Identifying - and Overcoming - Obstacles Second in a Series of Five Articles

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Financial advisors that have clearly defined their goals and their priorities often find they are putting the same goals down over and over with no progress toward meeting those goals. Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result is said to be the definition of insanity, so why keep doing what doesn’t work? Often, an advisor simply doesn’t know why what they are doing doesn’t work. They think they are taking right steps and focusing on the right things, but the results still aren’t what they hoped.

This week, I will discuss the second step in the S.H.I.F.T. Model for Success™. Last week, I wrote about the first step, (S) Specify a Desired Outcome. Today, we move on to the next, equally critical lesson: (H) Highlight and Categorize Obstacles. In the weeks ahead, I will discuss (I) Identify the Human Element, (F) Find Alternatives, and (T) Take Disciplined Action. 

Highlighting obstacles means identifying those things that stand between you and your goals. Obstacles that haven’t been identified and aren’t removed will rise again and again for most people and firms. The same problems that go unacknowledged, and so are never resolved, end up derailing attempts to do something differently or accomplish a new goal.

Obstacles take many forms. There are external obstacles, such as having a poorly located office that prevents clients from visiting more frequently, and there are internal obstacles, such as a deep-seated resistance to firing a staff member that you know needs to go. In our work with advisors, other common obstacles we hear are:

  • Not enough time
  • Not enough money
  • Difficulty prioritizing change
  • Not enough information about what to do
  • Don’t have enough people or the right people in roles
  • Unwillingness on the part of staff to participate in the process
  • Concern about personal capabilities – do I have the knowledge or the skill?

Even when we know these obstacles are there, we often don’t register and review them in an objective manner.  To complete step 2 in the S.H.I.F.T. process, look at the desired outcome you identified in the previous article. Now brainstorm all of the things that keep you from implementing this desired outcome right now. What holds you back or gets in your way? List these obstacles without qualifying them or trying to solve them. Simply capture everything you can think of that hampers your efforts.