Taking action is the single most important ingredient in obtaining your goals. Without sustainable and consistent action, goals are merely a wish list. One of the core elements is in understanding the value you place on the steps you need to take. If you perceive an action to be pleasurable, you will most certainly begin right away; however if you perceive an action to be painful, you most certainly will procrastinate.
Andrew Carnegie said it best, “There are two types of people who never achieve very much in their lifetimes. One is the person who won’t do what he or she is told to do, and the other is the person who does no more than he or she is told to do.”
To manage your level of activity, assign a “carrot,” or reward, for fulfilling action items and a “stick,” or punishment, for when you don’t. This process will inevitably change your value system and help you in remaining motivated.
Read on for a more detailed stepwise approach for how you can eliminate inaction and procrastination as it pertains to your business.
Step No. 1: Define the Value of the Task
Most advisers have a multitude of tasks that “should” get done every day. As previously stated, pleasurable tasks get done and typically are accomplished first while painful tasks either don’t get checked off or are delayed in getting accomplished. Unfortunately, this process neglects the fact that sometimes short-term pleasure can create long-term pain.
Ken is a 10-year veteran financial adviser who felt overwhelmed and exhausted most days. After a decade of prospecting, he found himself spending most of his time servicing clients when they called him. He did receive pleasure out of making his clients happy, which is why this had been a priority. As a result, the more arduous task of prospecting was neglected most days and his business growth had grown stagnant.
After a number of queries, Ken admitted that he hated getting rejected but realized the long-term result of not prospecting meant the pain of never becoming a top producer. So, we discussed the client servicing activities that he could delegate to his licensed assistant who was qualified to handle those activities. This resulted in freeing up time for him to prep and tackle prospecting.
Step No. 2: Schedule an Action Date
Typically, goals are much more likely to get accomplished when the tasks associated with them are assigned a time horizon, an action time and date. So, we mapped out Ken’s day to prospect first thing in the morning for 45 minutes. All client service activities that didn’t directly involve discussing investments with clients were to be delegated to his assistant while everything that was investment related but not time sensitive was to be done after his time blocked to prospect.
Step No. 3: Create Leverage
The easy part is in creating the process, but the harder part is sticking to it. In order to ensure that you continue to take action on a consistent basis you need to create leverage by assigning a reward system for accomplishing the activity or a punishment system for not doing the more difficult activity.
Ken was a coffee lover and to him the morning didn’t start until he had finished his first cup of coffee. After he told me this, I knew exactly what type of leverage he needed. He was to use coffee as his reward system, if he started prospecting, he could pour himself a cup of coffee, if not, he couldn’t. At the end of the day, he would send me an “accountability email” to share the day’s results. It took a few weeks of consistently prospecting and delegating to get into a groove but it did become easier and easier.
After a month or so of daily “accountability emails,” Ken’s prospecting paid off and his business started to grow again. In addition, he was feeling far less overwhelmed and excited about his outcomes.
Why Having a System for Scheduling Action Items Works
The reason why having a system for scheduling action items works is because it generates an awareness of what is important about the task, it sets aside dedicated time line for accomplishing it and then promotes keeping you accountable for the results. Oftentimes the simplest of solutions pays off in spades.
If you would like a complimentary coaching session with me, please email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.
Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.