Small things make a big difference

Rachel Brushfield

Rachel Brushfield

This is a guest post by Rachel Brushfield who has guested for me before and always brings a fresh and interesting slant to whatever subject she covers. In this post she looks at the very topical subject of New Year resolutions with some interesting conclusions. Read more about Rachel here.

Happy New Year! Hope you had a relaxing break and feel re-energised for the year ahead.

Did you make any New Year Resolutions?

I am not a fan of New Year Resolutions. Mostly they involve giving up something up that you like e.g. smoking or are expressed in the negative e.g. lose weight.  This makes you feel miserable before you have even started and like you are missing/lacking something!  This time of year is atypical, so not the best time to set big goals for the whole year.

A good place to start with change is what outcome you want. Lawyers are generally not especially reflective by nature; they don’t get time to be with the pressures of fee earning targets, especially in the more competitive fast changing legal market.

Imagine it is the end of 2013. What would be a headline about your year, personally and professionally? Starting with where you want to be is like having a horizon that you are continually heading towards, whatever storms or unexpected detours are ahead.

Lawyers are individuals and like to come up with their own answers, not be told what to do and the best solution for change is always the one they come up with themselves.

I think small things make a big difference, a bit like the expression ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.’  Taking the stairs instead of the lift, keeping a glass of water on your desk or contacting one client a day, leaving your work papers at work, leaving the office one night a week on time, for example.

I used to put off phoning contacts because I preferred writing articles. Taking myself to a coffee shop to make calls before returning to my home office made all the difference to me making the calls, rather than procrastinating and putting the task off. Simple and effective.

Here are some small changes that coaching has enabled:

  • A client used to go to work an hour early before their team arrived to think and plan but instead they switched on their computer and got sucked into checking e mails. They came up with the idea of a rhyming couplet that came into their mind when they opened their office door, saw a book on the shelf and sat down at the table instead of in front of the computer.
  • A client used to put their briefcase down when they got through the front door, tired after a long day. Over time, the papers built up, as did their frustration, reducing their contentment and productivity. The one small change that made all the difference was emptying their briefcase and putting away their papers before sitting down, as soon as they got home.
  • A client who was French felt angry alot of the time and didn’t know why. I helped them identify the insight that they were thinking in French, translating into English and then preparing what to say in conversation, by when the conversation had moved on, so they never got a chance to express themselves, causing the anger. Explaining this to their quick and impatient extrovert colleagues so that they allowed them more time meant the anger disappeared, instantly.
Which road will you take in 2013?

Which road will you take in 2013?

So give yourself permission not to set New Year Resolutions but to make one or more small changes that will make a big difference. What would yours be?

Here are 3 self-reflective questions for you:

  • What one small change would most make a difference to me in 2013, personally and professionally?
  • Who or what could help me achieve what I want to change?
  • How will I know that I have succeeded – what would be the evidence?

Wishing you a happy, successful and fulfilling year.

Rachel has over twenty five years’ experience as a career, talent and L&D strategist & coach and her clients include the managing partner of the largest law firm in the world and an ITV People of Briton Award winner.  

For a free article on ‘Managing procrastination’, as well as details of a January 2013 special offer exclusive to Flair blog & newsletters readers,  email Rachel at, putting ‘Flair’ in the subject box. 

If you would like to publish a guest post on this blog please submit your idea to me at We neither accept or offer any financial gains for guest blogs – your insights are enough.


Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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Mike Ames

Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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