How tracking your daily progress can help you reach your annual goals.
For the last two years, I have been wearing a Fitbit, a watch-like device that tracks my steps, exercise, calories, water, and even my heart rate. Fitness trackers have become popular because they track the daily goals you set for yourself.
I have set five primary daily goals for my Fitbit to track:
1. I walk 10,000 steps per day
2. I eat 1,350 calories per day
3. burn 2,135 calories each day
4. I complete 30 active minutes of exercise each day
5. I drink 64 ounces of water per day
Throughout the day I look at my Fitbit to check the number of steps I have taken and receive instant feedback. At any given time during of the day, I know exactly how close I am to reaching my daily goal of walking 10,000 steps and how much more effort I will need to reach my goal for the day.
The powerful benefit of wearing my fitness tracker is the curiosity of wanting to know "my score." When I take the 10,000th step, my Fitbit lights up and vibrates against my wrist, delivering a physical signal of success. Reaching daily goals allows me to celebrate the tiny steps toward the accomplishment of a larger goal.
But what if the daily fitness goals shown above were to be written as annual goals:
1. I walk 1,825 miles
2. I eat 492,750 calories
3. I burn 779,275 calories
4. I complete 10,950 active minutes of exercise
5. I drink 23,360 ounces of water
The annual goals now look absurd. They create a "hoped for" outcome without clarifying the type and quantity of daily activities you need to accomplish every day.
Now think about your business goals, the annual plan outlining the specific objectives you want to achieve. The goals likely include points such as:
> Increase my production revenues by 15%
> Increase my assets under management by $10 million
> Open seven new client relationships
These annual goals are just as meaningless and absurd...unless each goal is broken down into a series of daily goals quantified and created in a fashion that can be tracked and celebrated.
A Daily Tracking System for Financial Advisors
In the mid-1990s, I designed a single sheet of paper to set and track my daily work activities. This worksheet is now called "The 7 Minute Life Daily Progress Report." I could increase the likelihood of reaching my annual goals if I had a way to set and track my daily progress. I needed a daily written plan of action.
I wanted to walk into my office with a single sheet of paper outlining my goals for the day. Walking, exercising, eating right, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep--only a few activities are needed to dramatically improve your physical health. In the same way, there are only a few high-value activities you need to repeat in order to build your business:
> Calling current clients
> Calling prospective clients
> Hosting client reviews
> Hosting prospective client meetings
> Attending networking events
> Teaching workshops and educational seminars
> Asking people to do business with you
And every single activity above can be tracked on a daily basis. Success is breaking down your annual goals into daily goals, having the tools to track your daily progress, and having the self-determination to do what it takes to reach those daily goals.
Daily Progress Report: Getting Started
In this article, I want to highlight two sections of my 7 Minute Life Daily Progress Report: Daily Contact and Tracking Your Daily Activity. (Click here to download a 7-day sample and watch three short training videos that further explain how to use this daily planning tool.)
Daily Contacts. It is often said that successful people are simply willing to do what unsuccessful people are not. Business is about contact--daily contact. If you are a financial advisor, your success depends on the number of people you ask to do business with you. This section is dedicated to writing down the names of every person you contact by phone or in person.
The image below is a typed replica of my actual Daily Progress Report from April 26, 2010. The names and information have been changed, but the activity is real. On April 26, I had appointments and/or conversations with 19 people. I finished four of the five top priorities I had set as the most important activities I wanted to accomplish as part of my daily written plan of action.
I contacted one prospect and followed up with one referral. I finished several "unfinished tasks," and I even tracked my sleep, exercise, water intake, etc.
On this single piece of paper, I wrote down my daily plan, and I could track my progress to see if I reached my daily goals. Click here to download an explanatory PDF.
Section 2: Tracking Your Daily Activities. In order to run my business like a business, I knew I had to find a quantifiable method of tracking the number of activities I was proactively taking to grow my business. Early in my career as a financial advisor, I heard that the average financial advisor made nine outgoing calls a day. I have no way to know if that was true, but it made sense to me that if the average financial advisor was making nine outgoing calls a day (roughly one outgoing call per hour), I could commit to making 18 outgoing calls per day (roughly two outgoing calls per hour) and try to double my business.
To the left of the Daily Contacts section you will see a series of dashes. These dashes allow you to track how many people you attempt to contact. You have no control over the number of people you actually contact, but you do have control over how many people you try to contact.
With these ideas in mind, I created a daily tracking system that awarded more points for what I considered to be more valuable activities. This is the point system I used to track my daily activities:
> 1 point for an attempted client call
> 1 point for a completed client call
> points for an attempted prospecting call
> points for a completed prospecting call
> points for a face-to-face appointment
> points for a telephone conference call with a client
> points for attending a community or networking event
> point for each person in attendance at a seminar or workshop you are presenting (30 attendees = 30 points)
My goal was to finish each day with a total of 25 points.
Using a daily progress report can revolutionize your daily work habits. As you begin to track your daily progress, you may be stunned by how few outgoing calls you have been making. Tracking each call and keeping score will make you aware of your current daily activity level--and increasing your daily activity will result in improved client communication and increased business.
Did I Do What I Said I Would Do Today?
"Once you have clearly determined what you want to accomplish in the next 90 days, you must take action every day. It only takes small steps to reach your future goals. When you choose to do what you say you will do, your success in life boils down to a series of simple "yes" or "no" questions." --Allyson Lewis, The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner.
This is a "yes" or "no" question: "Did I do what I said I would do today?" Every annual goal you set can be broken down from an annual goal into daily goals. Increasing your annual production goals by 15%, increasing net new assets by $10 million, and developing seven new client relationships must all be broken down into daily goals.
Annual goals are absurd if they are not broken down into daily goals you can actually track.
1. The number of hours you will need to work each day
2. The number of phone calls you will commit to make each day
3. The number of prospects you will call each day
4. The number of face-to-face client appointments you will host every day
5. The number of networking meetings you will attend each week
6. The number of educational workshops you will host each quarter
7. The number of active minutes you will choose to work on your most important tasks
The solution is to write down your daily goals and commit to "Doing what you said you would do." Each one of you reading this article already knows the steps needed to become a million dollar producer. There is no secret to reaching unimaginable success as a financial advisor. Just like any goal in life, you have the freedom to set your annual goals, and you have the freedom to choose how hard you will work to reach the daily goals you need to accomplish your annual goal.