Life revolves around a set of priorities that need to be in order at all times. Whenever our priorities get jumbled, we damage our peace of mind and lose focus. The result is we dwell on things outside our control while neglecting things within our grasp. This causes unnecessary frustration and stress.

Many brokers are lacking a set of priorities to guide them. Therefore, they are experiencing multifaceted levels of stress and feel peace of mind is an elusive concept. Zapped of their positive energy, they cannot flush their stress or let go of frustrations. If these feelings are left unchecked, a phenomenon called toxic lingering occurs, further throwing priorities out of whack.

In its initial stage, toxic lingering causes irrational thought patterns. In its more mature stage, it can cause irrational behavior. Regardless of the stage, toxic lingering will jeopardize your mental and physical health. It takes you further and further away from success.

Success and Priorities

Whether it's the tough market, advanced technology, elevated client expectations, the move away from transaction business or some combination of the aforementioned, the environment is changing the typical definition of broker success, which related to making money.

Now some brokers seem to be seeking a healthier balance in their lives, addressing how issues such as eating well, exercising and taking time off impact their business. This change creates the opportunity to focus on your own priorities. Living your personal and professional life according to a clear set of priorities is what I refer to as bona fide success.

But what do you do if you haven't given much thought to establishing priorities? Here's an exercise:

On a piece of paper, write four headings: financial, personal, family and spiritual. Under each heading, list two or three priorities. Under each priority, write the heading necessary changes to make and commit to only one change per listing.

Make copies of this list, keep it with you at all times and review it daily. When your priorities are in front of you regularly, you will work on them. Don't worry about taking big strides. Life is a series of baby steps. Your challenge is to make certain they lead to bona fide success.

Matt Oechsli is president of The Oechsli Institute in Greensboro, N.C., a sales consulting firm, and author of Winning the Inner Game of Selling. He can be reached at Matt@Oechsli.com.

Developing Your Parabroker

With so many pressing demands and demanding clients, and not enough time or help to get everything done, peace of mind for parabrokers is often as elusive as it is for brokers. But ensuring your parabroker's peace of mind should be one of your top priorities in building a 21st century financial practice.

Many things are outside your control, but your relationship with support staff should not be one of them. The healthier this relationship is, the more enjoyment it brings to everyone you, your clients and support staff.

Your bona fide success must involve your parabroker's priorities and peace of mind. Work through the same priority exercise with your support staff. If you don't have the right person in the job today, focus on what you can control and do what you need to do. Remember, within every challenge lies opportunity.