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The Beat Generation author William S. Burroughs is credited with the quote “When you stop growing you start dying.” This is a motto I’ve lived by during my entire career, though I tend to tweak it a little to replace ‘dying’ with ‘molding’ (call me an optimist!). Nowhere is this more evident than in the financial planning business. I’m sure all of you have been to industry events where almost every attendee is male, pale, and stale! The industry can be very stagnant, and it’s easy to get caught up in the lack of innovation and change. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

As you move more toward becoming a counselor to your clients and away from being a ‘stock picker’, you will need to continually improve and hone your craft so you can be of greater and greater value to those you serve. Whether you are brand new in the business and still suffering from a level of imposter syndrome or you’ve been in the business for a while and are trying to kick some entrenched habits like procrastination, you must continue learning and growing if you’re going to succeed. But believe me, I know that it can often seem overwhelming! That’s why I’m a big believer in what is called ‘incremental growth’.

 

Why Incremental Growth is Key

Incremental growth involves taking small steps toward your goals each day. When you’re steady and consistent, you don’t have to devote long, arduous hours to learning. Just by spending an hour or so each day focused on learning, you can achieve enormous growth in as little as a few months. And let me tell you, no matter what those doubters may say, everyone has room in their daily schedule for learning. Sure, it might mean getting up an hour earlier or forgoing that Netflix show everyone is talking about, but it will be well worth it. You can spend the time reading a book, watching videos, or even taking a course to further your education.

Of course, you shouldn’t limit your learning time to that one hour a day you set aside. Incremental growth is also about taking every opportunity you can to improve. Here are some other ways you can ensure you’re not slowly sliding into the ‘moldy’ type of financial advisor.

Ways to Fuel Your Incremental Growth

Books, Blogs, and Videos  I read 43 books in 2017, which may sound like a lot, but it really wasn’t that tough when you read for an hour every day. Most people only read one book on any given topic, so if you’re reading just two or three, you’re way ahead of the curve.

Courses and Classes  You don’t have to re-enroll in college to benefit from classes and coursework. There are tons of learning opportunities out there ranging in price and providing everything from simple satisfaction in learning to designations that can improve your business.

Mentors  Not only should you be mentoring your clients to live more fulfilled lives, but you should also be regularly meeting with your own mentors. I try to have at least four to six mentors in my rotation who I can go to with questions or situations I need help with. You can meet your mentors for lunch, schedule a happy hour, or just have it on your calendar to call or Skype with them once a month.

Friends and Family  You can learn a lot from those closest to you! Self-awareness is one of the issues I see advisors struggle with, and your inner circle can really help with this since they know you best. Ask for some honest feedback on what you could improve or where they see you have a blind spot. When you make a conscious decision not to take anything they say personally, you can get some big ‘ah has!’.

None of us wants to be that stagnant, moldy advisor who everyone views as a stick in the mud. Let’s focus on incremental growth.

I want to hear from you. What are you doing to cultivate your learning? Comment below!