The science of goal setting

'Goals are dreams with deadlines’ - Diana Scharf Hunt

Renato Mota

Setting goals is important to achieving our dreams – they motivate strategy development, provide direction for our efforts and offer a clear picture of what success looks like. Reaching our goals, however, as most of us will know, is no simple task. Treating goal setting as a science, more than art, will improve the chances of reaching your goals.

Successful goal setting

Just as your clients’ statements of advice are on paper, it’s important to write down your goals – be they for you personally, or for your business. In a business context, this presents a fantastic opportunity for you to engage with your team and build a common and aligned vision for success – that everyone can align to and measure. Written goals make them tangible and lets you regularly review them. Author Thomas Corley in a study of the habits of wealthy people, found that 67 per cent of wealthy people write down their goals – while just 17 per cent of those who aren’t wealthy do the same.

When you share your goals with another person, you will be more accountable and disciplined in meeting your goals. One study from the US found that more than 70 per cent of participants who sent weekly updates to a friend reported successfully achieving goals, compared to 35 per cent who didn’t write down their goals or share them with friends.

When you begin, you’re probably thinking about vague aspirations. When you break these down into specific steps, your goals becomes much more real. And setting the bar too high will be demotivating if those goals aren’t reached, which is why it’s important to make your goals challenging, but achievable. Following these two principles, as research by Gary Latham and Edwin Locke found, can improve your chances of achieving your goals an amazing 90 per cent.

It’s also important to differentiate between dreams/wishes, and achievable goals. For example, doubling your revenue is a wish – not a goal. Bringing on board 5 new clients by 1 January, on the other hand, is an achievable goal – and an important stepping stone to seeing your wishes come true.

And as a Diana Hunt says at the top of this page, attach a deadline to your goals. This will let you measure your success and provide a sense of urgency.

Goal setting for clients

We know how important goal setting is for clients. Identifying, documenting and prioritising their financial goals is a key part of successful financial advice. Without goals, it’s difficult to develop a financial plan and then measure your clients’ progress towards them.

Following the same ideas for goal setting, framing the advice conversation around your clients’ specific goals can positively impact your business. According to our Expectation of Advice whitepaper, clients who feel as though they are on track to achieve their goals are almost three times more likely to refer over the next 12 months.

Goals however, shouldn’t just be for your clients. They’re important for growing your business and succession planning when the time comes for your own retirement. And with the right plan in place to make them happen, whether for you or your clients, they make sure long-term success is anything but luck.

I’m delighted to report that in July, 15 advisers from across our advice businesses, Shadforth, Bridges, Consultum, and Lonsdale, as well as our IOOF Alliances network were named among Australia’s top 50 advisers.

This inaugural survey conducted by leading and highly respected US financial publication Barron’s, is intended to showcase the best advisers across the country and provide consumers with greater awareness about the value and quality of the financial advice industry.

Congratulations to all who made the list - this is a wonderful recognition and reward for your commitment to your clients and high professional standards.

The information contained in this newsletter is provided on behalf of the IOOF group of companies and is intended for financial adviser use only. It is given in good faith and has been prepared based on information that is believed to be accurate and reliable at the time of publication. Any examples are for illustration purposes only and are based on the continuance of present laws and our interpretation of them at the time.