Now that the end of the year is right around the corner, many of us are assessing our accomplishments and are planning for the new year. Others are formulating their new year’s resolutions. The only effective strategy to achieve your goals and maintain your accountability throughout the year is to create a plan. In this article, let me introduce a simple seven-step formula to setting and attaining your goals.
Before I introduce the seven steps, I would like you to discuss a couple of vital facts about achieving goals. First of all, what you get by reaching your goal is not as important as what you become. Throughout the journey, you will develop skills and habits that will last you a lifetime. Life is a journey, and we need to pause on the journey to realize that the end of the journey is not what is most important. The knowledge, experience, and relationships we develop along the journey are just as important. I often fall into this trap. I am so focused on reaching the mountaintop that I do not enjoy the climb.
A goal’s attainment is much easier if you receive encouragement and help from others. Be sure to share your goals only with those who share the vision and can provide the support needed. If your goal is going to ultimately distance you from a friendship, do you think your friend will want to help you achieve that goal? Chances are you will outgrow the friendship.
A goal has to stretch you out of your comfort zone. The larger the goal, the more it will make you dig deep and use your resources. The goal needs to be specific and create a feeling of passion within. The passion will enable you to work harder when you hit a bump in the road. It also needs to be YOUR goal! It needs to be a clearly defined target that you are constantly focused upon.
Here are the seven steps:
- Identify your goal.
- Set a deadline.
- List obstacles.
- Identify people.
- List skills.
- Develop a plan.
- List benefits. (What’s in it for me?)
Let me give you my example of my goal of attaining financial freedom with multifamily real estate.
1. Identify the goal.
This was the easiest step for me. My business was floundering, and I had that feeling of being stuck. My wife was also pregnant with our sixth child, compounding the feelings of despair and hopelessness about our financial situation. My goal, at first, was to create additional passive income to help me with the mounting bills. (My monthly food bill surpasses most people’s mortgages!)
When I began setting goals, I wish I had these seven steps. I was not specific enough nor did I give myself a deadline. Only when I realized success with my second purchase did I revise my goals. I changed my goal to being able to leave my business within three years and focus full-time on real estate.
2. Set a deadline.
When you set a deadline, you subconscious will begin to work toward the goal. If there is no urgency, then you will always find an excuse not to hit the goal. I realized this after we purchased our second property. I had attained my small goal of earning “some” passive income from real estate. I was now determined to achieve my goal of quitting my business three years from the date of my second acquisition (2013 was my second purchase). Coincidentally, I left my business on March 1, 2016. Some might say it is a coincidence, but I know better.
3. List obstacles.
This was probably the easiest step for me. I had little time, large weekly expenses, a small amount of capital set aside for down payments, and an abundant amount of fear and uncertainty. The only way to tackle your obstacles is to identify them and address them. I became more efficient with my time, began to take control of my expenses, and sought out partners to counter my obstacle of lack of funds. Where there is a will, there is a way!
4. Identify people.
Real estate is a team sport, and the team with the strongest members wins! I was blessed in this regard. The most important person in my life, my wife, was totally supportive of my goal. She realized my contempt for my current situation and gave me her total support. I also began to look for potential partners and educators who could help me begin the journey.
5. List skills.
I had rarely thought about what my strengths were in life. I decided to read StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath to discover what were the strong areas of my life. Some were apparent to me, such as a diligent worker (60 hours per week in a restaurant is common). But I felt it was important to discover other strengths and focus on these strengths. This is not the time to go easy on oneself. I wanted to know what I could bring to the table in a partnership, as well as whatever skill I lacked.
6. Develop a plan.
I decided to focus on multifamily real estate. I had dabbled in mobile home parks, single-family homes, and commercial real estate. There was nothing wrong with those niches of real estate. I was the one to blame. I had never developed a plan or strategy to succeed in those areas. I realized that apartments would allow me to create passive income while continuing to work at my business. When I decided to change my goal to leaving my business, multifamily real estate was still the optimal niche.
7. List benefits.
There has to be a reason why you want to achieve your goal. What’s in it for me? I had several benefits: I would earn additional money to help pay the bills. I would be engaging in a new business, which was exciting to me. I would be talking to brokers, property managers, lawyers, etc. It would be a welcome change from my routine at the restaurant. Ultimately, I would be able to reclaim my time and be able to work whenever I wanted.
Begin the New Year with a list of goals. Follow the seven steps above. Always write down your goals and post them somewhere you can see them. I create a dream sheet, a list of tasks and things that I want to achieve (take a trip to Italy, hit 155 pounds, etc.). Don’t be afraid to make your goal BIG. Finally, don’t be afraid to change your goals if they don’t suit you.