2010 Year in Review

Before getting into all the broken promises you plan on making for the new year, I always like to reflect on the past and ponder, “Where does the time go?” Seems like every year the holidays come faster and faster. When you look back at the year and all that’s happened in the news, you may realize what I mean. Here’s the quickest year in review of 2010 (ever!) to refresh your memory.

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill responsible for 3 months of news and over 205 million gallons of oil; earthquakes and tsunamis in Haiti, Chili, China, and Indonesia; volcano eruption in Iceland,;and a mine explosion in West Virginia.

The tragic loss of Tyler Clementi of Rutgers University; Sea World trainer killed by whale; 99 weeks of unemployment benefits; major snowstorms along the East Coast and Europe; floods in California; and the attempted Times Square bombing.

Lunar eclipse coincides with winter solstice for first time in 372 years. In a related story, the New York Knicks are relevant again. The New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl while the San Francisco Giants somehow win the World Series. Spain wins the World Cup. Ben Roethlisberger is suspended. LeBron James leaves Cleveland for Miami,

U.S. missionaries are released from Haiti; the Winter Olympic; G-20 Seoul Summit held for the first time in a non G8 nation (you might want to Google this); the JetBlue flight attendant that lost his mind; Arizona immigration law; New York Congressman Charlie Rangel censured; Wikileaks drama; full body scanners at airports; Stephen Colbert testifies on Capitol Hill; Obama signs health care, financial reform, small business, and unemployment extension bills; Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; midterm elections; Prop 8 doesn’t pass; bed bugs, bed bugs, bed bugs.

The iPad revealed! Toy Story 3 is top grossing movie of the year! Sandra Bullock adopts a child, keeps it secret, and loses husband to infidelity. Conan ousted as Tonight Show host and begins new talk show on TBS; the Mel Gibson audio tapes released; Lindsay Lohan arrested, jail, rehab, more jail, rehab, rinse and repeat. Al and Tipper Gore separate; Chelsea Clinton gets married; Elizabeth and John Edwards separate; Prince Williams gets engaged; Betty White hosts Saturday Night Live; and the long, long awaited Tiger Woods apology.

Christine O’Donnell: not a witch!

And my absolute favorite story from 2010 (other than Lindsay Lohan of course) – Chilean miners rescued after being trapped underground for 69 days. Absolutely unbelievable!

Some of the celebrities that left us in 2010 include Teena Marie, Leslie Nielsen, Tom Bosley, Tony Curtis, Don Meredith, Elizabeth Edwards, Gloria Stuart, Eddie Fisher, Rue McClanahan, Gary Coleman, Dennis Hopper, Lynn Redgrave, Blake Edwards, Dixie Carter, John Forsythe, Corey Haim, Peter Graves, Merlin Olsen, Caroline McWilliams, Frances Reid, J.D. Salinger, Zelda Rubenstein, Jean Simmons, Teddy Pendergrass, Art Linkletter, Dino De Laurentiis, George Steinbrenner, Greg Giraldo, James Mitchell, Jill Clayburgh, Lena Horne, Patricia Neal, Pernell Roberts, Robert Kulp, and Robert Schimmel.

So what does all this mean? Not a lot I’m afraid. It’s just always a bit sad when you look back on another year gone by and reflect on all the things you have so little control over. The good news is that there’s so much we do have control over. Complete control!

Below are 10 aspects of your life that affect your role as a financial advisor or sales manager.  You have almost complete control over all of them. Here’s the uncomfortable part – you know you need work (or help) in at least some of these areas but will probably do nothing about it until another year goes by. Am I right?

Your role as an advisor, insurance rep, or sales manager

Most people (about 67 percent) hate their jobs or at least the place they work. If you’re one of them, what are you doing? I meet many advisors that are miserable which means they will ultimately fail in their roles. You’re spending at least 2,000 hours a year doing something you hate. Any clue what you want to do?  Or should be doing?  Here’s your chance to do it. If you’re the manager of a firm, this is your chance to attract candidates that want to succeed in your firm.

Your Clients

Kind of a funny thing. You love all your clients when you need them – simply because they were there when you needed them. As you grow and your book of business grows with you, you can afford to be choosy. Do your clients actually cost you money? Do they reflect your current focus? Are they helping you get to the next level (whatever that is)? Do you enjoy your work with them? Are you continuing to learn and grow because of your work with them?  Do you even like them? Think about whether you have clients that are taking your time away from – well, better clients. (For fun, apply same questions to Your Staff, Associates, and Manager.)

Your Prospects

Same brilliant line of questioning as above when it comes to your prospects. Will they get you to where you want to go? (Do you even know where you want to go?) When (not if) they become your clients, will they provide you the opportunity to do the work you love? Are your current prospects synonymous with your favorite clients? (Read this one again.)  If not, why not?

Your Prospecting

How do you attract your prospects to you? Do you attract your prospects to you? Do you enjoy this part of your work? Are you using an approach that makes the best use of your time? Uses the least amount of time? Or at least has the biggest return on that time? Do you even have the time?  Make the time? Know what time it is?  Does your method of prospecting (say cold calling) bring you the type of prospects you desire? If so, great! If not, why are you wasting your time?

Your Network

Let’s just lump all of your clients, prospects (the ones that actually know you), vendors, associates, staff, managers, friends, countryman, and union delegates together. Do you like what you see? Do you do business with (or at least hang out with) people that you like? If you’re not spending time with people that make you feel good about you (and that feel good about themselves), you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Your Time

Do you make the time to spend doing the things that count? To spend on the people that count?  Are you in control of how you spend your time? Consider planning on scheduling time off now for the whole year (actually blocking days in your calendar) so you don’t convince yourself that you’re too busy. Naturally, get to this when you’re not too busy.

Your Associations

Are there business or community groups that would interest you because of the people or the cause? Did you ever want to serve on a board? There has to be business groups that would help you get connected with prospective friends, clients, vendors, and staff. If you feel there aren’t enough contacts in your network, this is a pretty good place to start.

Your Finances

I know as an advisor you probably ask these questions of your clients. As is the case with the cobbler’s children having no shoes, how often do you look at your own finances? Do you have a healthy cash flow? And by healthy, I mean the ability to pay bills without living paycheck to paycheck (you’d be surprised how many people do this). Do you have life insurance, a will, an investment plan including retirement, disability insurance, and a college savings account like a 529 plan? Do you know how to manage your expenses and work off a budget? Do you work with a financial planner or someone that knows something about this kind of stuff?  Should you?

Your Personal Life

How do you spend your time when you’re not working? Are you happy in your personal life?  Does your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, or “significant whatever” make you feel good about yourself? Are they supportive of you – especially when you want to donate all of your savings to a dog park? And do you do (or try to do) the same for them? Does your partner in life make you the better for it? How often do you tell them?

Your Health and Wellness

Do you look the way you want to look? Feel the way you want to feel? Eat the way you should?  Exercise the way you should? Have you burned through more gym memberships than you have calories? Good health and fitness increases the quality of life, how long you live, and how quickly you recover from injury and illness. Not to mention your increased self confidence and appearance in a bathing suit. Everyone knows all of this and yet, most people don’t do anything about it. There’s a running joke (not about running) in the fitness world about the increase of gym memberships in January and their imminent decline in March. The truth is this happens with almost all resolutions – even the non-gym stuff. Are you going to be a running joke this year?

Review the list above with pen in hand and write down one good habit you plan on picking up for the New Year. Just pick one. If you pick more than one, you’ll be overwhelmed and won’t do it. Commit to doing it – not trying to do it. One of my clients says if you do something over the course of 72 hours, it becomes a habit. I say shoot for 5 days (120 hours). If it takes, stay with it. If not, do something else. I would imagine the same thing goes for many bad habits you’re trying to quit, but we’ll save that for next year.

A happy and healthy New Year to all!

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