How Fitbit Taught Me to Set Better Business Goals

Jun 19, 2014

The following is a guest blog post by Julie Littlechild, President of Advisor Impact – a firm that helps financial advisors use client feedback to drive deeperJulie-Littlechild-blog-homepage-300w client engagement and increase referrals.

It was time to get serious about getting healthy. Armed with the right knowledge and right equipment, I did what most do in this situation…nothing.

“Get a Fitbit.” That was the suggestion of my coach, Caroline Miller, who has a particular gift in helping her clients define and attack their personal goals. That simple challenge had a profound impact, personally and professionally.

It probably took me six months before I took action. After all, I thought, the pedometer is not exactly a fitness revolution. I’m reasonably sure my husband uses one he got out of a Special K cereal box in 1994 and that doesn’t seem to have changed his life. I was wrong. It turns out, this simple, inexpensive tool not only put me on the right track toward a healthier lifestyle, it taught me a thing or two about goal setting.

The premise is simple enough. Walk 10,000 steps a day, rest, repeat. But the genius of the product is the online dashboard. Once you get there, it becomes clear that it’s not just 10,000 steps but 10,000 steps done in a specific way based on intensity, the number of flights of stairs and distance. In a nutshell, you can’t stand in one place and walk at a snail’s pace and hit the goal. It’s not just the steps, but the intensity and the way in which you do them. And, it works.


Lessons From Your Pedometer

So what does this mean to us in our business lives? From where I sit, it’s one of the best lessons on goal setting that $99 can buy. More specifically, it highlights the three things that will light a fire under the goals you set.

1. Align your business goals with specific, measurable activity goals.

It’s likely that you have set some form of goal for growth in your business. For financial advisors those might include assets, revenue or new client relationships, all of which are ‘outcomes’. The key, however, is to define the ‘inputs’ and craft defined goals around the specific activities that will allow you to achieve your goals. If it’s growth, what is the one primary activity that will help you achieve that goal? Is it meetings with centers of influence, referral conversations or building a database of prospective clients? Focus on the key activity, first and foremost, and trust that it will get you where you want to go. For Fitbit, the ultimate goal is health and the activity goal is steps, something we all do but rarely measure.

2. Make it a stretch.

Ensure your activity goal requires some level of effort above and beyond what you do in a normal day. It should demand that you invest time specifically devoted to achieving that goal. If generating more referrals is your goal you only measure the number you receive “naturally”, you need to set the bar above the current level and ask what you need to do to get more. You may want to set a goal for a defined number of proactive referral conversations each week. With Fitbit, if your life is similar to many, you can’t get to 10,000 steps without making a conscious effort to do so; typically that means scheduling those activities into your day

3. Focus on the quality of the activity.

Perhaps the hardest thing is to acknowledge that there is a difference between an ‘activity’ and a ‘quality activity’. Sticking with the theme of referral conversations you may want to If your goal is to ensure that that at least one is with a top client, for example, or with a center of influence. Fitbit recognizes that not every step is equal. In order to maximize the benefit, some need to be uphill and some need to be faster.

So while we might start with a goal such as wanting to add 24 new clients in the next 12 months, we end up with something like this:

“I will focus on having proactive referral discussions. I will have at least three discussions per week and track that activity. At least one conversation will be with an ‘A’ client and one will be with a center of influence. On Sunday night I will identify which clients or COIs I will speak with.”

If you are anything like me, you probably have more than enough goals for yourself, your team and your clients. Just as with getting healthy, fitness is only one goal among others including nutrition, sleep or time off. Pick one; it’s a place to start.

What Are Your ‘Steps’?

Take one goal that you have set for your business and do the following.

  1. Identify the one primary activity that will have the greatest chance of moving the needle toward your goal.
  2. Identify your current level of activity with that one thing and set a higher goal.
  3. Break the goal down to define the quality of the activity.
  4. Schedule the time you need to execute
  5. Get to work.

It’s funny how a simple thing like measuring a basic input, like steps, can change how we feel and even how we think.


A business owner, speaker and writer, Julie Littlechild founded Advisor Impact in 1994 with a mission to help financial advisors use feedback from clients to drive deeper client engagement and growth. Julie’s blog focuses on the drivers of success for advisors and she is a regular speaker at industry events.

Follow Julie on Twitter – @jlittlechild or contact via


Find the original blog post at this website.  Image source.

 The opinions and views expressed herein by Julie Littlechild and those of her firm and SEI bears no responsibility for their accuracy. Julie Littlechild and Advisor Impact are not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries.


John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

Learn More About John Anderson



HNW Whitepaper

Recent Tweets