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The Science Behind Setting and Achieving Big Goals

The BiggerPockets Podcast
51 min read
The Science Behind Setting and Achieving Big Goals

Raise your hand if this describes you: You start working toward a new goal with excitement, only to watch it eventually fizzle out to nothing. If you’re human, it’s likely you’ve experienced this phenomenon. Why is it some goals are just so hard to accomplish, whereas others we’re able to conquer with ease?

On today’s episode of The BiggerPockets Podcast, that’s exactly what you’ll discover. Diving deep into psychological research on goals, motivation, and time management, Brandon and David will pull back the curtain on how people set and accomplish big goals and give you a GPS toward changing your life forever. If there is one episode you listen to all year, let it be this one!

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Read the Transcript Here

This is the BiggerPockets podcast show 307.

‘Every goal you desire is preceded by a process required to get the result. In other words, like if you want to lose weight, yes, it is great to have a goal of losing weight but what really gets you the weight loss is diet and exercise, right? If you want to buy real estate, there is a process involved and the process that David and I talk a lot about is the…’

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Brandon: What is going on everyone? My name is Brandon Turner, today’s host of the BiggerPockets podcast. I am super excited about the show and I am super excited about my co-host in crime, David Greene. What is up, buddy?

David: Not much, man. This is a very good episode because we are not just interviewing somebody else about how they bought real estate. We are talking to people about how they can improve their own game to buy it for themselves.

Brandon: Yes, yes. Today, we are looking at success in general on how people actually achieve a huge success. This has been an obsession of mine for the last few years, I know David yours as well. Like we have been obsessed with ideas. Why do some people talk about doing big things? They talk about investing in real estate, they talk about losing weight or starting a business or whatever, right? Whatever their goal is. Then they do not actually accomplish it. You and I have had countless discussions about this where we are just like why do so many people not take action and not do it? It is not just desire, it is not just they do not have the, whatever. There is a number of things. We are going to go over that today.

This is a show that I have been looking forward to doing for several years and we have finally compiled all of the information, the data, the science, the research behind what makes people successful and that is what we are covering today.

David: Yes. I think that it is probably a bit of a surprise for a lot of people but Brandon and I, when we get together, we very rarely actually talk about real estate. We talk about what he just said. It is like success, what makes successful people successful, what holds us back from being successful, what our dreams are, where we want to go in life, and what is getting in the way of that? Because we have a solid friendship, we actually work with each other on areas that we think that the other person could improve. We are actually very very passionate about that. I mean real estate is the way that we achieved our success, but we spend most of our time focusing on the 80% of the listeners who are just having a hard time getting over that hump. We want to go back to those people and help bring them up rather than just focus on the top 20% who are already doing great and it is easy.

This is where we spent all of our time like kind of masterminding and focusing on what are the things successful people do and how can people that are not successful copy it and that is what today’s show is going to be about and I can guarantee you guys, you are going to have your minds blown because you probably have not realized how work Brandon and I have been putting in to putting together the tools that you need to be successful.

Brandon: Yes, I think so. I think people are going to love this. With that said, keep in mind, like we are going to give it a lot of examples of real estate investing today but this does apply even if you have other goals in life that you want to accomplish. This is a goal setting, we will call it a system or a success system that will take you from where you want, where you are right now to where you want to be. Before we get into that though, let us get to today’s quick tip. Today’s quick tip is very short and simple, I hope I can keep it short. Basically, today, one of the reasons we are doing today’s show, here about setting big goals because the new year is right around the corner but also because we are launching today a new…

It is like a success journal is what they are called, but ours is called the 90 Days of Intention Journal. I kind of led the charge, I am putting this thing together. It is available today, it is super fancy. It has got like this leathery kind of cover, really beautiful design and it has got like one goal in mind, to help you achieve your biggest goals. Like this is not a book in like the terms of like you are going to read, like a bunch of like hundreds of thousands of words of information. This is a like a 90 day week by week, day by day guide that you are going to fill out. Every day, you are going to fill this thing out, and it helps you actually achieve your biggest goals. It is kind of like a case analogy, to use an analogy like David Greene likes to use. If you go to the gym, right? It is like it is good advice to workout, right? We all know we should work out, we all know we should diet and exercise.

This journal is like it is a document that you can follow every day and enter in your calories and enter in your exercise and enter in your fitness goals and then think about fitness this way but do not think about it this way. Then in addition to that, it is like going to the gym with a group of friends every single week. That is kind of what this whole journal thing is and I had some people asking, ‘Well, how is this different than a notebook?’ Just check it out, Biggerpockets.com/journal, it is not a notebook.

It is a system, a success based plan that takes your biggest goals and boils them down into very actionable steps that you can work towards your goals every single day. That was the not so quick tip but check it out, Biggerpockets.com/journal. It is very important, we will explain why later, it is very important that if you are going to get the journal do it before the end of December, December 30th or December 31st or some cool bonus stuff you get before then. There you go, that is our quick tip. Like that, David Greene?

David: I loved it.

Brandon: Alright. Now, let us move on. Before we get to the GPS, let us hear a word from today’s show sponsor.

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You get nationwide MLS access, vacant house leads, foreclosure leads, comparable sale data, and get this, Pat Hawk users can actually send a postcard email or a voicemail with just like three clicks of a mouse, all without leading the Pat Hawk platform. I am telling you guys, this thing is the future. If you want a tool that is going to give you the edge in your market, stop finger painting your grandma’s couch and be like Aaron. Go to biggerpockets.com/PatHawk right now and check it out. Again, Biggerpockets.com/PatHawk. PS, if you are investing in Texas as I know some of you are, they got some extra special data over there because they are based in Texas. Definitely check it out, but everybody go there, Biggerpockets.com/PatHawk.

Brandon: Alright, let us get to this thing. But before we actually get into the GPS system, I want to I want to talk about the problem here. David, you can jump in here as well. But we see this problem, we have talked about it before, like success really gets boiled down to two things, right? Knowing what you want and then having the discipline to do it. People struggle with both those. The problem is twofold, they have not defined what they want and even if they have many people including myself and a lot of areas lack the discipline to get there.

David, question for you. Have you ever, and this is for everybody listening, have you ever started towards a goal, like something that you wanted, whether it was buying real estate deals or a new business venture or like weight loss or you wanted to get in shape or you want to run a marathon or anything at all and then it fizzled out over time. Like it started with all this fanfare and you are all excited about and then over time it was not like a sudden death. It just overtime fizzled out. Has that happened to you?

David: Probably 95% of the time.

Brandon: Okay, me too. Alright, Like actually recently I was like I am going to do the whole 30 diet, right? For a whole month. Do a 30 day no sugar, no bread, no dairy, no nothing. Basically, like you eat like, I do not know, meat and vegetables for like a month, right? I started with so much fanfare and I made it like two weeks in and then I was like I had a little bit of this and a little bit of that and pretty soon it just kind of fizzled out. Today’s show is about why that happens and how we can make that not happen. We are going to overcome those problems of that, of not defining and not getting there based on this acronym, GPS. To be honest, David, you will find this funny I am sure, it was actually GPSA.

There is actually four things I want to talk about. We are just going to call it the GPS with a bonus of an A at the end. I could not find, what is the word acronym, I could not find an acronym that was like GPSA and it did not sound right. Whatever, we are doing GPS with a bonus A at the end. Actually, the A might be the most important thing, one of the most important things we are going to talk about today. In fact, there is a study, I will talk about it later, that showed that your odds of accomplishing your goal can increase by almost 50% when you apply that last A. It was like everything else you did and it increased by almost 50% versus just the GPS alone. We will go through all of that today and I do not know with that. Are you ready to get into this thing?

David: Let us do it, bro.

Brandon: G for GPS. G stands for what we all know it probably does stand for, right? Before we jump in this, I want to talk about having a goal, right? What makes an ideal goal? I do not want to just pull out like what I think makes a good goal even though we will talk about that and what David thinks. I want to know like what is research? What does scientists and psychologist, what do they study to know what makes a good goal? I am sure we have all heard that smart goal, have you heard before, David? Like S is specific, measurable, attainable, attainable or there is a few. Anyway, I like smart goals, they are fine. But I was doing some research and found that in the handbook of positive psychology, which is like one of like the textbooks for like psychologists, they have like this section on goal setting on what science in psychology has shown and they have four things listed that makes a good goal.

Number one, this actually lines up with smart goals, it is specific. In other words, when you have a specific goal, you take specific action. When you have a general goal, it is just kind of you take general action and typically does not get you there. I am wondering, David, if you can jump in on anything having to do with like specific goals. For people listening in this show today who want a good specific goal for the year, what is a good example or what is some advice you can give to them?

David: Yes, you do not want a goal that says like I want to get in shape, right? Because your brain does not know what to do with that and what you will do is you will beat yourself up because you did not get in shape, you will have a bad experience with your goal so you just will not do it at all. A better goal would be I want to go to the gym four times a week, right? Because you know what you can do with that. You can then calendar time in your calendar that says I will go to the gym at this time.

You can get other people involved that asked, ‘Did you go to the gym?’ You can put a strategy around something that is specific. If you put a strategy around, I want to get in shape, you will have a bunch of things that are designed to help you but they do not really know how to help you and the more general it is, the easier it is to justify not doing. There you go.

Brandon: Let us give a couple of examples of real estate. Let us say you are brand new, like you are a brand new real estate investor, you have no property whatsoever, like what is a good specific goal for that person? We will get to the actual process for getting that goal done but like what is a good number or something you think people should shoot for your brand?

David: Well, I am really big into you should learn first and so the goals that I set for myself, like throwing other things that I want to learn is how to get into commercial investing. The goal that I set for myself is I want to be able to explain to someone who has no idea how commercial investing works, how it works so that they can understand how to analyze a commercial property.

That is a cool way of looking at it. I actually have never thought of that before. A goal could be to understand something good enough that you can teach. In fact, that actually when I was doing research on all this stuff, one of the studies I found is that like I do not remember the exact number because I do not have that, I was not thinking about talking about that today but basically they said the best way to learn something, and it is like dramatic, is if you envision yourself teaching that thing later. Like it increases your odds of actually learning this stuff. While you are learn it, you think I am going to have to teach this to somebody later.

David: Yes.

Brandon: It increase your chance. For that exact reason, that is perfect. I love that. Cool, alright. What about like what if your past education phase, you have already been listening to the podcast forever, you feel pretty comfortable, now you want to get into real estate. What is it like? How does somebody know what goal to set for a specific goal?

David: It should be specific. I would say something like I want to analyze 10 properties a week.

Brandon: Okay. Why not say I want to buy 10 properties this year?

David: The problem with saying I want to buy 10 properties this year is that you are putting pressure on yourself to do something that may not be a good idea and there is many different ways to buy. You also do not know what you need to know in order to buy. Saying you want to buy 10 properties in a year, that can be a good goal but why would not you buy 12 if you found 12 good ones and why would you stop at seven if that was the only deals that came your way?

Brandon: Cool. That is an interesting way to look at it, I like that. Alright, you are saying a specific goal might be like it is a process goal versus a number goal. I think that is powerful, right? I do not think number goals are bad. I mean I had a goal of, for example, I wanted to buy a mobile home park last year and so I have set the goal and I ended up doing it but like at the same time, in order to get that goal accomplished, I had to set a bunch of process goal. I was analyzing one deal every single day and I was hoping that would result in the deal getting it accomplished. Very cool. Okay. Specific goal, we now have gotten specific.

Next, difficult, that is the next thing to handbook of positive psychology said about of goals is goal should be difficult. Here is what they actually said in there, ‘Given that people are committed to a goal, they exert effort in proportion to what the goal requires. An easy goal stimulates low effort, a medium goal, moderate effort, and a difficult goal, high effort. Do you find that true in your own life? Has there ever been like a huge goal that you set for yourself and you accomplish it because you put in massive effort?

David: Absolutely, a 100%. I would also say the times where I did not have to put much effort into a goal, I did not really experience much growth and so it was not very much fun.

Brandon: That is a good way to look at it too. Yes, when goals are simple, it is like I want to do this one little tiny thing. It is not that exciting and invigorating. The bigger goal you do. Now, there is obviously going to be too big, right? If you are just like deflates you and you are just climbing a mountain that you can never climb, that is a bad idea too. For somebody who is brand new, a good example of that, if your goal for the year was a specific goal, I want to buy 700 properties this year, I am going to analyze 400 deals a month, like it just would get overwhelming, right? But if you can analyze, would it be difficult to analyze one deal a day for 90 days straight? Like that is actually a difficult thing to everyday for 90 days to go do it but is it impossible? Of course not anybody could do that.

It just difficult, right? It is also a process goal which I think is kind of cool. Alright, the third one on is feedback. That is the third one that the handbook of positive psychology said is a feedback? In other words, can you at any given point, see where you are at on pursuit of your goal? Is it trackable? Can you you have knowledge of your results? If your goal is to buy a property this year, if your goal is to analyze a certain number of deals this year, can you see where you are at? With real estate, that is actually pretty easy. With weight loss, that is actually pretty easy. If your goal is to be a better person, is that trackable? Can you get feedback on I want to be a better person, I want to be a better husband, right? That would make the goal less likely to accomplish if you cannot get immediate feedback.

A lot of people make a mistake, they want to be a better real estate investor. They want to buy more properties. What does that mean, right? It is not specific, it is not necessarily difficult and you cannot contract feedback on it. I will just move on to the fourth one. The last one is commitment. In other words, they say, I am going to actually read this because it was a really good, action is the ultimate proof of commitment in that people can say they are committed and not really mean it.

Two types of causal factors are critical in commitment. One, the belief that the goal is important and two, the belief that one can achieve or make progress towards that goal. I thought that was kind of amazing like one, you have to believe that the goal is important, right? You have to believe that you can actually do it. If you do not believe those two things, you are not going to have commitment. That is what commitment is based on, that is what action is based on. It is knowing those two things. Let us go back to real estate again, right? If you believe that real estate investing is important, why? Why is it important?

David: Well, real estate investing to me is important because it is a way of knowing that I am preparing for the future. Thirty years from now, when I look back, I mean I have bought a house for $100,000. It is going to be worth $300,000, it is going to be paid off, it is going to be providing me with income when I am no longer able to work a lot. There is a lot of reasons why it is important, but it is very easy to put off and so that is why I have to make it a priority because 30 years from now when I look back, it does not matter if I intended to do it, if I did not do it I do not get the benefit.

Brandon: Yes, I love that. Actually, there was another… I am going to scroll on my page because there was another study that related to this. Yes, it says here, I hope you guys enjoy like I… I do not know, we are doing something  kind of new today but I love seeing what like studies and research and psychologists say because like it is one thing to get like subjective advice from people which I think is helpful. It is another thing to say like mathematically or scientifically this is what is going to help you.

Check this out, ‘A study in the Journal of Research and Personality suggests that there are material benefits to having your goal aligned to your purpose. Researchers followed the same sample of people over a period of nine years and they found out that during that time, individuals who reported a greater sense of purpose, I had started to accumulate greater wealth.’

I thought that was super cool. Like not only like you are having a good purpose and a good reason behind what you do. Not only is that a good idea in terms of like getting your goals done, but it actually is scientifically that we can make you wealthier. Now, if you ask what does it mean purpose? They defined it this way. They rated people and they had them answer this question do you agree with this statement, ‘Some people wander aimlessly through life, I am not one of them.’ People who said, ‘Yes, I am not one of them. I do not wander aimlessly through life.’ Then they are most likely to be more wealthy which I think is just good hope for all of us who are listening to the podcast here on being intentional about goals because we are all not wandering aimlessly through life.

David: Well, I can say I thousand percent agree with this because I see it play out in my own life. I will give you an example. Working out as a goal that I have and almost everybody has, we know we are supposed to exercise. Do I exercise right now? It is very intermittent and not like a consistently, right? When I was working as a full time police officer and I knew I am going to get in a fight this week, I am going to be in a struggle for my life, I could seriously get hurt or my partner could get hurt. I had a purpose to stay in shape and I was in the gym every single day before my shift started because I was so scared if I am not in shape and he gets away from me and he hurts somebody else, I am never going to forgive myself, right? I had a very strong purpose for why I was doing it.

When I was a basketball player, it was the same way. Working out was not I know I am supposed to, it was I do not want to lose that next game and if he is in better shape than me and he gets to the ball before I do, I am going to be so upset, right? When you tie your goal to a purpose, it makes it a thousand times easier on yourself to accomplish it and it stops being just willpower that is trying to push you towards it and instead it is like this deep desire you have inside to accomplish this goal that frankly kind of makes it a downhill struggle instead of an uphill… Or downhill coasting instead of an uphill climb.

Brandon: Yes, that is great. That is great. One more final thing before we move onto the P of GPS. It said, ‘A 2015 study by psychologists Gail Matthews showed that when people wrote down their goals, they were 33% more successful in achieving them than those who formulated outcomes in their heads, and I am going to get to that a little later, talk about another way to even… At the A, I was talking about GPSA, the A will help you even more than just writing them down. But writing them down does help you become 37% more successful than those who do not do that. Why do you think that is, David?

David: Why writing it down helps?

Brandon: Yes, why does writing it down help?

David: I mean everyone kind of knows that, but why? When we were training police officers, we would teach them that when they get stressed, their brain is going to push aside everything that is not extremely important in that moment. I saw guys, especially newer guys or that we are not as familiar with being in a stressful situation, not recognize their own name in the middle of it. I would be saying Jared, Jared, and he would not even recognize his own name because he was a locked in on the gun that we were looking at that the suspect had or whatever the problem was, right? What I learned through that training was that our brain has what we call a reticular activating system that determines of all the stimuli that is hitting us, what matters and what does not, and if your brain and your subconscious determines I do not need to know this right now, it pushes it aside.

Right now, in this moment as you are listening to this podcast, you are hearing traffic go by you, you are hearing the hum of the refrigerator, you are hearing people talking and your brain is ignoring all of it because you are focused on David’s voice and Brandon’s voice and maybe you are thinking about how this stuff would have planned your life, right? The minute I say that, boom, you become aware of it. You need to train your reticular activating system to help you, not hurt you. That is what we would do with cops. We would teach them to take deep breaths, slow your thinking down, slow your heart rate down so that you can hear the guy next to you saying I need you to cover me, I am going to move forward or I am going to cover you, you need to go forward because that is what is actually going to help you in that moment. It works the same way with goals.

When I write my goal down and I look at that goal every single day, I am telling my reticular activating system, ‘Hey, buddy. Pay attention for anything that is going to help me to accomplish this. This matters to me.’ When I am hearing someone in a conversation next to me mention the word house flip, normally my brain will be like, who cares? I only want to know about what the next Dancing With The Stars episode is going to be, right? But when you have trained yourself to pay attention to that, you are like, ‘Oh, yes. Are you in the house flipping?’ ‘Yes, I am.’ That leads to you getting invited to a meetup which leads to you meeting more people and it kind of steam rolls that way. If you are not writing things down, it is very difficult to train your reticular activating system to know what it should be warning you about.

Brandon: Yes. Another example of the reticular activating system that I have heard explain and it is so true because I worked for me. I was looking to buy a new car recently. I wanted a Toyota Rav 4 because I really liked them. I had looked at them a couple times and all of a sudden everywhere I drove was Rav 4s. All over, like the entire world is made up of Rav 4s. It was the weirdest thing, I was like I did not realize there was so many Rav 4s. Then I bought one, I have it now, this is like six months ago I bought it. I do not see Rav 4s anymore ever. Like they are never around. Is it because like they are just miraculously disappeared? Of course not, I tricked or I focused my raz into focusing on that one thing. I knew that my goal was to buy a Rav 4 so I saw them everywhere.

My brain is taking millions of pieces of data that are going through its head at any given point. Millions of stimuli and it is pulling out things that it thinks are important for me because I have identified what that is. This is why it is so important to not just write your goals down but to reflect on them all the time, regularly. This is why I love recommending and why I have used success based journals forever because like I mean for years and years I have used these journals and finally today we are launching BiggerPockets own journal based on what has worked in my life and in the other journals that I have used because it is like hey every morning you are writing down what that goal is. It is in the front of your brain, you are a sub consciously finding ways to make that happen.

If I give one more example of this, every year my wife and I do a goal studying date, we will call it. Every year we go to the beach at Seabrook, Washington, it is one of my favorite towns in the world, it is amazing. Seabrook Washington, very cool, check it out. We rent a little house out there sometimes or maybe we will just go out there and go to this restaurant. Either way, the eve or on the first of January we will go to this restaurant together, the same restaurant, we sit in almost the same spot and we review our goals for the year. What do we last year? What do we want to accomplish this year? It just became a tradition, we have done it now for five years I think in a row now. Last year, January of 2018, we sat down and wrote down our goals for the year and we wrote some five year goals.

One of those five year goals was to move to Hawaii, to buy a house in Hawaii that had at least one extra unit that family and friends could come stay. That was a five year goal, we wrote that down. As most of you guys know, we just moved to Hawaii. We bought a property that had an extra unit, we accomplished our five year goal in like seven or eight months. A lot of things fell into place to be able to get the house that I am in right now. A lot of luck fell into it, a lot of cool things in light of random happenstance but it all happened because I had that goal written down and I reviewed it all the time that that is what I wanted in life. It took what was a five year goal and made it a half a year goal instead and that is that raz working in your life.

David: Brandon talked to me about that goal that he had, right? A lot of conversations that he had kind of spun around what would it take to get you there, right? He had to learn a little more about how sacking because he did not want to pay out the tea to live in Hawaii. He wanted it to be more affordable. He had to restructure his life so that it was not so dependent on being in Washington. He was able to make money and provide for his family in different areas, right? There were some tax implications of moving to Hawaii that you had to put in place so that it would not hurt you quite as much. There is a lot of things that go into this that make a goal seemingly insurmountable or very difficult.

Brandon started systematically knocking out all those barriers and what he found is that within a year he had them all knocked out and it was a viable option for him instead of the five years that he was planning on. None of that happens if he does not write it down, talk about it with somebody else and let his subconscious start churning in the background to accomplish it. One of my friends and mentors, Brandon knows him very well, he is in GoBundance with us. Dave Osborne says, ‘That your subconscious is a powerful ally but a terrible master.’

You are either training your subconscious to help you work towards your goals or it is holding you back and keeping you in place by telling you could never do it, this is too hard, you do not have what it takes. There is all these things that could go wrong and if you speak with high high performance coaches, this is always where they start. They want to know what is going on in your subconscious because unlocking that unlocks the power that we all have.

Brandon: Wow, that is deep. That is deep, I like that. We got to move on past goals. The last thing I am going to say because it kind of leads into the next thing. Psychologists Richard Wiseman, who is… He has a bunch of YouTube videos but he also writes a lot of books. One of his book is called 59 Seconds. I would highly recommend it, it is fantastic. It is about a bunch of little things you can do in your life to change your life in under a minute, it is really really cool. But anyway, in there he studied goals a lot. He is a psychologist, he did a bunch of research and studies on him and he found these five tips for setting goals in. This leads us into the next section but the first one, make a step by step plan. Break your goal down into concrete, measurable, and time based sub goals.

That is where we are actually moving to next. Another reason that this journal that we are launching today is so important because that is exactly what it does. It gives you a section first to define what your goal is and then it helps you break them down into weekly battle plans and then take them down into daily action plans in which you can actually put what those little things are into your calendar which, again, I think it is super cool. Anyways, that is the first thing. Make a step by step plan. Next, he says, ‘Tell other people about your goal. Making a public declaration increases motivation.’ Third, think about the good things that will happen if you achieve your goal but do not fantasize about it. This is actually a really interesting study they have done. People who do a lot of like, ‘I am rich, I am powerful.’

I am visualizing myself as already achieved a goal have a less likely chance of achieving their goal because their subconscious think they have already got it right. When you fantasize about already having it, you have a less likely chance of actually achieving it. A lot of people do not know that in the personal development world but science has shown that is not good to fantasize but it is good to know what good things are going to happen.

For example, when I got into real estate, I said I wanted to get financial freedom because I wanted to have a kid someday and when I had a kid someday, I wanted to be the best father ever. I wanted to be there for them for every event, every soccer game, every whatever, right? Every Ballerina recital. I do not know what our kids do these days but like swimming lessons, I wanted to be there, right? That was a good thing I thought about and I dwelled on. I did not fantasize, I am already successful. I just said, this is what is going to happen if I get there, I am going to have that life and it pushed me towards achieving it. Number three, that was number three. Number four, Wiseman says, ‘Reward yourself for making progress in your goals. Small rewards helped push us to major successes.’ This is something I think we will talk about later. There is another study that shows that as well. It is just like small wins are one of the greatest chances of continuing on a goal and not phasing out the way that we talked about earlier where people just kind of phase out of their goal. Small wins, the more you can make that happen, the better. Maybe your first goal, again, this is why we take down big goals to smaller chunks. Maybe your first goal is to learn enough to explain to somebody and your goal is to sit down and explain it to your spouse perfectly.

Once you do that, you just got a small win. Now your next goal is to analyze 20 deals. Okay, great, once you do that you get a small win and maybe you reward yourself with something small like hey you are going to take a weekend trip away with your wife as soon as you analyzed 20 deals, right? Then the last one that Wiseman, registered psychologist Richard Wiseman says, is to record your, this is his words not mine, record your process. Keep a journal, graph, or drawings that plot your progress. Again, we just keep going back to this idea of writing down your goals and again, even if you do not end up getting the BiggerPockets success journal, there is a lot of them out there. Get something that you can keep track of that on a day by day, week by week basis. It will make a huge impact.

David: One of my favorite people is Jocko Willink, he is a former navy seal. He wrote the book Extreme Ownership. I love it, right? I love the way Jocko thinks. I listened to him all the time and one of my goals is to get on his podcast. If anybody out there knows Jocko or knows how to get on his podcast, please reach out. I would love to be able to talk to you to make that happen. He speaks about something that I am very passionate about which is that on the battlefield he would say this is the mission. In his big, hairy, crazy, audacious goal that they had have, how are you going to do it?

He was very good at taking this really complicated concept and breaking it into very small submissions that he knew if you want every single small submission, you would end up winning the big mission, right? What he found as successful people develop the skill of taking a complex thing and breaking it into several simple things and focusing on that, right? That will lead into the power of a checklist which I do not know why our brains work this way but there is something we love about making a checklist and checking it off. In fact, Brandon loves this so much that he will make a checklist and he will make the first thing make a checklist just so that you can check it off and say, I made a checklist, right? Then the second thing will be check something… Off on the checklist when he gets to do that because he just liked the first thing up, right? What you are doing is you are harnessing the power you already have to make things easier for yourself that will help you accomplish your goal. I love it.

Brandon: I do not make checklist, that is weird. Okay, maybe I do. Alright, let us move onto the second one. That was goal. You got to have a good goal set and we can talk about more about that in the future. But for now, I want to move onto the P which is plan. You have to have a plan, right? I think there is a quote, I cannot remember the guy’s name, he like a French name, but it says basically, I am going to butcher it down, but basically a goal without a plan is just a wish. I think that is what he said. A goal without a plan is a wish. Right? I have a goal to buy a rental property this year. Well, what is your plan to get there? Well, I do not know, that is my goal.

You are not going to get there then, right. You got to open to what is your plan to get there? Actually, I want to read you guys this another study I read that I found fascinating. Researchers wanted to see if they could get more students to get their tetanus shots, their tetanus vaccinations. They printed up two different leaflets and they measure the success of each one. The first had is scientific explanation on why students should get vaccinated? The second had gruesome pictures of the effect of the tetanus. Which one do you think worked better, David? Which one would you guess?

David: I have no idea. I would not even know where to start.

Brandon: It is a trick question, neither work. They were horrible, right? They made one more trial. This one, they simply put a map on the paper showing the location of the campuses, healthcare center and its opening hours and that one worked like magic. Why? Because the research has added process and steps on how to exactly achieve the desired outcome. Is not that great? Just by having like we need a process. We, as humans, like to follow a plan. Whether we admit it or not, we like to have something kind of spelled out for us which is why like when I say like today’s Today’s show is GPS system, because people like a system. Like a process like goal, got it, plan got it. S, we will get to that in a second and A, right? GPSA is our system. What does plan mean?

Well, we talked about this earlier and when Richard Wiseman said you got to break down your goals, that is what he means. If you have a big goal, for example, my goal for a lot of people, their goal and my goal was and for a lot of people is financial freedom. Okay, well what does that mean? Let us get specific about that goal. Okay, my goal is to have $5,000 per month in income from rental properties. Great. that is a really good goal. Great, we are getting specific now. When do you want accomplish it by? Well, I do it within five years. Okay, in order to be on track that is something, the book that one thing talks a lot about. Goal setting to the now.

If you want to accomplish that goal in five years, what do you think you need to have accomplished in the next 12 months to be on track? Well, if I want to have, within five years I do not have $5,000, I would like to have up to a thousand dollars a month in passive income by the end of this year. Okay, great. In order to be on track for a thousand dollars in passive income, what would you need to do this quarter?

David: Oh Man. Okay. Well, I probably should have at least one property under contract this quarter. Great, let us break that even smaller, weekly. If you need to get a property under contract this quarter, what would you need to do this week to get that? Well, I probably should start sending out to get my leads coming in. You get leads coming in. Okay, great. Well, how are you going to do that? Well, every day I am going to spend at least ten minutes looking on realtor.com or talk with my agent on getting lead them then most are analyzed. You see what we just did there? We took down a big goal that people have which is a wish, right? We made up, we attached a plan to it and now we have something that might get accomplished, right?

We took this big goal down to I am going to start analyzing deals or I am going to Start Looking at deals or I am going to call a real estate agent or whatever. You need to get there and then you need to be able to like actually do that stuff, right? Because at the end of the day, every single thing you try to accomplish in life, in fact, this is a quote Hal Elrod said this in one of the ‘Miracle Morning’ books. Every goal you desire is preceded by a process required to get the result. In other words, like if you want to lose weight, yes that is great to have a goal to lose weight but what really gets you the weight loss is diet and exercise, right? If you want to buy real estate, there is a process involved and the process that David and I talk a lot about is the laps funnel, right?

You have to get leads, you have to analyze those leads. You got to pursue them, go after him, and then sometimes they work out to success, LAPS. If you do not have a process, you are likely not going to get in there. Now, I did not know David, you are a real estate agent and you are a pretty darn good one I hear, I know this is huge especially with Keller Williams and the and the agency that you are part of is this idea of a process. Can you talk about that a little bit?

David: Yes, one of the guys that I look up to a lot is my friend Ben Kenny. He is a big real estate agent within Keller Williams and I am really trying to get them on the podcast because he has an amazing success story where he went from living in a cabin in the woods without running water to be full time multimillionaire that tons of property, sells tons of houses, a very humble guy. He teaches a different kind of GPS. It is very similar to this but his GPS stands for goal, priority strategy. I guess as Brandon was talking, a little light bulb went off in my head and what I realized is everything that we are discussing is a way of converting a goal into a plan, right? It is all the tools and the systems that we use to transfer it from a desire into a process that will get you that desire.

That is really important, right? At Keller Williams, Ben Kenny teaches this idea of the goal, priority strategy, 135. You have one goal, you come up with three strategies that will help you get there and then, sorry, three priorities that will help you get there and then five strategies for each priority. It might look like my goal is to sell 100 houses a year. Then I would come up with three strategies how I am going to do it. One of them would be talking to everybody in my sphere and telling them I am real estate agent. Another one would be holding open houses. Another one would be holding seminars and teaching people about real estate in the hopes that they send me deals. Then I come up with five strategies for each priority. How am I going to hold open houses?

I am going to hold this many every week. I am going to find them from this location. This is what I am going to do at the open house to make it work, right? Those actual strategies are something that I can measure, that I can track, I can write down a no, am I hitting this or not? Did I hold this many open houses this month? Why not? What do I need to do to change it, right? Did I make sure everybody’s signed in that came to my open house? Did I follow up with all those people? Because if I miss any of those steps, then I am not going to accomplish that strategy, which means that priority will not work, which means I will not hit the goal, right? It is the very same thing we are talking about now. These are all tools that successful people use to take what seems like a crazy mountain top goal you could never get to and break it into things that you can control which are the strategies.

Brandon: There you go. Yes, because a lot of times we cannot control the outcome but we can control what we do and that is why having a plan is so important. Let us get specific and talk about real estate real quick. I already mentioned that maybe the strategy or the plan is I am going to analyze x number of deals per month. I think that is a really good lead measure. I have been talking and learning a lot lately about lead measures versus lag measures. Lead measures of things that predict the result, the result is a lag measure, right? Losing weight, the lag measure is the scale. Like what do you actually weigh? The lead measure is how many times you worked out, how many calories you ate, right?

Lead measures are things that you can influence. We cannot influence getting an offer accepted. That is a lag measure, we cannot influence that. I mean we cannot direct that but what we can do is we can guide, we can direct and we can influence our lead measures. I am going to analyze this many deals, I am going to attend this many real estate meet ups. I am going to take this many investors out to coffee. I am going to have this many conversations with lenders. Those are lead measures, things that we can do, and if we do those lead measures, if we follow the process, the results should take care of themselves automatically.

Now, that is not always true. We might need to shift how we are doing our lead measures, right? We need to make adjustments along the way. Again, if your goal is to buy a single rental property in 2019, like what is the process needed to get you there? Like we said, you are going to need leads, you are going to need to analyze them, you are going to need to pursue them, make some offers, and then that should take care. Those three lead things should take care of the success at the end.

David: This is so good. I am making a course right now. This was Brandon’s idea actually because we were masterminding on ideas for how I could hit my goals. He said you should make a course for real estate agents that teaches them how to become a top producer and make a bunch of money in their first year, right? One of the things that we are talking about is exactly what Brandon is saying but I have never put it into this context before. If you focus on the lag, it is very easy to get discouraged. Did I get an offer accepted? No, this sucks. It is not working. If I focus on the lead, there is things that I can do to make it better. Well, I could write more offers, I could write better offers, I could target houses are more likely to get offers accepted, right? Just a subtle difference on what your brain focuses on impacts how much success you are likely to have. I use this analogy of I was a big basketball player, right? You want to shoot better.

If you focus on your shooting percentage and it is not improving, I just need to shoot more, right? You are not actually going to make any progress, you are just going to get discouraged and want to quit. If you focus on the lead measures, that would be things like did I get my elbow in? Did I flick my wrist? Did I spread my fingers? Were my feet squared up? Things that you can control and you practice and practice and practice those until their habits. Well, the lag measure is going to take care of itself and you are going to see it in the form of a better shooting percentage. If I did everything right and the ball still missed, I cannot worry about that.

I just have to make sure I did everything right. You cannot look at the results and say I should quit because I am not getting the results I want because we do not control results. Once that ball is out of my hand, I do not control whether it goes in or whether it does not. All that I could control is that I take the steps that I should have taken before the ball left my hand and that is what successful people do. What we are talking about now are practical steps that you can take to shift your focus onto the things that will make you successful rather than all the things that you focus on now that discourage you so that you do not even try.

Brandon: Yes, that is really good. I think it is a good analogy with the basketball thing because again, we can control some things and we get discouraged, right? I mean how many people out there listening to this have been discouraged because you made an offer and it did not get accepted, right? It is like, Oh man, I tried. By knowing that you are just following a process, it helps take the emotion out of it. It is okay if you get an offer rejected or if you go after something that does not work out because you are just working a numbers game. If you stick with that, you are likely going to be fined over time. Again, stick with that plan.

One more part of the plan I want to bring up here is the idea of habits. I recently write a book The Power of Habit, and I cannot remember the guy’s name who wrote it, but it was a really good book. It is all about how like habits defined most of what we do. I think Duke University did a study this. It said 40% of what we do during the day are waking hours, 40% are subconscious habit driven. I mean everything from what shoe do you put on first every day, David? Do you even know?

David: Ye, I do the left first every time.

Brandon: Every time, right? We do so many things, habits. Now, the great thing about that is habits define who we are and what we achieve in life. Like almost entirely, our habits define who we are and what we achieve in life. The great thing is we can build and destroy habits as needed. Oh yes, Charles Duhigg I think is his name, Power of Habit, we can control habits, right? We can build them into our life and if you want to know how to do that, there is a really getting that book is fantastic?

Power of Habit, but what habits are you doing in your life that are getting you to where you want to get to? For example, a habit of waking up early, and I am not saying you have to wake up early to be successful but there is a lot of data that actually shows that but I am not going to use that today. But let us say your habit is to wake up an hour earlier so you have more time to spend on your real estate investing before the kids wake up or before the spouses up and use your help with stuff or before work, right? That might be a habit you can build in. Now, again, building your habits is going to be key if you want to achieve great things in life and that is part of this whole plan thing. As part of the journal that we are launching today, there is actually a section in there on habit tracking.

You actually list down some of the habits you want to build. For example, some of my habits are I want to read a little bit of a business book every single day, that is a habit I am tracking. I want to drink water every single day. I want to read something spiritual like the Bible every single day, a little bit. At least if I can get every day get into a habit, it does not have to be hours and hours of work. I want to drink… The first thing I do every morning when I wake up is I drink a glass of water, a huge glass of water. Why? Because I read a study, a research study that showed that people are more effective in all areas of their life when they drink a large glass of water first thing in the morning. We actually put that right in the journal like did you drink a glass of water this morning?

Like studies show that helps. Like it helps re-hydrate you, get your brain working better, gets you woken up better, help you accomplish more and better things. Again, figure out what habits you want to build your life or what habits you want to kill in your life and start tracking it. What you track, what measures usually gets done. I find that in almost all areas of my life, if you track it, it usually gets done. If not, you will not.

David: You just helped me figure out something I have always been trying to figure out with that brilliant piece of insight. I have always wondered why when somebody has success in one area of their life, it often translates into success in other areas that they were not having. Like I will have a friend that gets really into fitness, they are getting in great shape and the next thing I know they are getting promoted at their job or they are starting a new job and they are doing great.

I am like it is not like being fit was something that made you a better salesperson. I do not get why that happened. I just assumed it was confidence, right? But I do not think it is. I think that they developed habits that made them good at getting into shape and once they became habits, they applied them in a new area which made success in that area better which supports your idea that habits are what determine how successful you will be. By disciplining yourself in something, you will then have developed habits that will carry over into other things and that is why Brandon and I often talk about things that have nothing to do with real estate investing because we know they will have everything to do with real estate investing success. It is not always that you need just to be a better analyzer of properties, you need better habits that will then carry over into your real estate investing business and make you more successful.

Brandon: Yes, that is great. There is a blogger out there named James Clear. I think it is jamesclear.com. One of my favorite bloggers, he is just fantastic. All about like research and psychology and all that. Anyway, he calls that a keystone habit. When you change one habit that makes everything else of fall in line, it is just fantastic. Again, track that. The way you can do it again, if you are using the BiggerPockets’ 90 days of Intention Journal, you can do it right in there. But if not, just grab a piece of paper, make a grid, right? Write down what the habits are. Maybe a five, six, seven habits you are trying to build your life and then every day going across the kind of spreadsheet or grid, check out did you do that habit or not and set a goal, right?

For example, drink a glass of water every morning, right? Great. Now you have, did you do it today? Check. Did you do it today? Check. At the end of the week, after the seven days, add up. What did you get? Did you get three out of seven? Five out, seven, seven out of seven? Add all that up and you can kind of game a fire, right? At the end of the week you can add up your whole score for the week and say, ‘Hey, I got a 75 out of 90 this week.. Next week I am going for 76 because science shows, studies show, when you gamified things, when you put numbers and scorecards at things, you are more likely to accomplish it as well which is why we built that into the habit tracking part of the 90 Days of Intention Journal. Speaking of that, we have got to move on and get to the S of this.

We already covered the G which is set a good goal. P is plan, you can also call it process and a third one, but before I get to that one, I do want to mention because one last time, I am sure I will mention at the end again, but today the 90 Days of Intention Journal is for sale on BiggerPockets. The question I asked you guys is I want to know… I am going to read off a couple of statements here. I want to know what you think about it. Like how do you feel when you hear this? What if you could achieve every goal you set for yourself no matter how high or what if you woke up every morning knowing exactly what levers to pull to get closer to those goals? What if your uncertainty on what the right path is? What if that disappeared and before you was a step by step path towards your goal? Or what if your dreams of success can be roadmap in just a couple minutes of work every day? What if you could approach the day like a walk on the beach, calm, steady and beautiful? What if the key to all of this was intention?

That is what the goal of the journal is. To make your life work like that because when you intentionally plan out like your life on what you are trying to do, amazing things happen and we put together this journal. It is 90 Days. There is a bunch of weekly reports in there that we call them weekly battle plans and then daily action plans. As you work through it, every day, just five minutes a day of reviewing what are your goals? What is the most important next step you can do on those goals? Where are you at on your laps funnel? what does your calendar look like? What are your habits look like? There is a spot for a schedule and there is a spot where you can write down what your most important thing is for tomorrow to do. Because studies show the last thing you do at night if you write down what you are going to do the next morning, you will actually sleep better at night.

All these stuff is designed to give you the most powerful, amazing, 90 days of your life. If you do it, run it for 90 days, see what happens. If you love it, then get another 90 Day Journal then. Or if you do not love it, in fact, we even have a guarantee. If you do not love the 90 Days of Intention Journal after 90 days, just email [email protected] and get a full refund because again, we believe that strongly in this thing. Again, 90 days of Intention Journal, you can get it at biggerpockets.com/journal and that said we are moving on to the s of GPS and that is schedule. Because if it is not on your calendar, it is not likely to get done. Do you agree, David?

David: This is something that I have had to have some like real honest talks with myself about because now my life is crazy. I am a real estate agent. I am building a real estate team. I am hosting this podcast, I am writing articles for different websites. I am writing books, I am coaching people, I am speaking, I am doing seminars. There is a lot of different things I am doing, right? What I have had to learn is if I am going to do this well, it needs to be scheduled that I am going to do something or I will miss it. What I have had to learn is everything is funneled to my assistant, Christa. Christa puts it on my calendar, she gets me the things that I need to do at well and I follow the calendar that she sets for me. Every time I have strayed from that, I have dropped balls, I have lost track, I have failed at things. When it is on my calendar, it gets done and I have just had to give up, throw up my hands and say this is the only way I am going to be successful is it has to be calendared, right? Too many people think in their own ego that they can handle it without that and you will not do it.

Brandon: Yes, it is so true. It has to go. If it is on my calendar, it likely will get done and if it is not, it probably will not get done. Yes, huge. We are going to schedule it into your life, you need to have a calendar. Whether it is an online one, whether you use a journal, whether you use a combination of both, you are going to have it done. In fact, here is another study. You guys are going to love. A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that 91% of people who planned their intention to exercise by writing down when and where they would exercise ended up following through.

Meanwhile, it said people who read motivational material to exercise but they did not plan when and where showed no increased compared to the control group which in other words means those people had I will do this at this time in this location and 91% of those people actually accomplished it because they set that intention, right? I love that, right? Now, like if you want to accomplish something like, hey, I am going to analyze some deals. Great, when and where, how, right? I am going to sit down at my computer at 3:00 today, from 3 to 3:30, and I am going to analyze two deals that I found on realtor.com. I am going to use a BiggerPockets calculators to do that. Boom, now it is more likely you are going to get that done.

In fact, like the psychologist found, chances are you will get that done because now you plan it. But so many people they just have this like I want to get this one thing done sometime, right? Sometime never happens. Someday never happens. I will blank behavior at blank time in blank location and then you are going to get it done and again put it on your calendar. When you schedule things like there is a good chance of getting it done. Again, if maybe your goal is hey, I am going to go to a real estate meet up, right? If you say you keep…

For years, you have been saying you want to get together with other real estate investors, how many people listening to this show right now have been saying that they want to get together with other BiggerPockets members but just have not done so, a lot of you, right? I will go to BiggerPockets.com/events as soon as I get home and find a meet up in my area and click attend and then I am going to put that on my calendar. Do you think maybe you will get that done if you do that? It was a much better chance than saying someday I want to get together with some BiggerPockets people.

Again, BiggerPockets.com/events, totally free to go there and find an event in your area and if there is no event in your area, if you are a BiggerPockets pro member,, you can start an event in your area. Posting an event and then you can be the hub of information there. Again, schedule it, GPS. Anything you want to add before I move on?

David: As I am thinking about this, I am realizing in either my relationship with you, we are the same way. We will say yes, we need to talk about so and so and we never do it. When we are like, hey, Wednesday at seven, are you free to talk about whatever and we put it in our calendar and it happens almost every time.

Brandon: Yes, it is so true. You got to schedule it and you have got to be consistent with it. I mean this is like basic like tortoise and the hare stuff, right? Like if you just do a little bit every day and or a little bit regularly process and you have it on your calendar and you just keep knocking this stuff out, you are going to get to your goal accomplished. you are going to get what you want but you cannot rely on just I hope this works out, I hope I buy real estate. You got to have a goal, you got to have a plan, you got to schedule it.

Then to really boost your chance of success, to really maximize it, studies show that this one thing can increase your chance over written goals. Like written goals are good, right? We already looked at that but they can achieve even a 50% increase over written goals by doing this final thing, the A. But before we get to that, we do not really have a deep dive today, but I want to make sure we get to today’s Deep Dive sponsor.

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Brandon: Alright, thank you to our sponsors of the show as always. Make sure you guys check them out because they keep the lights on this show and keep this thing running. With that, let us get to the final. We had G stands for goal. P stands for plan. S stands for schedule. To really maximize that process, you have got to have what we call accountability. I want to read this study to you because this just blew my mind. It is a little bit long and complex, but please stick with me because this is life changing stuff right here. There is this woman who did this study and I wish I could have her name. I will try to pull it up in a minute. But anyway, she did a study where she grabbed a bunch of people and put them into five different groups.

Group one, you do not have to memorize it, but I will just say group one had to just think about their goal. Group two had to write their goal, group three had to write it and then come up with something, some action plan. Group four, they had to send that action plan and their goal to a friend like on accountability partner and group five, they had to do all the same things but they had to send a weekly reports. In other words, they had to meet weekly with this accountability person. Here is the results basically. I will actually put this graph, this chart that I found in the show notes of this page at BiggerPockets.com/show307. But basically, here is where it worked out, the group that had just I want to accomplish something in their head goal had a 42% chance of accomplishing their goal.

People who wrote down their goal a 60% chance, that is pretty good. People who had a written goal and they determined in their head with their action plan was actually dropped down to 50%. People who told their friend that they were going to do something, what they are going to do, had a 64% and people who did weekly accountability had a 76% chance of achieving their goals. Let me just re-explain what that means.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • The real estate G.P.S. system
  • GOAL
    • Specific
    • Difficult
    • Feedback
    • Commitment
    • Training your reticular activating system
    • Make sub goals
    • Reward yourself for small wins
  • PLAN
    • Why humans need processes and steps
    • Lead measures vs. leg measures
    • Learn the L.A.P.S. system on finding deals
    • Keystone habits
    • Schedule meet-ups
    • Set the behavior, time, and location
    • Why you may want to join a group that meets weekly with clear structure
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “When people wrote down their goals, they were 33% more successful in achieving them.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Subconscious is a powerful ally, but a terrible master.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Every goal you desire is preceded by a process required to get the results.” (Tweet This!)

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