Rethinking Goals to Increase Productivity, Part I: Projects

Get SMART with Your Goal Setting Technique for the New Year.

2019 is around the corner. Although 2018 has been a productive year, I didn’t get as much done as I might have wanted. Now, it’s time to look at 2019 and say, what’s out there? What are we, in the world of real estate, going to start, do, achieve, or finish in our financial goals for 2019? This is part one of a two-part set of blog posts on goal setting for the New Year (click here for Part II).

Everyone is different, but, chances are, most of us know that it’s important to set professional and personal development goals. This morning was a typical workday for me: up at 5:30 AM, at my desk by 6:00 AM; reviewed, updated, and prioritized my To-Do List; and got started on the day. That’s how I start every working day. Along with my daily To-Do, I also have my Big List, the big items that take a lot of effort, planning, and resources. I look at those big items (read: goals) every day, too.

Goals are often glorious scenarios that are difficult to achieve. It’s thus pretty easy not to achieve a goal because it’s big and hard to do. While some might say, “shoot for the stars and you might hit the moon,” it can be demotivating not to achieve the goals we set. If we want to achieve more in 2019, let’s all take a different perspective. To make this more concrete, I’ll use an example from my work as a coach and teacher for real estate investors.

To get right down to it, Barry McGuire’s Focus Workshops had a pretty good year. We helped over 100 students learn about the concepts of Creative Real Estate Investing. That’s great from my perspective; thanks very much to everyone who attended. But that’s not the point of this post. The point is that it’s pointless to take one of my Focus Workshops (or any other investment training program) but not achieve the stated and collective goal.

What’s the goal for a new real estate investor?

One damn deal!!!

Yes, we want everyone to do #OneDamnDeal because we know that it will open the floodgates. That first deal is the toughest. If you repeat your first deal strategy, the second deal is half as hard. The third is easy peasy, at least from the perspective of understanding how a real estate deal works. And then you’re well on your way to being a full-fledged real estate investor.

To get that first deal done, let’s not think of it as one of those lofty, perhaps difficult to achieve goals. Let’s call it a project, something that you work on passionately but without the pressure or weight of a goal. Sometimes just changing the wording makes all the difference in the world.


5 Tips for Goal Setting

A project is a large-scale plan, mission, or achievement that is made up of many smaller goals. I recommend taking a cue from project management theory by using SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for the following:

  1. S for specific
    Break down a big project into small, clearly defined steps. What needs to be done? Who will do it? Where will it be done?
  2. M for measurable
    Determine the quantity and/or quality of the goal. How do you know when it’s done?
  3. A for attainable
    Good goals can be achieved within the time and resources available. What is a reasonable accomplishment? How will it be done?
  4. R for relevant
    Prioritize tasks that are necessary for the project. Why does it need to be done? When is the right time? Are the time, resources, and personnel ready?
  5. T for time-based
    It’s important to have soft and hard deadlines for milestones in a project. When will it be done?

David M. Ward, a lawyer and one of my favourite bloggers, has inspired me to rethink goal vs. projects for 2019. His take on business and life has huge applicability to all of us, investors or not. Take a read:

Instead of Setting Goals Next Year, I’m Doing This

I know you’re ready to think about your goals for next year. Ready to put pen to paper, chisel to stone.

Before you do that, think about the goals you had for the current year.

How’d you do?

If you’re like me, you missed a lot of things and you’re not happy about it. You set big goals because you want to accomplish big things, but you’re tired of falling short.

It’s discouraging. It makes you want to lower your goals, or do away with them completely.

Don’t do that. You need goals. You need to have a place you want to go.

Robert Heinlein said, “In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

I agree. But next year I’m going to do something a little different.

I’m going to call them “projects” instead of goals.

Projects don’t define us the way our goals (and “life’s purpose” or “long-term vision”) do. If we don’t meet a project’s objectives, we adjust and carry on. Or we move the project from “active” to “inactive” or “pending”.

We’re in charge of our projects, unlike goals which seem to be in charge of us.

Projects? Goals? Yes, these are just words, but words frame our thoughts and infuse them with emotions that attach to those words.

So, no goals next year. Just projects.

I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

Text by David M. Ward, used with permission.

Target Goal Success Dart-board” image by TeroVesalainen used under CC0 Public Domain Dedication.

SMART goals” image by Dungdm93 used under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International.