Like most who want success, you likely see two people when you look in the mirror: the person you are and the one you're capable of being. To change from one into the other requires that you make a journey, one that requires charting a course to arrive at your destination. It requires that you draw a "success road map."

Regardless of external economic conditions, you can use a tool such as this one to answer important questions about yourself. It serves at least two critical purposes:

It provides the framework from which you do all of your business and life planning.

It serves as a powerful tool to help you stay on track when you face an inevitable crush of activity-when you're driven off your plans by having too much to do and not enough time.

Let's be honest with ourselves; most of us would be much more successful if we would just consistently do what we already know needs to be done.
Take, Peter Vidmar, who was the captain of the 1984 gold-medal-winning U.S. men's Olympic gymnastics team, the Olympian who scored a perfect 10 on the pommel horse to capture gold in that event. Since then, he has enjoyed a very successful career as a motivational speaker and author. He says, "To be a champion, you only have to do two things: Work out when you feel like it, and work out when you don't feel like it."

We all do what needs to be done on the days when we feel like it. But where do we find the right inspiration and the little nudge on the days we don't? To do it means having a constant reminder of those values and goals that drove you in the first place. Something that helps you stay focused on the action required and bridge the gap between today's exasperations and tomorrow's ambitions, keeping in mind what's important to you the entire time.

The success road map, used in this context, is a simple tool, one that provides clarity, focus, and inspiration to help people maintain that perspective and balance their lives. For a financial professional, the road map offers a framework to build a community of ideal clients and improve their quality of life. A person's age or length of time in the business shouldn't be a factor-because you're never too old to plan your future. (As Peter Drucker, the legendary management guru, once said, "The best way to predict your future is to create it.") While an advisor has more control over their own lives and careers than their clients, helping clients visualize a plan to reach their goals can also strengthen advisor-client relationships.

There are three core elements of the road map. The first element is the values conversation. Values are the "emotional why" behind the "tangible what" of your goals. Roy Disney, Walt's brother, is famous for having said, "When your values are clear, your decisions are easy." The word "success" means different things to different people. The question is, "What's important about success to you?"

When you're listing your values, they will likely be ordered in three levels. They usually begin with the more immediate, fundamental things that drive you such as financial independence, security and freedom. Next tend to be other people you value, such as family, friends, community or the world. As you near the top of the values staircase, you will then likely list the more esoteric, philosophical and spiritual things that matter to you. (The structure is similar to psychologist Abraham Maslow's concept of self-actualization.)

After you list values, the second conversation for the success road map lists goals. These are personal milestones you'll want to use to measure your success in life. There are the big things like buying a home, financial independence, funding your children's or grandchildren's educations, establishing a foundation, building a successful business, etc. These goals tend to be things that require money and planning to achieve. They are the tangible what matching the emotional why of your values. The combination of the two increases the probability that you will actually do the work required to achieve your goals and do it for the reasons that are important to you.

The third element of the road map is the "now/be" conversation, in which you ask the question, "Where are you now and where do you want to be in achieving your goals?" For instance, what is your current gross revenue, your personal income, net worth, debt, number of clients, number of ideal clients, your client satisfaction score, your real vacation time? What is your fitness level, body fat, blood work numbers, exercise schedule? How much time do you get with the people you care about, or for prayer, meditation and fun? This is just a partial list of possibilities. The most important factor is that you create something that is relevant and inspiring for you.

You may build and modify elements of your success road map over time, and you should even have fun creating it. Once you have made it, take some time to check your choices and the veracity of your "now/be" goals. Charting the course is just the first step in your journey.

In any endeavor, personal or professional, there are always a handful of activities that produce most of the results. The success road map help you identify those key activities and help you stay focused on actually doing them for longer periods of time. Many successful advisors find it valuable to hire a coach who can help them organize their calendar around their priorities and then hold them accountable to honor the calendar.

When you face the inevitable crush of having too much to do and not enough time to do it or when the bad news of the day distracts you from your priorities, you can use the road map to reconnect to your priorities, get back on track and stay on track longer, which will allow you to produce better and more consistent results.

Finally, in this time of economic uncertainty and world turmoil, a road map can help you focus on what you can control and give you the confidence you need to do the work your goals require, regardless of external circumstances.

Enjoy the journey!