Break Apart and Reassemble

Oct 23, 2023

I met with one of my colleagues last week. The first thing he said when we sat down was that he was disappointed in his progress year-to-date, and that he was pretty sure he wasn't going to hit his production goals for 2023.

Wait, what??

According to the calendar, I reminded him, there are still 8 production weeks left in 2023. That means there’s still plenty of time to accomplish whatever he had set out to do back in January. 

I asked what was going on inside his head that had him reach this defeated conclusion so soon.

He sighed. And he shared some legitimate reasons for his feelings:

“My assistant just gave her notice. So that’s going to create a huge problem. I have to write a post for her job and figure out interviewing people for her replacement. I still have to get my CE credits done by. I also haven’t had any time to think about my 2024 business plan. Plus I’m super annoyed that I haven’t been to the gym in two weeks. And with the holidays right around the corner, I just don’t see how it’s all going to come together. I feel out of control. So I figured I’ll try again next year.”

After listening to this list, I could hear two distinct possibilities.:

1. He could give up on this year and instead focus these next few weeks on getting setup for 2024.

2. Or, he could go for it and approach the next 8 weeks with unstoppable focus and grit.

I asked which option he'd prefer.

“Well, of course I want to say the second option. But I just don’t know how to begin tackling what needs to get done. I still have 30% of my production to go. I'm so stressed.”

Hearing his desperation, I shared with him a process I call Break Apart & Reassemble

First we looked at his pile of issues and broke them apart. Without going through this important first step in the process, you’re just stuck with a giant, jumbled mess. We took one issue at a time:

  1. My assistant just gave her notice: When I asked him more about this, it turns out she is planning to relocate in January. She “gave her notice” but won’t be leaving for 10 weeks! She still has capacity to help get him through the next 8 weeks, post for and search for her own replacement, and maybe even assist him in planning for 2024 before she leaves.

    IDEA: I suggested he give her a “departure bonus” when he hits his year-end goals and another one when she successfully finds her replacement. (He loved this!)
  2. I still have to get my CE credits done: True, I reminded him, but not until December 31st. The last day of production at his company isn't until December 19th.

    IDEA: I recommended he not think about CE credits until after December 20th, then block a day over the holidays (when he wasn't planning on working anyway) to get this done. He immediately blocked December 28th at CE DAY. 
  3. I haven’t had any time to think about my 2024 business plan: That’s okay, I reminded him, you haven’t finished 2023 yet! If you're like him, you own brain has no capacity to think creatively and abundantly about the new year when you haven’t completed the year you’re still in.

    IDEA: I suggested he get through the next 8 weeks, enjoy the holidays, then consider blocking a half-day before New Year's Eve to write his business plan. He booked December 29th to get this project done from home, when he pictured he'd be sitting by the fireplace, relaxed at home.
  4. I haven’t been to the gym in two weeks: Working out and releasing stress is so important— especially at this time of the year. We sat together and looked at his calendar. I asked him, How many times a week do you want to go to the gym? Four. When is your best time to work out? First thing in the morning. When do you normally see your first client? 9am.

    IDEA: I suggested we look at the calendar right now, get 4 workouts per week at 7am blocked on his calendar, and color code all his workouts RED so they stand out as urgent and not something to ever book over. Within 6 minutes, he had his workouts prioritized on his calendar for the rest of 2023. I started to see a subtle shift in his attitude.
  5. And with the holidays right around the corner…What does this even mean? I know it’s an expression we use, but I asked him to be crystal clear about what he actually has to do that’s holiday-related. For this advisor, the truth is that his wife handles 99% of the holiday prep at home. All he has to do is buy thoughtful gifts for her and his two daughters. And he still needed to figure out a holiday gift to send to his clients.

    IDEA: I suggested he take 15 minutes right now to deal with this. After a few prompts from me, he thought of two creative gifts for his wife and kids, ordered them online, and felt relieved. He set aside 20 minutes that afternoon to coordinate with his assistant to find a meaningful holiday gift for their clients. Boom. Done.

Once we broke apart his jumbled mess, he was freed up from his self-imposed chaos.

But do you see how he had to tackle each issue separately in order to create a solution to deal with each of them?

Then we took the time to reassemble.

We looked at his calendar: Workouts were booked. A half-day for CE credits was blocked for December. Anything on the calendar that wasn’t mission-critical (year-end goal-achieving) he rescheduled to after December 19th.

We then looked at his pipeline and got realistic about what was he could close in the next 8 weeks. He could see there were plenty of possibilities. We re-prioritized all his cases to be sure he knew how much time he needed to dedicated to each. As we walked through them, he thought of other people he could reach out to and added them to his growing list. I could see he was actually getting enthusiastic about all this potential business he could close before year-end. The 30% gap wasn't feeling so overwhelming.

When you break apart your jumbled mess, you create order.

When you reassemble the pieces, you create new possibilities.

Is this something you need right now?

Before you give up on your 2023 goals, use the next eight weeks to get your mission-critical work complete. And then assess how you feel about the year, but only once the year is actually over

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