In Part I, I shared the overriding motivation that prompts top advisors to move beyond the average and turn their knowing into doing. I then shared the first of four ways to turn that overriding motivation into actual results in the real world. Here are the remaining three. 

Implement reinforcing mechanisms to keep you on a path to excellence.

A reinforcing mechanism is something that the mere act of doing it automatically reinforces a desired outcome. For example, rituals such as reading bedtime stories to your children automatically reinforce the desired outcome of spending loving time with them.

Rituals are my favorite reinforcing mechanisms. Rituals compel you to action because they’re imbued with a deeply held value. They pull you to action versus will power or discipline, which require you to push yourself to action. As a result, rituals are much more powerful than trying to rely on will power or self-discipline to get something done. At a minimum, develop a morning ritual that makes you go to bed at night looking forward to getting up in the morning. For example, you could start your day by exercising, meditating or reading an inspirational book.

Identify bad habits and start to break them.

Recently, I was talking to one of my coaching clients and I asked him to name one thing he does during the day that impedes his ability to grow his business and he said, “I answer the office phone and I know I shouldn’t but old habits die hard.” Yes, old habits do die hard, but you have to replace old bad habits with new good habits. Here are two quick ways to jumpstart that process.

First, start small. Pick one bad habit and make a conscious effort to rid yourself of it. Second, reward yourself for good behavior. When you do what you need to do, treat yourself or your family to something fun. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something you enjoy and look forward to.

Start acting “as if” you already have the business and the life of your dream.

For example, let’s say one of your goals is to be a million-dollar producer but today, you’re at $500,000. The concept of acting as if says, starting right now, you will act as if you are a million-dollar producer. This means that everything you think, do and say needs to be consistent with how a million-dollar producer acts. This works from a personal standpoint too. If your health is not so great, start acting as if you are Mr. Universe on the cover of Men’s Fitness and start taking actions consistent with that. Those actions include eating healthy foods, exercising daily and getting plenty of quality sleep. 

Essentially, the concept of acting as if shifts your reference point. Instead of starting from the $500,000 production level and trying to make incremental improvements to get to the million-dollar level, acting as if says, ‘I’m going to start acting like a million-dollar producer then work my way backwards to close that gap.’ It’s a critical mind shift. This change in your self-image will significantly shorten the time needed to close the gap.

Maybe this sounds like we’re just trying to trick ourselves, but the reality is, all of us already act as if in our daily lives. For example, we all act as if we’re going to live to see tomorrow. As a result, we make plans for the weekend. So acting as if is a concept we already do in our daily lives but just applied in a different context.

Avoid These Traps

As you try to close your knowing-doing gap, watch out for these three traps.

1. Don’t confuse planning with doing.

2. Don’t confuse talking with doing.

3. Don’t confuse making decisions with doing.

All three of these are good and necessary but all three of these are just precursors to doing. In the end, the only doing is doing.

Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese novelist, poet and artist said, “A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.” Make the commitment right now to turn your knowledge into actions that generate positive results…and create your compelling vision of the future. Go. 

Steve Sanduski, CFP, is the managing partner of Peak Advisor Alliance, a financial advisor coaching and practice management resources organization. He is also a New York Times Bestselling author and co-author of Tested in the Trenches: A 9 Step Plan for Building and Sustaining a Million-Dollar Financial Services Practice. For more from Sanduski, visit his blog. Also visit here for more information on where Sanduski will be presenting live content to advisors.