Goal setting is the foundation of any successful career, providing a focal point for prioritizing tasks and giving structure to both our professional and personal lives. This fact underpins all the work advisors do with clients and should also guide the work we do on and for ourselves. To keep us geared toward growth and unlock new professional opportunities, income goals are specifically critical for financial advisors. Establishing smart income goals can set up advisors for decades of continual and cumulative career success.
Achievable Over Astronomical
My first income goal was to make £100,000 in one year, and I set that goal when I was making between £55,000 and £60,000. This was not an especially bold target, and for good reason. For goals to be effective, those who set them must be able to envision achieving them. If an advisor cannot see how they will get from their current situation to their goal, they will have a harder time making progress. More achievable also means simpler. Simpler goals focus the subconscious, making it easier to prioritize. If goals become too complicated, decision making becomes more difficult and self-defeating.
Numerical goals can work in an income-profit tandem. Once an advisor reaches an income goal, their next goal can be to make the same amount in profit after expenses and taxes. I followed this pattern for all my goals, from £100,000 to £200,000 and beyond.
Although goals should always be within reach, they should also present calls for personal growth that require genuine thought and effort. Advisors who choose income targets that are too easy to achieve on paper might, counterintuitively, find progress elusive. If the work can always be left for later, it often is. Even when these goals are met, advisors may not grow as much as they could have if they had set their ambitions higher. As they meet successive goals, advisors should choose their next income targets based on the unique growth moment they would provide, not a simple numerical change.
Helping Yourself Succeed
The simplest and best tactic to make goals easier to achieve is to write them down. Everyone has had the experience of being asked by their spouse to run to the grocery store for a staple item, such as bread or milk. You leave the house, get to the store and forget what you need, wandering the aisles hoping to trigger your memory. A written list would have helped you remember — a practice that is even more true for recalling and acting on your goals. It helps you remember them in the first place, and it provides a fail-safe for when you forget.
Remembering goals on a subconscious level matters — that sounds obvious, but advisors have dozens of tasks on their to-do lists all the time. The more top of mind the goal, the more effectively an advisor can prioritize tasks in an order that allows them to make progress. Even better is to write down a goal and stick it somewhere you will regularly see it. Jack Canfield, the co-author of the famous Chicken Soup For The Soul books, wrote a check for $1 million and stuck it to the ceiling above his bed. It was the first thing he saw every morning, and the last thing he saw every night.
Most of us do not achieve our professional goals on our own but, instead, work toward them with our team members. To build the most effective team, it’s important for advisors to hire those who have strengths that they personally lack. Teams that are balanced in this way can take on more work and aim higher. I can come up with ideas and start projects, but I struggle with following through and completing the tasks within those projects. My two staff members, conversely, are detail-oriented and great at seeing projects to completion. Their contributions allow me to raise the bar on which goals are achievable.
When working in financial services, there’s no limit to where one’s goals can take them other than what level of work an advisor can do. Income goals allow advisors to continuously raise their ambitions, and the time and work put into achieving those goals helps advisors undergo professional and personal growth.