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Struggling with Year-End Planning?

December 9, 2019 

Learn three strategies to help you plan (and achieve) your 2020 goals.

David Ingram
David is a regional vice president and advisor consultant for Hartford Funds, responsible for marketing Hartford Funds and The Hartford SMART529 in Kentucky and western Ohio. He supports financial advisors and their clients with educational material, client seminars, product expertise, and practice-management strategies. David is a registered representative of Hartford Funds Distributors, is FINRA Series 6, 7, and 63 registered, and holds his life and variable licenses.

Did you know:

  • 45% of Americans set New Years’ resolutions1
  • 25% actually stay committed to their resolutions after one month2
  • Only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals2

If you don’t believe me, wander in to your local gym the first week in January, and notice the 30-minute wait per treadmill. Swing back through the last week of January, and it’ll seem like you could throw a boomerang through the place and not hit anyone.

Why is that the case? Why aren’t more people successful in sticking to and achieving their goals? That’s what we’ll cover here today. We’re going to provide the blueprint for you to turn your dreams into goals, and turn your goals into reality.

How do nearly half of Americans set resolutions, yet only a mere 8% actually achieve them? It’s actually quite simple:

  1. They had no plan
  2. They had a plan—but didn’t stick to it
  3. Their plan had no measurability or accountability

First, A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A Wish

When identifying your goals, it’s imperative that you create a plan. A plan is no different than a map. It should tell you where you’re starting, your intended destination (in this case, a goal), and the directions to get you there. When it comes to business goals the directions are the lead indicators. Lead indicators are those activities and outcomes you can control, such as how many calls you make, how many hours you spend on targeted messaging, etc. 

Lag indicators, on the other hand, are indicators outside of our control. For example, bringing in $1 million per month in new assets is a worthwhile goal, but it’s not always completely within your control.

Imagine trying to run a marathon. As if that isn’t hard enough, imagine trying to run a marathon on a course with no mile markers and no stopwatch. Yikes! How would you ever be able to chart your progress and determine if you’re ahead of pace, falling behind, or right on target? It’s no different when you establish goals. Goals tend to be the finish line in this marathon of business and life. But you need to have mile markers (lead indicators) in place to allow you to consistently and continuously check in on your progress.


Second, Some Plan, But Without Success

Even when people have a plan, it’s often not long before they abandon it. It’s too easy to fall back into the old habits and behaviors before reaching a goal. Therefore, it’s critical that you stick to your plan long enough to gauge how effective it is. You can’t go to the gym a mere three times and determine that it’s not helping you get in shape. You must be consistent with your routine to notice the benefits. 

Time and pressure are the two key elements required to create diamonds. Therefore, if you want to create diamonds in your life, you need to give yourself the requisite time, apply the necessary pressure (i.e., executing the plan), and wait for the diamonds, or results, to appear. But make no mistake, there are going to be plenty of things that will test your patience and resolve. That’s why you need measurability and accountability.


Third, Make Accountability Your Ally

As human beings, we tend to let ourselves down before we’ll let someone else down. That’s why sharing your goals with someone else will create a level of accountability that can increase the odds that you stick to your plan and achieve your goals. For example, many people agree one of the biggest benefits of having a fitness trainer or workout buddy is simply knowing that they will be at the gym waiting for them—and that’s more than enough to get most people to go to the gym.

Furthermore, consider this: The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you make a commitment to someone. And if you establish an ongoing accountability appointment with the person to whom you’ve committed, you’ll increase your chance of success by up to 95%.3


“But I Don’t Have the Discipline To Stick to Something for an Entire Year”

Committing to a year-long plan can seem daunting. But if you truly aspire to change, you must understand the metaphor of escape velocity. At NASA, achieving escape velocity is one of the biggest challenges of space travel. The space shuttle requires an enormous amount of fuel just to break through the earth’s gravitational pull. All that fuel adds significant weight to the spacecraft, requiring more thrust to lift it—but to create more thrust, you need more fuel. 

As a result, the space shuttle will go through a large amount of its fuel just in launch mode. Once the shuttle pierces gravity and achieves escape velocity, it requires significantly less fuel and energy to keep moving. 

The same is true if you’re starting something new or attempting to create a new habit. A significant amount of energy and effort will be expended in your launch mode. But if you hang in there, you’ll break free of the gravitational pull and eventually require significantly less energy to maintain or even increase your momentum. 


Remember These 3 Things When Setting Your 2020 Goals

First, you have to have a plan. Second, you must provide the necessary amount of time and pressure to execute the plan. Third, share your goals and plans with others (a trusted business partner, mentor, or colleague) to create additional accountability to help you stay on track.


I Never Thought I’d Run a Marathon

I ran a couple 5Ks and thought that would be the extent of my running exploits. But then I heard about a 26.2-mile race to honor those who serve in our military that takes place in a desert. There are thousands of feet in elevation change and deep sand to trek through. At first, it sounded absolutely terrifying and miserable, but at the same time, honorable and fulfilling. Ultimately, I wanted to pursue this worthwhile goal. 

I researched how to properly train for it  and created  a plan. I signed up on the day registration opened, which created the first layer of accountability. Then I began to tell others about my goal—creating more layers of accountability—and enlisted a running buddy to help me stay on track. I’m scheduled to run it on March 15, 2020, and I’m willing to bet anyone that I’ll complete it, creating the ultimate layer of accountability.

Bottom line: No matter what your goals are or how lofty they may be, you’re much closer to achieving them if you create a plan and concrete milestones along the way. 


Next Steps

  1. Create specific, measurable 2020 goals
  2. Develop a plan with lead indicators to measure your progress
  3. Find a trusted accountability partner to help you stay on track


1 There is No Correlation Between Happiness and Resolution Setting, inc.com, 12/27/18

2 This Year, Don’t Set New Year’s Resolutions, forbes.com, 12/31/18  

3 An Accountability Partner Makes You Vastly More Likely to Succeed, entrepreneur com, 3/20/18

David Ingram is a registered representative of Hartford Funds Distributors, LLC. Check the background of this firm/individual on FINRA’s BrokerCheck.