What will happen to your practice when tragedy strikes like a sledgehammer? Did you notice that I said when, not if. Divorce, loss of a loved one, infidelity, wayward or difficult children, a financial crisis, bankruptcy, sickness, disability, alcohol or drug problems, or just plain old stress from dealing with people are just a few things that can happen. Any one of these things alone can destroy your financial life and practice. A combination of several can destroy a life of hard work. How do you handle such events and stay focused and productive?

I believe successful navigation through the minefield of tragedies that could — and probably will — happen is a matter of preparation in advance. I understand that this article should address and confine itself to prospecting. Don’t worry; I’ll tie it all together.

Serious distractions can make your prospecting efforts come to a standstill. It won’t be long before the practice grinds to a halt and that only adds financial stress to already difficult situations.

Self-employed people are a unique breed, requiring focus and dedication. Insurance and equities salespeople must remain continually active in the world prospecting. Lapses and gaps are causes of inconsistent production.

There may be wisdom in working on eliminating the potential for disruptions. Improving relationships reduce family tension. Kids, for instance, need time. I’ve heard that quality is better than quantity. How about quality quantity? Ask any kid and he/she will say they want as much of mom and dad as they can get. You may also want to consider permanently putting away potential problems like alcohol or even drugs. Bad things can certainly “just happen” but most problems can be traced to a root cause. Identify potential causes and eliminate them.

I’m a firm believer that you can have it all: a stable, thriving family; a healthy lifestyle; and an exciting and challenging business. These things come with a price. That price could be habits that hold you back.

In order to be a consistent, performing prospector your mind must be clear of debilitating distractions. Preparation for a thriving practice begins with good living habits. If something bad does happen, it will more likely be an isolated problem easier to solve without crushing your production. But when things pile up, they can be overwhelming and just too much to overcome. Failure follows! As the sun rises each day, a clean and clear start to that day can mean success. When you lay your head on your pillow, you can sleep well knowing that tomorrow will be more of the same.

Now’s the time to clean the hard drive of your life. Get rid of the clutter and potential problems that are sure to keep you from your dreams. A better and more positive outlook will affect your prospecting success.

“A fine mess you’ve gotten us into this time, Stanley.” This is a famous and repeated line in Laurel and Hardy films. Failure was a constant companion with Stan Laurel, but the episodes always turned out well.

Failure paves the road to success. It’s been said in many ways: “Learn from failure.” So, it may be a good idea to fail soon, fail often, and fail rapidly.

Wayne Gretzky says that you miss every shot you don’t take. Taking shots that miss teaches you how to change and take shots that hit. Prospecting is just like that.

Recently, I had a conversation with an agent about his prospecting methods. He was missing some key ingredients. That doesn’t mean he should abandon his method. He just needed to adjust the elements. Failing prompted him to get help and there’s nothing wrong with that. I won’t rule out any prospecting method until I’ve exposed its flaws. If the flaws are too time-consuming or expensive to correct, then I’ll abandon the method and move on.

Opportunities abound. Some are worth pursuing and most are not. With opportunity comes problems. It takes time and discerning analysis to know what opportunities to pursue. Locating advisers who can help navigate past the debris will save a lot of time and money.

When you eliminate potential problems and keep trying various methods of prospecting along the way, you can remain productive and keep a thriving practice.