Recently, a song from the Broadway musical Rent reminded me that we only have 525,600 minutes every year to make a difference. That may sound like a lot of minutes to you, but it is not. Those minutes fly by, and most people waste or misuse these minutes by focusing on the wrong things.

How can we use these precious minutes as wisely as possible in our professional lives? The most beneficial use of these minutes is to spend them in front of our prospects and clients. We have to be present to inspire action. The uncertain financial markets require that our clients hear from us as often as possible. That is a truly valuable use of our minutes.

Many advisors explain that they don’t spend time in front of prospects and clients because they don’t know what to say. But they shouldn’t say anything. They should ask questions. A spectacular question is really a powerful statement in disguise. People will share their views and opinions with you if you just ask them.

Don’t tell, ask. Here are a few examples of great questions:

• What is the best age to start taking Social Security?

• How much could inflation damage your retirement? How can you position yourself to avoid the harm caused by inflation and instead, take advantage of it?

• What do you think would be the most important strategy to combat inflation? Wouldn’t it be nice to never lose any money? How do you plan to do that?

• Why does the European sovereign debt crisis have an impact on your investments and your retirement? How can you make that a positive impact rather than a negative one?

Their answers will surprise you

Make every minute count by developing questions that position you as a counselor. These great questions will encourage your prospects and clients to seek your advice, because you inquire about things nobody else does. This is how you achieve success quickly.

We have amazing strategies and tools. We preserve and protect assets and retirements. We help people grow these assets during periods of great uncertainty and volatility.

Finally, we employ the greatest financial techniques ever created by human kind: leveraging. We can buy dollars with pennies, and we can make one dollar do the work of many dollars. We don’t make people rich, but we certainly can prevent them from being poor.

The song from Rent asks: How do you measure a life? Lives are measured by what we give, not what we get. How many people do you serve? Do you use your minutes as effectively as you can? Learning to ask great questions will provide the most effective and efficient way to use every minute of your professional life.

For more from Van Mueller, see:

The Future of Social Security

See More People, Make More Sales

Your Financial Success is Closer Than You Think