Forget New Year’s Resolutions – What’s Your Mission?

“If you don’t set your goals based upon your Mission Statement, you may be climbing the ladder of success only to realize, when you get to the top, you’re on the WRONG building.” Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Ever watch the movie Groundhog Day? Does it seem like year after year you plan your goals for the upcoming 12 months like New Year’s resolutions, only to fizzle out on them by the middle of February? Are you on an endless production plateau, have trouble staying motivated, lose steam even before the end of the first quarter? Get distracted easily from doing what’s best to grow your clientele? Jump around from strategy to strategy looking for the silver bullet? When the going gets inevitably tough, do you resign yourself to the idea that you’ll never get to the next level?

How is it that top producers appear to have something you don’t? You know – that sense of confidence, optimism, upbeat attitude that keeps them positive and self-assured no matter what the business environment is? The distinguishing factor is their sense of purpose – they don’t just have a job, they view their profession as a calling, and believe that what they do makes a difference in their clients’ lives.

Can’t say the same for how you show up every day? What’s missing could very well be addressed by developing a goal-based mission statement for your business. A mission statement is a short paragraph that describes who you are and what you intend to accomplish. Why have one? Simple: The people who know where they’re going are also the ones most likely to get there. Conversely, if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, you’ll definitely get nowhere, which describes most advisors—and most of the population in general for that matter.

Now you may have seen statements that sound a bit contrived, like: “I will be the best advisor who acts with the most ethical integrity to deliver great value to my financial advisory clients.” That’s what I would call a “vision statement” or “values statement,” and categorize it as a “statement of being.” This is who you are. And it’s certainly useful to articulate your values. By contrast, a mission statement is a “statement of doing”—it defines what you plan to accomplish in a given time frame.  

Perhaps the best illustration of a “doing” mission statement was President John Kennedy’s space program initiative in the early 1960s. At that time, Kennedy stated that the United States would have a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Note that this goal was specific and measurable – either they got to the moon or they didn’t, and had a deadline: December 31, 1969. Despite no small degree of skepticism (something all of us might encounter when going after our goals), astronaut Neil Armstrong took that “one small step for man” almost six months ahead of schedule.

You might think that a written mission statement isn’t necessary—that you already know in your head what your goals are, and that’s enough. People who aren’t willing to write down their mission statements are probably the same people who say, “I don’t need directions—I know where the place is,” and then drive around lost for hours. (Know anyone like that?) The ones who don’t write it out tend to wing it – with something as important as defining your purpose you don’t want to risk that. Through the process of writing out a mission statement, you create a written contract with yourself. There’s power in getting it down on paper or in a document.

So how do you get started on drafting a goal-based mission statement? My recommended first step is for you to read the first 4 chapters of Napoleon Hill’s classic 1937 book Think and Grow Rich where he instructs you to define your “statement of major purpose or chief definite aim.” When I work with Financial Advisors I have every one of them begin by reading these 4 chapters so they understand the importance of developing an inspiring sense of purpose. Once you’ve finished reading, it’s time to write/type the actual paragraph, which can be like the example here:

 “My purpose is to express my intelligence, creativity and people skills by continually learning and applying new techniques, by finding unique solutions to my clients’ problems and by building long-lasting relationships with them to create 6 new HNW accounts, a consultative approach with my existing clients, computer program mastery, and at least $150,000 net income by this date one year from today.”

Many of you have big goals for the coming year. You may do your goal-based mission statement but then run into the problem of being unable to implement it on a daily basis. Typically people wake up groggy, hit the snooze button, jump out of bed late, hurriedly get dressed, wolf down breakfast (or maybe just coffee), rush to work and then spend most of their day reacting to what other people want them to do. If this describes you, you may wonder “How do I fix this?”

The solution, which I actually do for myself and assign my clients, is to create what I call a daily morning success ritual. In that morning ritual the first thing I have them do is commit their mission statement to memory and then recite it aloud. This is what Hill prescribes in Think and Grow Rich. Word for word, from page 54 of my worn-out copy:

“Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought. This is why you are asked to write out a statement of your major purpose, or chief definite aim (i.e., your mission statement), commit it to memory, and repeat it in audible words, day after day, until these vibrations of sound have reached your subconscious mind.”

By doing so you become a walking, living, breathing manifestation of what you’re trying to accomplish in the next year. It creates the “success consciousness,” or “top producer focus” if you will, to sustain you throughout the coming year. And doing this every single morning is critical to maintain the right mindset. Because if you check out the news upon arising in the morning, on any given day it’s going to tell you about what went wrong in the world, what bad people are up to, the countless scary, dangerous things that are going on – all designed to bring you down. That’s not the way to take control of your thinking – mastering your attitude right from the get-go is what creates success in your mind every single day, which will ultimately translate into the results you want in your business.

Once you’ve created a workable mission statement with specific goals and a deadline, here are my recommendations:

1.    Commit your mission statement to memory, and recite it aloud each day as part of your morning success ritual.

2.    Print your mission statement, and place it in your office where you’ll see it every day.

3.    Take your mission statement goals, and break them down into quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals.

4.    Find a mentor or coach who will hold you accountable for following through with and fulfilling your mission statement.

5.    Next New Year’s Eve raise a glass to Success Skills Coach Jim Rohrbach for helping you have your best year ever. (Then, repeat the process once again.)

I suggest you create a goal-based mission statement for yourself as you begin the New Year. Feel free to post what you come up with and I’ll be happy to give you feedback. Good luck, and may this help you create a meaningful sense of purpose about your career as never before.

Success Skills Coach Jim Rohrbach, “The Personal Fitness Trainer for Your Business,” coaches Financial Advisors around the U.S. by phone to help them grow their clientele. To learn more about how he can help you, visit Jim on the web at www.SuccessSkills.com.

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