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Finding the Gap Between Where You Are Now and Where You Want to Be

A two-step process that helps identify if you should stay or go.

As the year winds down in preparation for the coming of 2020, now is the perfect time to take a step back, revisit your goals and develop a plan to achieve them. But “goal planning” processes often get put aside because they seem complicated and time-consuming, or are preempted by day-to-day business requirements.

Yet, knowing the importance of such an exercise, we created this two-step process, which has been both manageable and effective for the advisors we work with—whether they are actively exploring their options or satisfied with the status quo.

Ultimately, it provides the clarity needed to identify whether you are still in the best place to serve your clients and grow your business.

To begin, you need to “back up the train”—that is, clear your mind and visualize where you’re trying to go and why. Essentially, this step gives you the permission needed to re-vet the expectations you have of yourself, your firm and your future.

Step 1: Visualize a Perfect World

Picture in your mind a blank slate where you can create what your “ideal” business model looks like. Don’t limit yourself to what’s familiar; instead, dream big.

Then, considering this ideal scenario, ask yourself:

  1. What does your business life look like?
  2. Are you managing clients and growing your business in the same way that you do now?
  3. Are you offering additional services to clients?
  4. Do you have additional support staff?
  5. Are you at the same firm?

In this visualization, you may find that things look similar to where you are now—and if so, you haven’t wasted your time. It’s simply verifying that the status quo works and allows you to remain loyal from a position of strength. However, if the ideal view looks different from your current scenario, it’s time to find out why.

Step 2: Identify the Gap Between the Ideal and Your Current Reality

Considering where you are now, ask yourself the following:

  1. What are the things you like about your firm?
  2. Are there things about your firm that you don’t like or that frustrate you?
  3. Do you feel limited in your ability to serve your clients and grow your business—and if so, how limited?
  4. Is your firm providing the support that allows you to best serve your clients and grow your business?
  5. Do the technology, platform and products offered by your firm enhance the client experience and business growth?
  6. Are you fully able to act as a fiduciary to your clients?
  7. Thinking longer term, what makes you optimistic about your ability to continually grow your business at your firm?

After answering these questions, you may find that there are positive attributes about your firm, as well as some negative ones—and that’s completely normal. It’s the delta between where you are now and where you want to be—what we call “the gap”—that you need to focus on. The larger the gap, the greater the indication that a move may be necessary to fill the void.

It’s at this stage that many advisors get stuck: They avoid filling the gap. They allow fear or the belief that there isn’t a better enough option elsewhere to trap them in inertia, never truly aligning the present with what they envision as a better, more perfect future.

More often, we find that advisors who go through this exercise emerge with a renewed sense of clarity and empowerment—regardless of whether the knowledge gleaned indicates they are indeed in the right place for their business or that they should explore their options. And from where we sit, that’s the most important result of all.

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