Accountability Leads to Success!

In keeping with this week’s theme of “finding the support you need,” I wanted to share a “tool” I love and do myself. Accountability buddies are the best when it comes to support in reaching goals. I talk with mine four times a week. Here is how to hold a successful “ABC,” or accountability buddy call.

First of all, prepare the quarter’s goals. Here are some simple steps.

  1. Choose one to three main areas of your life you want to focus on for the next 90 days. Categories like health, relationships, spiritual, career, mental, and my personal favorite, finance are good examples.
  2. Under each category, list the goals you want to achieve and strive for. For instance, if you choose finance as a category, the goals you’re aiming for could be: reduce debt, make meals at home, and decide on a family vacation that will deliver fun and adventure while keeping within the budget. Make sure they’re SMART goals: specific, measurable, accountable, realistic, and timely (with a deadline). Do this for each category you’ve chosen to focus on.
  3. Once you decide on your goals, put them into action! Each day, decide what steps you’re going to take to support your goal and get you closer to your self-determined deadline. Choose at least one or two tasks for each goal either the night before or at least prior to your ABC. Your “daily intentions” could be the following if we stick with the finance example: Today I will 1) record my expenditures and deposits and 2) make a bag lunch to take to work. Do this for each category you’re focusing on this quarter.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready for your ABC! Here’s the format of the call:

  1. Call durations are expected to be no more than 5-10 minutes each day. By staying focused and concise, the calls become a true accountability opportunity and not a coffee klatch or a time zapper.
  2. Decide who’s going to go first. You can choose to alternate each day or simply wing it. Who goes first isn’t really important, but someone does need to make the first move.
  3. First person, report your successes/incompletes from the day before. Obviously, you won’t be able to do this on your first call, but from the second call on, this is key. How you report it is as follows: If you chose to have one goal in each of three categories, you’d say, “I’m 3 for 3,” or “2 for 3,” or “1 for 3,” or “0 for 3,” based on how many you completed. The point is to honestly report how well you did following through on your intentions for the day before, not to reveal what you actually did or didn’t do.
  4. First person, list your intentions for the day. This is where you announce what you intend to do that day to reach your goal within the 90-day period.
  5. Second person, be a good listener and accountability buddy. If your buddy hit the ball out of the park and completed all their goals, sincerely congratulate them. If you find a pattern of only completing some, but not all, gently and with a nurturing spirit, ask what your partner can do to hit a homerun and complete them all. This is your time to kindly hold them accountable and allow them to come up with their own game plan. If they have a run of zeroes out of all, at some point you need to ask them what’s going on …not that they have to answer to you, but to themselves. It could be time to ask about their commitment to the goal, or perhaps have them decide if the timing is truly off and perhaps they should reassess their goals.

     

    Additionally, use your judgment in discerning if the daily intentions are reasonable. I once had an accountability partner whose tasks often seemed a bit outrageous. I would try to redirect the intention by asking, “How much time do you have today to attribute to doing that?” Sometimes they had a few hours, which made it plausible. Other times they didn’t and thanked me for keeping the incremental steps toward success truly incremental when time was short. The point is to guide your partner to success, not to allow them to play small, but to play SMART!

  6. Trade roles-the Second person announces their successes/incompletes and daily intentions. It is now the first person’s turn to be an active listener and support their buddy while holding them accountable.

Accountability buddies can be the difference between success and failure. They can be good friends or mere acquaintances with the determination and tenacity to see intentions through to achievement. If the partnership doesn’t work well, gracefully bow out, and try again. Don’t give up. My buddies have become very close friends-some for a season, some for a lifetime.

3 Missteps DIY Investors Should Avoid

Are you attempting to manage your own portfolio? If so, being aware of these three mindsets can save you a minor fortune.

As an advisor, I want to give my DIY-investing readers and followers the heads up on three of the greatest missteps they need to avoid. Learning to invest on your own is to be commended. I’m really proud of those who want to take it on and maintain control over their money and portfolios. So, here is the skinny on what NOT to do.

Overconfidence can be a nasty trickster. This is the most common mistake folks make. Inexperienced investors put too much faith in their own ability to buy and sell their securities, whether they be stocks, bonds, ETFs, or mutual funds. These are complex transactions that require more than simply deciding to buy or sell a stock, bond, or share. Often, they’ll act on their idea or a suggestion from someone and get involved without doing the proper “due diligence,” or fact-finding research to discover if it’s a good fit for them or not. Taking on an investment that is too risky can be really scary and costly. Always be sure to do your homework on the company you’re considering.

Loss Aversion is when an investor won’t sell a poor position because they can’t face the loss they’ll have to realize. This can prove to be debilitating to a portfolio. To hang onto a “dog” can deplete a portfolio unnecessarily.

All investors should create an Investment Policy document. In this document, you decide, well in advance of purchasing any security, at what percentage of gain or loss you will sell the position. The investment policy is a tool to thwart taking on risk you really can’t or don’t want to tolerate. It takes the emotions out of buying and selling as you have already pre-determined at what point you’ll sell.

Individual investors have a tendency to disregard information that conflicts with their existing beliefs or the beliefs they had around the security when they initially decided to purchase it. As new information comes out that is opposition to what they want to believe, such as the company may be in trouble, they ignore it. This is called belief perseverance.

When reviewing your portfolio, take the attitude that you’re researching the company for the first time. If the news and information you discover causes you to resolve that this isn’t for you now, then it may be time to sell it. Remain open-minded to changes and roll with them. Responding appropriately will come with time and experience.

I want to applaud those of you who are doing it for yourself. Take things slowly. You can practice with mock portfolios that you can create on yahoo, google, or another site, such as money.com. And, it couldn’t hurt to have a professional check over your buy/sell list before actually taking the plunge. Having someone looking over your shoulder could save you from a costly mistake and allow you an opportunity to ask pointed questions and get the answers you’ve been seeking.

Doing your own investing is something I support, but not without learning the ropes first. You’ve worked way too hard to earn the money you’re investing to make a stupid mistake and risk losing your nest egg. I’m here for you if you need a second opinion on your choices.

It’s your money, your rules, your way!

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A Little KISSing Can Go A Long Way!

When I think of KISSING, a warm feeling comes over me, my thoughts turn to my hubby, and I smile. It feels good to think about and to actually kiss.

Well, that’s not what I want to talk about as good as it may sound. I do, however, want to talk about K.I.S.S.-keep it simple, silly!

This week started with a coaching session with my strategist where I shared with him how I felt a bit like a dog chasing her tail. I’d been working really hard, but not at my highest potential-I knew that. I felt overwhelmed when my thoughts turned to the idea of having to do more to get better results.

My strategist reminded me to keep things simple, stick to the strategy, and move ahead. For the first time in a long time, “keep things simple” bounced around in my head all day, almost as if challenging me to look at my actions more closely.

Here are three “a-ha’s” I had while being mindful of keeping a simple flow:

  • The choice is mine. That is to say, that if a distraction enters my “work field,” I have a choice to accept or ignore it. Do you need to exercise more discipline in asserting your right to choose “ignore” more often? There are devices to capture incoming communications so you can maintain focus on the task at hand, you know.
  • Minimalism has its advantages. Streamlining my work processes and delegating more were two ways I could simplify my own workload. Additionally, my conversations became much more pointed and brief. In looking at your current processes, do you see ways to reduce the number of steps required when consciously choosing to “keep it simple?” And what about your conversations? Do tangents take your off course?
  • Exercise my mental muscles. Discipline kept coming up for me. I found myself thinking, “I should really give this to my assistant to do,” but then I never would. Or, “Stop thinking about ‘whatever,’ when you have your priority in front of you.” I realized that I needed to commit to my processes-trusting them to handle the work that comes in, sticking to them when tempted to run renegade, and following up on the results they produce. Do you stray from your plans when under pressure?

I don’t know about you, but in my life, things can get really hectic, leaving me feeling overwhelmed. Do you ever feel “in demand?” Here’s a tip to help handle the overwhelm created by multiple projects. I’ve found using a timer for a set amount of time, preferably 15-30 minutes, gives me the safety of being able to completely focus on the task at hand. When the time is up, the bell will pull me out of my deepest thoughts. I can stretch, hydrate, move around a bit, and address any thing that could not wait. After a 10-20 minute break, I set the timer again and focus for the next time period on either continuing from the last project or moving onto another project. This way, the safety of the timer allows me to focus on my intention, gain some forward progress in one or more projects, while maintaining my sanity.

After being mindful of simplicity in action for the duration of the day, I concluded I should be “K.I.S.S.ing” it a lot more. And when thinking about the good feelings derived from both simplicity of process and actual kissing, there’s no reason not to!

I challenge you to a day of mindful simplicity. Share the discoveries you make about yourself and any hot tips you may have.