7 Tips for Avoiding Burnout as a Financial Advisor
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I used to think that it wasn’t a real thing. I thought it was just a term people threw around when they weren’t intensely passionate about what they did.
If you love what you do, you wouldn’t get burned out, right?
I’ve met a lot of people who love what they do and still suffer from burnout. I’m one of them.
The best way I can describe this “burnout” feeling is that it’s a constant, gnawing fatigue. You feel tired most of the time, even when you desperately WANT to be full of energy.
You might have other symptoms, like forgetfulness or a loss of appetite, but for most people it involves being so… darn....tired. All the time.
Wanting to achieve and excel in every way possible is admirable. There’s nothing wrong with having this desire, but burnout is often a roadblock on the path to this spectacular achievement.
When you’re burned out, you’re no longer able to function at your best. Ironically though, the high-achievers are the ones who will want to keep pressing on and try to work through the burnout.
It doesn’t work that way.
From my experience, burnout is something that happens slowly. You don’t wake up one day and feel burned out. You slowly but surely become more mentally drained, physically exhausted, and feel less effective than you ever have before.
If you want to achieve more in life, you’re going to have to work. There’s no denying this simple fact, but there are ways to make sure your fire burns brighter and longer than ever before. Here are some ways to avoid burnout as a financial advisor.
1. Take care of yourself first.
Years ago, I used to work at a casino. One of the best ways for a casino to bring back its customers is to send out a flush of rewards to former patrons. This money (in the form of free food, drinks, hotel stays, or gambling money) is theoretically designed to bring money into the casino.
This particular casino was struggling financially and found it hard to bring in new customers. On top of that, they were desperately trying to bring old patrons back. One of their “go-to” strategies was to send out these rewards.
Their thinking was that “without patrons, there is no casino”, and they’re right, but I vividly remember thinking, “without a casino, there are no patrons”.
You see, sending out that huge amount of capital likely would’ve crippled the casino’s financial position even more. That means that even if they succeeded in bringing people back, they probably wouldn’t have been able to serve them properly, which turns into a vicious cycle.
The same is true with financial advisors. You probably have a strong desire to help other people and make a difference in the world, but you can’t do that if you put yourself in a weaker position. The stronger and sharper you become, the better equipped you are to help other people.
What are the symptoms of burnout? Illness, loss of appetite, forgetfulness, anxiety, and much more. Don’t you think that you could help more people if you didn’t have these symptoms?
2. Pick a self-efficacy model.
Self-efficacy is believing that you have the ability to accomplish your goals. People who strongly believe in themselves face less stress in challenging situations and generally tend to have better coping skills.
One of the best ways to increase your self-efficacy is through performance mastery exercises. That basically means accomplishing your goals.
So if you are at a point in your life where you feel as if you’re hitting a brick wall and can’t get any further, don’t keep banging your head against it. If you can’t break down this metaphorical wall, you won’t increase your self-efficacy.
Instead, try something else. That doesn’t mean try something easy or to delve back into your comfort zone. It just means picking another path to your goals and embracing it.
Another way to increase your self-efficacy is by picking a self-efficacy model. In plain English, this means surrounding yourself with other successful people. Observing someone accomplish something meaningful has been found to increase your ability to meet challenges.
Isn’t that cool? You can increase your odds of success simply by watching someone else achieve his or her goals. So if you have a negative response to someone winning in life (such as jealousy or envy), you need to deal with that, because you could be burning yourself out.
3. Examine your business-building strategies.
If you’re a financial advisor, your mind needs to be in business-building mode. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but if you feel like you’re running in circles or banging your head against a wall, it may take time to examine what’s working and what isn’t.
For example, person A might be a superstar cold caller, but if I put him on social media he might flop. It would be a mistake for this person to try and build a business through social media. On the other hand, person B might have a knack for writing good content and engaging people online but can’t make a cold call to save his life. It would be a mistake to put that person on the phone.
One of the “success secrets” told by the world’s best businesspeople is that you need to play to your strengths, and that’s definitely true. If someone is trying to build a business and is experiencing burnout, it’s likely that the person isn’t maximizing his/her strengths.
Tiger Woods might be a phenomenal golfer, but if I put him on a basketball court against Michael Jordan, he would get smoked. If you’re Tiger Woods, it would be smart for you to stay on the golf course - the same is true for building a financial advisory practice.
4. Take a look at your goals.
Whenever I have experienced burnout in my personal life, it’s because I have somehow drifted away from my long-term goals. If I’m not doing activities that contribute to my goals, I eventually get tired of them. If I keep doing them, I get burned out.
But the reason is actually a little bit deeper than that. You don’t pick your goals out of thin air (or at least I hope you don’t). You decide on goals that align with your personal values and beliefs. So if you’re not doing things that match up with your goals, you probably aren’t doing things that match who you are. There might be something important missing from your life or work.
I recommend writing down your goals as often as you can, preferably every day. If you can’t do every day, at least sit down once a week and evaluate where you are and where you want to go. Seriously, do it right now. If you use an online scheduler or app, set a recurring thirty minute time-block to review your goals. It’s time well-spent.
5. Don’t take on any new commitments.
When you’re putting the previous tips into practice, make sure that you don’t take on any new commitments. If you’re experiencing burnout and you commit to something new, you’re only hurting yourself since you won’t be able to give it 100%.
Taking some time to recuperate from burnout is not for the weak or undetermined; it’s simply time that you set aside to make sure you can give your life and your career your best effort.
A lot of people get uncomfortable saying “no” to people when they ask for a commitment. I used to be one of those people. Then I read a book about negotiation called “Getting to Yes”. One of the principles in that book is “separate the person from the problem”. It’s a great way to decline an offer without seeming like a jerk.
You do it by finding out what the person really needs and see if there are any flexible ways to meet the need without making any commitments. Don’t be afraid to turn down things that are too draining - the goal is to decide on the areas that can give you the most benefit and redirect your focus to those areas.
6. Improve your diet.
Sounds almost too easy, but it’s true. Fruits, veggies, proteins, all that good stuff. Imagine that you have one of the world’s greatest racehorses. This horse is a beautiful creature that wins race after race, netting you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Would you feed that horse bottom shelf crap? Of course not, so don’t do that to your own body.
Your body is your vehicle to do all the things you want to do in life and you only get one. If you wreck it, there are no refunds. While I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, I’ve found that the best foods for sustainable energy are bananas, eggs, toast, almonds, peanut butter, and oatmeal. If you like any of those foods, add a little more to your diet and see what they do for you
7. Remember that you can only directly control your actions.
A good friend of mine pointed out that he tends to get burned out when he gets too emotionally involved in the results of any particular endeavor. I thought about this for a little bit and realized that I see it happening all the time.
For example, if you’re a financial advisor and you have a target of setting X number of appointments per week and it’s Friday morning with zero appointments, you’ll probably scramble to get those appointments. Yet, those appointments are just the results.
You might be able to influence results and even shift the odds in your favor, but you don’t do that by controlling the results directly. You do it by controlling your actions and reactions. In this example, you can’t directly control the number of appointments you set, but you CAN control the number of outreaches you make, the effort you put into your inbound marketing machine, etc.
If you consistently seek to improve the actions you take - in both quantity and quality - you will start to see better results. Don’t get stressed out over things that you can’t directly control. Instead, work on the things that you can control in order to influence the results you get.