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5 tips for mastering motivation

FP Advance | Advise Better, Live Better

What’s your motivation? 

Motivation is a tricky subject. There’s lots written about it and much of the advice implies that if you just set a few goals you’ll be motivated. I’m not convinced it’s that simple.

When business is going well and you’re seeing lots of on-target clients (whatever that looks like for you) financial planning is great fun. You make a real difference to people’s lives and earn good money doing it. What’s not to like?

However, if your business is struggling, or it just feels a bit ‘same-old same-old’ on a daily basis, you can find your motivation flagging. If that’s happening to you right now (or has happened to you in the past) then here are five strategies for getting your mojo back in double quick time.


Strategy 1: Set Public Goals

Ok, I know I just took issue with a lot of the motivation stuff that says set a few goals and all will be well. There’s certainly more to it than that, but setting some goals and sharing them with your team is a great place to start. That’s what I mean by set public goals. I’m not suggesting you get a billboard at the junction of your nearest motorway, merely that you have goals that someone else knows about.

If you don’t have a team, tell your partner, a good friend, your parents – anyone. The point is to give you some accountability. If you set a public goal and don’t achieve it (or at least go after it hell for leather) you end up with egg on your face. This can be a powerful incentive to stay focused. It’s not the highest form of motivation if you’re in a slump, but it’s a good first step. Those that you’ve shared with can also give you some encouragement from time to time which can also be motivating.

Also, set a goal that’s bigger than money. Find something meaningful to go after that might change the world (or at least your part in it). That’s the sort of stuff that gets you leaping out of bed bright and early every day.


Strategy 2: Find Other Highly Motivated Peers

We all know a few inspirational people in this profession. If you’re a business owning adviser they might be industry leaders like Barry Horner at Paradigm Norton, Ruth Sturkey at The Red House, Gordon Wilson at Carbon Financial, or the irrepressible Gary Neild at Blue Sky Financial Planning. If you’re an adviser or paraplanner within a firm, it might be someone you heard speak, or someone you met at an industry event.

If that person has achieved the level of success that you’re looking for yourself, make an effort to connect with them on social media, subscribe to their blog, seek them out at your next industry event, or give them a call and see if you can get an hour of their time. In my experience leaders are always available to help in some way shape or form, even if they’re really busy.

Surround yourself with highly motivated winners and it’s likely to rub off on you.


Strategy 3: See Each Day as a New Opportunity to Learn

I don’t know why, but sometimes when you reach a level of skill, you plateau. I’m being kind when I say plateau; what I really mean is you stop growing and learning, and that’s no good.

This can happen to you at any stage, but I noticed it in myself a couple of years ago and looking back it was a major contributor to a ‘bored’ phase I went through.

However, by getting back on the ‘learning new skills’ horse, I’ve got excited again about my work and my life. You can do the same.

Try this active approach to rekindling the learning in your work life:

a.) Pick an important area for you. It might be client meetings if you’re an adviser, or building creative strategies and supporting cash flow models if you’re a paraplanner, or better leadership skills if you’re a business owner.

b.) On a daily basis go through the list of questions below and see what you’ve learned from the day. It might be a new idea you’ve had, it might be success with a new skill you’ve actually been working on, or a new area that you feel you need to learn more about.

Questions to consider:

  1. Evaluate your success today by revisiting the goals you’ve set for yourself.

  2. If you experienced success today, make some notes as to why you were successful. Did you improve upon any areas of weakness, learn anything new or strengthen existing skills?

  3. Review situations that forced you to think hard. What were they? And what new skills or knowledge might help you deal with these issues better in the future? (Jot down any ideas you have now for self improvement).

  4. Focus on your mental state. Did you notice any increased levels of anxiety or a loss of confidence?

  5. Review your best and worst decisions of the day. These don’t have to be dramatic or costly necessarily, just instances where you were especially pleased or annoyed by your decisions.

  6. Evaluate the difficulty of day. Give it a difficulty rating out of 10.

You might do this exercise at the end of the day before you go home from work, or in bed at night just before you go to sleep. It’ll take you 15 minutes and you’ll get very conscious about what’s working and what’s not. This helps reactivate learning in a very deliberate and enjoyable way.

This will help you improve faster and get the results that you want.


Strategy 4: Use Meditation, Music or Inspirational Videos

Professional athletes prepare mentally for their chosen profession. They’ll listen to music, meditate, or watch something inspirational to get them in the zone. It’s just a process of getting their mind right in order to perform better.

There’s no reason you can’t make some of these things part of your professional practice as well. Meditation works for some, although I’ve taken the view that my best meditation is doing some exercise. I switch off for a while and seem to come back afterwards in a great place, mentally and physically.

Listening to music also works, depending on the task I’m performing. I can write these blogs to music, although I have to turn it off when I’m editing the finished product.

You can also find loads of inspirational videos on places like Youtube. If you’ve got one minute and 19 seconds to spare right now then listen to Joe Rogan telling you to be the hero of your own movie in the video I’ve attached at the end of this article. I love it.


Strategy 5: Get Mad

Seriously, how long have you been at this now? Have you achieved what you know you are capable of? Maybe it’s time to get a little bit pissed off about that.

I can give you an endless list of why I haven’t quite done what I want to do yet. “It’s not my fault” I can assure you. However, the real reason for any lack of success is that I haven’t been working on the right things, or I’ve been somehow holding myself back.

The truth is, if I want the things I say I want then there’s stuff to be done. I won’t get it by wasting more time on Facebook, or watching TV.

Do you have an endless list of excuses for why you haven’t achieved your goals in this profession or this life?

The people who are achieving big time success are working at it every single day; deliberately and consciously.

They aren’t talking about it, they’re doing it.

Are you mad yet?

Good. Then use it to do something new that advances you toward your goals.


Final Thoughts

Staying motivated can be challenging sometimes as the pressures of life build up, but that’s not an excuse. With a bit of effort you can re-kindle or maintain your motivation and keep persisting; which is the biggest factor in most people’s success.

As professional poker player Nathan Williams says, “Nobody gets to the top by half assing it. Nobody climbs up the ranks by putting in a couple of hours a week, you know, if they feel like it.”

Hopefully a few of the tips in this article can help you keep or re-kindle some of that essential motivation. 



Tweet: “Nobody gets to the top by half-assing it.” Nathan Williams @BlackRainPoker |@brettdavidson
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