Think back over the last 90 days and write down three on-the-job situations or career-related events that made you proud of yourself as an F&I professional. Now, what were the sources of those proud moments? Were they based on any of the activities listed below?

  • Hit an absolute home run with a customer by finessing the numbers or providing a less-than-full disclosure.
  • Hoodwinked a funding source or aftermarket vendor into accepting a bad deal.
  • Hit my numbers by putting forth the absolute minimal amount of effort.
  • Created a situation where I was the only person who benefited from the accomplishment.

The odds are good that the pride you felt wasn’t based on the activities above. But if you selected any of the events or situations listed, you might consider spending serious time reflecting on your aspirations or finding another line of work.

Meaningful career events typically involve acting in the best interest of others, doing the right thing for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do, or setting and meeting a legitimate challenge through the expenditure of considerable effort.   

If the old saying is true, “Those things you do to increase your self-worth typically contribute to increasing your net worth,” and most of us accomplish the things we set out to do, then why don’t you do them more often? The problem usually lies with not setting the objectives in the first place.

Three factors often prevent us from setting objectives: First, in a typical F&I day, you have hundreds of A-level, top-priority tasks you are duty-bound to complete, leaving little time to contemplate, much less achieve, a lofty goal. Second, we tend to think of these goals as major grandiose events that require big dollars to undertake and a Herculean effort to complete. The third is human nature, because maintaining the status quo is really pretty comfortable.

In order to have three job-related entries to post at the end of the next 90 days, you might consider the following:

  • Focus on career-related activities.
  • Conduct a quick self-inventory to identify opportunities ripe for the taking.
  • Learn what motivates the millennial buyer.
  • Revisit the customer benefits found in your aftermarket products.
  • Identify the dealer practices being targeted by the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Once you’ve done all that, commit your goals to paper. Then set reasonable completion timetables for each objective, taking into account end-of-month closeout activities and personal or family obligations. Record the anticipated completion date for each project.

Finally, divide the tasks associated with completing your objective into workable units. The key is to create a schedule of specific actions that are to be completed every two or three days. There is nothing wrong with taking three months to achieve an objective if that’s the deadline you gave yourself to reach your goal. Bear in mind that you risk reducing your goal to wishful thinking when you procrastinate and fail to complete a daily task for a second or third time.

Establishing a pattern of setting and achieving simple, meaningful objectives every 90 days is a habit worth cultivating. The process of meeting job-related challenges every quarter will help keep you abreast of new products, programs and shifts in buyer priorities. More importantly, you’ll benefit from the accumulative effect of knowledge, and your general level of competency will continue to grow over time. At best, you might qualify for a promotion. At worst, you’ll make more money.

The confidence gained from achieving mid-level goals will generate the confidence needed to attempt more difficult long-term goals. And your mastery of the mechanics required to complete your 90-day “feel good about myself” challenge will work equally well on big projects.

There is no discovery as rich and rewarding as self-discovery. Meeting three positive challenges every 90 days is a good place to start.

David Robertson is executive director of the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals. Email him at [email protected]