Leanor Bailey Hodge, North Carolina State Bar
It’s the start of a new year. The season for resolutions. This is evident in many of the advertisements that air after the Christmas holiday – many are selling diet plans, gym memberships, and exercise equipment in recognition of the fact that, for many, a new year provides a fresh opportunity to resolve again to lose weight. This morning I heard a commercial for genetic testing that suggested making genetic resolutions this year. It went something like this: “Have you made your new year’s resolution? If not, register for [INSERT GENETIC TESTING COMPANY NAME HERE] to get the information you need to allow you to make a genetic resolution.” I paused for a moment – the thought of making a genetic resolution never occurred to me nor did I find it appealing. I doubt it occurred to many other listeners either. It caused me to wonder a bit, though, about the “how” and “why” of the resolution process.
I quickly answered the question of why one makes a resolution: to address something that needs fixing. This explains the flurry of January marketing directed at weight loss. It took a bit more thought, however, to decide about the “how” of the resolution process. I eventually settled on the following: often, resolutions are aimed at enhancing physically observable attributes that are easily visible by the eye. Thus, the resolution process entails taking a visual survey of the observable landscape and then setting goals for the year. Like me, the genetic advertisers seemed to recognize that this is the “how” of the resolution setting process, and because it made sense for their product, they suggested doing something slightly different: assessing that which is not apparent or easily visible by the eye. Although I still don’t find the idea of genetic resolutions appealing, I think the concept the company espoused in its ad may have some application in the professional setting.
January, after the end-of-year hustle and bustle, is the perfect time to take an in-depth look at the inner workings of your office practices and procedures – particularly those that are not visible to your clients and other members of the public. Do your practices and those of the staff who support you ensure your compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct? Do you have any written policies and procedures that ensure you and your staff meet your professional responsibilities? On a personal level, do your current professional practices allow you to meet the needs of your clients while permitting the time and space needed for you to do things that bring you joy? You get the idea. Unfortunately for the genetic testing company, their ad didn’t convince me to conduct genetic testing or make any genetic resolutions. Fortunately for me, it did convince me that taking an internal, in-depth look professionally is a good idea before making any professionally-related new year’s resolutions.