This year, you have permission to lower the bar. 

We’re a month into 2022. How’s it going? If you aren’t thrilled with your answer, this blog is for you. What you choose to “not do” is just as important as what you choose “to do.” 

What will you not do this year? Take a moment and literally write a list of the things that you will stop, delegate, outsource, or automate in order to protect your most precious commodities—your time and energy. 

If you need some help identifying your “to not” (versus your “to do”) list, spend 15 minutes completing the SCOT analysis on the back of our “One-page business plan.” Hint: Do not do the things you consider weaknesses, personally or as a firm.

A caveat: sometimes in your advisory firm you need to do things you’re not good at or don’t enjoy, like marketing. This is what Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach calls a “who, not how” problem. These goals and projects are often the hardest things, and get us stuck and stale. Does that mean you shouldn’t do marketing? Of course not, but maybe you are not the one who should do it, or maybe the way you’re doing it isn’t right for you. Declaring your incompetence in marketing can be liberating.

The most successful advisors (and other people) don’t do it all.

Another way to identify your "to nots" is to look forward to the next week. What things are you least excited about? If you could delegate things or stop them altogether, which ones would best free up your time for what you want and need to do? What activities are energy draining?  

In the pursuit of progress, focus may be your best ally. However, we aren’t trained to focus. We’re trained to optimize, multitask, and be superhuman in our ability to “do it all.” As a business owner this juggling act may be even amplified. 

I’ll tell you a secret—the most successful advisors (and other people) don’t do it all. They focus on what’s most important and intentionally lower the bar on the rest of it. 

These five steps can help you stay focused and progressing: 

  1. Play to your (and others’) strengths. Identify what you’re great at and what you love, and do as much of that as possible. Also identify the strengths and passions of those around you and lean into those things. Behavioral assessments, such as CliftonStrengths, can help you quantify your innate strengths, the ways in which you most naturally operate—and the same for others on your team.
  2. Be clear and consistently committed to only one to three top priorities, no more (Greg McKeown makes a compelling argument for focus in his book “Essentialism”). There’s a good reason why the “One-page business plan” has room for up to three goals only. 
  3. Prepare for obstacles. Early on, identify those things that may slow you down or trip you up. Solve for these things before they become an issue to confidently moving forward.
  4. Have a daily and weekly plan to take meaningful and consistent action often. Use our "Goals-to-outcomes" worksheet to help you back into your most important daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly actions and accomplishments.
  5. Celebrate progress. Acknowledge your accomplishments and progress no matter how small (and celebrate with others at every chance you get). 

Tip: Imagine you’re trying to reach the top of Mount Everest. Are you more likely to succeed with 75 pounds of gear, or only 50? 

Give yourself a break, and do less in the pursuit of accomplishing more.

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