As a mentor to students through the Glasgow Legal 40, I’m often asked, what is the secret to success? The answer: there is no secret. It is no secret that hard work is the key to success. This is the starting point but I’ve come to develop a simple four-step process which has served me well over the years.

1. Plan

Regardless of what you are doing, whether you are studying, training or already climbing the business ladder, it is always good to set a plan for what you want to achieve, ie what are your goals? Thereafter, you can also plan how best to achieve these goals. Without focus, you have nothing to aim for. Setting goals can help narrow your focus and create that spark which ignites your ambition to strive towards achieving something.

However, you should make sure your goals are realistic. It is fine to aim big, but setting out to become the CEO of a company overnight is potentially setting yourself up to fail. The best thing is to set short-term and medium-term goals to work towards your long-term goal(s).

How do you achieve those goals once you have devised a plan?

2. Organised

This is quite a sweeping statement and there are different ways to organise what you are doing. If you’re a student, organise your studies by devising a planner that maximises your time. Similarly, if you’re practising as a solicitor, you need to work efficiently so as to maximise your time (and, consequently, your fees!) and you can do so by means of utilising IT in order to streamline your administrative tasks, leaving more time to focus on cases etc.

3. Execute

Intricately linked to step two, you need to implement and put in motion the hard work required to start achieving the goals you have set for yourself. Inertia and procrastination are the biggest obstacles to setting the wheels in motion along the road to success. Therefore it is crucial to motivate yourself. Always bear in mind the goals you have set and don’t be afraid to re-evaluate these along the way; this can be a helpful incentive to maintain the momentum of your hard work.

4. Persist

‘If at first you don’t succeed...’ That old adage is particularly relevant. No one can predict the success or not of their ventures. Indeed, not everyone succeeds on their first attempt at whatever they are doing. But the most important lesson is to learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward to achieve your goals by avoiding making the same mistakes. After time, you will begin to see that persistence and perseverance pay off and, before you know it, you will be setting new goals, having achieved your old ones and more.

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