How to Keep Your Compliance Resolutions

For many of us, New Year’s resolutions are grandly made and easily broken.

Why? Because at the end of the day a resolution is but an unfulfilled decision.

To make actual change in your personal or professional life, you need a lot more than a decision, you need a plan.

Whether you’ve resolved to adopt a healthier lifestyle this year (guilty), or stay more on top of your compliance duties, the following five tips will help you successfully plan and achieve your goals in 2018.

Be Specific

When thinking about goals, be as exact as possible. People who set specific goals are more likely to succeed. For example, instead of saying that you want to stay on top of compliance this year, make benchmarks, each week or month, as a means to hold yourself accountable. If you want to make a goal of launching your training program in third quarter, start by creating a list of specific milestones you’d need to hit in order to make that happen. Set deadlines for each step and cross them off as you go.

Put It In Writing

Nothing is set in stone, until it’s just that, set in stone. So if you really want to make a change in your behavior, start by writing it down in a place where you’ll see it every day. This will help remind you of what you’re working towards, and ideally, keep your goals top-of-mind. In a way, it’s a lot like your firm’s written supervisory procedures – if they’re not readily available for all to see and review, then they might as well be suggestions rather than firm-upheld policies.

Set Realistic Goals

When you think about setting goals, make sure they are within your reach. Be mindful of your budget, resources and other variables that may affect timeframes. Your compliance goals don’t have to be unmanageable. Start with small changes, such as beginning your Needs Analysis in January, or outlining specific plans for data security at your organization, and move forward from there.

Review Your Progress

Break your compliance resolutions into stages so you can easily track your progress. These stages will be a source of motivation as you reflect on where you started and where you currently stand. They will also help you identify plateaus or “sticking points” in your progress so you can adjust your efforts. For instance, if your resolution is to create a more conducive culture of compliance, what steps are you taking to attain this? By creating a timeline with steps towards your goal, you’ll be able to look back after a couple months and see what’s been working and what hasn’t.

Be Open To Change

If your team is running like a well-oiled machine, it’s easy to adopt the attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But professional development is key to keeping your compliance program running smoothly. Never assume that refresher training from your compliance vendors isn’t necessary, or that everyone is up-to-date on new regulations. Be informed, active and open to change.

It’s no surprise that 2018 is going to be another challenging year for compliance, but setting clear goals, from the beginning, will help create a tangible plan that’s guaranteed for success.