Conquering Goal Diffusion

I received an e-mail illustrating a problem facing many registered reps. It read: I feel like I'm going in eight different directions. My company has introduced new initiatives, the rules keep changing and everyone is offering advice. I just can't seem to focus. Please help! This plea identifies a challenge that has long been associated with setting and achieving goals. It's called goal diffusion.

I received an e-mail illustrating a problem facing many registered reps. It read: “I feel like I'm going in eight different directions. My company has introduced new initiatives, the rules keep changing and everyone is offering advice. I just can't seem to focus. Please help!”

This plea identifies a challenge that has long been associated with setting and achieving goals. It's called goal diffusion. We often mistake goal diffusion as a lack of motivation, but that is not what it is. It's the inability to focus in the face of numerous options and not achieving goals satisfactorily.

A major factor contributing to goal diffusion comes from directing attention to events and circumstances you cannot control. That's why so many look to change firms or careers as a solution, and then discover they just experienced the old “from the frying pan into the fire” scenario. Now that you know what not to do, let's discuss an antidote to avoid goal diffusion.

Conceptual

  • Make a clear distinction between events that are within and outside your control.

  • Expend all energies on what is in your control.

Practical

  • Develop a long-range business plan — in writing — so your focus is clear.

  • Create a scorecard system that will enable you to measure annual, quarterly and weekly indicators of your success.

  • Commit to specific fixed daily activities and projects linked to your scorecard; in turn this will drive your long-range plan.

  • Make certain everyone is accountable for performing delegated fixed daily activities.

  • Conduct a five-minute control-attitude-focus meeting every day.

  • Celebrate weekly successes.

The process described combines planning (getting focused) with a systematic action plan (staying focused). All of this is in your control.

Simple production targets are no longer enough. Your long-range plan must include the type and number of clients you want to attract, the value agenda you plan to deliver to these targeted clients, and how you plan to make all this become a reality.

Absolute focus is required from the first strategic action step to the last. To the extent your firm can assist you, and many firms have excellent resources to help in serving the affluent, avail yourself to these programs and platforms. But to the extent any initiative runs counter to your long-range business plan, simply remain true to your course. This puts everything within your control. Goal diffusion will be nothing more than an interesting topic of discussion as you explain to others how you pushed it aside and got focused.

Matt Oechsli is president of The Oechsli Institute in Greensboro, N.C., a sales consulting firm, and author of “Winning the Inner Game of Selling.” He can be reached at [email protected]. For a free tool to assess your progress in attracting, servicing and retaining affluent clients, go to www.oechsli.com/rr.

Developing Your Parabroker

Regardless of what you might expect from someone performing a support role in your business, his or her focus and commitment ultimately will mirror yours. Your parabroker will become increasingly frustrated every time you allow yourself to get sidetracked, or start a project only to leave it unfinished. And how can anything be a top priority when you continually add more top priorities to your already large list?

The solution is simple. Remain true to your focus of building a financial advisory practice to last. To be a bit more specific: Involve your parabroker in the planning process, assisting in every aspect of your long-range plan, fixed-daily activities, delegated areas of responsibility, etc. The greater the involvement the greater the probability both of you will remain focused and committed to help each other stay on course, each step of the way.

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