A friend and business colleague called me last week. He began the call by asking me this question, “How’s your year going? Are you still pumped? After I hung up the phone, I spent some time considering my answer. How would you answer the question that my friend posed to me?
As I sit down to write this first article of the year, the first and often most important month of the first quarter is coming to a close. January seemed to fly by and 2018 is now a distant memory. I spent a lot of time with advisors, bankers, planners and leaders in the fourth quarter talking about their goals and plans. I reviewed over 100 business plans in December alone. I also created my own. As I reflect, optimism was and is always rampant as we sit down to consider what we want and what we are willing to do to accomplish it. As with most business and personal plans, we strive to be better, do more and balance our lives like never before. We convince ourselves that we can do more production, serve more clients, get in shape, eat better, engage in professional development activities and enjoy time at home with family. Goals tend to be big and bold and then the final day or January comes….
Chances are high that you have had some success in January. Some of the goals you set are on track. Some of the things you intended to do have been accomplished. Other things when met with the realities of the day were put off or forgotten. Perhaps you are discouraged by your progress because of uncontrollable events like the government shutdown or the volatile markets. Maybe you are frustrated because you aren’t perfect and you haven’t been able to balance like you had hoped.
A lot has been written and communicated about goals, action plans and motivation but rarely is there discussion detailing what to do when we are off target or feel frustrated and defeated. How can we bounce back when our goals and plans meet reality? Here are a few ideas:
My Three Words – Steve Sanduski who runs Belay Advisor brought this idea forward. Steve identifies 3 words that define his focus, goals and commitments for the year. These three words serve as a true north for his allocation of time and resources as well as his accountabilities. As we create these 3 words thoughtfully and focus on how they will impact our lives and the lives of others, its easy to get motivated and focused. We can easily recognize that progress is indeed being made. Rather than creating anxiety about missing one target one day, the 3 words allow us to concentrate on our overall progress.
Goals are not the focus. Improvement is the focus – Most business and personal plans are built around goals. Revenue, asset growth, number of new clients, number of pounds lost are all goals that we create for ourselves and our business. Goals tend to be outcomes based. While setting goals is an important step, there are challenges with goals. First, winners and losers have the same goals. At the beginning of a sports season, all teams want to win a championship. The goal is same. Business leaders want to grow their divisions by some percentage and yet some leaders succeed while others fail but they began with the same goals. Secondly, goals create an either-or, win-lose proposition. If we win we are happy and if we lose, we question our ability and commitment which leads to unhappiness. Lastly, goals once achieved can be at odds with growth because once we achieve the goal we slow down, stop improving or change our focus altogether.
Concentrate on habits for sustained improvement – Habits are the foundation of improvement. Growth comes from our habits, not our goals. When we concentrate less on the goals themselves and more on the habits we need, we create momentum in the face of adversity. Good habits implemented over time as a part of a larger system create long term improvement and sustained change. Habits are a reflection of who you want to become and how we want our lives or build our businesses over the long term.
Find people who help you maintain perspective – We have heard about accountability partners. I think we need perspective partners. Maintaining momentum requires someone that we trust to help us see what we cannot see for ourselves. At the same time, perspective partners help us stay the course. They recognize that habits drive performance and they concentrate their support in this area. They don’t motivate you, they help you seek your own motivation through your habits and ability to improve your life and business.
Tap your internal motivation reservoir – Finally, as we conclude January and begin February, think about what drives you internally. So many people search externally for motivation and when it’s gone revert back to old habits, bad habits or the next thing to drive motivation. Internal motivation is found when we strive through our habits toward who we want to be and not simply what we want to accomplish. Life is always changing but the constant is who we want to become. This is the fuel we need to be great!
Red Rock Strategic Partners exists to help you bridge the consistent execution challenge. We strive to support you, your business and your journey. We hope these ideas are helpful. Happy 2019!