How many times have you started an important task—whether it’s creating a financial plan for one of your clients, filling out paperwork needed to transfer funds, or even just cleaning up your office so you can work effectively—and stopped halfway through? In this world of constant distractions, it can be incredibly easy to abandon follow-through and leave a pile of half-finished projects on your desk when you leave the office. Though one or two might not be a big deal, these projects build up over time and will either put you in crisis mode as you scramble to finish them all at once or will seriously affect your success if they fall through the cracks.
That’s why follow-through is so crucial to the world of an entrepreneurial advisor. When you develop a habit of follow-through, you increase your confidence by achieving dozens of small wins every week. When you follow through on important tasks, you set yourself up for success and create a peaceful and pleasant work environment that is relatively free of crisis mode or the need to put out constant fires. Here’s what you need to know about follow-through and how you can create this crucial habit.
Follow-Through is Not Genetic
Many people mistakenly think that you are either born with great follow-through skills or you’re not. The truth of the matter is, follow-through—just like its polar opposite procrastination—is a habit that can be developed and strengthened. And, just like any habit, it takes time and effort to create.
To begin building this crucial habit, you need to start with smaller, incremental habits that can build over time. One of my favorite daily habits is creating a Power List of the five things I need to accomplish that day or identifying a MIT (Most Important Task) that needs to be done to take a step toward your larger goals. As research has shown, it takes 21-30 days to build a habit, so make sure you don’t give up even if this new way of working feels unnatural or difficult. If you keep at it, it will soon become a daily routine.
Follow-Through is Not Always Easy—or Fun
Sometimes I think we put too much emphasis on ‘being passionate about what you do’. We hear that ‘if you love it, it’s not work’ and similar expressions and mistakenly think that if we aren’t having fun 100% of the time at work, we’re in the wrong business. This is simply not true. Should you be passionate about serving clients and building your business? Absolutely. But really—do you think it’s realistic to have a smile of joy on your face as you fill out mounds of paperwork?
Many advisors don’t put the work in when it comes to developing habits because it’s not easy or fun. You need to change your mindset and see these things as means to an end. If you don’t do them, you don’t earn the fun stuff like the gratitude of your clients when you help them achieve their goals or the ability to work from the beach six months out of the year. When you put the focus on gratitude for the big goals, you can more easily achieve the smaller goals consistently (and with a better attitude).
Follow-Through is a Product of Focused Attention
So many of us have fallen into the myth of multitasking. We think that if we can watch a training video while also filling out paperwork and making calls to schedule meetings, we’re knocking out three tasks at once and saving time. That’s simply not true. The human brain can only focus on one task at a time and the more you distract it, the worse your results will be. Not only that, but you’re also training your brain not to focus, which means that distraction slowly becomes the norm and a very difficult habit to break.
You need to work on changing your wiring and teaching your brain to focus on one task at a time if you want to develop effective follow-through. When working on a task, limit distractions by shutting down your internet browsers, turning off phone alerts, and closing your office door. Work on a task—and only that task—until it is done or until you reach a pre-determined stopping point. Yes, it will be very difficult at first. But as your brain gets more and more used to working this way, it will get easier and will be the bedrock of your new habit of effective follow-through.
Developing a habit of follow-through is just one way you can increase your self-development as an independent financial advisor. By realizing that follow-through is a habit you can develop, you can put the changes in place that will help you get those tasks done that will help you achieve success. If you’d like to learn more about developing the habit of follow-through, take a few minutes to watch this video or reach out to me so we can talk more.
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