You may not have noticed, but you’re already in 2017. As a practical matter, many of the prospects and clients whose transactions you’re working on right now won’t bear fruit until after Jan. 1.
Here are five things you can do now to guarantee success in the coming year.
 Evaluate and Assess
Is your plan working? Where are you in relation to your 2016 goals? Your lifetime goals? Each month in our practice, we evaluate precisely where we are on our business goals in terms of percentage of completion; we’re either ahead or behind.
In addition, we look at our personal objectives, such as our individual financial goals, family objectives and health. If we’re not on track in a particular area, we consider what changes need to happen. Most important, we write it down. All of it. Then we act on it. In doing so, we position ourselves to take the next steps — or at this time of the year, to be fully prepared for a record 2017. You can too.
 Mobilize Your Resources
The people, systems and information you need to achieve your personal and professional goals are readily available and waiting for you. All you have to do is access them. In terms of people, initiate or expand a mentoring relationship (formal or informal) in the areas of life most important to you — those areas in which you’d like to make the most progress.
If it’s business, go to a respected local producer whose results you aspire to achieve and arrange a breakfast meeting. Prepare a list of questions beforehand. Most successful producers are happy to help, but they are seldom asked. If you’re in a study group, offer to head up 2017 goal setting for the group. The maxim “If you really want to know a subject, teach it,” applies. If you’re not in a study group, start or join one.
As for resources, they are everywhere. The NAIFA and Million Dollar Round Tables websites are treasure troves of information on marketing and goal-setting, such as the MDRT “Whole Person” methodology, sales ideas and more. Seriously consider hiring a coach, then following their advice to the letter. Spend the money on this endeavor, knowing that wise expenditures on marketing can often come back two-, four- or even tenfold.
Have you ever noticed what an Olympic sprinter does at the finish line? They lean forward. They reach for every single scintilla of a second in that last moment. You should too. Stretch yourself in each goal area in your life, especially at the end of 2016. Be sure to set “stretch” goals that will come into play if you find yourself ahead.
In your 2017 planning, use the “add a zero” technique and add one “0” to your business goals. If you are working toward $100,000 of income, for example, add a zero to come up with $1,000,000. Ask yourself: If I had an unlimited marketing and staff budget to get to $1 million, what would need to be in place? Then, work back to the things you came up with that you can do in 2017. This will put the original goal in perspective and will help you identify ways to accomplish that goal. Taking this approach can set the stage for a record year in your business — and in your life.
 Tweak the Plan
You must write it down. Your written plan can focus your mind’s enormous power to achieve your goals. Refining each goal and the elements needed to achieve it is an ongoing process. Actively look for minor improvements that could make a huge difference.
Keep in mind that no one gets there alone. Inspire your team members, and take excellent care of them. If you don’t have great administrative help, get it. Determine whom you will need on your team. Then hire them, inspire them and train them.
If you eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, you know that the chicken was involved; the pig was committed. Commit to have your 2017 plan ready to go by Halloween and, like the pig, give it your all (the good news is that you’ll stay alive, or course!). A person who is 100 percent committed to a result is an awesome force of nature. Be one.
Our business provides an amazing opportunity to impact the lives of others while simultaneously improving our own. Think big. Think positive. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it so eloquently, “Do the thing and you will have the power.”
Good luck in 2017.
J. Leland “Lee” Davis, LUTCF, is a frequent industry speaker and an author with multiple MDRT Court of the Table and Top of the Table qualifications. His firm, JL Davis Financial, is located in Denver, Colo. Lee may be contacted at [email protected]