asks about your health trends.

Celebrate good times!

Lastly, one other thing I like to add to my goal setting each year is how I will celebrate, which helps motivate me. It is so important to acknowledge milestones and reflect on your accomplishments before you move on to the next one. A celebration can be big or small and should usually be proportionate to the goal. Perhaps, the celebration looks like a night out for quality time with a loved one, a day off to get outside and do your favorite Colorado activity, a massage at your favorite spa, or an international trip to a bucket list destination. Live it up! 

If you made it this far, kudos to you! This is going to be the best year yet! Thanks for reading, and if you’re ever looking for an accountability partner, don’t hesitate to reach out. Cheers! 


Becky Mancero is a Denver based corporate and transactional attorney at SPZ Legal with an emphasis on start-up and growth companies as well as their investors. Becky is a trusted advisor for companies through the various phases of the startup lifecycle and often works closely with the founding leadership from formation to exit. Becky serves on the board of directors for Colorado-based nonprofit, Colorado Dream Foundation, which provides academic development, emotional wellness development, college & career development, and systems advocacy services to youth and their families as they navigate education and life. Becky mentors law students and junior attorneys navigating their early careers, and she loves helping others accomplish their goals. She’s guest writing on the blog to share some tips and tricks for setting your goals this year. 

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