One of the most common questions I get asked by advisers who are just starting out with me in coaching is, “How can I change my business to find more success?” It’s a pretty broad question but with a little probing I can typically whittle things down to specific areas of their business that need the most change.
Some advisers think the answer lies in simply not contributing to bad habits anymore, for example, “I’m going to stop procrastinating when it comes to prospecting.” So, they try what I call the “stop technique” for a couple of days, but 90 percent of the time they end up falling back into familiar patterns.
Instead, I coach them to practice what I call, “The Principle of Strategic Replacement,” which simply states that in order to change a bad habit we have to replace it with a better one. Then you need to track your daily progress and be disciplined (and dedicated) enough to do this for at least 30 days in order to create and establish new patterns. The following steps will assist you in doing just that.
Step 1: Don’t Underestimate the Grip of Familiar Patterns
Change doesn’t happen overnight and the first step to breaking bad habits is to make sure that you understand and respect the power that they have to hold us to familiar patterns. A good analogy would be to think of replacing bad habits like removing a tree stump. It may seem like a relatively easy task on the surface but once you get below ground you may find that there are a lot of roots that were holding the stump in place. It takes time to dig out those roots, plant seed and patiently watch new healthy roots take its place.
Step 2: Identify Bad Habits and Root Causes that Need to Change
Identifying bad habits is not always easy because it takes a little soul searching. Take for instance the goal of wanting to grow your business. If you are completely honest with yourself, you may realize that the reason your practice is not growing is because you are not prospecting which would be the bad habit you want to change. Now, if we get to the root cause of that bad habit we might discover that you don’t prospect because you are afraid of rejection.
Step 3: Change Your Perspective
Once you know the root cause (in the aforementioned example it was a fear of rejection) it’s important to replace it with a new perspective. A good thing to do is to map out all of the long-term consequences of not prospecting, along with best practices to managing objections. Also, replace your fear of rejection with the knowledge that it isn’t personal which should help you to adjust your perception of the rejection. Qualifying prospects is just part of what you do and rejection is a part of that process.
Step 4: Create Strategic Replacements
The next step is to strategically plan out the new activities that will support and promote the new good habit. The more detailed you can be, the higher the probability of your success. An example would be to prospect business owners for the first hour of each day, map out what you will say, how you will handle objections, track the dials, contacts and appointments set and send that information to a colleague, manager or business coach for 30 days so that you have the accountability to keep you motivated.
Why Strategic Replacement Works
The reason why strategic replacement works is because it is a systematic process for sustaining long-term action, awareness and accountability – becoming AWARE of the root cause of the bad habit and the consequences of continuing with those bad habits; ensuring ACCOUNTABILITY for a specific plan of action; and taking ACTION on that will help inspire you to follow good habits for 30 days.
If you read this blog and need help mapping out real change, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at email@example.com to schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with Dan Finley.
Daniel C. Finley
St. Paul, Minn.
Editor’s Note: Related Financial Planning Association content that may be of interest to you include:
- The “2016 Trends in Practice Management: Understanding and Driving Client Value” research report from FPA’s Research and Practice Institute.
- Partake in our Business Success Knowledge Circle, with monthly calls every second Wednesday at 3 p.m., EST.
- Check out the Business Success Knowledge Circle presentation from AbsoluteEngagement.com’s Julie Littlechild, “Absolute Engagement: How Great Advisers Achieve Meaningful Growth.”