darren-nolander-check-inWe’re solidly into the second quarter, which means we have the entire first quarter to look back on and check our progress. Are you hitting your short-term – weekly, monthly, quarterly – goals? Are you making solid progress toward your year-end goal? If you’re not, have you done some forensic accounting to determine why that is and, if necessary, adjusted your goals?

Taking a good, honest look at our achievements, or lack thereof, isn’t always fun. I totally get it. It’s like stepping on the scale when you have a weight-loss goal in mind. But if you’ve exercised consistently and maintained a healthy diet, the numbers should lie in your favor. If they don’t, there are probably a few easy tweaks you can make to remove those final barriers to seeing your number drop.

Here’s the thing, though. If you don’t step on the scale then you have no way of knowing whether you’re solidly progressing toward that goal weight – or if you’re progressing at all. So rip the Band-Aid off and analyze your data.

If you find that you’re not where you want to be, that’s okay. We’re only in the second quarter. There’s time to course correct and still hit your goals before New Year’s Eve. But that’s not likely to happen without a little forward-thinking and a few actionable items put in place.

Here are a few business planning strategies you can implement to kick your goals into high gear.

Get Specific

With a weight-loss goal, it’s not enough to say “I want to lose weight.” You need to hone in on how much weight total, and then on smaller stepping stones that can help you get there. The same is true for loan officers.

“I want to close more loans this year” is abstract and general. First off, close more of what? This could mean you want to close more loans overall, hope to achieve a higher transaction value or want to close more loans with more customers.

Get specific. Maybe you want to increase your overall transaction volume by 20%. Okay, you can work with that. Start by setting incremental goals that will allow you to increase your monthly loan volume by a certain amount every month until you can meet and exceed 20%.

Or maybe you want to increase your total transaction value. That works. For example, maybe you aim to close more than $20 million worth of loans this year. How can you get there? Through planning and, most likely, targeting your marketing efforts toward a demographic that requests higher loan amounts. Or you can amp up your marketing efforts, thereby closing more loans.

There’s no one path to success, but if you come prepared with your gear, supplies and walking shoes, all you really have to do is put one foot in front of the other.

Block Time

The easiest way to make time for your goals is to block time for your goals. Set aside certain hours on your calendar to engage in the forward-thinking activities that will get you where you want to go. Only you know your schedule, but this strategy is most effective when you choose blocks of time that aren’t typically overrun with phone calls or emails.

This might be, say, Friday afternoon or early Tuesday mornings. Think about your typical workload and identify whichever times will work best for you. Then create a recurring event in your calendar that marks you as busy.

Use this time to prospect as you work toward your goal. This may be the time when you create next week’s social media content, write a blog post, send follow-up emails or make cold calls. It’s also a good idea to block out a little time each month to check in on your goal progress. That way, there won’t be any surprises when it’s time for your quarterly check-in!

Create Focus

Now, this may sound confusing, but there is such a thing as getting too specific when it comes to goal creation. Remember, you want to work toward your ultimate goal; all the plans and activities you undertake from there need to be in pursuit of that one, big goal.

It’s easy to let list making and planning get too micro focused. Say you’ve determined one way to increase your transaction volume is to build your following on social media. That sounds okay so far, but what if your goal starts to morph into “I need to increase my TikTok followers by 100 people per month” or “I need to create three videos a week.”

See where we’re going with this? Next thing you know, your goal has morphed into the number of followers you have – and what if that ends up having no effect on your transaction volume? Plans are great and many will involve an element of social media, but make sure all your efforts stay focused on that ultimate goal.

These actionable items should merely assist in your world-domination plan. They should never overtake your plan.

You’ve got plenty of time left to hit those 2021 numbers but, as you already know, time flies! Take a few minutes to make sure you’re on track for a stellar year by outlining, planning and acting.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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