If you could come up with 3 words for this year, that would drive your actions and keep you on track to make this your best year ever, what would those 3 words be?
For several years now, I’ve begun the year by identifying 3 words that will set the course, give me direction, and totally excite me as I move through the year. I write these words at the top of my Daily Focus sheet and look at them daily throughout the year.
The premise is simple. Pick 3 words that motivate you, remind you, and guide you on your road to making 2018 your best year ever.
I encourage all of my clients and I encourage all of you to do this same exercise as it will help you stay focused on the most important outcomes for the year.
In today’s post and podcast, I discuss my 3 words for 2018 as well as review my 3 words for 2017 and discuss how well I executed on them.
First, let’s take a look back at my 3 words for 2017 and see what grade I give myself in terms of how the words guided my actions in the past year.
Review of 3 Words for 2017
Word #1: Discipline
There were two areas where I wanted to be more disciplined last year.
The first area was my morning routine. I wanted to be more disciplined about when I got up in the morning and what I did in those first 2 hours to make sure they set me up to have a great day. My plan was to set my alarm for 5:00am and get out of bed at that time if I was not already up. My new morning routine was as follows:
- Prayer and gratefulness
Those four activities were designed to take 2 hours, so I’d be done by 7:00am, then I would get cleaned up, eat breakfast, drive to work listening to a podcast, and pull into my office by 8:30am.
In terms of a letter grade for this aspect of discipline, I’d give myself an A+. I quickly realized that I did not need to set an alarm because I was already awake by 5:00am. In fact, there were many days when I was out of bed by 4:00am. And there were even days when I popped out of bed at 2:30am or 3:00am.
Ultimately, I end up getting out of bed when my body wakes up, and that tends to be pretty early in the morning. Of course, I go bed quite early, too, usually by 9:30.
And the 4 things I wanted to do to start each morning: prayer/gratefulness, meditation, reading, and exercise, worked perfectly. It’s an engrained routine now and I go to bed at night looking forward to getting up in the morning.
Interestingly, I actually added one more activity to my morning routine around mid-year. I was at the CEO Coaching International Summit in April and one of the speakers talked about how breathing exercises can increase the oxygen level in your blood and provide a whole host of other physical benefits.
As a result of that talk, after my meditation, I now do 20 deep breaths and on the 20th, after the last exhale, I hold my breath for as long as I can. Holding my breath might not be doing me any physical benefit but I started doing it as a way to measure my progress in increasing my oxygenation. As of now, I can hold my breath for a minute and a half after that last exhale. That’s not going to win me a free-diving contest but it’s a lot longer than when I started. And you never know when being able to hold my breath will come in handy.
The second area where I wanted to be more disciplined was in separating work and personal time. I know this goes against the grain of the “it’s not work if you love what you do” talk that’s popular these days, but I wanted to make the first two hours of my day energizing.
So, my solution was to not check email or the internet until I got to the office. My thought was, I wanted to focus on personal improvement for the first two hours of the day and not let work intrude. By doing so, I hit the office refreshed and ready to dig in and get things done.
Well, it sounded nice in theory but I had a really hard time not checking email or the internet before I got to the office. For the most part, I was able to hold off checking anything until I got to the reading part of my morning routine, but overall, I’d have to say I failed at this one. I still like the idea of trying to unplug those first 2 hours of the day and I will continue to try and do it more frequently.
Word #2: Deliver
I used the word deliver in 2017 to signify and emphasize that I need to deliver to my clients in three ways.
- Deliver great value.
- Deliver new products and services on a regular basis that meet their needs.
- Deliver on timelines so I can keep up with the pace of change in the marketplace.
Overall, I think I did pretty well on this word. When it comes to delivering value and delivering new services, we were able to go international with our Retirement Coaching Program by signing up a licensee in the U.K. We also completed a new launch of the live version of the Retirement Coaching Program and we launched an online self-directed course for the Retirement Coaching Program. And all of that was done at a very attractive price to value ratio.
In addition, in December, we wrapped up the Founding Member launch of The ROL Advisor Program. ROL Advisor is a series of digital client engagement tools and a training program for financial advisors that puts the client’s life at the center of the conversation, not their money. It’s designed to ensure that financial advisors will remain relevant and profitable during a time when technology is driving down the value of investment management toward zero.
We exceeded our goal to fill out our Founding Member group and me and my partner, Mitch Anthony, are unbelievably excited about the program for 2018. And if you want to learn more about how you can become a member and start using these incredibly engaging digital client tools, go to roladvisor.com and add your name and email to our notification list.
Word #3: Score
I viewed the word score as having two meanings. You can score, as in like making a touchdown. And you can keep score, as in tracking the results of the game. By using score as one of my 3 words for 2017, I was focused on both definitions.
I had a big revenue growth goal in 2017 and in terms of scoring on that, it went quite well. We experienced a 41% increase in revenue over the prior year so I’m pleased with that.
And I also wanted to keep score. For decades, I’ve kept score of my personal financial situation and I’ve tracked every workout I’ve done for 40 years (not joking!). And in the business world, I’ve kept score too, but not to the extent that I’ve tracked my personal financial situation and my exercise routine.
To help keep score, I blocked out a full afternoon on the last Friday of every month to review my metrics and financial statement. This worked out well and helped me stay focused on the most important activities that drove my results for the year.
So, overall, in terms of how I performed on my 3 words for 2017, I feel pretty good. I think this 3 words idea is an excellent way to help me stay focused on the most important big ideas for the year and I’m excited to continue doing it.
My 3 Words for 2018
Word #1: Spark
When I think of the word spark, I think of it in terms of sparking a revolution and a reinvention in the way financial advisors do business through our new company, ROL Advisor.
Because let’s face it, our business is changing dramatically and rapidly. What financial advisors have typically been paid for, the investment management piece, is quickly becoming a technology and cost-driven activity that eventually will leave little margin for financial advisors. And even the financial planning side is vulnerable to being disrupted by technology and new competitors.
ROL Advisor is designed to leverage the one thing financial advisors have that no technology will ever replace. And what is that one thing?
It’s your humanness.
It’s your ability to have an engaging, meaningful conversation with another human being and be able to help them make better choices with their money and their life, so they can live their best life possible with the money they have.
So spark is the word that will keep me focused on the big idea of revolution and reinvention in the way financial advisors do business.
Word #2: Community
Some of you may remember me from my days of running Peak Advisor Alliance, where I was the Managing Partner of the company as we grew it from 0 to 1,000 financial advisors that we coached. It was a great run and we built a really nice community of advisors.
Today, I’m taking everything I learned in building Peak, plus incorporating the tremendous advances in technology and training over the past five years, and putting that into building a new community of advisors at ROL Advisor.
Every successful revolution and reinvention requires a community. I’m very focused on creating a community of advisors in ROL Advisor who are firm believers in this idea that the greatest value we provide is in helping clients at the intersection of money and life.
It’s really that simple, so community is critical to sparking the movement.
Word #3: Savor
I’ve been very blessed in life. I have an amazing family, we have good health, we have financial resources, we have friends. I have a faith community and I’m very thankful and grateful for all it. Where I think I’m lacking is in truly savoring all that God has blessed me with.
The word savor is part of the terminology in what’s called positive psychology. Savoring is about noticing, appreciating, and enhancing the positive experiences in life. Bridget Grenville-Cleave, in her book on Positive Psychology, said it this way, “By savoring, you slow down and consciously pay attention to all your senses (touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell). You stretch out the experience and concentrate on noticing what it is that you really enjoy. Through learning to savor, you can increase your capacity to notice what is good about your life as well as appreciate it more fully.”
I work super hard and love the work I do. But I also want to fully appreciate, and relish, and treasure the other aspects of my life that I am blessed with.
So savor is a very personal word for me in 2018, and frankly, I hope, for the rest of my life.
So those are my 3 words for 2018. Spark. Community. Savor
Now I challenge you to do the same thing.
Write down your 3 words for 2018. Put it in a place where you will see them every day.
And add your 3 words to the comments in this blog post.
This exercise works for me and I know it can work for you too.
Let me finish with this final thought.
As I look out to 2018, I am more energized and excited about the year ahead than I have felt in many years. It’s almost as if a fog has been lifted from my eyes and I have much more clarity on the path ahead.
I have to tell you, the ROL Advisor Program that Mitch Anthony and I are building is going to make a major impact in our industry and in the lives of clients around the world. We are at the very beginning of a revolution and a reinvention of the way financial advisors do business.
We are Transforming the Way the World Plans™.
It’s exciting. It’s exhilarating. And 2018 is going to be a big year.
I hope our paths will cross soon.
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Steve Sanduski, CFP®
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