With only a few weeks left in the year, it’s an ideal time to start goal setting for next year. Your goals can be anything – taking a 2-week European holiday, buying a vacation home, or running a marathon.
But you can’t achieve these goals if you don’t plan them out. You wouldn’t expect to be able to run a marathon if you only started training a month before, right?
In this post, we’ll talk about setting you up for successful goal setting, whether it’s professional or personal.
Start with Your Motivation
Before you start laying out how you’ll achieve a goal, you have to figure out how to make the goal motivational to you. Too many people make the mistake of saying “I want to make a lot of money,” but money on its own often isn’t motivating enough. However, thinking about what you’re going to do with that money – build a nest egg, buy something nice for yourself, go on a vacation – can provide that motivation.
Once you have your motivational goal, you need to find ways to stay motivated. One of the best ways to do that is to print out a picture of the thing you’re striving for and keep it visible in a place you see every day. That can be in your cubicle, as your computer background, on your fridge, wherever works just as long as you see it.
Make Those Goals SMART
If you’ve ever set goals before, you might have heard of the concept of setting SMART goals. SMART is an easy-to-remember acronym standing for specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and time bound. Here’s how to think about each of these qualities in a well-set goal:
We already talked about getting specific with your motivation, but it’s equally important to add specifics about how you’ll achieve your goal. If you’re planning to earn a certain amount in commission to achieve your goal, you should also include how much you need to make.
Let’s say you want to earn $75,000 in commission so you can splurge on a two-week long beach vacation. You have your target commission goal, but let’s take make this goal even more specific.
If the average loan size is $150,000 and your commission rate is 0.7%, you earn $1,050 per closed loan. That means you need to close 72 loans per year. But you also know that the fallout rate due to withdrawals or declines is 10%, so to actually reach your target commission, you need to close 80 loans per year. This breaks down to 20 loans per quarter or 1.5 loans per week.
Putting your goal into terms of loans versus commission makes it more specific and feel more attainable.
Adding specifics to your goals, especially to commission-related goals, helps to make them measurable.
As you write out your goals, determine how you’ll keep track of your progress and how often you’ll check in on your goals. If you’re setting a commissions-based goal, make sure you understand your MLO compensation policy and review your commission statements.
You want your goals to be like Goldilocks – just right. You don’t want to set goals that are too lofty as you can become demotivated if you fall behind at any point. On the flip side, you don’t want your goals to be so easy that won’t feel accomplished once you attain them. Setting a goal that’s challenging yet attainable is your Goldilocks standard.
Something else to consider: if you make significant progress in your goal and think you might achieve it sooner, adjust the goal. For example, in our commissions-based example, you might have a market that suddenly goes gangbusters and you reach 75% of your goal in a much shorter time frame than you originally thought. If it seems that the market will continue that way, increase your goal by 15-20%.
It’s fairly obvious that if your goals are rewarding, you’ll be more motivated to attain them. But what about rewarding yourself along the way?
Setting up key milestones in your goal allows you to set certain mini rewards for yourself to keep you motivated. Let’s say your goal is to go on a European vacation. When you reach 25% of your goal, treat yourself to scoping out which cities and attractions you want to see. At 50%, buy yourself a travel accessory like noise-cancelling headphones or a soft neck pillow. At 75%, make reservations at the hotels you want to stay in.
As you reach these milestones, remember to also show gratitude for all the people who have helped you – like everyone who touches the loan file.
Finally, be sure to make your goals time bound. Do you want to accomplish your goal in a few months? A year? Two years?
Your goal should have its overall time frame as well as all the milestones you set up along the way. If you want to run a marathon in 8 months, you should have smaller, specific goals every 1-2 months. For instance, by month 4 you want to be able to run 75% of the race distance without stopping.
A Few Final Tips on Goal Setting
If you follow the framework of creating SMART goals, you’ll be able to create realistic goals that you feel good about. Here are a few final tips on goal steting:
- Write out your goals – put them in a place you can easily access them. That can be in a planner, on your phone, or pinned to your fridge.
- Share your goals with an accountability buddy – this can be a friend, a family member, or a colleague. If your goals are similar, you’ll both feel responsible for keeping the other accountable.
- Push yourself – choose goals that are a challenge for you to accomplish. You’ll feel much better about your personal and professional progression.
Have any other goal setting tips you find to be useful? Share them in the comments below!