Why Making Big Goals Will Make You More Successful

by | BiggerPockets.com

I am a huge fan of big goals even though I rarely, if ever, used goals a few years ago.

That is not exactly true – I used goals… but I didn’t know I was using goals and I didn’t use them consciously.  I think it is no coincidence that once I started using goals, my life started to take off professionally and personally.

I knew many people that thought goals were a great way to succeed and quite a few of them had told me I needed written goals.  I had the attitude that I didn’t need goals, because I was smart enough to get whatever I wanted without goals.  I think if I were to analyze myself at the time I was just telling myself I didn’t need goals, because I was afraid of what I would find if I wrote out my goals.

Either I didn’t want to have goals that I would have to work hard for, I didn’t want to analyze my life and realizing I wasn’t living to my full potential, or I didn’t want to make goals for a job I wasn’t crazy about.  I think it was a combination of the three and it was easier to ignore things then change them.

A Major Conflict Forced Some Change

I remember the exact moment that I started making goals by accident.

I was working with my father as a Real Estate agent about 7 years ago and I was not happy with how much money someone working for him was making compared to what I was making.  I wasn’t overly concerned with how much I was making, but I did think this person was overpaid (FYI this is a really horrible attitude to have).

In order to show how overpaid this person was I decided to write our a plan for how many houses and flips I would have to sell in order to make more money than this person.  My point was this other person earned a percentage of everything I did even thought they didn’t do much work on my deals.  It turns out the figure I came up with was around 75 houses and 8 flips a year sold would allow me to make more than this other worker.  I wrote all this down and spent a good amount of time figuring out all the commissions and profits for each of us.

My First Goal Without Knowing It

For some reason those numbers stuck in my head and I kept thinking about them.

To be perfectly honest I don’t remember what the exact numbers were, but they were around 75 or 100 homes and 8 to 10 flips.  I kept thinking about selling that many houses and how awesome it would be to make that much money.  Then I got a random call to do a BPO, I had no idea what a BPO was, but I researched the subject and decided to do it.  Shortly thereafter receiving that call, I registered with more BPO companies and and that got me started in the REO business.

I went from selling 15 to 20 houses a year to over 100 in three years.  I also added BPOs to my income stream and we increased the amount of flips we did.   I wrote my goals down, I thought about my goals and I accomplished them, even though I didn’t realize I was doing it at the time.  On a side note- that particular worker ended up quitting after cussing me out in front of the entire office (we had a great work relationship) a couple of years after I made that accidental goal.

 Why Do Goals Work?

It is very hard to measure how well goals work scientifically.  How do you measure success?  How can you decide when someone has failed or succeeded?  How old o they have to be, how much money, how happy?

These are all things that cannot be measured.  I do think there is a scientific explanation for why goals help people succeed in life.  The reason I think goals work is a very complicated scientific process that involves our subconscious.  Our subconscious controls almost all of our bodily functions, movements and even thoughts.  Our conscious mind can only handle a few things at once while our sub conscious can handle millions.  Basically we learn something new with our conscious mind, but our subconscious remembers how to do it and does it for us after enough repetition.  It takes a lot of work to learn to ride a bike or drive a car.  Once we do it enough our subconscious takes over and does it for us, we don’t have to remember to tell our bodies  each muscle function anymore.

Our subconscious also guides how we think and what we believe in.  It is extremely hard to change beliefs in anyone, because they have believed those things for years and trained their subconscious that is what they believe.  To believe anything else does not feel right even if it doesn’t make sense to continue to believe it.  I am also a huge believer in being positive and write about that in this article.

If we tell ourselves over and over we are a great athlete, a great writer, or a great friend – our subconscious will try to help us become that.  If we tell ourselves we want to buy 100 homes (one of my goals) then our subconscious will try to help make that happen.  That is why goals are so important.  If we don’t tell ourselves what we want, we aren’t getting help from the thing that knows us best and has enormous power; our own brain!

How Does Our Subconscious Make Goals Happen?

The biggest thing our subconscious can do to help us is make our conscious mind work better.  Many people are in a daze in life, rolling with the flow and waiting for something big to happen.  If you are waiting for something big, it’s not going to happen, you have to make it happen.  If our subconscious knows what we want then it can guide us.  It can guide us by making us aware of new opportunities, pushing us to work harder, causing us to focus or providing that “gut feeling” on big decisions.

What Kind of Goals are the Best?

Some people have suggested short term non-specific goals are the best way to success.  I think everyone thinks a little differently and react differently to goals so short term goals may work for some.  I personally love specific and difficult goals that make me work harder and smarter.  If we use vague goals like “make more money” or “get great returns” then our subconscious doesn’t know what that means.  How much is more money or what kind of returns are great returns?

You also have no idea if your making progress with your goals if you can’t measure them.

One of the best feelings in the world is realizing you accomplished a goal, especially a big goal that didn’t seem possible.

Many people feel having goals that are easily obtainable are the best goals.  The idea is that too big of a goal will seem unobtainable and therefore you will be less likely to achieve the goal because you don’t believe in it.  This may be the case for some people, but I happen to like huge massive goals that seem out of reach.  The trick is convincing yourself these goals are possible or creating goals that may push you, but aren’t so far out of reach you label them as impossible.  If you know you can hit a certain number, then make sure your goals is past that number and then try to push it just a little more.

A favorite quote of mine is if you reach for the stars and only hit the moon, did you fail?  No, by setting big goals your are challenging yourself to work harder and smarter.  If you set an easy to reach goal, chances are your are going to let up and slow down once you hit your goal.  If you don’t reach your big goal, you are probably better off then if you had a smaller goal you did reach.


There is a study on goal setting that states goals should be specific, difficult, but attainable.  It is up to you to decide what attainable means.  One thing I like to think of is a radar screen.  We all think of the things on our radar screen, but what about those things not on our radar?  What about the things we have no idea that are coming into our life?  Why limit our beliefs on what possibilities we know are right here right now when it is guaranteed things will change and more will appear on our radar screen.  If you think a goal is impossible remember you have no idea what the future holds for you.

How Do You Know if You Made a Good Goal?

This is another step that will be different for each person.

It all depends on how you react and how well you know yourself.  For me I can tell if a goal is good or not by how it makes me feel.  Before I had my 100 property goal, I had a 30 property goal.  I knew I could reach 30 properties fairly easily because I had been on that pace buying 3 a year.

When I made the goal to buy 100 properties it felt amazing.  I was giddy, excited and motivated to make it happen.  This has happened with other goals I have made and some goals make me feel uncomfortable or like I need to avoid them.  Whenever this happens I analyze exactly why I feel this way and if it is a valid reason.  When I didn’t want to make goals in my previous life, I was afraid of failing or having to work hard on a job I wasn’t excited about.  I didn’t like retail real estate, when I got into REO I loved making goals and it made me excited.  If you have trouble making goals, maybe it isn’t the goal itself that is the problem, but the subject that the goal is covering in your life.

How Many Goals?

If we have no idea what is coming into our future how do we make specific goals when things could change?

First off, for me no goal is set in stone.  You may have something much better come into your life than your current goals can accommodate.

Are you going to ignore those things? No, you simply modify your current goals or make new goals.  I wanted to build a loft in my house earlier this year really badly.  I researched all options, contacted multiple contractors, architects, engineers and even found the guy who built my house.  Nothing worked out because we couldn’t get the truss plans and the builder wouldn’t respond to me after he said he would send me plans, even after I offered him money.  Then out of the blue my wife found our dream home with a loft.  I am the Realtor and she randomly drove by the home while I was at a conference.  Long story short; we ended up buying, moving, my friend bought our house, came to work with me and a chain of events occurred that worked out amazingly.  Now we have a better house, it cost is less cash than if we built the loft because the home we sold had more than enough equity for the down payment on the new one.

The loft was one of 100 written goals I had/have.  Obviously those goals change as I complete them and my life changes.  I had to change at least ten goals relating to my old house once we sold it and bought a new one.  My goals are long, short, big and small, specific, vague and everything in between.

How Can You Have 100 Goals?

I was instructed to make 100 goals from my coaching program with Jack Canfield.  Most people think of goals for income and retirement.  However you can use goals for every aspect of your life.  Not only do I have goal for income, net worth and other financial measures, I also set goals for number of sales, flips and rentals.  I set goals for how much free time I have, how much time I read or work on self improvement.  I set goals for my family, children, wife (not goals for them personally, but goals me on time spent with them and helping them), what cars I want to have, vacations, how my business is run .  I set  goals like start a new business, think of new opportunities once a week, be more positive every day.  I also set goals for giving to charities and helping and volunteering.  Anything you want to change, keep on track or improve you set a goal for.

How to Keep Track of Your Goals?

It is hard to keep track of all of these goals.  The more you think about them the more they will help you because you are putting your subconscious to work.  It’s not practical for most of us to read 100 goals every day.  I try to read them once a week, but even that can be hard.  It is amazing how easily I forget some things on my goal list that are important to me.  Whenever I read through it I realize there is something easy I can do right now or this week.  I also think of an important goal I have been ignoring.

For my most important and biggest goals I record them on my phone and listen to them once a day.  This keeps them fresh and keeps me focused.  I also break down my most important goals as well.  Some of my bigger goals I spend hours on breaking into smaller goals and then breaking those smaller goals down again.  One goal is to buy 100 rental properties by 2023.  I broke down this goal publicly on my blog and it was wonderful and scary.  It is not easy to share goals, especially with thousands of people.  But I did so much more with that goal because I did break it down in a story.  I also thought about and still think about  it all  time.


Goals are worthless without action.

When you make these goals think about what you can do to make them happen.  That is why breaking down your most important goals is a very important step.  Figure out what you need, who you need, how long it will take and the things you need to do to complete a goal.  Here is a article I wrote on things you can do to get started investing in Real estate.

The last thing I will leave you with is how goals have helped me in the last five years.  I literally have increased my income by ten times since I started that accidental goal, got married, had twins, bought 7 rentals, bought two personal houses (including my dream house), improved my confidence, improved my attitude and I am happier.

I am not saying that all happened because of goals, but I think goals have played a big part in it.

Do you believe in the power of goals to change your life?

About Author

Mark Ferguson

Mark Ferguson is a has been a real estate investor and real estate agent/broker since 2002. He has flipped over 165 homes in that time, including more than 70 in the last three years. Mark owns more than 20 rental properties that include single family homes, as well as commercial properties, including a 68,000 square foot strip mall. Mark has sold more than 1,000 homes as a real estate agent and is the owner/managing broker of Blue Steel Real Estate in Greeley, Colorado. Mark started the InvestFourMore blog and website in 2013, which has hundreds of article on real estate. Mark is constantly sharing his insights, case studies, and interesting things that happen to real estate investors on both his blog and well-known sites like Forbes.


  1. Sharon Vornholt

    Hey Mark –

    This is an awesome post.

    I am a firm believer in goal setting and the connection that is made with the law of attraction when you “declare” what you intend to have. Wayne Dyer says you must have an “absence of doubt” for the law of attraction to really work. My friend always states her goals as “this or something better” which is exactly what happened with your dream house.

    If your subconscious doesn’t know what you want, it can’t possibly help you to get it. That’s what makes the very act of writing down the goals so powerful. I have always written my goals down. I also break down the steps in my big goals and put them on a calendar. For years I have carried a folded piece of paper around in my wallet. But I love your phone idea. I’m going to try that.

    One thing I did was to have the dollar amount that I want to earn sliding across my computer screen. That is my screen saver.


    • Thank you Sharon. You bring up some great points! There are so many things you can do it takes a book to list them all. “Or something better” is something jack Canfield preaches. That way you aren’t limiting yourself to your own mind.

      Some other things I do is have a vision board whitch shows pictures of everything I want. I wrote a check to myself and tacked it on there for a very large amount. Bruce Lee and Jim Carrey did the same thing. I also have a program on my computer that is a slide show of things I want with nice music and phrases or affirmations. Then I cut out numbers and tapes them to t garage door for my income goal that I see everyday.

      My new thing is studying ancient Egypt and all the major religions origins which are based a lot off of Hermes (Egyptian who may have come up with basic idea of law of attraction). Then there are secret societies who saved some of the info from the church that tried to destroy it all in the 400 to 600 ad time period. It is crazy and fascinating stuff. It’s too bad we have such limited info on stuff that happened 6000 to 2000 years ago. Lol.

  2. Brandon Mendoza on

    Great and timely post. I have underestimated the power of goals. I just started writing down my goals. Now, I just need to habitually look and speak my goals everyday to stay focused. I say timely because I am making a career changed in January to become a real estate agent. Action focused goals will definately be instrumental in my business.

  3. Great article Mark. I’m not big on self-help/motivation type books/gurus etc, but I’ve recently found that I really need to have my goals written down somewhere and updated, which really helps with focusing on the most important things in my life. Great post!

  4. Mark,
    Have you read any Grant Cardone? Try his book 10X. Its all about setting big goals ten times what you think you want. Then work like you really have to reach those big goals. When problems arise (and they always do) if you compare those problems to your ultimate 10X goals then that problem suddenly doesn’t seem like that big a deal. Also, keep a notepad with you at all times (typing it on a keyboard is not the same) and write down your main goals when you get up in the morning and before you go to be at night. Be Great!…You have a choice.

  5. Mark,

    I’m really starting to look forward to your blog posts. I don’t know why, but I always love to see local success stories.

    My wife and I post our goals on our fridge. The goals cover everything from honeydos to real estate, to family. What I find amazing, we only tend to really read it about every 2-3 months and nearly 90% gets accomplished. We accomplish many goals we long forgot about. Its very cool to start crossing items off the list. I’m actually excited for the next few weeks. My wife and I will both take a day off and have our Starbucks goal date. Its become an annual tradition, but we are looking at making it a quarterly tradition. Mark, great post. I look forward to many more.


  6. Great article Mark!

    I would like to add that goals are just the destination, objectives, and tasks at the micro level, are the roadmap to achieving your goals. Don’t forget your map.

    I also find that sharing my goals with friends and family motivate me even more. I can’t imagine having to admit I quit.

    Take care and thanks,

    • Bryan, you are so right. I love to take big goals and break them down into smaller and smaller goals until you can extract specific actions you can do right now.

      Try sharing your goals on a blog with 1.000s of readers to give you motivation. 🙂

  7. Mark this was a very well written and thought provoking post.
    I do think that having goals of all sorts is important and helps move you towards what you want out of life. Sometimes I can see how they can get you to tunnel visioned, but if you can be dynamic and change/update them to deal with changing circumstances then you should be okay and they should help you.

    I think Kenny had good points in his “anti” goal article as well. However I think that his good points were about the fact many people do NOT adapt long term goals to changes in life.
    You do that so those ideas are moot.

  8. Goal setting is a great strategy in personal development. I hang my goals on the wall in front of my desk and try to read a few a day to remind myself of what I am working towards. Great post.

  9. Mark,
    Thanks for sharing. I read this right after reading the article about advice. Still, it comes at no surprise that you give great advice here 🙂
    . My favorite line, which I believe to be very true is “If our subconscious knows what we want then it can guide us. It can guide us by making us aware of new opportunities,”
    It happens all the time. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Jerry W.

    As usual I greatly enjoyed your article. I cannot believe I never saw this one. I read your plan to buy a 100 houses and I was impressed at your posting each acquisition. I had set myself some small goals after reading about goals in Bigger pockets. It is amazing at how you look for something and suddenly you can find it. When I went to law school I was required to answer several questions on the application. I only remember one. It asked what I wanted to do. I wrote become a Supreme Court Justice or the Govenor. I did become a judge for awhile in a much lower court, and a fill in judge for 2 higher courts. I also ran for office twice and lost. I have now passed up the opportunity several times to put in for judgeships I had a chance of getting. I made a decision that I enjoyed being a volunteer fireman more than I did being a judge and I knew I could not do both due to the traveling out of town a judgeship requires in my area. I did eventually win a public office and have been elected to my third term. Writing those goals down almost 30 years ago helped guide my thinking to make things happen.
    I have had several other things happen from making goals, most were good. I am constantly looking for opportunities to help me in achieving those goals.
    Anyway, enough of that. I would love to chat with you sometime when I head through Greeley. I would like to hear more on your life coaching and how it helped you fulfill yourself. Thanks again.

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