A Game Plan for Committing to Your Goals in 2016

While browsing the news online this past Sunday, I noticed an interesting trend. For the last two months I had become accustomed to seeing the most popular toys, fragrance sets, and tech gadgets inserting themselves in every web page, but this week almost every banner ad, email, and social post featured fitness apparel, home organization supplies, and even robo solutions. It’s a simple but brilliant change of pace.

The big box retailers of the world know the New Year is a time for commitment, for resolutions, and for change. In our profession, it’s also time to remind our prospects and clients of these same themes as it relates to their financial well-being. But, I’m not going to focus on that today. Instead, I want to first help you tackle your own New Year obstacles, whether they be personal or professional. You have a very small window of opportunity to capitalize on this desire to make a change. Let’s make the most of it.

Like all animals, humans are creatures of habit. Despite our very best intentions, it’s all too easy to revert to the familiar. Just last week, I read these grim statistics:

  • 25% of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after just one week
  • 60% of people have given up on their resolution after six months
  • The average person makes the same New Year’s resolution ten separate times without success.

Before you tear off the plastic on your new calendar and outline your goals as an advisor, consider how you will avoid falling into this trap. We all begin the year with big plans in mind, but now what? How do we get the rubber to meet the road? The answer is found in how you execute in your first month.

So, before you jump ahead to Q2 and see half your year dissolve before your eyes, execute on these three simple takeaways in the next 30 days:

By January 15: Create a Visual Goals Guide from Your Team Retreat

Every New Year brings new goals. At Carson Group, we hold a team retreat each December to allow us time to reflect on the past twelve months, as well as build a plan for what we should focus on in the next twelve. Although many firms do this, after a handful of holiday parties and ten gained pounds, it isn’t always easy to recall the details of that December day. Your team, once energized by your 2016 agenda, has returned to work and to their old routine.

Reinvigorate spirits and keep your goals constantly present by creating a visual summary of your main initiatives. This will give your stakeholders a daily reminder of what the team is working to achieve. Think about the last time you needed driving directions to an unfamiliar place. Directions delivered verbally rely on your ability to remember, while those written down are easier to follow and retain.

A visual summary works in much the same way. When goals are physically present it encourages your team to frequently evaluate their role in completing that goal. Out of sight really is out of mind. Your visual summary doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as a word document or PowerPoint slide. Ideally it captures your initiatives in a concise way at a very high level, ignoring the nitty gritty and getting to the core of your goals.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD OUR VISUAL GOALS GUIDE TEMPLATE AND TEAM MEETING POWERPOINT 

By January 30: Host a Team Meeting to Assign Responsibilities

If I’ve learned anything this past year, it’s that your stakeholders need clarity on how the firm’s goals tie directly to their daily routine and responsibilities. Without this clarity, your key initiatives never get off the ground. This first meeting, which should be held before the end of January, should provide further instruction on how each goal will be accomplished, answer any outstanding questions, and most importantly, identify particular stakeholders to champion your initiatives.

Communicating your expectations early on will make it easier for everyone to follow through in their role. It will also give your team something that most advisor firm’s lack early in the year – an easy win!

Solve an issue the entire team feels can be accomplished within the next few weeks. It may be the first step to your Q1 key initiative, or it may be completely unrelated. No matter the task, it should be one the team feels can be accomplished quickly, and one that has a dramatic impact. Finding this one thing that is easy to change or easy to execute will build momentum and keep everyone inspired.

Finally, your team should leave this meeting feeling empowered. Whether you introduce a new results-based pay program or incentivize the team with a group reward, consider how your team is motivated. It will be the difference between seeing the same old results and tapping into each individual’s discretionary effort.

By February 15: Develop a Metrics Dashboard to Measure Progress

Longevity isn’t on our side when it comes to goals, so make every moment count by prioritizing accountability in your office. Begin by defining the key metrics you intend to measure to gauge progress and share this progress with your team during your next monthly update meeting. Keeping this routine of monthly meetings throughout the year will ensure your entire team knows what’s expected of them and eliminates any surprises when you get to Q4 and are nowhere close to achieving your goals.

The information you gain when stakeholders share their progress and pain will show them you are invested in their work. It’ll also show you when you bit off more than you can chew. The insight and collaboration amongst the team allows you to see things you wouldn’t have before and keep your firm nimble in its growth path forward.

Establish those three fundamentals in the first 30 days and you’ll grow your business in a number of ways. In between monthly meetings maintain strong lines of communication. If your team feels like the door is always open, they will come to you first, both as they troubleshoot obstacles and celebrate victories.

Taking these three simple steps in the next month will also improve one area of your practice crucial to hitting any goals: culture. Without it, your firm can’t evolve and your people can’t stand behind your vision. So, start building culture now.

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