The science of successful goal setting

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Helping your clients with their goals.

Setting goals is important to achieving our dreams – they motivate strategy development, provide direction for our efforts and offer a clear picture of what success looks like.  Reaching our goals, however, as most of us will know, is no simple task.  However, treating goal setting as a science, more than art, will improve the chances of reaching your goals.

Renato Mota, Group General Manager, Wealth Management at IOOF said “Just as a client’s statement of advice is on paper, it’s important to write goals down – be they personal or for your business.  In a business context, this presents a fantastic opportunity to engage with your team and build a common and aligned vision for success – that everyone can align to and measure.”

Written goals make them tangible and lets you regularly review them.  Author Thomas Corley, in a study of the habits of wealthy people, found that 67 per cent of wealthy people write down their goals – while just 17 per cent of those who aren’t wealthy do the same.

When goals are shared with another person, you will be more accountable and disciplined in meeting them.  One study from the US found that more than 70 per cent of participants who sent weekly updates to a friend reported successfully achieving goals, compared to 35 per cent who didn’t write down their goals or share them with friends.

Mr Mota commented “When you begin, you’re probably thinking about vague aspirations. When you break these down into specific steps, your goals become much more real.  Importantly, setting the bar too high will be demotivating if those goals aren’t reached, which is why it’s important to make your goals challenging, but achievable.”

Following these two principles can improve your chances of achieving your goals by an amazing 90 per cent, as shown in research by Gary Latham and Edwin Locke.

Mr Mota stated “It’s also important to differentiate between dreams/wishes, and achievable goals.  For example, doubling your revenue is a wish – not a goal.  On the other hand, bringing on board 5 new clients by 1 January is an achievable goal – and an important stepping stone to seeing your wishes come true.”

And as Diana Scarf Hunt says “Goals are dreams with deadlines”, so attaching a deadline to your goals allows you to measure your success and provides a sense of urgency.

Goal setting for client

Mr Mota concluded, “As advisers, we all know how important goal setting is for our clients.  Identifying, documenting and prioritising their financial goals is a key part of delivering successful financial advice.  Without goals, it’s difficult to develop a financial plan and then measure your clients’ progress towards them.

“Following the same ideas for goal setting, framing the advice conversation around your clients’ specific goals can positively impact your business.  According to our Expectation of Advice whitepaper, clients who feel as though they are on track to achieve their goals are almost three times more likely to refer over the next 12 months.

“Goals however, shouldn’t just be for our clients.  They are important in our personal lives, growing any business and succession planning when the time comes for your own retirement.  And with the right plan in place to make them happen, whether for you or your clients, they make sure long-term success is anything but luck.”

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