Picture this: You’re sitting in your NASCAR Gen-6 car nervously listening as the crowd cheers wildly with anticipation. As you and the other drivers slowly follow the pace car around the track, you’re ready! The pace car pulls over, the green flag waves, and with a thunderous roar, the race begins. Unfortunately, your foot slips off the gas pedal, and as you frantically try to regain your footing, the other cars are leaving you in their dust.
Even though you may not be a race car driver, the analogy still applies whether you’re an agent or advisor. Your ability to succeed in business or in life depends on whether you achieve stable footing or stumble awkwardly toward your goals.
We all set goals, often at the first of the year or the beginning of the quarter, month or week.
Some of these goals might include increasing your prospecting efforts, getting in better physical shape or increasing the number of contracts written.
In the beginning, we’re energized by the desire to reach our goals. However, as life happens, distractions occur: phone calls from friends and family, emails or a golf date with a colleague. As our resolution diminishes, goals fall to the wayside, and again we find ourselves in a slump.
The goal to start dieting or increase your prospecting efforts on Monday is no longer a priority by Tuesday or Wednesday.
So how can you strengthen your resolve? How can you ensure you keep your foot on the gas pedal in order to win the race?
The following are a few small steps you can take to help you “start your engine” each day and lead you on a path toward achieving your business development goals.
An Energized Beginning
How do you begin your day? Do you jump out of bed with your engine revved? Do you enthusiastically embrace the demands of the day? Or instead, do you feel you never get enough sleep, and today is just another one of “those” days?
There are two hormones that affect our sleep cycle — cortisol and melatonin. While cortisol raises our blood pressure in preparation for physical activity, melatonin helps us sleep. A balance of these two hormones is required for a good night’s sleep and to help us feel energized when waking.
In my earlier years, I found myself getting up late in the morning already feeling behind and unfocused. Apparently, my hormones were out of sync. Trying to reach peak performance, I drank a lot of coffee to clear my mind — it didn’t work. Then a friend told me about an exercise program created by a doctor who recommended doing 100 pushups immediately upon waking to reduce the melatonin in the body.
I thought it was crazy until I learned that exercise also delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. Additionally, it pumps up the endorphins, giving you more energy while reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.
I gave it a try. Just like the doctor said it would, this intense early-morning exercise session made me feel better prepared to attack the day. I became more engaged in business development, and my gloomy mood became brighter. I’m now a lifelong advocate of this approach.
While 100 pushups might be pushing it for some of you, to “start your engine” I recommend you do at least 10 minutes of rigorous exercise first thing in the morning. Pushups can be done against the bathroom counter, on your knees or by any method that is doable for you. By doing this, you’ll find your desire to exercise later in the day is elevated and you have more control over the tasks at hand and your behaviors.
The Green Flag — Go!
Once your engine is revved, it’s time to start the day with both feet firmly planted. So what do you do first? Prospecting, phone calls, paperwork?
To begin, I recommend you create a task list. This list should be a “living document” that you’ll add to and modify throughout the day. At the end of the day, separate the tasks into chronological order as to which ones need to be completed tomorrow, next week or next month. This will provide you with a to-do list for the next day.
As you look at tomorrow’s checklist, categorize the items according to where they fall on your priority list. Is it a task that must be completed first thing in the morning? Put it at the top of your list. Is it a client call that doesn’t require immediate attention? Place it accordingly.
Many successful advisors put prospecting at the top of their daily to-do list. Whether it’s for 15 minutes or four hours, prospecting when your engine is revved can have a huge impact on the growth of your business.
Once your activity calendar is created, you can start the day with a bang! As you check off the items you’ve completed during the day, you’ll find your spirits are elevated, and at the end of the day, you’ll go home feeling a greater sense of accomplishment.
You now have a formula for getting the most from every day, but adhering to it still can be difficult.
A friend shared with me how she was having trouble sticking to her goal of a daily workout at the gym. I suggested she get a workout partner who could meet her at the gym each day. Having a partner to hold her accountable for being there worked. Now she arrives at the gym each day on schedule to avoid disappointing her partner. In addition, spending time with her exercise partner made the workout an even more enjoyable experience.
Similarly, when I coach financial professionals, I encourage them to find a fellow agent or advisor to be their accountability partner. They are required to have a 5- to 10-minute conversation each day with each other to review their progress and talk about the successes or challenges they faced the previous day as they work toward their goals.
Most agents and advisors who have done this have found that being held to task by an accountability partner helped them work harder and smarter. Plus they’ve had the added advantage of developing a strong bond that, in some cases, has lasted for years.
I suggest you find yourself an accountability partner. This should be someone who is committed to improving some aspect of their life — professional or personal. If one of your top goals this year is business development, you’ll find that having an accountability partner who is in the same line of work is beneficial. Not only can you share ideas for business development, but you can also discuss solutions to the hurdles you experience along the way. Set a time to talk or meet each day and then follow through.
Also share the goals you have set with the significant people in your life, and ask them to check with you regularly to see how you are progressing. It’s amazing how much more motivated you can feel knowing that someone else is aware of the goals you’ve set for yourself. Once you reach your goals, give a big “shout-out” to the people who have helped make it possible.
Remember the 80/20 rule — 80% of your outcomes are the results of 20% of your efforts. Applying this rule to your business, 80% of your daily accomplishments are produced during 20% of your workday. Surprisingly, that means only 1.6 hours of your eight-hour workday are spent on activities that produce most of your outcomes.
I am confident your productivity will be increased substantially you implement these three strategies:
1. Start the day early and engage in 10 minutes or more of exercise.
2. Organize and prioritize tasks, and consider making business development a top to-do each day.
3. Align yourself with a fellow financial professional who will hold you accountable.
Not only will you win the race against your competition, you’ll also be on the way to creating the life you’ve always envisioned.