Thriving in your professional zone

A rewarding professional life begins when you operate at the intersection where all your individual talents and skills, your passions and what the marketplace values most, come to meet. When you occupy this zone, you can achieve remarkable results and never face burnout.

We’ve all heard the advice given to young people: “Follow your passions.” But, in the most general sense, for many people, that really isn’t the best advice. If your “passion” isn’t valued by the market, no one will buy your goods or services and, like a starving artist, you will struggle.

The sweet spot is when a person discovers their passions, develops great skill that enhances those passions, and serves them up in an area that the market demands.

The financial advice profession is highly rewarding for those who possess the proper skill sets and passion. Because great savers and investors place tremendous value on quality advice, top advisers can earn a fortune over their career, all while helping people live better lives.

One of the challenges that independent advisers face is that as they become increasingly successful by serving more clients, they naturally drift from their sweet spot. They were initially drawn to the thrill of attracting and converting prospects into clients. The sales process felt both challenging and rewarding. And then you add in the creation of a great financial plan and its undeniable value.

But as more clients join a practice, there’s not as much time to devote to the hunt and servicing of new assets.

Still other advisors are relationship people. They value spending quality time with each client, getting to know them at a deep level, and becoming friends and socializing together.

Yet over time, the increased demands of running a wealth management shop eat into the time that advisors once had to work to their strengths and to devote to clients. A good chunk of each day is spent running the business.

I would encourage you to take some energy to focus on what percentage of your work is still spent within your sweet spot. To achieve this, I periodically conduct an exercise where I list the activities I do on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis: everything from meeting with clients to talking with the IT consultants to paying bills.

Once I create this list, I score myself on how much energy I derive from each activity. If a project or activity excites and energizes me, I score it a five. If the activity is highly draining and I do not enjoy doing it, I score it a one.

Then I take a hard look at anything that scored three or below, and put together a plan to get rid of those activities. That may be achieved by hiring a new employee, outsourcing a task or partnering with another firm.

I have found that this exercise of ensuring that I am working within the zone has not only given me energy and purpose, but has directly contributed to the growth of my business.

Scott Hanson is co-founder of Allworth Financial, formerly Hanson McClain Advisors, a fee-based RIA with approximately $16 billion in AUM.

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