So, I’m at the gym. It’s just another day at 5 a.m. I have a set routine: every Monday I work chest, on Tuesday, it’s legs, and so forth. But here I am, second-guessing my routine because of the volume of people that are here. Did I mention it’s 5 a.m.? Where did all of these people come from? Welcome to early January in any fitness center! My gym added more than 60 memberships in December. All those New Year’s resolutions, fitness goals, and promises to lose a pound, gain a pound, lift a pound. I guess all of these newcomers have the intention of hitting the gym every day at 5AM. Good luck!
Don’t get me wrong, this is good news. I admire people that want to improve themselves and get in better shape. But here’s the bad news. By the time February rolls around, I’ll never see these people again. It happens every year. So what does my gym do to keep these people motivated, focused, and retaining their memberships? Nothing! Big problem. Bad business. And so it goes.
In the insurance industry, the exact same problem exists. Hire new people, lose new people. In fact, nine out of every 10 financial advisors hired will fail. This is not a January thing, it’s an industry thing.
Setting true goals
Here’s the solution. All new financial advisors (and gym members) should be made to establish specific goals and hold true to them. I know it sounds like common sense, but in every firm I’ve worked in, this doesn’t happen nearly enough. Advisors get licensed, learn about a few products and then it’s off to the natural market to sell.
There’s nothing new under the sun and the concept of goal-setting has been around forever. But most financial advisors are bad at setting goals and even worse at achieving them. So a goal becomes more of a cliché than an important part of a business plan. In order for goals to work, they must be focused on the right things, for the right reasons. They must be part of your everyday. If they’re not, you won’t achieve them. Simple as that.
In the spirit of being true to your goals, let’s discuss the importance of setting what I’ll call “true goals.” True goals are focused on what you want to accomplish with a result in mind. It’s January, so ‘tis the season. Here are some guidelines to follow.
1. Be SMART about them.
Your true goals must be SMART, which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timed. Specific enough to be understandable, measurable enough to be tracked, actionable enough to prompt activity, realistic enough to be achievable – but just barely – and timed enough to have a start date, end date, or both.
2. Be held accountable.
How will you hold yourself accountable? Advisors notoriously struggle with this. I’m very visual, so I keep whiteboards loaded with names, companies, and initiatives that I must keep top of mind. (In fact, I’m looking at my true goals for the year on my whiteboard as I write this.) Even my workout routine is posted on the wall. If you need to, have a fellow advisor hold you true to your goals and you can do the same for them. Certainly, your sales manager could be involved too. What gets measured gets done.
3. Write them down.
Do this the old fashioned way – grab a pen, pencil, or Sharpie and write your true goals down. That’s what the whiteboard is for! There have been studies that suggest that actually writing your goals down (pen to paper) make you five times more likely to recall and act upon the information. There’s something about the touch and feel of your goals that make them true. Did you jot that down?