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New Year, new theme, massive productivity gains

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Here we are, at the outset of another year. Each New Year is full of promise, hope, and maybe even some fear of the unknown. While we all share the same mixture of feelings, we all would like this year to be our best.

So how can we do our best to start 2016 in the right mindset for growth? My advice is to choose a theme. There are scores of approaches to goalsetting and countless tracks to run on, but I have found the best way to harness productive power is by setting each year to a theme. We can then focus our thoughts and actions in very specific ways. Here are a few examples.

At the end of 2011, the pace of technological change and the growth of our business had me feeling very disorganized and out-ofcontrol. We had messy client files and therefore, a messy client experience. So heading into 2012, we chose to implement a yearlong focus on operational excellence. In fact, we named it “OE12.” We printed and hung signs around the office and included OE12 discussions in all of our weekly meetings.

The result was a commitment to getting the business organized and streamlined in a way that I know we wouldn’t have, had we not made it an overarching priority that year. We moved from paper files to paperless, implemented a new CRM and organized clients’ information in a fashion that has transformed our operations to this day. Once we did this, organization oozed into all areas of the business.

In other years, we focused on turning financial planning into an art-form. Not only did we begin delivering truly holistic financial plans to our clients, but we charged for them and made them into works of art, with the help of a graphic designer.

The benefits of each annual theme and commitment to excellence is enduring and compounding. In order to get started on choosing your annual theme, consider the following steps: New Year, new theme, massive productivity gains What problem keeps you up at night? If you’re tired of feeling disorganized, make operational organization your theme. Do your finances feel out of control? Make 2016 the year of financial excellence. What’s at stake? If you were to focus on a particular theme for 2016, what might the benefits look like? Conversely, by not working on your problem area, what could the cost be? Determine what’s at stake and you’ll find great power in sticking to your theme. Who can help me?

Let’s face it, if you’re kept up at night by an ongoing and persistent challenge in your business — that has high stakes — you may not be the best person to lead the charge. It’s likely not in your unique ability. Enlisting the help of others may be a staggeringly meaningful investment to make toward your future success. Write down names and schedule conversations with these people to enlist their help.

Choose your actions. Now that you have the theme and team determined, make an action plan for carrying out the improvement process. You know the drill: be specific, choose measurable tasks and get to it. Reward yourself. Admittedly, I’m awful at this. But you don’t have to be. When you see improvement in your chosen theme, high-five, buy pizza, throw a party, whatever it takes to stay excited about the progress you’re making.

So, what’s your theme going to be for 2016? We all know industry change is coming so the stakes have never been higher for taking control of your business and not allowing the winds to carry you where you’re not inclined to go. Make the 2016 the year that changes everything for you. New year, new theme, new results.


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