How to create more of what you want in your mortgage advisory practice. This is the first part of a two part article.
Long Term Visioning
We start with long term visioning. How long is long? Well, that’s entirely up to you. Some people set lifelong goals; however, life can be too unpredictable, so 5 years suit me. I’ve set long term visions every 5th year since 1996, and they are eerily accurate.
The first one set during my first NLP training in London was all about setting up my own consultancy business. As NLP likes to call it, my well-formed outcome was sitting in my home office opening a letter and inside was a cheque from a client settling an invoice in full. I vividly remember in late 2000 opening an envelope with my son Euan by my side, with a cheque from the Bradford and Bingley for some training I did for them that summer.
A vision I set in 2015 was standing in front of a large monitor presenting to hundreds of people across the world via the internet. Ironically 5 years later, in the height of the first lockdown, I found myself standing in front of an extensive computer monitor teaching sales skills to salespeople in the USA.
You don’t need to know how these are going to be fulfilled. Set the goal with your conscious cognitive mind and let fate or your unconscious figure out how to achieve them. And it will so long as you plant it well in your timeline. More on well-formed outcomes, timelines and NLP later, but next, let’s get into annual goal setting.
Set the goal with your conscious cognitive mind and let fate or your unconscious figure out how to achieve them
But before we go, the last word on Vision Boards. I like these and have used them from time to time as people are inherently visual in their make-up. A goals board or vision board consists of a poster-sized print full of pictures and visuals depicting your vision. Cutouts from magazines usually represent physical wants such as a new car or a detached house in the country. The constant reminder of seeing your board on your kitchen wall can be stimulating and very motivational.
It also cements my thinking that visions and long-term goals can be planted in the conscious mind but left to the unconscious mind to figure out how to get there.
Set SMART Annual Goals
This is where the serious stuff starts, Setting annual goals for our business. Now I’m sure you may have read or heard about SMART goals and objectives. Google it, and you’ll find numerous resources on the topic as it is well received and accepted.
Goals need to be set each calendar year. These goals should be SMART but not SMART as you know it. My SMART includes a few more parameters that will help you pen and form really well-formed outcomes or goals.
Many of these goals or annual objectives need to be vigorously planned, and a series of strategic actions are laid out to achieve them. They don’t need to be left to the unconscious to sort out. You need a plan, and every goal needs quarterly actions and mini objectives to achieve them. I call these Strategic Next Actions or SNAs, which evolve from goals.
Let’s get into how we formulate these goals with our SMART method.
S – Specific, Simple and Stretching
A specific goal is detailed and readily determined. The more specific, the better because it becomes more of a vision than a goal if it’s too big and global. There’s nothing wrong with those, but we’re looking at yearly goals here, not lifetime ambitions.
The trick is to learn chunk sizes. Chunk sizes come from NLP and allow you to recognise if something is a big chunk or small. The aim is to get the goal as specific as possible, so we need to chunk them down. Try asking yourself the question: “to achieve this goal, what’s getting in the way?”.
The resulting answers will become mini goals to allow you to achieve the bigger goal. You’ve successfully chunked it down.
The other issue about a specific goal is how it’s defined. For example, many people want to have an income goal for their business and express this vaguely. Is it profit, turnover, salary, bonus or growth? It’s good, to be exact.
Simple allows you to quickly figure out how to achieve it. The goal should be simply stated to determine your strategic next actions (SNAs) rather than using high convoluted words that just confuse.
Finally stretching. Some people call it exciting, others stretching. This makes sense as a goal should get those motivational chemicals mixing in your mind. Still, not all goals can excite, particularly if they’re annual business goals. Welcome to the real world. However, a stretching goal makes logical sense and can help you achieve great results. The secret is to get a balance.
For my 50th birthday, I was given a three-hour excursion with a Police Traffic Officer in his speedy Volvo. Was I excited? The first lesson was how to control a car whilst skidding, then he taught us how to drive really fast. The finale of the class was to take the wheel of his hideously fast Volvo and go as fast as I could along a public motorway. I tell you; I was scared.
A friend of mine came along to keep me company, and this was great as we could make mistakes together and not feel so bad. But to make a mistake when driving at more than 100mph on a public highway could be dangerous. Very dangerous. “You take the wheel first,” said the policeman. “And take us as fast as you can, but don’t forget what I taught you.” Great advice, especially the negative, so my brain immediately forgot everything he taught me.
But I knew a bit about setting goals, so I told myself that I would exceed 115mph. I knew my limits!
Off I went cruising at 70mph. “OK,” said the policeman. “Let’s take it up”. And off I went 80… 90… 100mph… 110… 118mph. Was I thrilled? Safe and relieved, I slowed down and let my friend David have a go.
Within a minute, he was doing 136mph. I asked him afterwards how he managed it. David said that after I’d gone first and he could see himself going faster than me, it was now more manageable.
So, stretch your goals – you’ll be amazed at what you are capable of. Instead of focusing around 115mph, I should have targeted myself for 130. Just that little bit faster.
M – Measurable and Meaningful
Most business textbooks will show you how to measure your objectives and goals. Metrics, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), performance measures are all things you should do. The oldest adage is what gets measured gets done and is true in business.
These kinds of measurements are great for performance objectives and strategies. But some goals are challenging to measure objectively.
For example, you may set a goal to achieve £100,000 of net profit for your business this year. That’s easily measured; just ask your accountant. Of course, there will be some complexities, but relatively simple to measure the success.
However, not every goal shall be written this way. As we shall discuss later in this piece, there’s more to success than just a monetary value. There’s your health. What would happen if you achieved this goal and accomplish burnout in your mental health?
Let me share with you another measurement tactic that’ll allow you to know when you’ve achieved a relatively chunky goal. This method works well with reasonably big goals. It’s a “sledgehammer for a nut” solution for most goals you set in your mortgage business.
Let me explain how it works.
A well-formed outcome is your goal. NLP calls it this, and I like it. Rather than setting a goal set in the future, you write one that has already been done. A well-formed outcome that you can already see, feel, hear, smell and possibly taste. My example from earlier with the cheque was a well-formed outcome.
When I set the goal, I imagined the situation in the future when I had achieved the goal. The timescale was largely flexible, but I clearly defined precisely when I had accomplished the goal.
Written in the present tense as opposed to the future. I’m sitting on my office chair, in my study, opening an envelope. It’s daylight outside; the postman has just delivered. My children are around me; everyone is happy and healthy. I’m relaxed, worthy and humble as I open the envelope to reveal a cheque written by a client in full settlement for some work carried out.
I’m clear to what I can see, hear. I know how I feel. Smell and taste are not involved, but that’s OK, and I’m using all the senses to predict the outcome. It’s easy to imagine, and I keep reminding myself what it looks like. Every time I picture the scene, it gets increasingly accurate in my minds’ eye until it becomes completely believable.
When it happened on that September day in 2000, Euan wasn’t in the picture, so I invited him in from the playroom to see what Daddy was up to. The goal was achieved, and the outcome became real. Pretty uncanny, you might say, but totally accurate. That’s the power of well-formed outcomes. They’re also effortless to measure and not a metric in place.
Meaningful is my second M. This is important and provides further motivation, another M, but we have enough of those. Meaningful relates to the concept that the goal is yours and doesn’t belong to anyone else. Is it significant for you or benefits a third party who has influenced you to set the goal?
The best example is a career goal set by your parents when you left Uni or College. Did you really want to be a corporate lawyer working all the hours in the city? Or was it more meaningful for your parents? Now pleasing your parents is a noble objective but setting a goal to achieve something that has little meaning to yourself will only end in unhappiness someday.
A – Achievable, Act As If, All Areas
Three for you under the A.
Achievable has done the rounds plenty of times and is often criticised for directly contrasting with making your goal stretching. Suppose your question is that the goal you’re setting is not achievable. In that case, you will dilute it to suit your current opinions of your capability. Your limiting beliefs may drag you down, and that’s a huge shame. If you think this affects your achievements, do some work on these first.
Sometimes having a goal with no idea how to achieve it spurs you on because you will figure out how to do it.
I admire people who say I’ve set this goal or that goal, but I’m not sure how to do it yet. It probably won’t be too difficult. I can learn how to do that; I’ll figure it out shortly.
Act As If
As if, is far more motivational and inspirational too. Act as if you have already achieved it takes you to a different plane. Express your goal “as if” you’ve done it. A little like my cheque and envelope story from earlier. Present tense the vocabulary. “I am here” or “I do this” or “I earn this”.
All Areas of Your Life
All areas of your life ensure you balance your goals. Whenever I set my annual goals, I always ensure my personal life, welfare, fitness, relationships are all catered for in my goals. I’m not a machine; I’m a human who has multiple areas of my life that link together like a jigsaw.
My health, for example, will affect my work ethic. My fitness influences the energy I must have to perform in front of 100 people. They are connected. After the famous cowboy film starring Yul Brynner and countless other stars, I call the areas the Magnificent Seven.
These are my 7 key areas you may want to set your annual goals. In no particular order:
Personal development goals – your CPD and “saw sharpening” activities
Revenue goals for your mortgage advising business
Maximising technology in your business
Business generation goals
Health, welfare, fitness and spiritual goals
Family, friends and social goals
Publishing and content creation goals
You may wish to add some categories that suit you. Some people add relationship goals, materialist goals. The choice is yours but bear in mind that these are annual goals and haven’t yet been converted to objectives that you can achieve each quarter.