“Lifestyle Practice” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

In this article, Micah Shilanski, CFP,® clears the air on what a Lifestyle Practice is and when it becomes a cover for a lazy practice.

5 min read

Micah Shilanski
Micah Shilanski
Financial Planner, CFP®

I always hear this from other advisors: Micah, I run a lifestyle practice just like you!

And in all honesty, their practices are nothing like mine.

Usually, these people think they have a lifestyle practice when really, they’re just lazy and throw around the phrase “lifestyle practice” as a cover for not doing any meaningful work.

If your practice is really like mine or Mathew Jarvis’, CFP®, then you can check these boxes:

  • Have $150 million under management
  • Run a hyper-efficient team
  • Constantly striving to deliver more massive value each quarter

For those who can’t check these boxes yet, I’d love to share ways you can turn your lazy practice into a solid lifestyle practice.

So what is a lifestyle practice exactly? And how do you achieve a perfect work-life balance while netting positive growth?

Let’s take a look.

Lifestyle practice defined

Are you hoping to coast into the sunset, collecting an AUM fee until your clients die or forget that you exist?

If that’s your goal, you, my friend, are running a retired practice. You don’t have a lifestyle practice or a Perfect RIA. Advisors who aren’t on the verge of retiring but have a retired practice need to up their game.

On the other hand, if you’re a rockstar advisor like Matthew Jarvis or myself and constantly striving to deliver massive value intentionally, you’re well on your way to a Perfect RIA.

You see, Perfect RIA advisors are always getting better at what they do. They are always progressing, continually growing, and never coasting.

Perfect RIA advisors put in a tremendous amount of intentional and effective work so that we can spend quality time with our families to create a fulfilling work-life balance.

Good intentions aren’t good enough

We always discuss working intentionally on our podcast, but intent alone doesn’t cut it. As the saying goes, “the pathway to hell is paved with good intentions,” and the same is true in your advisory firm.

If you intend to do A, B, and C, but you can’t get out of your own way to get those things done, you’re not succeeding. You’re floundering.

You must actually do those things—whatever they are for you—to have a Perfect RIA.

You must wake up every morning and do all you can to deliver massive value because wishful thinking won’t get you $100,000 in new revenue, help you train for a marathon, or be a better spouse. When you’re not actively striving to move forward, you’re rolling backward and robbing yourself of greatness.

As Joe Lucas simply stated: You’re either growing or dying. There is no middle ground.

The hidden dangers of comfort

Let’s consider two surgeons: both have been in the industry for thirty years and work in the same medical niche. However, the first surgeon is comfortable with where he is and doesn’t feel the need to be any other way. He has used the same technology and techniques he learned in medical school. In thirty years, he’s never updated his equipment and does every surgery the same old way.

On the other hand, the second surgeon has been keeping up with medical advancements. His office is up-to-date with the latest equipment and technology. He’s constantly innovating his practice. He’s learned new, more effective ways to conduct his operations and is striving to keep up with current best practices.

Which surgeon would you rather see?

Which surgeon is delivering massive value to his patients?

Just because you graduated and earned your designations doesn’t mean you’ve finished learning. Too often, advisors think they’ve learned enough and get too comfortable with where they are, and they stop striving to keep up with the industry. When advisors fail to keep up with tax law, for example, they do a disservice to their clients and themselves. They’ve stagnated.

There’s a hidden danger in getting comfortable with the same old processes: you end up stunting your growth in every aspect of your life. This happens because, as humans, we’re terrible at compartmentalizing. That attitude spreads as soon as you start to slip up in one area and get lazy. Before you know it, you’ll be lazy at work, in relationships, and in your personal life.

Luckily, the same holds true when we consciously try to grow and improve. When you start tightening up your behavior and actively striving to reach goals in one area of your life, you’ll develop and progress in every aspect.

Experiencing growth isn’t necessarily about growing your revenue; it’s about you developing as a practitioner. If you’re not trying to deliver massive value to your clients, you’re not going to get more revenue, whether or not that’s the goal you had in mind.

Goal setting never ends

Have you ever reached your Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG for short)? That feeling of euphoric triumph didn’t last long, did it? Maybe you felt victorious for a hot minute, but those emotions were quickly replaced with a sinking feeling. You just did the thing you’ve spent excessive energy trying to do. Your BHAG has been your driving focus for so long that now that it’s gone, it’s perfectly normal to feel lost without it.

People who experience tremendous, consistent personal growth replace their Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals with even Bigger, Hairier, more Audacious Goals. As soon as they reach that first benchmark, they go after the next one. Continuously running towards the next peak will keep you out of the valley of despair.

Celebrate every BHAG you reach, but with the next breath, pursue the next one.

You won’t always experience growth in an upward trend—there will be setbacks. And when those setbacks happen, you can use masterminds and peer partnerships to help keep you moving toward your professional BHAGs. These tools can help hold you accountable during those inevitable lulls you’ll experience between peaks.

Action Items

1. Be very intentional with all aspects of your life. Make sure you have personal, family, and professional goals for 2023.

2. Don’t forget to create actionable steps for these goals because plans without action are only dreams.

3. Create follow-up goals for your Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals. You don’t want to end up in a slump and undermine your progress after conquering your monster goals.

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