When it comes to meeting business and professional goals, we all need a little helpful motivation from time to time. Or maybe all the time.
In my career as a journalist, for instance, I’ve observed that journalists (myself included) are the worst procrastinators on the planet. Sometimes beyond mere motivation, we require actual physical terror and other forms of intimidation to meet our deadlines.
My editor in college, a former drill sergeant, for instance, felt compelled to threaten throwing all of us student journalists down the elevator shaft if we were late with articles! (It was a three-story building, but it still had the desired effect of scaring us into compliance! We truly believed he’d do it!)
More recently, an editor at a trade magazine would walk over from his desk and stand just behind me silently reading my computer screen over my shoulder until I filed my article as the deadline countdown clock slowly wound down. Whatever it takes, right?
Four Ways to Be Held Accountable
Chances are you could benefit from the same kind of “helpful shadowing” if not outright intimidation, when it comes to your business goals, someone breathing down your neck, saying … “Did you follow-up with that prospect?” … “Did you ask for the business today?” … “Did you write your business plan?”
Who (or what) is doing that for you?
I’ve found that there are usually four ways financial advisors hold themselves accountable, and it likely entails some combination of these four.
- Active business plan. A business plan with measurable goals can keep you on track and hold you accountable. As Brian Tracy, the business guru says, “People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.” But, of course, a business plan does you no good unless you actually look at it. One advisor in Tennessee told me every morning he started out reading his mission statement. Why not keep a copy of it and your business plan on your iPad? That’s a great start. Other advisors build their team meetings and retreats around their business plans, constantly making updates, and tracking progress as a team. When you share your plan with others, your odds of accomplishing your goals become that much greater.
- Knowledgeable mentor. When you can talk with someone who has been where you are, and is currently at where you want to be, your odds of achieving your goals is astronomical. A mentor, for instance, could help you bounce around ideas about the best niche to pursue, advise you on how to establish your compensation schedule, fee breakpoints and whether to discount. A mentor could counsel you on tailoring and streamlining your product and service offerings, and how to manage your time more efficiently. But to be most effective you should talk with your mentor regularly, and ask them to hold you accountable to your goals. Have them follow-up with you on your goals every time you speak.
- Peer mastermind group. I’ve written about these, and some advisors say it’s helped them to rise to new levels. A mastermind group can be local or national. You can meet informally, but regularly, with a few other advisors over coffee downtown, or you can fly across the country to participate in a larger mastermind group—either through a national organization or through your own efforts to put such a group together. These groups have the primary benefit of everyone sharing their best ideas, including exchanging documents that they’ve utilized successfully: client surveys, business proposals, client service tier templates, and software suggestions. I’ve seen these groups work, although they do take work and preparation to be most effective.
- Business or life coach. Whether you want to go with a business coach or a life success coach depends on the kinds of issues you’re facing in your business. If you need general motivation or direction, or you’re struggling with your own or another person’s addictions, you may prefer to see a life coach. They can offer communication strategies and goal-setting techniques. But if you hire a business coach specific to the financial services industry, you’re likely to receive tailored advice and accountability on such topics as marketing, professional development and breaking through plateaus. Either way, you’re paying someone to hold you accountable. And that’s a good thing.
Whether it’s a fear of getting tossed down a three-story hole, or just a little nudge in the right direction, accountability makes us better! Whew, deadline done!