Personal Development

Goals and Resolutions Will Make You Broke and Depressed. Try This Instead.

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Development, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Flipping Houses, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Wholesaling, Personal Finance, Real Estate Marketing, AskBP, Real Estate Investing Basics
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I want six-pack abs.

That’s right, I said it: Six. Pack. Abs.

You know, the kind that superman and David Hasselhoff have.

Oh, I also want a million dollars in my bank account. Oh, and while we are at it, let’s throw in an airplane, too. Grant Cardone has one, so why not?

These are all fine goals to have. And they really are goals for me.

But guess what? They are mostly worthless.

And, in fact, they might be worse than worthless.

They are dangerous.

Goal Setting Will Make You Broke and Depressed

There is one major thing getting in the way of my six-pack:

I like cake.

And cookies.

And pizza.

So every year I tell myself, this is the year I’m finally going to get my six-pack. I’m going to say no to the cake. I’m going to work out. I really want to get in shape.

But then I eat more cake.

And cookies.

And pizza.

And I don’t get that six-pack.

So I get depressed. And I eat more cake. And I get more depressed.

Now, maybe you don’t care about cake. Maybe you want something else.

Maybe this is the year you are finally going to quit your job! This is the year you are going to start your own business. This is the year you are going to buy your first rental property.

But then you eat more cake slack off.

You lose the momentum.

You can't find a good real estate deal.

Your business partner flakes out on you.

You lose the fire.

And you get depressed.

Maybe, in an effort to accomplish those goals, you spend a bunch of “hype money.” Someone, somewhere, convinces you that the fastest or best way to achieve your goals is by purchasing some kind of product or $10,000 course or boot camp.

So you spend the money, thinking it’s going to help you.

You equate spending money with taking appropriate action.

But it doesn’t.

It just makes you broke.

And depressed.

Or let’s go back to the example of buying your first investment property. You really want to buy it. You know that buying rental properties is going to be your ticket to generational wealth for your family.

But because you are so focused on your goal of buying that property, you don’t buy the right property.

You spend too much.

You didn’t run the numbers right.

You buy a bad deal.

And so you get depressed. And then you go broke.

And it’s all because you were so focused on this “goal” that you needed to hit.

Because here’s the truth you need to understand.

Are you ready for it?

Here it is:

Goals are not enough.

Everyone has goals. Everyone has dreams. Everyone has resolutions. But goals are just wishes; resolutions are just dreams.



Related: 5 Highly Actionable Steps to Make REAL Progress Towards Your Investing Goals

If Goals Make You Broke, THIS Will Make You Rich

One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from Michael Jordan, and he said:

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

You see, goals are simply not enough. And by themselves, they are dangerous. It’s not enough to want something. It’s not enough to wish you had something.

And that’s all goal-setting really is.

Wishing and wanting.

Instead, if you want to achieve the kind of life that you’re dreaming about, you need this:

An action plan.

An action plan is simply a road map that is going to get you to your goal. Rather than wishing and wanting, an action plan puts your feet to the fire.

Maybe your goal is to write a book. Great. That’s not enough. What’s your action plan to make it happen?

Maybe your goal is to buy a rental house. Great. That’s not enough. What’s your action plan to make it happen?

Maybe your goal is to quit your job. Great. That’s not enough. What’s your action plan to make it happen?

By developing an action plan, you take away the chasm between where you are and where you want to be.

And, in fact, by focusing on the action plan rather than the goal, you have a FAR better chance of achieving your goal. As Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning puts it:

“Every result that you desire […] is preceded by a process that is required to produce the result. When you define YOUR process and commit to it for an extended period of time, the results take care of themselves.”

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– Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning for Salespeople

How to Build an Action Plan

An action plan begins at the end — with the goal.

Now, I know what you are thinking:

“But Brandon, you just said goals will make me broke and depressed!”

And they will — by themselves.

But a goal next to an action plan is a recipe for success.

Being that this is a real estate investing blog, I’m going to use real estate as an example. I don’t care if you are in real estate, trying to lose 20 lbs, or aiming to climb Mount Everest. This stuff will apply to you as well.

Okay, for an example, let’s use the following goal:

I want to buy five rental houses in 2016 that each provide $200 in passive cash flow.

Now, most of the world will stop right there. They might even write down their goal and hang it on their wall. If they are real fancy, maybe they’ll put it on their vision board.

And then they are going to go watch some Netflix.

Because they don’t have an action plan.

So let’s help these people out and build an action plan.

Our goal for the year is to buy five rental houses.

What’s going to be needed to do that?

Three things:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Money
  3. Good deals

Let’s break these three things down and create an action plan for each.



Knowledge is easy. It’s free on BiggerPockets. You can pick up a copy of The Book on Rental Property Investing here on BiggerPockets for cheap. You can take a local investor out for coffee. You can listen to The BiggerPockets Podcast (or one of the other amazing real estate podcasts out there).

Ok, so let’s define your action plan. Here are a few ideas that might work for you (and I hope you create your own, as well).

“I am committed to reading one real estate book each month this year. I will accomplish this by setting aside 20 minutes per day for this reading time, from 7:00-7:20 a.m., five days per week.”

“I am committed to meeting one local investor per month for lunch or coffee. I will accomplish this by asking my real estate agent to introduce me to several of the investors in the area I want to become more like.” 

“I am committed to listening to three real estate podcast episodes each week. I will accomplish this by listening to them on my commute to and from work, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”

Now that is an action plan. Can you imagine sticking to those commitments and NOT finding the success you dream about, at least with regard to the knowledge part of your goal?

Ok, so that’s knowledge. Let’s move on and talk about money.


Many people dream of investing in real estate, but are stopped dead in their tracks when they realize one important fact:

They are flat broke.

This causes most people to simply say, “Oh well, I’ll worry about this goal some other day, when I have more money.”

And before you know it, you are 85 years old, living on social security and eating government cheese.

Don’t eat government cheese. The time is NOW to take action on your goals, on your dreams. So don’t let a lack of income stop you.

Robert Kiyosaki, in his landmark book Rich Dad Poor Dad, talked about the difference between saying “I can’t afford it” vs. “How can I afford it?”

The former shuts your brain off. (Government cheese.)

The latter makes you wealthy.

So, let’s create an action plan for how you are going to pay for your investments. Here are a few ideas that might work for you (and I hope you create your own, as well).

“I am committed to earning an extra $50,000 at my job this year. I will accomplish this by increasing my commissions through a more dedicated sales funnel.”

I am committed to learning more about how to invest in real estate with creativity. I will accomplish this by reading several books on creative real estate investing, such as The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down. I will also spend thirty minutes per day reading BiggerPockets Forum posts about creative finance and listening to real estate podcasts to see how others have done it.”

“I am committed to finding a private lender who will fund my deals. To accomplish this, I will network at local real estate clubs three times per month and commit to connecting with five colleagues each day on BiggerPockets.”

Now that is an action plan. Can you imagine sticking to those commitments and NOT finding the success you dream about, at least with regard to the money part of your goal?

Okay, let’s talk about the last missing puzzle piece — deals.


Real Estate Deals

Finally, in order to invest in real estate, you have to buy the right deal.

There are thousands of potential deals out there — but likely only a few that will work for you.

I hear from people almost every day on BiggerPockets who tell me, “I can’t find any good deals.”

Want to know my response?

Simple. I ask them, “How many deals have you offered on this week?”

I’m sure you can guess their answer: None.

Well, how do they expect to close deals if they aren’t offering?

"I don't have any deals to offer on!" they say.

So I ask them, “How many deals did you analyze this week?”

And once again, they tell me: None.

Why not?

“I don’t have any deals to analyze!” they say.

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. I’ve talked about it numerous times before. Finding deals is a funnel. 

If you want to buy more deals, you need to offer on more deals. If you want to offer on more deals you need to analyze more deals. If you want to analyze more deals you need more leads.

Now, leads can come from a variety of places, like:

It all works. I don’t care which method you use, but the point is it’s time to start something. Make it part of your action plan. 

Speaking of the action plan, let’s finish this up and make a sample action plan for someone looking for deal:

“I am committed to having 10 leads come across my desk every day. I will accomplish this by daily scanning the MLS using for potential fixer-upper properties.”

“I am committed to analyzing three deals every single day. I will accomplish this by setting aside 30 minutes during my lunch break each day to run numbers through the BiggerPockets Rental Property Calculator. I will determine my maximum allowable offer on each property and track my progress here on BiggerPockets” 

“I am committed to offering on at least five deals per month, knowing most of them will be turned down. I will accomplish this by offering my ‘maximum allowable offer’ on my five favorite deals that I discovered during the analysis I do during my lunch break. 

Now that is an action plan. Can you imagine sticking to those commitments and NOT finding the success you dream about, at least with regard to the “finding deals” part of your goal?

Related: 5 Daily Habits to Help You Steadily Reach Your Entrepreneurial Goals

Now, let’s put all of this together. You have an several action plans that you are committed to doing.

  • You are going to learn.
  • You are going to network.
  • You are going to analyze.
  • And you are going to find success.


Because you are not dreaming about some distant goal.

You are taking action, daily. 

Remember this: Small actions, taken daily, results in massive change.

Goals are not bad, but without an action plan, they will make you broke and depressed.

So get out there and set your goals, but don’t do so without also creating an action plan.


Take action.

Now, I’m off to create an action plan to get my six-pack abs. To do this:

I am committed to eating under 2,000 calories of “whole foods” per day. To accomplish this, I will record every bit of food I eat in an iPhone app. 

I am committed to going to the gym three times per week. To accomplish this, I will hire a personal trainer who will keep me accountable to this. I will attend every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

Now that is an action plan. Can you imagine me sticking to those commitments and NOT finding the success I dream about, at least with regard to the ab part of my goal? 🙂


If you enjoyed this post, I’d love if you could help me out in three small ways:

  1. Join me on a LIVE webinar this coming week. This week we’ll be talking about my favorite strategies for investing in real estate using OTHER people’s money. Click here to sign up.
  2. Share this post on your Facebook wall. It’s time for people to stop setting goals and start creating action plans.
  3. Leave me a comment below and let me know what YOUR goal is, and what YOUR action plan is going to be.
Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He is a nationally recognized leader in the real estate education space and has tau...
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    Stephen S. Wholesaler from Holiday, Florida
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    This could work out Great and be a Golden Opportunity for you. You may be able to combine dreams and so accomplish them faster and better. Because I can tell you from personal experience that one of the fastest ways to become a millionaire is to buy an airplane. In fact; owning an airplane is one of the fastest ways for someone to become a millionaire. All you have to do is to start out with two million – and once you have the airplane you will become a millionaire in no time. stephen ————–
    Jerry W. Investor from Thermopolis, Wyoming
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Brandon, I really enjoyed this article. I only got a few of my goals done for this year. I decided that I could not continue my prior buying streak of houses because the market appears to be going down in my area. I bought 7 houses in 2014, but only one this year. I sold a small 3 unit that was not performing well and got a very good deal on my purchase. I did buy the renaining stock in a commercial property I was in. I did not get a 4 plex purchased. Long story, but I have a closing tentatively set for January, but it needs a lot of work between now and then to make it happen. I over paid, paying $10K over appraisal but about $25K less than they wanted and less than the local assessment. I will lose a lot of money for 1 month, a little money for 6 months and by next year it should be making a profit. The best part was a no money down. Buyer finances $45K at 4% interest with interest only payments for 5 years with a $45K balloon. The rest financed at 5% interest with a bank for 15 years. I will have to come up with an extra $8K in 5 years if I refinance then in order to pay off the balloon payment. If I pay an extra $100 per month on my mortgage it will balance out to pay the whole 2nd mortgage off. Cash flow is tight on no money down properties, but they pay off in the long run. This is my 3rd property acquired this way in about 6 years. For next year I will close on my 4 plex, and fix 3 possibly 4 roofs on my rentals, pay one balloon payment off one year early, and either finish my flip or sale it and move on. 2014 was buy property, 2015 and 2016 are fix properties up and improve value. I will also take at least 2 vacations of at least 3 days hopefully more. I have not finished my plans on how to accomplish this. Anyway thanks for helping me focus on my how.
    Darren Sager Investor from Summit, NJ
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Great article Brandon! Maybe we all should take a lesson from Yoda who rightfully said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Taking action is everything. Otherwise our goals are just a group of assorted letters assembled on a piece of paper or word doc.
    Replied over 4 years ago
    This was a great post. Really puts thing in perspective……………Thanks!
    Suzette Dobbins
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I enjoyed this article. I felt it was succinct and simple. You gave me some clear ideas that helped to motivate me to create an action plan that will be more beneficial to me. Thanks!
    Francie Hartsog
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Great Blog Brandon! When you quit your day job you have a shining future as being a motivational speaker! My husband, Kevin Slaughter is doing push-ups at this very moment!!!
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Great article! I think one of the problems with goals is you live your life constantly seeking a destination. And if you don’t make it you get depressed, and if you do, you set a new destination. The key is to learn how to enjoy the path not the destination itself. Basically, live in the present but align your path (i.e. your behavior) in a way that will achieve such goals.
    Neda Navidnia Property Manager from Houston, TX
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Although I had heard about investing in RE without money, I still had this idea that I need capital to start, or I need another tax return for being approved for a loan, now I know I should change this mind set. And I used the hate those vision boards and goals that would never work and each year I told myself, NAAAAh it’s never worked, it’s not going to work. But now I ham reading books, listening to podcast and audio books and sending messages to people asking them to meet me, I have action plan now. No excuse, and no reason not to achieve my goals.
    Joe Camarillo Speech-Language Pathologist from Sherman Oaks, California
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Great article. Working on mine now. Happy New Year all!
    Kory Thaut Investor from West Linn, Oregon
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I’ve come back to this article a couple times since the turn of the new year as a reminder. Hope Brandon hasn’t been eating cake.
    Benjamin Cowles from Cape Coral, FL
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Great stuff. Super yummy.
    Greg Parker Contractor from Montgomery, AL
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I have been “goal setting” for 35 years, probably have accomplished 1% of them(better than zero I guess). I like the action plan idea. Here’s mine: +Sell my current flip (should be complete in 4 weeks). +Set up hot sheet alerts in my target zip code +Write down all addresses in my target neighborhoods +Research those and look for out of town owners, vacancies, etc. +Check Craigs list daily. +Look at 3 properties every Saturday morning. +Talk to my banker +Read BP articles daily (I already do that one, there’s my 1%). BOOM-5 year plan starts today!!