By: Daniel C. Finley

Beyond Yeah Buts and What Ifs

For years, we have been inundated with Nike ads that tell us to, “Just do it!” Their hope is that we put our hesitations (and excuses) aside and get out there and exercise while buying their shoes so that we can…just do it. While Nike’s motives are obviously like any business, to increase sales, you can’t deny that if you want to get into better shape you have to take action. 

Your business building activities are no different. In order for you to reach the next level in the financial services industry as an advisor, you need to “just do it”-whether that means cold calling, creating seminars, asking for referrals and/or whatever other tasks that will help you get out there and accomplish your business goals.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself that this motto of “just do it” is fine as a line for a commercial to sell shoes or for a business coach to use to motivate financial advisors, but this statement just does not work for me…


The reason why many financial advisors have a natural hesitation to take action is because often times it is easier not to do something our excuses masking the real and rational explanations of why we are not taking action. This is done almost unconsciously by tossing out the “yeah but…” or the “what if…” whenever we are faced with a decision about having to take action.

For example, take Jenny-a 29 year veteran financial advisor. During a 1-on-1 coaching session she admitted to me that she was not doing the activities that she had committed to doing just a week before. In fact, she went on to say that when she was filling out her pre-session questions (questions designed for my clients to identify specific challenges for that week that they wanted coaching on) she stumbled across a pre-session questionnaire that she had filled out three months ago. Much to her surprise, she had not taken action that week either. While this did not happen every week, she was realizing that this was a cyclical pattern and she wanted a way to get past her tendency towards inactivity and go beyond the “yeah but…” and “what if…” statements that she commonly leaned on as a crutch.  In order to break this behavioral pattern, I knew that she needed a way to question the validity of her excuses.

Excuses are often used as an instinctual defense mechanism. An excuse is often times a way for us to avoid some type of pain. One example of this would be a financial advisor who is thinking about prospecting,

Coach: You need to prospect to grow your business!”

Advisor: Yeah, but I don’t have time to prospect in a volatile market because I need to talk to my clients more often. I can’t neglect my client base!”

So what is the real pain that this financial advisor is avoiding? Maybe it is the perceived pain that he/she will lose their client base or maybe it is the perceived pain of getting rejected while prospecting. The point is that they are avoiding some type of perceived pain and as a result, they will continue not to prospect.

How to Take Action:

After Jenny and I discussed some of her perceived pains, she realized that in order to get past her procrastination and for her to take action she needed a strategy to help her get past her own perception of what was and was not painful to her.

So, what does it take for you to take action? The following are some steps that help you understand why you may be using “Yeah but…” and “What if…”.

  • Get Real with Yourself

If you absolutely know that you need to do something, but are not doing it then take a minute to get real with yourself-admit that you are avoiding taking action. Identifying the pattern is the beginning of understanding and breaking it. I hear financial advisors say “I know what I need to do. I just need to do it!”but ultimately (and unfortunately) “it” just never gets done.

  • Call Yourself Out

At this point, you need to be completely honest with yourself by calling yourself out-ask yourself a simple but difficult question to determine if procrastination is helping or hurting you, “Is avoiding this activity moving my business forward or backward?” If you are completely honest with yourself you already know the answer.

  • Get Leverage on Yourself

The simplest and most powerful inquiry you can ask yourself at this point is… “Why?” By asking this question, you are required to search for the answer to why you are hurting yourself and/or business; thereby increasing the perceived pain of the procrastination.

  • Find Your Target

Getting crystal clear on what needs to happen is vitally important for taking action. In other words, you can’t hit a target you can’t see; thus you need to map out the list of activities that you need to do. Your mind will start focusing on all the steps to accomplishing this goal/outcome. This is where you will either get caught up in your anxiety loop (the “Yeah but” or “What If”’) or you break it!

  • Prove Yourself Right

Proving yourself right means knowing what you need to do…and doing it!  Success is subjective; some people feel that success is only achieved if your goals are accomplished, while others feel that taking action (in-and-of-itself) is success! Regardless of what you believe one thing is absolutely true, there can be no success without first taking action.

So, what happened to Jenny?

She realized that the pain of procrastinating was going to cause her much more pain in the long-run both financially and emotionally than actually taking action and completing tasks. She also clearly and quickly identified what things she needed to do and did them So now, take a moment to set your excuses aside and go and get beyond YOUR  “Yeah…buts” and “What ifs” and start building yourself a better business.

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