As the new year begins, now is a good time to look back on “what worked” in 2020 – and what you want to achieve in 2021. While the past year has been unlike any other in many respects, the core principles concerning goal setting remain the same.
Whether you’re working independently as a health insurance broker or as a member of a larger sales team in an agency or corporate environment, it is important to have well-defined goals. You are more likely to get where you want to go if you have a good road map.
Here are some ideas to consider as you develop your 2021 goals.
Be realistic. Establish goals within your control. Don’t be vague or overly ambitious. Include both “end result” goals and “behavior” goals. Be sure you set near-term and long-term due dates. Statistically, according to reporting by the University of Scranton, just eight percent of folks achieve their New Year’s goals. But, it’s sort of like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play, so it’s good practice to put your goals on paper (or electronically documented) and work toward them . . . making adjustments throughout the year, as needed.
Be SMART in your goal setting. To help you ensure your goals are attainable, consider developing them based on the acronym, SMART.
- Measurable (or meaningful and motivating)
- Achievable (or attainable)
- Relevant (or reasonable and results-based)
- Time bound (or time-sensitive)
Be specific, and be sure you consider the six Ws when crafting your goals:
- Who? – Who is involved? You alone – or you with others?
- What? – What do you want to accomplish? What are your specific reasons, purposes, or desired benefits of achieving your goal?
- Where? – Where will it happen, at what location?
- Which? – Which things stand in the way of you achieving your goals?
- Why? – Why is the goal important? Why are you doing it?
- When? – What is your timeline for making each goal happen
Make sure your goals are measurable.
Whether you are focused on increasing sales (premium dollars or sold policies), boosting your market share, or raising your revenue by a target percentage, your goal needs to be something you can measure.
Avoid undefinable goals. “Sell more Small Group business this year” is an admirable objective; however, it’s much too vague. A more specific goal would be “Increase my Small Group production by 25%,” or “increase my commissions by 20%.”
Your measurable goal needs to answer questions like “How much? How many?”
Track your progress: weekly, monthly, and quarterly. This will help keep you on target, and give you a sense of achievement as the weeks pass throughout the year.
Make your goals achievable.
While you may want to push yourself, it’s important your goals be attainable. Ask yourself “Can this goal realistically be accomplished?”
Your individual or team goals need to be a stretch; however, they should not be over the top. Figure out what is needed for you to attain each goal realistically. Focus on developing the required attitude and skills to achieve them.
Write each of your goals down. That will help you establish a manageable number. Five is a good target; more than eight could be too many.
Focus on relevance and results.
Each of your goals must represent an objective to which you are able and willing to work. (These are your goals, unless you are part of a team whose objectives are determined by others.)
Only you can determine what your goals should be. Be certain each represents a substantial step forward from your prior year achievements.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is it worthwhile?
- Does it fit with my other goals?
- Is it right for me – or is it better for a colleague or someone else?
You may be surprised to know a “high goal” is often more achievable than a “low goal.” That’s because you’re likely to be motivated less – and exert less effort – for a low goal. If you really think about your past achievements, you will realize achieving your most difficult goals or tasks was easier because you were more motivated.
Make your goals time sensitive.
Each goal needs to have its own timeline or target date. Think about when you want to (or believe you can) complete each goal. That will force you to evaluate all of your goals separately, and consider whether each is a near-term or longer-term objective.
When you do your weekly, monthly, and quarterly review, you may find you underestimated the time needed to reach one or more of your goals. That’s not unexpected; it’s okay to change your timeline. Just remember, if you do make changes, be SMART about it. Adjusting your schedule will relieve some of your (self-imposed) pressure, which can undermine your self-confidence and future success.
Stay focused. Remember, no matter how hard you work, you could come up short on one or more of your goals. Don’t let that drag you down. If you make mistakes, learn from your shortcomings and try to avoid repeating them in the future.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your colleagues, family, and friends can help you push yourself to achieve your goals. A General Agent may also be helpful. Talk with your Word & Brown Field Sales Director, Regional Sales Manager, or Inside Sales Rep about tools and resources available to help you be more successful.