Chapter 9: Plan the Work
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso
Without a vision, a plan is worthless. If your vision isn’t clear, re-read Chapter 7 before continuing. To accomplish great things, we must first dream in high-definition and believe with unwavering faith, and only then does it make sense to plan. An effective plan should begin with the end in mind – a goal. A goal must not only be aligned with your dreams, but your values.
On the road to my second success, congruency has been a powerful distinction for me. In the past, if I had set a goal that was out of accordance with my values, morals, beliefs, and dreams, I discovered it was difficult to achieve. This doesn’t just apply to the goal, but the methods in achieving the goal as well. For example, if your goal is in alignment with your values, but you pursue a shortcut to your goal that is out of alignment with your values, the road to achieving that goal is riddled with bumps, potholes, booby-traps and setbacks. By taking incongruent short cuts, you will eventually recognize, often times too late, that you have injected unnecessary struggle into the pursuit of your goals.
Focused energy is much more powerful and efficient than energy dispersed. If you were to walk outside on a typical fall day and feel the sun against your face, it would feel pleasantly warm. Sunlight is an example of energy dispersed. Conversely, that same sunlight directed toward a dry autumn leaf passing through a magnifying glass would burn a hole in it. That is energy focused. That sunlight focused with enough intensity can produce a laser that cuts through steel. Your mental focus works in precisely the same way. Focused energy is a powerful force.
Many authorities on goal-setting suggest that to maintain balance you should set goals in all areas of your life: Personal Development, Career/Business/Economic, Toys/Adventure, and Contribution. I’m going to suggest going against the grain on this. I’m going to suggest you choose one to three areas of your life that aren’t working, or not working as well as you’d like them to be working, and go to work only there.
The reason being, I’ve always had written goals and what I’ve found is this:
The more goals I have, the less I achieve.
My philosophy on why this is so has everything to do with how dispersed energy and focused energy work. I don’t see anything wrong or detrimental to you having many goals, but what I’m suggesting is to focus on no more than three at a time. My rule of thumb is to focus on one to three goals for maximum effectiveness, and I will typically achieve one to three of those goals.
Focus on four to eight goals and I achieve one, maybe.
Focus on nine or more and achieve nothing.
Just as the law of diminishing returns can impact economics, it can impact your goal achievement as well. A confused, overwhelmed and unfocused mind does, and achieves, absolutely nothing. So, let’s get focused.
Step 1: Defining Your Dreams and Creating Your Goals
The exercise I’m about to share with you is one that I perform twice a year. It’s a brainstorming exercise that confirms that my dreams and goals are still important to me. As I shared before, it’s okay to change your dreams and goals, but maintain their size: BIG.
You will want to begin with a blank piece of paper and a timer. Set the timer for ten minutes. Begin writing down your dreams and goals in these four areas of life:
1. Personal Development
You will want to write any and everything you can think of, big and small, short-term and long-term. Write down who you want to be, what you want to do and what you want to have. Perhaps you want to be your company’s number one salesperson, the head of your own non-profit organization, a world traveler, or a lion tamer? Remember the sky’s the limit and no dream is out of reach. Perhaps you want to learn a foreign language, visit every major league ballpark in the U.S., or climb Mount Kilimanjaro? It’s your dream, and you get to choose what you want to do. Perhaps you want a ten-car garage filled with exotic sports cars, a ranch in Colorado, or the freedom to never have to work for somebody else again? What’s important in this exercise is to keep writing for the full ten minutes. Do not let your pen leave the paper. Whatever comes to your mind, write it down. Maybe it’s something as simple as acquiring the newest pair of Nike basketball shoes, or something as big as eradicating heart disease or starting the next Microsoft. This is your time to dream!
Step 2: Give Each Goal a Deadline
A dream without a deadline is just a casual notion. Go over the list you created in Step 1 and assign a simple deadline for each goal. If you would like to achieve the goal in one year, write the number one next to it; five years, the number five. Do it.
Step 3: Narrow Your Focus
From your list, circle the three single most important goals that, if you were to accomplish them this year, you would consider it your greatest year ever. Using the power of questions will help you confirm you are choosing your three most important goals. Ask yourself these questions for each one-year goal you have created. Why is this goal compelling to me? What will I gain by achieving it? What would I miss out on if I don’t? Who will I be able to help because of this goal’s achievement? How will that make them feel? How will that make me feel? If your answers to these questions don’t stir up some burning emotions, go back to Step 1 and repeat the exercise until you can feel the burn. Do it.
Step 4: Live in the Now
See your dreams, and speak of them, as if they have already happened. In the movie The Secret, Bob Proctor discussed the importance of envisioning your goals as if they have already been accomplished. I’m not entirely certain as to why or how this phenomenon works, but I have noticed that it gives me a certain amount of power and definiteness of purpose around my dreams and goals. To increase your faith and confidence that your dreams and goals will be realized, I recommend you rewrite your top three goals using the sentence structure Bob Proctor shared in the movie. Using three separate pieces of paper, at the top write your goals in this format: I’m so happy and grateful now that… (my goal) I am earning ten thousand dollars a month in passive income.
Of course you will insert your own goal, and you can modify the sentence however you’d like, but you will want to maintain two elements for this to be effective.
1. Write your goal in the present tense, and
2. Be as specific as possible. Do it.
In the pursuit of a goal, this is a vital step that is often underestimated or ignored. You must know where you are going in order to get there. If you do not, any road will get you there. So, begin with the destination in mind. You already have your three goals written at the top of three separate pieces of paper. At the bottom of each page, re-write the goal and give it a deadline. You should now have three pages, each having present tense sentences at the top and bottom with a deadline.
Step 6: Reverse Engineer: Milestones and Minorstones
Rather than starting from your current place and determining the path you will take to achieve your goal, we will start at the end and reverse engineer the path all the way back to where you are today. We will do this using what I call “Milestones.” We will create Major Milestones and Minor Milestones, establishing the Major Milestones first. Using the example illustrated on this page, the goal is to create $10,000 a month in passive income through real estate investments. Beginning there and working back, a milestone that would have to be reached just prior to its achievement would be $8,000 a month in passive income. Just prior to that would be $6,000 a month, then $4,000, then $2,000, then $1,000 a month in passive income.
Once you have established your Major Milestones, you will want to remove your focus from the end goal and now place your focus entirely on your first Major Milestone. You will now reverse engineer again from that Major Milestone and create five Minor Milestones (“Minorstones”). What has to be accomplished just prior to achieving $1,000 of passive income might be “the closing of escrow.” Just prior to that might be “the opening of escrow.” Prior to that might be “the submission of an offer to purchase.” Prior to that might be “the locating of a property that pays $1,000 in passive income.” Prior to that might be “the establishment of the markets in which I want to invest.”
Reverse engineer each of your three goals in the same manner. The roadmap to your dreams is almost magically appearing. As you achieve each Major Milestone you will then create five new Minorstones in the same way you did the first five, by reverse engineering. Lessons will undoubtedly be learned along the way, revealing information you didn’t know that you didn’t know when your roadmap was first created. It’s been said that the Apollo 11 mission on its way to the Moon was off course 97% of the time, continually making minor adjustments placing it back on course. You will likely experience a similar statistic on your way to your goals. Don’t get frustrated when you seemingly get knocked off course, just adjust. If this strategy put a man on the Moon, it will work for your goals, too. Do it.
I am a big believer in setting small easy tasks. I believe in small easy tasks because they generate multiple experiences of easy success. It keeps you on the “success cycle.” There is nothing more motivating on the path to the achievement of your most important goals than knowing you are progressively moving closer to them every day. In a nutshell, success breeds success (à la the Success Cycle).
When a mentor of mine introduced me to the success cycle, he said, “Either you’re on the success cycle, or you’re not.”
As a refresher, the success cycle works like this:
- Confidence creates activity
- Activity produces results
- Results produce success
- Success produces confidence
- and around and around the cycle goes.
Either you’re on it, or you’re not.
You will create these small and easy daily tasks via a daily to-do list. As we were focused on the first Major Milestone to create our five Minorstones, we will now place our focus solely on the first Minorstone to create our daily to-do list. To stay consistent with our previous example, that milestone is “the establishment of the markets in which I want to invest.” Small and easy daily activities focused on this Minorstone might consist of:
2. Call my mentor to get his opinion.
3. Make a list of three investors with cashflowing real estate and call them for their opinions.
4. Conduct preliminary searches based off the opinions I collected to confirm if it’s the right market for me.
You can see how these four activities for the day are small and easy. The achievement of the first Minorstone could very well be achieved on the very first day on the road to your goals. How would that make you feel to knock down the first Minorstone on the first or second day? Would you not be inspired to tackle the next Minorstone ASAP? To achieve anything you set your mind on, you will create one small and easy success at a time using laser focus until the ultimate goal is achieved. This is how it is done.
Using the power of questions, I have found the use of the following questions in formulating my daily to-do list accelerates my success. Feel free to use them.
1. What about my to-do list excites me today? Why?
2. How will it make me feel once I’ve crossed it off the list?
3. What is one risk I can take today that will move me even closer to my goal?
4. If I could add one thing to my list that would make a tremendous difference in achieving my goals, what would it be?
5. What skills do I wish to develop to enhance my business?
6. To what activities do I devote too much time which I could eliminate or dramatically reduce?
7. What is the most valuable use of my time, and how can I spend more time doing that?
8. How can I borrow more time from areas that do not serve me?
By incorporating Step 7 daily, staying focused on the small, easy daily activities and checking in with your Minorstones every other week or so, success will be yours. It is the small and easy, sometimes mundane, activities compounded over time that produce success. It can’t be any other way. There’s no such thing as “get-rich-quick” or “overnight-success.” Patience and persistence are what does it, and they win every time.