Personal Development

Forget S.M.A.R.T. Goals—Achieve True Success Like This

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Mother Carrying Son And Daughter As They Play In Park

It’s that wonderful time of year! No, I am not talking about organizing your taxes. I am talking about the ability to set new goals.

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For as long as I can remember, I have used the new year to finalize my goals. I would ensure they were “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Specific). I would also be sure to align them with my overall business vision and values.

Every year, I would achieve most of the goals I set. So, I must be successful, right?

Without getting too philosophical about the definition of success, let’s just skip ahead to the finale to inform you the answer is no.

(Queue the dreamy, flashback movie music.)

Realizing My Goals Were Flawed

About six months ago, I attended Brandon Turner and Tarl Yarber’s mastermind in Maui. Not only did I establish lifelong friendships there, but I also learned game-changing business ideas and strategies to propel my businesses and personal life.

One strategy that I learned at this mastermind, I now use as a roadmap for establishing my goals.

Pretty casual thinking woman in glasses looking up on blue background with empty copy space

During one of our sessions, we were asked to describe, in detail, our perfect day. While I have had days that I thought were perfect, I had never been asked to write down what a perfect day actually is for me. By writing it down, it forced me to structure the time I spent doing specific activities during the day. Through this exercise, I realized that I have not been moving towards my perfect day, but away from it. Let me explain.

Related: There Is a Major Problem With Your Goals

I have always been a very competitive person. But unlike most people, I am not competitive with others—just myself. In sports, I wouldn’t compete against other people’s records in running or statistics but instead my own times and goals.

In school, I didn’t care what grades my classmates received. I only cared about what I believed I could achieve. And in my work life, I constantly push myself to build bigger and better businesses.

The problem is, when I look at my perfect day, it is not spent building businesses. Rather, it’s used to spend time with my family and friends and to ride my horse.

Setting New Goals With Ultimate Success in Mind

Obviously I know that being able to achieve my perfect day is due in large part to having a successful business. What is not so obvious is what makes a successful business.

investment philosophy, investing goals,

After much thought, I have come to realize my definition of a successful business (as it relates to my goals) should not be measured by the size of the business. Instead, it should be measured by its capacity to self-operate.

Related: How to Set (& Actually Achieve) Life-Transforming Goals

This epiphany has had a major impact on me. Unlike previous years, this year my goal planning session did not start by writing out SMART goals. In contrast, I started with writing the definition of my perfect day.

I then set a count goal for perfect days (52 for 2020, which breaks down to once a week). All of my other goals are set to not only help me achieve my goal of 52—but to exceed it. And like all goals, I will be tracking my progress to ensure I hold myself accountable.

The number of perfect days is a reflection of my new definition of what a successful business is to me. In the end, if I am able to achieve this goal, I will be able to finally say I am successful!

What are you goals for the new year? What’s your process of setting and sticking to them?

Let’s talk below!

Ashley Wilson, co-founder of HouseItLook LLC and Bar Down Investments LLC, started investing in real estate in 2010 with a single rental property. HouseItLook, located in the suburbs of Philadelphi...
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    Chaim K. from Brooklyn, New York
    Replied 9 months ago
    Very enlightening. I'll try to reset my goals with this mindset. Thanks for sharing.
    Ashley Wilson Rental Property Investor from Radnor, PA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you for reading!
    Kevin McGuire Rental Property Investor from Seattle, WA
    Replied 9 months ago
    It’s a great personal learning. There’s a style of coaching called fulfillment coaching. The idea is to help the individual to connect with their deeper sense of purpose, and the “perfect day” question is one technique. It’s quite powerful. We are often so busy chasing after goals that we lose track of the “why”. See also Daniel Pink’s book Drive.
    Ashley Wilson Rental Property Investor from Radnor, PA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you for the recommendation, I will check it out.
    Shiloh Lundahl Rental Property Investor from Gilbert, AZ
    Replied 9 months ago
    This year I created 2 different sections for my goals. My first section was the habits I wanted to develop. These are habits that when I do them I feel like I am the better version of myself. The second section was the goal setting that I usually do which follows the SMART process divided up into different areas of my lie. Then I keep my goals on a sheet of paper I keep in my pocket throughout the day along with my task list. I like this style of goal setting. But I also like the idea of getting a framework for a perfect day though.
    Ashley Wilson Rental Property Investor from Radnor, PA
    Replied 9 months ago
    That's a great way to do it too! This year, I also started a new visual reminder. Since I am always with my laptop, I took the mini post-it notes (the ones people use to mark pages) and on each one I wrote out my goals for the week, and placed them on the left side of my mouse area (below my keyboard). On the right, I have my goals for the month. This way I see them every day, and it links what I am doing daily with my monthly goals (and obviously my monthly goals are tied to my annual, and greater "why"). It has already helped me tremendously to stay focused!
    Fred Moskowitz Fund Manager from Philadelphia, PA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Great article, Ashley! I really like the approach that you described, and this helps keep us focused on our "why".
    Ashley Wilson Rental Property Investor from Radnor, PA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you Fred for the support!
    Brandon Chidester
    Replied 9 months ago
    Ashley, you are the first person in 2020 that I have heard breaking down goals by starting with a “perfect day”. We hear monthly goals, 90 day goals, annual goals. I find it much more impactful to focus on one step first rather than looking at the entire staircase. Perfect morning > perfect day > perfect week > perfect month > perfect year. I love that you broke it down. I've also not written down what makes a perfect day for me but I have no doubt that writing it down has an impact. Excited to do this. Thank you for taking the time to write this.
    Ashley Wilson Rental Property Investor from Radnor, PA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you Brandon for your thoughts. Sometimes the simplest things have the biggest impact, and that was this for me. It has really changed how I look at how I run my day-to-day. I also have to constantly ask myself if what I am doing is moving me towards or away from my perfect day, as it is easy to default to my previous routines. Wishing you the best!
    Eric Carr Real Estate Broker from Los Angeles, CA
    Replied 9 months ago
    This was wonderful to read
    Ashley Wilson Rental Property Investor from Radnor, PA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you Eric!
    Cary Love Specialist from Houston, TX
    Replied 9 months ago
    Wow great article! Before reading this, starting off the year I had a thought about what the perfect day looked like next week, month, year, 3 years, and so on. What I found is that with each step the perfect day looks different. Real estate is amazing because of the lifestyle creation and flexibility. The most impressive take away from your article is that, success starts with an individuals mindset and discipline today! Thanks for the content! 😃
    Ashley Wilson Rental Property Investor from Radnor, PA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you Cary! Real estate definitely provides that advantage in so many ways.