“People with clear, written goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine” – Brian Tracy
I asked a friend the other day, what her goals were for the next 5 years. She stayed quiet for a long time then began to hem and haw about plans that did not work out in the past. She was stuck in her current role of parent and provider though her son would graduate this summer. After half an hour of listening and murmuring the right sentiments, I despaired. Here was someone who had no plans for the rest of her life. She had no personal achievements to look forward to; therefore, nothing to do. I offered a different perspective – why not create a plan for your next 5 or even 10 years that would engage your mind, body, and soul; that would energize you and keep you going strong well into your future. Indeed, a plan that would propel you into a brilliant future. How?
- Be positive about the future – the very first prerequisite to creating a 1, 5, 10 or any-year plan is to anticipate a positive outcome. You have to believe your future is an open canvas on which you can paint anything you want. You must envision a brilliant future made possible because you executed your plans. Without a belief that your goals will become reality if your work the steps, you’ll be spinning your wheels. Always think of the future as something YOU CREATE.
- Review what matters most to you – Just because everyone is chasing money does not mean you should join them. Let your goals reflect your values. Review what matters most to you personally, emotionally, financially, professionally, etc. When your values are embedded in your activities, you achieve a greater life satisfaction than those chasing money above all else. Therefore, let your values drive your goals.
- Write out your goals – think about things you would like to change or upgrade in your life. Where do you see yourself in five years? What would you like to do better or differently? If you are already on a great path, how can you move things to the next level? Start with the end in mind (Year 5) then move backwards breaking your goal into smaller steps to be taken each month, week, and day prior to your 5-year mark. Make your goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example:
- Specific – I want to generate passive income to the tune of $10,000 a month from real estate holdings by 5 years.
- Measurable – How much is $120,000 a year monthly? How many units and what type of real estate could produce such monthly income? How much am I currently making? How would I know if I am getting closer to my goal? Breakdown your yearly goal into smaller, monthly pieces for accurate accounting.
- Achievable – Is your goal realistic for you? After reviewing what it will take to achieve $120,000 in real estate holdings, can you honestly make it happen? Do you have the drive, energy, and resources it will take to manifest this goal? Remember to take into consideration, the season of your life - If you’re still nursing children, don’t plan goals that would take you away from them all day likewise, if your time is your own, don’t pretend there’s so much tethering you to the home front.
- Relevant – does your goal align with your values and where you see your life heading? Is it relevant in today’s rapidly changing world? These days, five year plans can be a moving target. The more you take action to accomplish your goals, the more you’ll discover things have changed, your assumptions were wrong, or you must find ways around obstacles. For example, what if you planned to rise to a managerial position in 5 years but your company goes bankrupt in Year 3? Do you kill your dreams or do you leverage your expertise into a comparable rung in the ladder at another company? Be flexible enough to keep your goals relevant.
- Time-bound – we’ve capped this goal to a 5-year period. Of course, not everything will take 5 years to execute therefore, you have to break things down to what would be achieved each weak in order to cumulate in the achievement of the goal at the end of your 5-year period.
- Take action – you’ve written your goals and the steps to take each day, week, month, and year to achieve those goals; now, “Go get ‘em!” Many great dreams die on the written page. Don’t let this happen to your 5-year plan. Aim for greatness, one hour, one day, one week, one month, and one year at a time.
- Face your fears – have a plan for facing your fears. For instance, are you dreading making your first call to request a loan to purchase property? Would you, (a) brave up and make the call first thing in the morning a la ‘eat that toad?’ (b) hold onto your spouse’s hand while you speedily enter the numbers? Or (c) take a shot of vodka for courage? Pre-package your motivation - who will hold your hand when you’re fearful? Who can back you up in your new venture? Who can answer your questions and would pick up when you call? If you fail, who will comfort you and urge you to try again? What websites offer the most inspiration when you’re down?
- Review and revise – As stated under Relevant in SMART goal-setting, today’s world will only slightly resemble tomorrow’s. Therefore, create checkpoints in your plan – weekly, monthly or quarterly to see if those plans will still take you to your goal. If not, revise. At any point in time, be flexible enough to change your plans.
- Celebrate – daily, weekly, monthly – count your accomplishments so they motivate you to move forward. Cross out items when accomplished; doing this alone will boost your confidence to achieve more. And at your 5-year mark, celebrate big!