It’s that time of year again…say it with me, “New Year’s resolution time!”
I love New Year’s resolutions. It’s the annual time where we collectively look at what we want out of life for the upcoming calendar year and challenge ourselves to make new things happen.
Sometimes the resolution is to do that one thing you’ve been procrastinating on, and you’re ready just to get it done.
Whatever your reason behind setting the new resolution, chances are, you’ve gotten there because your intent and actions haven’t met up in the past. So, you resolve to commit. The beauty of these resolutions seems to come from some synergistic attitude of our collective human advances: i.e., we thrive off each other’s energy.
January starts off great! We begin strong, managing to keep our resolutions for a few weeks. But, chances are, you will end up relapsing into old behavior sooner or later. Frustrated and defeated, you’ll give up that gym membership, shelf the self-help books, and optimistically believe you’re just “taking a break” while you settle back into the couch for a movie marathon.
So, how do you break the cycle of this repetitive cycle between the person you used to be and the person you want to be? If you attending my December CEO Fireside, you’re not likely to be surprised by my answer. You need to set S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Setting goals can often feel like writer’s block; the blank page stares up at you and your mind goes dark. By having a guide like the one below, you can alleviate the blank stares and frustration.
What are S.M.A.R.T. goals?
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Let’s break it down…
Without a distinct vision, path, and benchmarks to hit, you could end up in a different place than where you wanted to be. Like taking a hike or driving across the country, there is a great deal of flexibility in getting from point A to point B, but you should have specific benchmarks in place to assure that you’re on the right road that will lead you to the correct destination.
Break down your goals into specific steps. Define the time needed to complete tasks, how you are the right person to reach the goal, and how achieving the goal will match your efforts.
Having measurable goals allows you to track progress, stay on pace, and bypass the questioning we often place on ourselves. Instead of wondering if the tasks you are performing are helping you achieve the end goal or not, a measurable goal gives you a definitive answer.
A measurable goal should answer the following questions:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
Set KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) against which you can measure your growth. To develop your own KPIs, start by understanding the basics of your objectives. You can also ask yourself the following questions about each KPI you put in place:
- What is your desired outcome?
- Why does this outcome matter?
- How are you going to measure progress?
- Who is responsible for the outcome?
- How will you know you’ve achieved your outcome?
- How often will you review progress towards the outcome?
If your goals aren’t attainable with the resources you have, you’re setting yourself up for failure! This doesn’t mean you have to be limited by your current world, but rather that you need to understand how to expand enough to achieve a smaller goal and work your way up.
I could unquestionably become a competitive bodybuilder! But if I wanted to grease my muscles up for a national stage competition by December, it isn’t achievable with my current lifestyle, travel schedule, and undying love for Popeyes chicken. Instead, I might decide to become the best new weightlifter at my gym first and compete in a local competition by year’s end. I could break that goal down into feasible steps throughout the year and make it happen.
Take into account as many factors as you can when setting goals that are achievable. How much time can you realistically devote to a new goal? What do you need to learn first in order to make the work more productive? What can you give up to make more time and energy? What are your financial restrictions? (Be careful with this one. As opposed to the other factors, we often underestimate what we can afford. When looking at any our financial commitments to income-producing investments, we shouldn’t lead by stating “I can’t afford that” but rather by asking “HOW can I afford that?”)
We all have a budget of motivation. Some of our budgets are higher than others, but they are finite all the same. When you set your goals too high, you run out of motivation quickly.
How? Instead of telling yourself you’re going to ditch your nightly routine of four hours of TV and a bowl of ice cream in favor of an extra three hours of marketing and one hour at the gym (a noble goal…that may only last a few days), set a more realistic version. Try cutting your TV time in half, making space for one extra hour of marketing and one hour of reading, and trade your ice cream for fruit salad. Once that habit is formed, you can continue to improve. When you start with realistic goals and work up, not only is the task easier, you’re more likely to stick with it.
A dream without a deadline is a dead dream. If you don’t set deadlines for your big goals and for the benchmarks along the way, you’ll find all sorts of other things to fill that time with and your goals will go unachieved.
Start at the end; what do you want to accomplish? Let’s say you haven’t flipped a house yet, and your goal is to get your first one under your belt in the first quarter of 2018. Great! Let’s get you started! It’s absolutely possible to achieve your goal in the time you’ve decided, but since you’ve yet to complete the entire process, you may need to find flexibility in the timing of your goal. If it takes you four or five months instead of three, don’t let that discourage you. Readjust your time-bound goals to best suit your efforts, and strive for improvement.
You should know what you can achieve in one day, what you can accomplish in one week, and how that will add up to make your months, quarters, and your year.
When we set S.M.A.R.T. goals that support our desired outcome, fit into our lives, challenge our growth, and get us what we want in the end, we begin to see opportunity where we once only saw roadblocks. By wisely planning the journey before you, you can press into the work to find that you’re achieving your goals instead of just spinning your wheels. You will begin to trust yourself, set higher goals, and skyrocket both your business and your self-esteem.
If you need someone to share your goals with, leave them in the comments! We’d love to hear what you have in store for 2018, how you’re going to achieve it, and what we can do to help. If you have questions about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals or would like the support of a coach, give us a call at (800) 473-6051 and we’ll get you started in the right direction.
Don’t forget to sign up for January’s CEO Fireside, and happy 2018 planning!
Wishing you a prosperous New Year;
Lee A. Arnold
The Lee Arnold System of Real Estate Investing