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You've Created Your Goals for 2012. Great - Now What?

OK, so you've sat down and made a list of goals.

You've even stretched your comfort zone this year.

You're going to raise more funds to grow your portfolio of single-family homes by three this year.

Or you're going to buy the strip mall where you've been leasing for years.

Or you're finally going to buy that apartment building that you've been talking about.

Or maybe you're finally going to take the first step towards acquiring your very first property.

And, you've neatly organized your list on an impressive notepad, or fancy spreadsheet, and saved it somewhere with care.

Great stuff.  Now what?

Life's busy.  That list will be collecting dust before you turn your calendar to check out next week's busy schedule.

So how can you help increase the odds that you'll actually achieve what you want?

Here are two strategies that we seem to work best for us...

STEP ONE

First, ask yourself this:

"Why don't I already have what I'm asking for?"

Give it some thought.

What is it that is preventing you from already having what you want?

Most of the time it's not a lack of anything that's holding you back.

For example, if you can't qualify for financing to purchase a new investment property, there's always a partner you can find if you give it some real effort.

You know it's true.

So maybe it's a limiting belief holding you back.

Or, a lack of priorities.  Have you been making the latest gossip on TMZ.com more important than phoning up about that latest property you saw?

Or, maybe it's a process problem.

Are you spending all day on a low level, unimportant tasks, like paper pushing and approvals that can be handled by someone else?

Can you ignore all of that for an afternoon?

Can you close the door, focus, and make a few phone calls that will push you towards your goals?

Here's something that held us back for a long time.

I used to read a lot of self-help books.  I mean, a lot.

And I would always skip over the exercises in them.

I figured that I would just read the whole book and be better off for the knowledge I was gaining.

And there's likely some truth to that.

However, without actually doing the exercises I really wasn't changing myself.

I wasn't becoming a new person.  An action-oriented person.

I was becoming the same person I always was but just with some more knowledge.

It served my ego very well probably.  I felt kinda smart I guess.  Knowing all that stuff.

But who really cares?

So a problem that I fixed for myself, was after gaining some knowledge on a subject I now know, I need to follow-up with some steps towards action.

For example, it's OK to read about investing in real estate to increase your knowledge of the subject.

It's important actually.

But after six months of reading, you're likely ready to move.

To "DO".

So let's ask it again,

Why don't you already have what you've been asking for?

Make a list.

STEP TWO

The Infamous "TO-DO" List

You know how you're taught to make a "to-do" list?

For some reason, they don't work well for us.

Not sure why, maybe they're just not our cup of tea or something.

To each their own, right?

For us, they just don't seem to work the magic that they promise.

We write our list of activities and then put stars next to the important ones.  The ones that will move us towards our objectives.

But we just tend to ignore them when we get busy with distractions.

And funny enough, even though we know they don't work for us every once in a while we'll quickly put one together.

Here's one from earlier this week.

We use index cards for our lists and carry them in our pockets.

Pretty high tech we know.

After years of digital calendars and syncing them between an infinite amount of cell phones and planners and computers we trashed them.

Paper and pen have become our weapons of accomplishment.

Can you make out the little stars on the left-hand side of the list for the day?

So although we still use them occasionally we prefer this next strategy.

And although we should let you know, we occasionally stray from this next strategy a little but we've committed to doing it again consistently because we get more done with it.

We picked it up from Stephen Covey's book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I believe.

Here goes...

You get an index card and divide it into four sections.

You label the two columns across the top "Urgent" and "Not Urgent".

And then you label the two rows along the side "Important" and "Not Important".

Then you just pop in your tasks for the day into one of the four boxes.

Here's a couple of our fancy index cards:

Is picking up your dry cleaning "Important and Urgent" or "Not Important and Not Urgent".

Is spending an hour studying Google Adwords "Important and Urgent" or "Important and Not Urgent".

Is putting in that offer "Important and Urgent" or .... you get the idea.

For some magical reason that we cannot explain, this simple strategy works WONDERS for us.

Throughout the day we glance at the card and determine which activities we have to do next.

And, if we're running out of time in the day and we haven't accomplished an "Important and Urgent" task, all of a sudden we ignore everything and jump on it.

It's amazing.

Basically, this little index card controls us and we love it.

It's our drill sergeant.

Warnings about using this strategy:

1. Your friends, colleagues and peers will think you are crazy when in the middle of the day you pull out a crumpled up index card from your pocket to check if you can go for lunch with them or if you have to call Mom because it's "Important and Urgent".  Trust us, we know from first-hand experience. Likely no one in your office is using this strategy and that's even more reason why you should.

2. You need an endless supply of index cards.  You'll find them in Staples, row 17, in all colours.  Wait until someone sees you pull out a pink one - priceless.

3. You will want to complicate this strategy with all sorts of nonsense.  That's normal, you're human, but don't.

For some strange reason sorting your daily activities into these categories allows us to get more done.

There are all sorts of reasons we can come up with for this...

Maybe it's the clear prioritization of goals and the personal embarrassment you feel when you're spending all day working on "Not Important and Not Urgent" tasks.

Or maybe it's the subconscious mind working away on some of the stuff for us.

Whatever it is, we don't care any more.

It works.

Like we said it's like having a personal drill sergeant in your pocket.

Yes, that may sound disgusting but it's the best way we can describe it.

Here's a 5-day challenge for you.

For the next 5 working days pull out a scrap piece of paper or an index card and try this out.

Give it a shot for 5 full days.  No exceptions.

How hard is that?

And, let us know how it went for you.

We're totally curious.

Maybe we're the only ones this works for.

Doubt it.  But who knows.

Are you willing to invest 5 days testing this out?

It'll take 10 minutes at the start of each day - tops.

Then review the card at lunch and at the end of the day.

2012 may depend on it.

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0 comments on “You've Created Your Goals for 2012. Great - Now What?”

  1. This is so easy! Thank you for the great tip I will start doing this next week...Just kidding 🙂 I will start tomorrow morning!!!!

  2. Guys,

    I like this idea.
    I always write down my to-do list on a small piece of paper, and it always gets crumpled up in my pocket.
    I think this 'urgent' 'not urgent' prioritization will work for me.
    Thank you for the tips.
    All the best,
    Neil.

  3. Hello guys,
    I'm a Covey-head myself (because I'm equally bald), and I like your real-life demonstration of 'taking MEANINGFUL action'.

    Without prioritization, we would be (and I have been) running around like a headless chicken, busy being busy.

    I thought I'd stop by and say that I appreciate your little case-study/ challenge on prioritization (even though writing this feedback did not show-up on the Urgent + Important quadrant of my index card!)

    Sometimes, it is equally important to know when to over-ride the Drill Sargeant! 🙂

    Cheers,
    /am

    1. LOL, thanks for sharing Anand.

      Appreciate it.

      And yes, writing this reply to you was not on my "Urgent/Important" quadrant either 🙂

      Tom.

  4. Tom,
    First time I read about proven power of using using index cards was in old time self help classic A Touch of Greatness,by my late friend author of the book Frank Tibolt,Richard Branson,billionaire is using this method and credited it to his success,despite fact that he can afford any new tech gimzo that comes out each day as it seem.Another billionaire Ted Leonisis,is using this method over all others.My friend former cop and now realestate millionaire is credititing this method for making him a millionaire,so yes, you are on right track this may seem to be an old fashioned way but this IS working better then anything else out there.by the way I was so impressed by A Touch of Greatness book that I purchassed all publishing rights for it,anyone interested to know more can contact me at ivanzitek@hotmail.com

  5. LOVING IT!

    I started following the index card tip religiously about a week ago and can already notice how much more it helps me get done. Like you, I've been constantly searching for better organizational tools and endless smartphone/iPad/PDA apps that would make planning and task completion an easier and more structured exercise. I still do have a handy iPad app that organizes the tasks and to-do lists on a global scale, which I then break down to daily tasks and copy onto an index card - and although this app, like many others, has a built-in "due by" field, which you can use as a reminder of what you need to do TODAY, I find that what ends up happening in reality when you have a laundry list of general tasks, a few of which are due today but there is no immediate reminder - you tend to miss or skip them. Of course, that sometimes happens to a few tasks on the index card, too, but it gives you more focus.

    My only problem is that I find the size of an index card a little small for all daily tasks (although I write in tiny letters) and I'm already thinking of using both sides - e.g. one side for personal and one side for work-related tasks 🙂

    But otherwise - great tip, thank you!

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