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Not Another Goal Setting Post! Really? Really! (With a Twist…)

Douglas Dowell
4 min read

It was a great study.

The MBA class of Harvard 1979 was polled to find out how many had written goals.   The study revealed:

  • 84% had no specific goals at all
  • 13% had goals but they were not committed to paper
  • 3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them

The results of this written goal setting is simply astonishing.   When the study participants were polled again ten years later:

  • The 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all.
  • The three percent who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

This grabbed my attention when I first learned of the is study.  So, what is the best way to write your goals?   I am a devotee of the field of human motivation called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) after using the tools to lose 200 lbs!  Needless to say – I am convinced of it’s power. This field of study is focused on how the mind develops beliefs and, most importantly, how to remove the beliefs and thoughts that limit us.

The “Well Formed Outcome” from NLP is “goal setting on steroids,” as it addresses the pesky limiting beliefs in a very subtle way. So, to write a “Well Formed Outcome,” do the following steps:

1.  Write your objective in positive terms.   

Specificity is very good here.  Example:

“I want to be rich.”

That is better than no written goal at all- but consider the following instead:

“I want to own 5,000 units in 10 years using private money.”

The human brain can only process seven chunks of information – plus or minus two any one time.  Giving the brain more information on what to strive for greatly enhances your ability to get what we want out of life.

2.  Your goals need to be self-contained or within your power to achieve.

BAD goal:   I want Natalie Portman to fall madly in love with me.  True if you have more game than xbox you can possibly make this happen – maybe – but this is largely out of your control.

GREAT goal: Our original 5,000 units goal may sound like a pipe dream to others, but it has been accomplished by others using a proven formula.  So, if we follow the same steps we get the same result.  Pipe dream to others or not.

3.  Why do you want this?

This step forces us to probe our true reasons.   Great achievement requires persistence.  When we face adversity it is this true purpose that will keep you powering through the internal and external resistance.

4.  What will having this goal look like to you, what will it feel like?  What will you hear?

By experiencing the goal as having already taken place, we again permit the mind to work it’s magic.  High performance athletes have been using this to achieve record breaking results for decades.  Why not put this powerful tool to use if you want to be a gold medal real estate investor?

5.   What resources do you have available?

Using this step we get to do a laundry list of things at our disposal that will help us reach this goal.  In our 5000 unit goal example, we could list the following:

  • Modeling:  study people who have accomplished a similar goal and extract their plan, habits, beliefs and actions.
  • Networking:  Meet people that have accomplished the goal and pick their brain
  • Masterminds:  Form a small group of people who are working on the same objective to discuss obstacles and gain additional viewpoints
  • Real Estate Books
  • Coaching:  From both subject matter experts and on the personal mindset
  • The 1.5 Trillion dollars raised via private placements.  (Abundant money is out there!)
  • Biggerpockets.com: Of course I am biased – but story after story is out there where folks have met a key partner in making a deal happen here on BiggerPockets.

6.  Optional bonus from my management science study:  What’s the true constraint?

A great physicist by the name of Eli Goldratt created a physics answer to business called the theory of constraints.   I won’t drowned you in geek here, but the basic philosophy is best summed up by the old saying “a chain is only as good is the weakest link.”  Therefore a process is needed to identify the weakest link:

  1. Identify the system’s constraint(s) (that which prevents the organization from obtaining more of the goal in a unit of time)
  2. Decide how to exploit the system’s constraint(s) (how to get the most out of the constraint)
  3. Subordinate everything else to the above decision (align the whole system or organization to support the decision made above)
  4. Elevate the system’s constraint(s) (make other major changes needed to increase the constraint’s capacity)
  5. Warning! If in the previous steps a constraint has been broken, go back to step 1, but do not allow inertia to cause a system’s constraint.[5]

So if you’re like me, it may seem that in real estate the constraint is “equity capital.”  It very well may be- but currently, I think the mindset of the investor is the place to start.  I know in my case its been the #1 reason for the results I have so far.

Rule of thumb:  you cannot improve a system by improving a non constraint

The worst part about this that I have found in analysis paralysis that reading just one more book is never going to substitute for action.  Applied knowledge is the key (preaching to myself on this one).  Remind you of anyone?

 7.  Draft and execute a wanton experimentation plan.

One of my worst enemies in progress is my perfectionist streak. This insidious foe has been blind to me up until very recently.   NLP has provided a great belief to me: There is no failure, only feedback    

So what if I look bad making a ridiculous offer?  Life is a fatal condition; it’s a shame if I let my desire to be perfect send me to my grave never achieving my full potential.

Photo: derrickcollins

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.