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The Specificity Funnel: From Ambition to Action

By Jay Harrington

I’m ambitious. I set lofty goals for my business. You probably do, too, for your law practice. But, if you’re like me, sometimes you get stuck. Your big aspirations remain frustratingly out of reach. One thing that helps when I’m feeling stuck is what I call “The Specificity Funnel” — a powerful tool for turning broad ambitions into concrete, actionable steps.

specificity funnel

The Problem With Generalities

“I want to grow my practice.” Sound familiar? It’s a common goal, but without specifics, it’s just a wish, not a plan. As bestselling author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss wrote, “Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask.”

So don’t just ask yourself, “What do I want?” Drill deeper and consider, “How will I get there?”

The Specificity Funnel: How It Works

specificity funnel

Think of the Specificity Funnel as a mental model. At the top, it’s wide, accommodating your broadest ambitions. As you move down, it narrows, distilling your goals into increasingly specific and actionable items. At the top are the outcomes you desire. At the bottom are action steps to get you there.

Build a bridge between your dreams and your daily actions.

Here’s how it works

1. General Ambition: “I want to expand my practice.”

2. Focused Goal: “I want to increase my client base by 20% this year.”

3. Strategic Approach: “I will target mid-sized tech companies in my city.”

4. Tactical Plan: “I will attend three industry conferences and give a presentation at each.”

5. Specific Action Steps: “By Friday, I will contact the organizers of XYZ Tech Conference to propose a talk on recent changes in data privacy laws.”

The Power of Specificity

As you move through the funnel, your goals become clearer, more measurable, and more actionable. Instead of a vague notion of growth, you now have a concrete task with a deadline.

This specificity brings several benefits:

1. Clarity of purpose: You know exactly what you’re working toward.

2. Measurability: You can track your progress and adjust as needed.

3. Actionability: You have clear, specific steps to take.

4. Motivation: Small, achievable tasks are less daunting than broad goals.

5. Focus: You can allocate your resources more effectively.

The “Boring” Truth

Here’s where we confront an uncomfortable truth. The items at the bottom of your Specificity Funnel might seem boring relative to your exciting ambitions at the top. Sending emails, making calls, preparing presentations — it’s the hard work of building a practice. But heed Mark Manson’s wisdom: “consistently doing the boring, mundane things everyone knows about but is too unfocused/undisciplined to do.”

Embrace the power of boring.

Those specific, seemingly mundane tasks at the bottom of your funnel? They’re the building blocks of your success. They’re how you turn ‘I want to expand my practice’ into ‘I just landed a new client.’

Embrace the Challenge

This week, take one of your broad career ambitions and run it through the Specificity Funnel. Don’t stop until you have at least three specific, actionable items on your to-do list. Then do them.

When it comes to building your practice, specificity is your road map, and action is your vehicle. The Specificity Funnel gives you both. Now go build.

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Jay Harrington Jay Harrington

Jay Harrington is the owner of Harrington Communications, a leading thought-leadership PR and marketing agency that specializes in helping law firms and lawyers build awareness, influence and new business. Jay is the author of three books for lawyers on issues related to business and professional development, including “The Productivity Pivot,” “The Essential Associate” and “One of a Kind: A Proven Path to a Profitable Practice.” He podcasts at The Thought Leadership Project and writes a weekly email newsletter. Previously, he practiced law at Skadden Arps and Foley & Lardner. Follow him @JayHarrington75.

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