The Ocean 8 Planning Approach

Sheila Murphy
August 22, 2022

In the movie Ocean 8, Amita is awed by the precision of Debbie Ocean’s plan to heist jewels.

Here is the discussion.

Amita: "How long did it take you to figure all this out?"

Debbie Ocean: "Five years, eight months, and twelve days. Give or take.”

Debbie Ocean understands that to be successful in your career, whether jewelry thief or legal eagle, you need to know what you want and plan to get it.

When people do not take these two steps, they take a scattergun approach to their careers, and they are more likely to waste time, energy, and money.

Planning ahead takes time (though less than five years, eight months, and twelve days) and it is worth the investment.

Here are three tips on how to be more effective in your planning.

Understand Your End Game

To know how to get to your destination, you need to understand what you want. I can’t tell you how many attorneys I speak to who lack clarity on this, and for that reason, they are standstill.

For those who are in-house, what positions are you trying to attain? I mean, what are you looking for:

  • Is it head of IP or corporate?
  • What size company?
  • What industry?
  • What culture?
  • Where?

For law firm attorneys trying to build a book of business, who are the clients that you are trying to attract. I mean, who are you trying to serve:

  • Is it litigation or energy clients?
  • What industry?
  • What size company?
  • Where are they located?
  • What do they want in a law firm?
  • What do they read about?
  • What organization do they belong to?

Once you understand the answers to these questions, you can better understand the skills and professional profile you need to build. You will also understand when and how you need to network with this information. You can start to make a plan.

And this is the most crucial thing, eliminate those activities that do not further your goals and invest your time only in those that benefit you.

Create Written SMART Goals

Your plan should consist of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound). And it is best if you write them down. People who have written plans are more likely to execute entirely and are ten times more successful.

While Debbie did not write down her plan in prison, she knew to the minute what she and the members of her crew(aka network) would be doing to further her goal. Debbie did not figure this out a week before the heist. She planned it months in advance, so everything went smoothly.

Increasing and strengthening your network is not a SMART goal as it is not specific, measurable, or time bound. Here are some examples of SMART goals that will help you increase and strengthen your network.

  • Attend three conferences where your ideal clients go by the end of the second quarter. I will introduce myself to five people at each conference that could further my goals. Within 48 hours of returning to the office, I will enter their information in my relationship manager and reach out to them.
  • Each quarter, I will host a networking event for ____ people in my industry. After the event, I will reach out to people with information that may help move their careers forward.  
  • Every month, I will schedule ____ coffees with people in my network who can help me find a new position.
  • I will reach out to an organization on speaking opportunities.

Here’s a hint. Start with a broad goal, then figure out the steps you need to take to make that happen. You may have to do research in planning. For example, what conferences attract more of your ideal clients or what skills do people want to have in the position I am seeking.


Finally, you need to build accountability into your plan to ensure that you are following it. I suggest that you calendar time to work on your goals and see where you are concerning execution and results.

Here is the deal, if you don’t do this, your plan may sit on your computer, and you will not move the dial. Building a career or book of business does not have to be time-consuming, but you need to be consistent and stay on top of your plan.

It would be best if you also had time to evaluate your plan and decide whether you need to tweak or enhance it. In Ocean 8, things were not going to plan several times and they were able to make the adjustments because they had built check-in points into their plan.

If, like Debbie Ocean, you want to pull off the most significant career move of your life, you need to have a clear end goal, plan it out meticulously, and build accountability.


Want to learn more about how to heat up the job search?

Check out Sheila's TOP 3 REASONS THAT YOUR IN-HOUSE SEARCH IS ICE COLD IN THE HOTTEST LEGAL MARKET & HOW TO FIRE IT UP. In this guide, Sheila shares the three top reasons that in-house counsel are stuck in their current roles and strategies to heat up their job search in both the short and long term.

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