I'm always surprised when people don’t plan important aspects of their lives. It reminds me of the quote, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

As a financial advisor, you make a living helping people plan for their financial future. Not having a plan for your career is absurd. However, most advisors do not.

I find most people get stuck in a routine and become very comfortable. We love to make New Year’s resolutions, but seldom keep them. Why? Because it’s too hard. Learning a new, and possibly more painful, routine is difficult. Instead, most of us tend to gravitate toward the comfortable. Doing the minimum is usually good enough for many people. We talk a big game, but we don't then hold ourselves accountable.

Most of us know what we need to do to improve our marriage, parenting skills, financial situation, health and careers. Many people just don't follow through. That's the difference between the successful and unsuccessful people. Big producers have a plan of attack and hold themselves accountable for taking action and having quantifiable results.

Here at the Rummage Group, everyone has written detailed goals – including me. Too often, people are afraid to write down their goals. If they are written, but not achieved, they feel like a failure. It takes determination to improve and force oneself to take on difficult and challenging goals. Not hitting your goals is tolerable, but not having goals in the first place, or not trying is unacceptable.

There is no time like the present. Sit down now and write a list of goals for your future. Be specific and quantifiable. Use three basic questions for each goal.

  1. What is the goal?
  2. What specifically will I do to execute this goal?
  3. How will I hold myself accountable?

Here are a few topics you might consider to kickstart your list:
● What is my target market?
● What would I like my business to look like in 1 year? 5? 10?
● What do I want my business mix to look like?
● What size clients do I want to serve?
● Do I want to set a client asset minimum?
● Who will I hire or use to help me achieve these goals?
● What goals will I set for those helping me?
● What rewards will I set for them upon success?
● What are my obstacles and how can I remove them?
● What time wasters can I eliminate? (long commute, unimportant tasks, etc.)
● How can I get more referrals?

These are just a few to get you started. You should customize your list. I find most advisors waste many hours each week with a few simple behaviors. Get rid of these and it frees up more time for achieving goals. Start by only working at work. Why would anyone leave their families every morning to go have social time? Stop talking about sports, golfing with friends, sending personal emails, having long lunches, trading in your personal account, etc. You know the things you shouldn’t be doing at the office, so stop.

The market has become very volatile recently. There is terrorism popping up. Russia and North Korea have been getting more aggressive. These are just a few reasons your clients need you more than ever. They are looking to you for a plan, guidance, support and a steady hand. Start this year’s plan by calling all your clients to provide these things. I know it sounds crazy, but if you reach out to all your clients, good things will happen. If you have a plan of attack, you will make more money.

Rick Rummage is the president of the Rummage Group, a career consulting firm for financial advisors.