By Ron Carson, Contributor
Jan. 18, 2023
I’ve always been big on goal setting, but these days I consider myself more flow than force. That being said, I’m not ready to give up a vital goals exercise that has served me well for so many years. I’m just much less rigid about it these days and really take time to think through the goals that I do set.
That’s where creative thought comes into play—something I like to call “slow down to speed up.” That involves taking the time to step back and assess where you’re going in life and if your current approach is the right one to get you there.
I began thinking about this one December afternoon while relaxing with friends at the Carson Healing Ranch. I was watching a fly buzzing and buzzing, expending all its energy trying to escape through a closed window. Ironically, about 15 feet away a door was propped open to let in fresh air. The fly could have easily escaped through the open door but didn’t know any better.
I couldn’t help but think of the fly as a metaphor for the way many people approach their lives. It’s so easy to become laser focused on a goal and put all of your energy into pursuing a certain path to achieve it, but still not see progress. As we talked about the plight of this fly, one of my friends asked if I’d read You 2: A High Velocity Formula for Multiplying Your Personal Effectiveness in Quantum Leaps by Price Pritchett, which addresses ways to focus your energy on the things that will move you ahead. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do so. I promise it will elevate you in the new year.
In his book, Pritchett outlines a unique and very dynamic method for leaping beyond ordinary performance to achieve dramatic breakthroughs. His unconventional strategy replaces the concept of attaining gradual, incremental success through massive effort with ways to penetrate the imaginary barriers we often create for ourselves, so we can pursue our true potential. He does this by laying out his 18 key components for building massive success while expending less effort. Several of these key components are particularly applicable when it comes to establishing and pursuing your financial and lifestyle goals, including the following.
Focus on the ends rather than the means – I’ve found that people often fail to reach their financial goals because they don’t personalize them. Instead, they think of them in generic terms, such as saving up for the down payment on a house, paying off student loan debt, or maximizing contributions to their retirement plans. Don’t get me wrong, these are all commendable behaviors, but they aren’t goals. They’re simply practical steps or tactics that may help you get closer to accomplishing the things you want in life.
End goals are big, messy and emotional. They come from the heart and paint a picture of what you want your life to look like. They’re the “why” behind the financial decisions you make each day. For example, when you think about saving money to buy a house, what do you envision in your head and your heart? Is this the place you will grow your family, welcome pets, entertain relatives and friends, or plant am epic vegetable garden? While owning a house can be an excellent financial investment, owning a home is an emotional investment that directly reflects how and where you want to live. True success always requires an emotional investment.
Change your personal rules for success – Slowing down to speed up requires introspection. Begin the new year by examining your current goals. How closely do they reflect who you are and what you want out of life? Are you currently living the lifestyle you envision for yourself and your family? If not, what are the obstacles holding you back—and are they real or imaginary? Like the fly, we are often the greatest obstacles to our own success. According to Pritchett, if you stick with what's familiar, you'll be stuck with familiar outcomes. Breakthroughs require new approaches and creative thought, which can sometimes feel uncomfortable. Yet, discomfort is really just the result of choosing a different set of risks. Think about the path you’re currently on. It probably feels comfortable because it’s familiar. But it’s not without risk—especially if it’s not moving you closer to accomplishing your goals.
Make your move before you think you’re ready - People often resist trying a new path or approach due to the perceived discomfort they will encounter with change. I see that all the time in my business as people delay changing advisors, even when they’re unhappy, due to the perceived pain that an account transfer might entail. However, once they make the decision to leave a relationship that is no longer serving their needs, they realize two things: 1) making the move was far easier than they thought (and their new advisor did all the heavy lifting, including breaking the news to their old advisor), and 2) most wish they had made the move sooner.
Without action, your hopes and desires in life are left to chance—or worse, to stagnate. It’s not until you articulate them as measurable goals that strategies can be developed to pursue them.
Finally, trust in the power of pursuit – Once you define your goals, managing your wealth becomes a priority. Your wealth is an important tool for fulfilling your lifestyle experiences and desires. It must be properly managed through a strategy that seeks to protect irreplaceable capital and ensure that your goals, timeframe and risk tolerance are fully aligned. Irreplaceable capital is money that must be preserved as much as possible because if it’s not, you may suffer a major change in lifestyle.
That’s why following a disciplined and repeatable investment process is so important. As the markets go up and down, it can be challenging to keep your emotions in check. The key is to stay true to your process rather than chasing trends or reacting to each move the markets make. If your current advisor is unable to articulate their investment process in clear and concise terms, it may be time to consider a different advisor. Following a disciplined investment process with defined objectives that you understand and embrace is critical for remaining on the path toward your goals.
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