darren-nolander-goalkeepingThe New Year is upon us, which means now is also the time most of us second-guess everything from our work performance to our weight, and whether or not we are a good husband or a good mom. This often leads to feeling of inadequacy and promises to do better next year. To be a better person. To reinvent ourselves. To set often unattainable goals, with little plan in place as to how we plan to tackle these newfound revelations.
Rather than start out 2017 on the same hamster wheel, only to give up by Valentine’s Day, why not change the way we think about self-improvement in general? First of all, we don’t need a milestone like the beginning of a new year or a health scare that forces us to lower our cholesterol to become motivated.
Significant markers such as a new calendar year can, however, provide motivation for us to give pause, assess if we’re really where we want to be and, if not, reset the barometer. If we’re going to go through all that trouble, self-realization and, oftentimes, personal judgements, we might as well make it worth it. If you change the way you think about goals you can change the way you set out to conquer them. That is, unless of course, the past 30-plus New Years resolutions have crafted you into an ideal specimen.
But for the rest of us…
1. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
Whether this refers to transaction volumes, weight loss or another quantifiable goal, it is better to prioritize quality results over pure numbers. Maybe you want to increase your loan volume by 15 percent this year, which may lead to a frenzied amount of cold calling, networking and follow-ups with people who fell through the cracks in 2016.
Maybe this strategy will work…but what if, instead, your goal was to craft long-term relationships with borrowers that could produce meaningful referrals on a consistent basis? Chances are, those newlyweds who just finished grad school probably have other friends and colleagues in a similar life stage. These relationships could also result in more business if a borrower who only needs a small loan now happens to own multiple properties. Don’t see the forest for the trees, killing yourself to close one-and-done transactions that will never bear additional fruit. In almost every situation, long-term relationship building is more favorable than a handful of short-term closings.
2. Choose Meaning Over Ego
Much like quality is almost always more valuable than quantity, you should create resolutions that will genuinely enhance your life. If you have a bad habit that has secretly caused you shame, if there are certain aspects of your life you feel are holding you back or if there are dreams out there that you really want to achieve but have put off out of fear, now is the time to get at it.
Ego will tell us we need to keep up with the Joneses. That having a newer car than the neighbor or a smoother forehead than our tennis partner will really show everyone how successful and in-order we are. Nope. It will simply show you that you’ve wasted another year on a resolution that leaves you feeling high and dry – whether you got that car or splurged for those medical day spa appointments or not. But writing that book you’ve been kicking around in your head for the past 10 years, or finally training for that Iron Man event that’s held every March in your town? Those kinds of goals, when meaningful to you, allow you to truly achieve something you can feel proud of.
3. Realize Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Even meaningful goals require baby steps. A book doesn’t write itself, and chances are high it will be difficult to churn out 200 pages by March 4. An Iron Man requires a certain level of strength, endurance and mental stamina that doesn’t suddenly materialize simply because we’ve decided we’d like to participate. But, if we create mini goals it’s easy to see how these small, easily digestible bites will soon enough round out a whole meal.
Start small, perhaps 10 pages a week. If you think that goal is manageable and specific enough, great. If not, break it down even further. Write two pages, five days a week. If you’re looking to penetrate a group of potential first-time homeowners, aim to set up a community seminar once a month. Feel too daunting if you’re starting from scratch? Great. Identify four potential sources a month that may produce a wealth of prospective borrowers. Broken down even further, that’s following up on one very viable lead once a week.
We all know how momentum can build once it’s on a roll. Every snowball begins with a few flecks of ice before it builds and builds, eventually turning those flecks into a boulder. So get rolling. The beauty of a new year is that you have time to roll that boulder downhill, allowing it to naturally achieve substance. It only becomes an uphill battle when we lack vision and purpose, start out unprepared or wait until the 11th hour to hit what has now become a superficial milestone.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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