Published September 1, 2008, from the September 2008 Issue of Senior Market Advisor Magazine

“You bring into your life whatever it is you are clear about.”
-Susan Scott in “Fierce Conversations”

Success. Many financial advisors go about getting it as if they expect it to be here right now. Yet, success eludes so many. Why? My experience shows me that it’s a simple clarity and goal issue.

Let’s say you want to become more assertive – you want to speak up more often about the things that matter to you and in difficult situations with clients. Assertiveness is a clear and profitable goal for someone in the financial services industry, but most who try to increase their assertiveness just by intending to do so fail.

The solution is to create clear and believable mini-goals on the way to the big one. Behavioral change success needs to be reinforced at least every 24 hours. That means you have to accomplish a mini-goal every day.

The bigger issue is that brain chemistry becomes confused by ambiguous goals. Your brain helps you achieve behavior that leads to success, but it doesn’t react well to vague goals that aren’t behaviorally based, such as “make my quota” or “become a million dollar round table member.” Your brain is going to kick it back for clarification and require you to determine what behaviors you need to accomplish those feats. Those behaviors should be your goal; fame and fortune usually follow.

Here are the essential steps to success behaviors:

  1. Have a deep desire and commitment to acquire the behavior.
  2. Clearly define your specific big goal (“become more assertive”).
  3. Outline the daily, believable mini-goals that you’re willing and able to do (no mini-goal is too small; if your goal is to lose 30 pounds, an eighth of a pound is not too small a daily goal to begin with).
  4. Achieve your mini-goals every day for 21 days.

After 21 days you DO NOT have a habit, but rather the right to continue. If you cannot achieve your mini-goals everyday for 21 days, your brain won’t believe you’re serious and will mark the behavior for extinction.
It takes 60-90 days of repetition to create an excellent amateur-level success behavior. Of the people who make it to this point, about 80 percent will stop at this level.

It isn’t until you’ve practiced the behavior daily for about 120-180 days that you become a master. Get extraordinarily clear about your goals, spend time creating a mini-goal list that is achievable on a daily basis, and then actually do them; you’ll be more successful than most of the people you know, 24 hours at a time.

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