I like to start my day by reminding myself why I bothered to get out of bed. Some people need that sort of daily reminder in order to be motivated about doing the things they need to do. Other folks may not need that, but perhaps need something to help them stay focused, rather than playing Angry Birds all day. For other folks, perhaps they need a quick look at their short term or long term goals in order to stay focused on achieving some objective.
Whatever your reason, I think that everybody should start their day by reviewing their goals. Your goals, vision, and mission in life are what drive you, both personally and professionally. A practice operating without goals is most likely a dying practice, no matter how slowly. Even if you have no desire to grow your practice, you still need goals in place in order sustain your practice.
Your tax practice goals can come in any number of different flavors. The purpose of this checklist isn’t to set goals, but rather to review them and determine where you’re at in regards to the steps required to reach those goals (goal setting itself will be covered in a future article). Your tax practice goals could be based on revenue, number of returns prepared, number of active cases, marketing metrics, number of days off, etc.
Daily Goals Checklist
- Repeat your daily affirmations and visualizations.
- Review your entire written list of functional goals and their deadlines, as a reminder.
- If I accomplished only one thing today, what should it be, and why?
- What milestones do I need to reach today (this week/month/quarter/year) in order to reach my goals
- What actions have I NOT been taking that are preventing me from reaching any goals I’ve set?
- If I’m not feeling motivated, what physical actions do I need to take in order to become motivated or create momentum?
Some people may think verbal affirmations or visualization exercises are lame or cheesy, but I have yet to meet any successful athlete, no matter how macho, that doesn’t use them, and highly successful leaders and entrepreneurs have used these techniques for eons. I have been fortunate to interact with some of the most elite figure skaters and competitive shooters in the world, and none of them would have gotten as far in their sport if it weren’t for the power of visualization exercises.
I’ll cover goal setting itself in a future post, but I would be remiss if I didn’t emphasize this: Goals without a measurable, finite end result and a deadline for that result are not goals, they are simply daydreaming and wishful thinking. For example:
Daydream: I want to fly in space.
Goal: By August 15th, 2018, I will have accumulated sufficient savings to pay cash for one seat aboard the Virgin Galactic sub-orbital rocket, or equivalent operational and flight certified spacecraft.
The daydream is vague, unmeasurable, and has no timeline. The goal has a deadline, is finite, and provides a measurable end result: I’m either going to be on that rocket before August 15th, 2018, or I’m not.
Note that the four questions in the checklist are intended to ignite action towards your goals as you go about your day. By going through this exercise every day, and some would say two or three times a day, you prevent yourself from simply meandering through your day or being guided by the chaos and fires that erupt around you (when combined with good time management and people management strategies, of course).
If you haven’t set goals for your tax practice, it’s time to do so. Start thinking about the things you want to change in your practice, how you want to grow, where you want to be financially, etc. Think about what you value most, and start putting those things on paper and creating short and long term goals, and review them daily.