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Powerful Goal Setting: Make Your Goals a Mental Compulsion

Chicago - "I'm not as motivated as I used to be" said James. "I've completed my business plan -- an annual drill -- and I believe I'm putting my best efforts into the plan. We discuss the plan as a team, but something is missing. Maybe I've lost my inner fire."

Jack, a 12-year veteran, was basically confessing that he was not as goal-focused as he would like to be. Along with that realization, he knew intuitively that his business plan did not have much impact on his motivation level.

Jack was in need of some "synergistic goal setting," the focus of chapter 8 in my book, Winning the Inner Game of Selling, and an exercise that I have taught regularly for years. It's time to revisit this exercise, which I refer to as "the mother of all fixed daily activities (FDAs)".

Before reading any further, ask yourself: Are your goals firmly imprinted in your consciousness? Are you consistently performing disciplined, goal-focused activities that pull you out of your comfort zone? Why are some people capable of doing this while others struggle with it? The reason is simple: Those that do well with it have their fixed daily activities linked to the goals that are imprinted in their mind. They can see, hear, touch and feel their long range goals. Can you?

When I ask these questions I typically get a glazed look or a confused response. And one of the worst things you can do is assume that you are goal focused when -- like Jack -- your objectives are far from being mentally automatic. So how do we get the inner fire back?

Before walking you through the exercise, I want to explain the most common reason people like Jack are not motivated by their annual business planning. Jack had goals, but they only interacted with the logical, practical side of his brain -- he wasn't tapping into his emotions and harnessing the tremendous power of his subconscious.

Let me walk you through the "mother of all FDAs". This goal-setting FDA will make your goals a mental compulsion -- an obsession. And make no mistake about it: If you are the leader of a team and you engage in this FDA, everybody will raise their game.

This is a simple drill, similar to my "back of an envelope business plan" (because if you can't distill your business plan to the back of an envelope it's unlikely you'll ever achieve that plan). All that's required is a spiral notebook and a visual representation of your long range and/or one-year goals.

Start with your long-range goals (three to five years), and write them out in two to four sentence affirmations. In other words, write them out as though they are objectives that you have already achieved.

  • "I am a healthy $2 million producer with 100 affluent clients."
  • "My family loves our 7,000-square-foot home on the golf course."

Then write out your intermediate goals in two to four sentence affirmation form.

  • "I am an $850,000 producer with 15 new affluent clients, $30 million in new assets and a 75-percent fee-based book."
  • "I enjoy my new 335 BMW coupe."

Now, think about the fixed daily activities that are linked to achieving the intermediate and long range goals you listed above. Again, write these FDAs as affirmations:

  • "I have terrific conversations with seven of my affluent clients."
  • "I uncover three new affluent leads by talking with my affluent clients."
  • "I perform one powerful out-of-comfort-zone activity."
  • "I enjoy my early morning exercise."
  • "I talk with one of my affluent client's CPAs and develop rapport."
  • "I have two powerful client meetings."

Now, here's the fun part: Look at your goal picture, close your eyes and go into the theatre of your mind and visualize what you've just written. (Some people don't think they can visualize, but everyone can do it. It's called dreaming, only in images, so do it.)

Start with your long-range goals: See your family living in that big house on the golf course. Then move to the intermediate goals: Visualize yourself in your new BMW coupe pulling into the driveway. See it, touch it, hear it and feel it; then see yourself performing your FDAs -- exactly as you've written them.

Do this for 21 days and your goals will become a mental compulsion. Developing such a compulsion is the mother load. The reason I'm asking you to do it for only 21 days is because this time-frame will allow you to become addicted to these images; you should really do these visualizations forever!

This exercise will take 15 to 20 minutes. Re-write the same goals every day. Your FDAs will change slightly depending on what you have planned for the day.

Think about it for a moment. Do you think your goals will become imprinted on your subconscious mind if you do this exercise every day? Absolutely. Michael Jordan could see himself making the game-winning shot in the theatre of his mind. The world's best athletes have done this for years, and so can you.

You must "give yourself permission to dream," and then create a "critical path" where you execute disciplined activities that are directly linked to your goals.

In previous years, we've talked about business planning. Now we're talking about developing a mental compulsion to achieve your goals. Like most advisors, Jack had a written business plan for 2008, but had yet to transform it into a goal-focused obsession.

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