In August 2014, I sat in my cubicle staring at the computer screen and a wave of sadness overcame me. I was “killing it,” as my friends would say. I had a nice gig at a Big 4 accounting firm, was making great money in an awesome city — and yet, I hated it. In fact, “hate” was an understatement. The job was boring, tedious, and repetitive. There was no fulfillment, it wasn’t clear how my work was adding value, and the promotion schedule and guidelines weren’t transparent, further adding to the demotivation.
I’m an achiever, and I have always done well. In college I founded organizations, participated in tough financial research challenges, and graduated without ever seeing less than an “A” on my transcripts. On this August day, I finally realized I had done so well because there was an end goal in sight. I could quantify the value that my studying was adding to my transcripts and subsequently my resume. I knew that if I graduated Summa Cum Laude, I’d have a solid chance to work for a top tier firm, and I did.
But once I was out in the corporate environment, everything was different. I couldn’t figure out what the end goal was. It wasn’t clear to me what the point of working was, other than to collect a paycheck. I found myself constantly asking, “Why am I going into work today?” and “What value am I really adding to the client’s business today?” Every time I asked myself this, I always answered with a dreary “I don’t know,” and it was a tough pill to swallow.
I needed a change, and I realized simply switching jobs or industries was not going to cut it. I needed to change from within. I needed to figure out what it was I wanted to get out of life and define my ambitions. I needed a light at the end of the tunnel to guide me through each day and provide me with the motivation I needed to become (feel) successful once again.
The solution I developed was to write out my life’s goals, from the small ones to the overly ambitious, monumental goals. I decided that once I was done writing my goals, I would print and hang them above my desk in my room so that I would see them and be reminded of them every single day. These goals would guide me in the face of challenges and indecision.
I highly underestimated the impact this simple practice would have on my life.
It has only been seven months since I wrote my goals and framed them in my room. In this amount of time, I have become a CPA, purchased a triplex, started two businesses, lateralled to another Big 4 firm and subsequently received a promotion, signed up for a half marathon, and expanded my network by meeting like-minded folk.
And best of all, I wake up every single day motivated and ready to conquer the world.
You see, once I wrote and framed my goals, my perspective on life changed. No one can get me down. If someone tells me no, or it’s impossible, I laugh or shrug it off. I find it sad they think that way; don’t they know anything is possible?
It’s difficult to sweat the small stuff when you have defined a path for yourself in life. By being completely honest with yourself about your ambitions, you allow yourself to keep your eye on the end game, and everything in between is just a stepping stone that you can leverage and learn from to help you get there. You’ll constantly be thinking about the future and developing strategies to achieve your goals. You’ll be able to drown out all the noise and the things that don’t matter.
My motivations for writing this article are simple: 1) it’s time to re-evaluate my goals and create new ones as I have already met several of my “one year goals,” and 2) I want to motivate you to write and frame your own goals.
Tips for You Based on What I’ve learned
Set broad long term goals, as these will need to adapt as your life changes. Set specific and measurable short-term goals. In the short-term, time is of the essence and you need to have a laser focus to achieve the goals you have set, as they expire in one year.
Enhance accountability by sharing your goals with a like-minded friend. Review your goals with each other every six months to a year. It will turn into a form of friendly competition of who can accomplish their goals first.
Your “ambitious” short-term goals will be rather easily achieved, at least in the beginning — and that’s okay! Make sure to aim higher when you re-evaluate and re-write your goals. Achieving your short-term “ambitious” goals will prove to you that anything is possible, and your “insane” long-term goals can (and will) be accomplished – talk about a confidence booster.
If you work a 9-5, make sure you have goals relevant to your job, such as reaching a certain promotion. This is an area I will be exploring when I re-write my goals. While the ultimate goal is to go full-time into a business, I have under-appreciated my W2 job and it needs the attention it deserves.
The coolest thing I’ve learned is that this goal setting/framing process has boosted my leadership abilities. Leaders have clear goals they want to achieve, and they understand their personal motivations. It’s amazing how people rally around those who are have set themselves on a clear path. They want to work with that person, they want advice from that person, and sometimes they want to partner with that person. People like to associate themselves with other successful people, and a great way to become successful is to make it a priority to accomplish set goals.
Lastly, make sure that you keep old versions of your goals. Hopefully one day you will look back on this effort and amaze yourself.
My Current Goals
One Year Goals
Pass all parts of the CPA exam by the end of November 2014 and become officially licensed a month afterward. I have completed this goal.
Achieve $100 in monthly book sales by the end of January 2015. This is a goal I will be dropping. While I have achieved about $10 per month in book sales, it wasn’t the scale I thought I could achieve in the timeframe I set for myself. This stemmed from a story I read about a guy who was hiring people to write books for him and then selling them on Amazon for the passive income, and he claimed he was quite successful. I tested this idea by putting about $500 into it. I received nowhere near the same level of results and came to the conclusion that successful authors write their own books and add substantial value to someone’s life. I was doing neither of these so I have decided to drop this goal from my list.
Start a business in a niche that will be profitable, obtain 20 clients and $4,000 in annual gross revenue. I kept this goal broad initially because I didn’t know what type of business I wanted to start. I ended up starting a CPA firm offering tailored services to real estate investors. While I haven’t quite met the client and revenue quotas, I’m well on my way.
Obtain one investment property that cash flows $200 per door per month. I completed this goal by purchasing a triplex in March that should cash flow $400 per month after mortgage, expenses, and capex accrual.
Run a half marathon. I signed myself and my twin sisters up for the Navy/Air Force Half Marathon held in September. Time to start training.
Five Year Goals – By 2020
Enter into my business full-time. Eventually, I want to run my own business full-time. It’s been a dream of mine for a while, so it deserves a spot on my list. I think a five year timeframe is fair.
Grow a business to $1MM in annual gross revenue and employ at least 20 people. This is one of my aggressive goals and it mainly depends on when I go full-time into my business. I think if I can enter a business full-time within the next two or three years, I will be able to approach the $1MM gross revenue mark by 2020.
Own at least 15 doors providing cash flow of at least $200 per door per month. Gotta have real estate on the list for obvious reasons.
Create and grow a blog/educational platform to at least 1,000 monthly visitors and $500 per month in income. I’d love to create a personal finance, real estate, tax, or some other type of self-help blog. I haven’t figured out how to do it, as the markets for those types of blogs are saturated or there isn’t enough demand. But that’s why it’s a five year goal, as it gives me time to think.
Be admitted into an Ivy League master’s program. This is a goal that I have been tossing back and forth in my mind for some time. It’s hard to argue the value an Ivy League master’s program would add to my life. The network I would be able to build during the program would be priceless for my future business development. The problem is I’m not sure if it would make economic sense if I’m trying to grow a business at the same time.
Travel to two different countries. Always enjoyed traveling.
Run a marathon. I have to stay healthy somehow.
Ten Year Goals – By 2025
Grow a business to $10MM in annual gross revenue and employ at least 100 people. Once I go full-time into a business, I think $10MM in gross revenue will be achievable.
Own at least 50 doors cash flowing $200 per door per month. Can’t have enough real estate.
Publish a book on how to create a better life, business, or world. This ties to the blog idea.
Grow my blog/ educational platform to at least 10,000 monthly visitors and $5,000 per month in income.
Pay cash for an exotic car. This is how I’ll tell myself “I made it.”
Purchase a beach house for mom and dad. Support your loved ones.
Travel to ten different countries.
Build a relationship with an amazing life partner.
Become an extraordinary father. This one is probably more around the six or seven year mark; however, I don’t have a six or seven year category and I don’t want it to be a five year goal so it was thrown into the ten year bucket.
I won’t explain my lifetime goals, but these should be the main things you strive for in life. These are the end goals that motivate you to wake up every day and dominate.
Build a business to more than $100 Million in gross revenue and create 10,000 jobs.
Own 100 doors cash flowing on average $200 per door per month.
Launch a venture cap/ private equity firm that invests in solving major world problems.
Give a Ted Talk and speak in front of 50,000 people.
Live a fulfilling and happy life.
If you want to go through life and live like everyone else, then do what everyone else does. But if you want to make a substantial impact and live a high value life, then dare to be different. The world is abundant and it’s yours for the taking. You just have to go out there and grab it.
[Editor’s Note: We’re republishing this article so those who have joined BiggerPockets more recently can benefit from it. Let us know your thoughts with a comment!]
How do you set goals for yourself? What are some of your year, 5 year, 10 year and lifelong goals?
Please share below!