How Can You Build An Extraordinary Brand?

I could write an entire book around branding but for ease let’s just think of it as your promise to your customers that you will deliver something different and highly desirable if they work with you. These are the things that you do better than your competition or things you do that your competition does not. This is also referred to as your Unique Value Proposition. To be of value, you must deliver on your promises consistently at every point of contact with the customer, time after time. While you will of course help all the opportunities that come your way, it is best to build your business and brand around your ideal clients. In fact, your marketing plan should be designed to target as many of them as possible. Every day you are speaking with clients and helping them, you are building your brand.

What Is A Brand?

Your brand is not just your logo or your look. It is the way customers or referral sources view you. Online testimonials are one of the best indicators of who you are and what you provide that is outstanding. When a prospective client researches you they want to find “social” validation that you are who you say you are. You must focus on building the right perception of your brand in the marketplace. If your service is a secret between you and your clients, then you aren’t building your brand and you are missing opportunities. That’s why you need to include asking for testimonials as a part of your Database System to ensure you are positively building your brand every day.

It doesn’t take a huge investment in marketing, but it does take some introspection and making a non-negotiable decision about how you want to be perceived. More clients are using the internet to find out about you before they choose to do business with you. Every post you make or testimonial you receive is accessible, so be mindful of what you post. It’s also true that every conversation you have is building your brand so keep anything negative or judgmental to yourself. I get a kick out of loan officers and Realtors® that fire clients on social media or brag about it. This behavior will diminish your brand and cause others to see you poorly.

Your brand is based on the perception of others not how you see yourself. You should constantly ask for feedback on what you can do better or improve. In addition to talking with your clients, conduct a semi-annual review with your referral partners and solicit their feedback. Sometimes your clients will tell them, rather than you, where you could have done better. Commit to making quick changes to correct any deficiencies.

Help For Building Your Brand

If your current system can’t automate brand building, choose a company like Reach 150 or Social Survey that can help build your brand for you. They will send out the testimonial requests on your behalf and then use those to remarket your services to other prospects. They can also share the testimonials on social media which enables your database and natural sphere of influence to also see the brand you are creating.

Even if you think you have a negative brand now because you had a few bad transactions or lost a few referral partners, you can change it. Perfection is unattainable 100% of the time but we can become committed to getting better and better. Make a decision today that you will remain committed to building a better brand for yourself.

How Can You Create More Success And Be More Accountable To Your Own Goals?

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not enough to have a business plan. You must create a non-negotiable activity plan that will have you taking the actions you need to take to make the business plan a reality. You must be 100% committed to accomplishing the activities – that is why they are non-negotiable. In addition to scheduling time daily to do these things you should also be tracking your results and conversion rates. As markets change, these numbers can change. Asking your manager or a coach to hold you accountable will help ensure you do the things you should be doing even when you don’t feel like doing them—discipline not motivation.

Weekly Status Reporting

I recommend using a weekly report so you can make adjustments quickly if you aren’t getting the results you need. If you fall short one week just add those activities to the following week. Always do a mid-week check on Wednesday at noon to see where you are. You may need to kick up your activity levels if you have fallen behind. (A sample weekly report is available on this website.)

You also need to make quick adjustments if clients or referral partners cancel. You will want to replace those meetings as soon as possible rather than just telling yourself it is not your fault.

The only person who suffers when you don’t do these things is you. The reason the activities are non-negotiable is that everyone is good at making excuses and then complaining that we don’t have enough business. You are the one that made your goals and plan so having the discipline to follow through is key. Some of the items you will want to do daily are to return all calls and emails timely. Even if you don’t have the time to spend with the person at that moment, calling and setting up another time to talk will help you. Clients and referral sources will move on quickly if you aren’t responsive. Also ensure that your voicemail is never full. A full voicemail can make individuals feel you are too busy for their business. Remember, everyone wants to believe they will be getting your undivided attention.

As you get busy, you may want to adopt a more professional approach. Offering appointment times rather than trying to offer a solution from your car as you’re driving down the highway will guarantee you don’t miss anything. I recommend booking appointments 90 minutes apart so you always have time for fires and call backs in between.

Assessing Your Daily State

If you aren’t executing daily it is likely YOU are the reason you aren’t and you will need to work more on your mindset. Your week should allow time to be creative about your business. This will give you energy and ignite more passion for what you are doing. Leave some time to research new ideas or to meet new people so you can learn how they created success.

By now you should have identified how you sabotage your own success. If you haven’t, go back and read January’s blog regarding sabotage management. Whether you are triggered or encounter other challenges, you have to remain focused on the end result you want to achieve. Assessing your state daily will help you make adjustments quickly. This is a burn out business where we can rapidly get into a funk. Remaining aware of how your state affects your ability to execute will guide you to seek help faster. We all have people in our life that can inspire us or get us out of a funk. Don’t delay in seeking out help. You want to have more good days than bad days.

And don’t beat yourself up if you do have a bad day. Don’t focus on it… just move on. Make a commitment to getting back to your plan the next day and give yourself a break. Use the sabotage management plan to ensure that if you do get in a funk you know how to get yourself out. If you get triggered use the four step process and get back to business as soon as you can.

4 Tips to Improve Conversion Rates

How can we improve conversion rates? Here are 4 quick tips for increasing production through conversion rates.

Is a Mortgage Revolution Ahead?

There is little doubt that the mortgage and real estate industries were left behind in the technology revolution of the 21st century. Our lives have improved with smart phones, smart cars, easy to book travel, and quick digital personal lending solutions, but mortgages have become harder to obtain. Disclosures are more difficult to understand and the average number of days to obtain a mortgage is still too long. The mortgage industry has not adopted technology as fast as other  industries bringing on regulatory scrutiny and an abundance of errors. With rates rising and the market shrinking this will undoubtedly force us to change; whether we are prepared to or not. Companies and loan originators must embrace technology to build more relationships and minimize avoidable mistakes.

2018 is also bringing about a lot of other challenges for loan officers. Digital mortgage companies have disrupted our daily lives by offering below market interest rates with which a self-generating loan officer may not be able to compete. New Home Builders are also offering incentives to use their preferred lender, again making it difficult to compete. When there is an abundance of business you can accept losing a few deals but when the market tightens losing a deal is painful. This has forced the question a lot more recently; are mortgages a commodity? Will borrowers pay more for better or faster service? Will they pay more to meet with someone locally that can guide them through the process?

The MBA predicts a shrinking mortgage market with a larger percentage of purchase transactions. For most companies and loan officers then, if you want to maintain or grow your business you must pick up market share. The only way to do this is to change the type of borrower or increase the quantity of borrowers you
are talking to. Even with a drastic uptick in the number of borrowers you reach you should still expect your conversions rates to go down. You must be prepared to lose business to discount lenders or brokers and not be affected emotionally every time it happens. You must become more resilient and able to move on quickly. Believing you can help 100% of the clients referred to you will only bring you disappointment. You must invest in technology that makes the process seamless for your borrowers regardless of what your company offers. Many clients expect technology that makes the process easier for them to complete online loan applications or upload documentation through a portal. They also want to know that you offer a competitive rate so be understand that even clients you have helped multiple times in the past will shop you. Consumers have been shown the value of doing this with every other industry so don’t take it personally. You must also have a long incubation and communication plan in place as many buyers won’t need you until they find the right house.

We have generally speaking been a lazy industry for the last 10 years. So many loan officers got used to business being easy because rates were low and there was
an abundance of opportunity. Other lenders also had enough so they didn’t fight as hard to be competitive. Many top producers churned their databases and rarely
went out in the field to try and obtain new business or relationships. Times are changing. Rates are not likely going to come down and inventory will remain tight. This new reality will make sitting back and waiting for business to come to you or relying solely on your database an impossible strategy for success. Some lenders
are preparing for this by going the broker route where they feel they can do less and try to make more. This may be a good way to go for those loan officers who
don’t love prospecting or developing new relationships. For those of you who still want to grow your business and work hard, what can help you do that immediately?

Most importantly, you must create a business plan that includes who you are being, what you are doing, and how you are doing it. You must also be willing to change direction quickly if the market changes or you encounter challenges. We all know the basic principles of what makes a loan officer successful but just knowing what to do doesn’t mean you will do it. I have watched far too many loan officers become passive about generating business and burning out because they stopped pushing themselves and became bored.

Who You Are Being?

Who are you being is all about your mindset. Do you have a mindset of abundance, there is more than enough business for all of us, or is your mindset around scarcity i.e. there’s too much competition and not enough business I’ll never be able to survive? I define mindset as the core beliefs an individual has about life and business. These core beliefs may have started in childhood but no longer serve you as an adult. They are the beliefs that sabotage your success and keep you from getting what you want. Fortunately we can shift our beliefs. We can challenge our thinking and replace it with more balanced thoughts – thoughts that serve our greater good.

A successful mindset is made up of many things but for business these six are key:

  1. Growth minded – nothing is fixed, nothing is hard-wired. You can grow through any problem or roadblock and know when it is time to avoid certain things or set new boundaries.
  2. Purpose driven – you know your “why?” Why, out of all the occupations you could have chosen, did you decide to be a loan originator?
  3. Business minded – You must have goals, a business plan, and the discipline to work the plan.
  4. Value driven – you know what your values are and they are unshakable.
  5. Priorities are straight – you know what is most important.
  6. Focus is on abundance not scarcity – an abundant mindset says the pie is just going to keep getting bigger for me. I’m always going to have everything I need.

What Are You Doing?

What you are doing is about your plan. It’s ironic how many of us in this industry feel we can run our businesses successfully without a plan. We can’t and none of the top producers do. Your plan accomplishes three things: first, it allows you to share your strategy, priorities, and specific action steps with others you want to support you so they can align their actions with yours. Second, it helps you to deal with displacement. When you consciously decide to spend your resources doing one thing to move your business plan forward, you’ve also consciously decided not to do something else. And third, it is the primary vehicle by which you grow your business and develop new business alliances and referral partners. It provides the metrics that keep you on track.

A good business plan contains your vision, production and activity goals, levers (how you will increase business from the sources that provide it to you), a nonnegotiable activity plan, and a marketing plan.

How You Are Doing It: Executing

If you’ve dreamt big enough, your vision, your goals, your activity and marketing plans are going to catapult you out of your comfort zone but… only if you act. You must execute on the plans you’ve put in place. The importance of execution cannot be overstated. You can’t simply “think” your way into success. If you’re not an action-oriented person by nature then this could be a bit scary. But trust me once you begin with the small steps, the larger ones get easier.

Execution is about discipline. It’s about commitment. Execution is not giving up the first time something doesn’t work right but keeping at it, constantly tweaking until it does. Execution is about sticking to your activity plan even when you don’t feel like doing it. Execution takes discipline and lots of it. Remember those items on your non-negotiable activity plan – they’re exactly that – non-negotiable. You must act on them every day.

Just as important as executing on your plan is making sure you have the right metrics in place to track your progress. As the old saying goes, you must inspect what you expect. Referrals are the lifeblood of this industry so at a minimum you must track your Referral Efficiency and Realtor® Efficiency targets. How many referrals per year do you get from every customer you close a loan for and how many referrals do you get each month from the agents you work with? Determine what feels right for you and track it so you know you are spending your precious time with the right people. Be specific on what you want and tell everyone what your goals are.

Set your goals and work your plan. This market will devastate many companies and loan officers unwilling to grow. Success is waiting for you if you are willing to be relentless, work hard and create new disciplines. If a mortgage revolution does happen, you will be prepared for it with the right mindset and ability to make adjustments quickly.

Build New Opportunities This Season

We all need more repeat business and referrals. Here are some tips on building new opportunities this season!


Are Your Goals Still Working For You?

In January I spoke about setting your goals and in February about the difference between motivation and discipline when it comes to attaining you goals. But if it still feels like you’re treading water maybe it’s because your goals are in conflict with one another or the market. What I mean is that you may have a goal for your business that is in direct conflict with a goal you have for your family or maybe because of new market conditions not attainable. For example, your business goal may mean you have to work weekends at open houses, but your family goal is to make more of your daughter’s soccer games which are always on Saturday afternoon. In order to maintain balance and not allow your goals to conflict with each other, it helps to put them in four categories: Business, Financial, Health, and Family/Relationships and reassess your priorities.

You should have a few short-term (3 months) and a few long-term (12 months) goals for each category. You should also have the top action steps you’re going to take to accomplish each goal. Look at your list again. Are any of those action steps in conflict? If they are you’ll either need to revise your goals or find a different way to take action on them. Then finally, you’ll want to identify what you want to avoid the most and the top way that you typically sabotage yourself in meeting this goal. It is completely okay to change what you committed to when the year started.

These are what I call “away values.” They are things you are patterned to do that no longer serve you. For business one of my top away values is being passive. I want to really be able to speak up and move forward, not just swallow whatever I’m thinking in fear others won’t agree. I worry too much about everyone liking me, which is impossible in this business. I need to hold others accountable or take the massive action I need to. Reminding myself everyday that I battle this, helps me push past it to achieve my goals.

Realistic Goals

Once you’ve re-evaluated your goals and you’re comfortable that they are realistic and not in conflict with each other ask yourself these questions:

Are these really my goals or what is expected of me from my family, my boss, society, or anyone else?

If you can’t answer yes, then the goal is not a good goal and you are setting yourself up for failure. If the goal isn’t coming from your higher purpose, your desire, or what you envision for your life, then you will be lacking the leverage and the dedication required to take the actions that will get you there.

Are these goals aligned with my core values?

For example, if you know you have a core value of balance but you’re working 60 hours a week to reach an unrealistic business goal, then those are going to be in conflict with each other. You’re not going to have the time to nurture relationships if you’re a workaholic.

How much time do you have to allocate to your goals?

Do you actually have enough time in your day, week, or month to accomplish all your goals? Will you be able to prioritize your time to accomplish everything? You want to make sure that the goals you set are achievable.

Does this goal provide the feeling or outcome you want to achieve and will it sustain you long-term?

I always tell the people I coach if your goals aren’t life or death, don’t write them down. You should approach goal setting like, “No matter what I will do (fill in the blank) and I’m going to stop at nothing to get it done! Not taking action on the goals you set is more devastating to your psyche than if you didn’t set them at all.

I like to keep all of my goals in one place so I can easily review them often. I use a journal and each goal has its own page. I’m going to reiterate the importance of reviewing your goals every day. If you do so, you’ll drive the concepts of what you want to accomplish deeper into your subconscious and conscious mind so they become more patterned. I redo my goals every six months and I suggest you should too, especially since our business is one that changes frequently.

For example, let’s say someone’s goal in business is to be more open-minded and connected. Maybe it’s because they realize they’re an asshole – they have a habit of sending nasty emails to people and have combative relationships whether it’s a referral partner, a processor, or a client. When they enter into territory where something goes wrong, their natural response, their path of least resistance, is to be a jerk because they’ve always acted this way. When you are rude or condescending, you minimize the amount of success you have. People will not work as hard for you as they do for people who are kind and grateful. If this person looked at their goals and their away values in the morning, they’d be more intentional that day in terms of not being a jerk. If their goal is to be a kinder person, they can decide in the morning how they are going to do that. Perhaps they could send a gratitude email to every person who made a difference to them the previous day.

I realize not everyone likes to journal. It doesn’t really matter what form you use to keep your goals as long as they are easy to access and you commit to a daily morning review. Some of the individuals I work with have them set up as their screen saver. Others have written them on their bathroom mirror or a poster board at work. I’m sure someone has even made them into an audio recording they can listen to each day. You need to choose whatever works for you and keeps you closer to the life you want to live.

Are You Really Prioritizing Opportunity Creation?

When I talk about opportunity in the mortgage and Real Estate business I’m really talking about lead generation. As you all know, a lead is the name and contact information for someone who is potentially a future client. Generating leads should be your primary focus whether you are a loan originator or a Realtor®. Any referral you receive can be thought of as a lead, but not all leads have to be referrals. A lead can come from a service like Zillow, or it could be from a cold call list for a particular area you bought from a marketing firm.

Leads are either unqualified or qualified. An unqualified lead is someone who may be simply “shopping.” They may not know what they need or they may just be curious about what the market is doing and what’s available. It could be they don’t understand what you offer versus the rest of the industry or your programs may be out of their budget. They might also be someone who was referred to you as part of a networking group who may not even be looking for a home or a mortgage. While it’s possible to convert unqualified leads, the conversion rate is low and the time to convert is long.

Qualified leads on the other hand know exactly what they are looking for. They have a general idea of the solution they need and are most likely aware of your company. Qualified leads often come from your referral sources or other sources where someone specifically is looking for a home or a loan. They are much more desirable and far easier to convert.

Identifying their unique conversion rates will help you create a better stream of sustainable business because you will be realistic about what is in your pipeline. Some people brag they have a huge list of leads, however many of them will never convert. Separating them within your Customer Relationship Manager and marketing to them differently will ensure you maintain long term success.

Finding the Right Leads

Garnering the right leads for your business requires knowing who your ideal customer is – age, income level, business owner or employee, education, etc. Once you know their demographics and attributes you can share the vision of your ideal client with your referral sources so they can send more of these types your way.

The easiest way to determine your ideal client is to go back twelve months and spend time thinking about all the transactions that you’ve done. Which ones had clients that you really valued working with? What was it about them you enjoyed? Were they better educated? Were they willing to trust your advice? Were they all first-time homebuyers or retirees looking to downsize?

The next thing you want to do is determine your “why.” Why is it important to you to help these families? What can you do better than anyone else to service them? Your first inclination will probably be that you want to make money. But that’s rarely the real reason why you do what you do. Dig deeper. Clients instinctively know when you are truly interested in being of service to them rather than simply lining your pockets. Having a clear understanding of you why will help you stay focused on the vision of your perfect client and bring you more joy in working with them. You get to choose where you get your business so choose wisely.

Do Unto Others

This old adage is as true in this industry as it is in everyday life. If you want to get consistent, highly qualified leads from your referral sources you need to be willing to do the same for them. The more you give out the more you will receive. We have far too many self-centered sales people that only want to receive and not give. The Law of Reciprocity is a great one to study because you won’t feel as disappointed as much. You may refer out to someone, but then you might end up getting more referrals from another source. Don’t worry about measuring reciprocity one on one…just know if you continuously are adding value to others businesses it will come back to you eventually.

I also encourage you to refer within your own specialty as well. There is more than enough business to go around. For example, maybe there’s a homebuyer who doesn’t fit into any of your loan programs. Don’t leave them hanging. Refer them to another loan originator who does have a program that will suit them. Our maybe someone comes to you who wants to buy a home in an area that you are unfamiliar with or is further than you want to travel for showings. Refer them to someone you trust who does sell in that area. Whenever you help someone meet their goal, they will look favorably on you. Keep that person in your database and reach out to them regularly. They could end up referring someone to you who does fit. Holding onto lead that are not in alignment with your business plan may take away from helping more people that are.

How Do You Keep Your Passion and Creativity Alive?

The mortgage and Real Estate business can often feel like a grind. We do the same things day in and day out which can lead to burn out. Many people then feel trapped because of the high earnings potential this industry provides. Most of us cannot simply quit and decide to be a heart surgeon so we lose the freedom to choose what we are doing. The job will get heavier and heavier UNLESS you find passion again. So, how can we overcome these cycles? We can find things both inside and outside our jobs to keep our purpose and passion alive. My purpose in life is to share wisdom with others that can lead them to more joy and less suffering. I have found that I get to do that in my leadership job but I also have found a way to do this outside of work. In addition to my Foundation to Sustainable Success book and platform, I am also the founder of Big Voices and author of the recent best seller Big Voices. Writing before work helps me wake up excited and feeds my creative hunger. I saw a quote the other day that said purpose is your best alarm clock and I firmly believe this is true. If you are feeling off or need some renewed energy, I would encourage you to explore something creative to do. Whether it is recording a video, writing a blog, sharing your music, painting, or anything creative to help you feel alive.

I want to share my recent interview on The American Dream Show. Not only does it explain the Big Voices Movement but also shows you what someone within this industry can do with their creativity. The founder, Craig Sewing, was in mortgage when we met years ago. He had a burning desire to also share more of his creative side and started first with radio while originating loans. Over time, he moved to television where he now brings his show to millions of people nationwide weekly. He is always looking for industry professionals to collaborate with as well, so if this is something that interests you reach out to them at Ignite Media. I am not suggesting you quit your day job like Craig did in mortgage, but I am certain you will be more likely to live an extraordinary life if you find more passion and creativity!

If you are feeling sluggish, have some compassion for yourself and simply make the decision that you are not trapped and you have freedom to write a new story today. Take some time to invest in yourself and add finding creative ways to build your business to your plan!


Own It!

I had the opportunity to spend the day recently at a Women’s Council of Realtors® event. I was supporting my friend Cheryl Keller who was being installed as President for California. I also had the privilege to speak on a leadership panel with some amazing women. It is important to note that all of these women were on their time, not getting paid. They wanted more than just a real estate career; they wanted to be together and joined to connect. Being installed at the President level takes years of commitment and selfless dedication. These women are either business owners or 100% commissioned Realtors®, so when they take time from real estate to be a part of Women’s Council of Realtors® one would think they would lose revenue. That it turns out is not true.

I loved the connection and collaboration happening in that room. Women from all over California and a few from out of state were there. Each of them exceeds the average income from real estate by more than double. Women’s Council of Realtors® offers more than just connection, it also offers leadership and education designed to help a Realtor® grow as a professional. The average age of a member is around 53.

I couldn’t help thinking about how many professions don’t offer support like this. Women are expected to find industry professionals on their own to connect with. They have to seek out their own leadership training unless they work at a unique company that offers it. I wish that more organizations that supported women advancing in leadership positions existed. But since there aren’t, we as women need to spend more time on ourselves. There are so many ways we can develop our leadership skills.

The National Association of Realtors® President Elizabeth Mendenhall’s campaign is called, “Own It.” Her intention behind the campaign is that we need to take personal responsibility for our careers and own our power. Her inspirational message that day really made me reflect on what I could own more of. I have always had a Big Voice mindset that I share in my book of the same name, but I have added some things here that Elizabeth inspired.

Own Your Success

We can no longer use excuses as to why we don’t have the time or will wait for tomorrow to start living our best life. The time is now and we either need to admit something is not a priority or start moving towards it.

Own Your Tribe

We must surround ourselves with like-minded women who push us to be our best. If one doesn’t come with your profession, find one, or create one. We must seek out what we need or loneliness or complacency will set in.

Own Your Mindset

Although I reviewed what I believed to be my positive mindset every day, I didn’t realize that I had some internal conflict brewing. When my editor returned the first draft of my book with suggestions for revision, she pointed out that I had written living an extraordinary life and being mindful was not easy eight times, the word “difficult” 51 times, and used the word “hard” 90 times. I was absolutely shocked because I hadn’t realized that my perception internally was that my life and journey were hard. I absolutely feel blessed on a daily basis and lead a good life. I reflected on why I thought it was hard and here is what I came up with:

  1. It is hard being a mom that works and tries to balance it all.
  2. It is hard having a sister that is struggling.
  3. It is hard to live without a mom and an older dad that has a hard time staying happy.
  4. It is hard being single and not having anyone to share life with.
  5. It is hard not having an abundance of like-minded friends in my industry who support one another.
  6. It is hard to accept who I was before.

As I reviewed the six things I realized I had choices that I was missing. I set intentions to change. Obviously, I can’t change my parents or my sister, but there is a lot more I can do. I had secretly been feeling sorry for myself when I had all the power to overcome these things. Needless to say, I have shifted my mindset as a result of being with these women at Women’s Council of Realtors®. Here are the things I am doing to truly “own it” going forward:

  1. Getting super clear on ensuring my time is in alignment with my priorities. I am evaluating every aspect of my businesses and making sure they are turnkey and streamlined. I am devoting more time in learning about something before I delegate or hire someone to do it. The underlying fear of “is this right?” is diminishing as I trust my intuition more.
  2. I am spending more time on what I am grateful about with my family. I am accepting of my sadness and grief, but will transcend it into deeper connections with others. I am blessed to have other women in my life that mother me. I also have friends who are like sisters that support me.
  3. I am so appreciative of my alone time, but haven’t spent enough time appreciating it. I accept God’s divine timing for whenever someone comes into my life. I am also opening myself up to the truth that I can’t spend too much time at home and I need to be more adventurous.
  4. I am seeking out organizations like Women’s Council of Realtors® to join that support my purpose and leadership development. Ironically, at the event I connected with the speaker who has already impacted my life. I know that this has been missing for me and that rather than do anything, I was being passive.

I encourage you to look at your life and find out what you can “own” more. These are things within our control that with intention and a mindset shift we can change. And if you happen to be a real estate professional, join Women’s Council of Realtors® and start growing today!

Goal Setting

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Napoleon Hill

It’s still the beginning of a new year – you have a new book with about 300 blank pages that you’re going to fill. But fill with what? Are you simply going to scribble your way, jotting a few notes here and there, or recording just the highlights as your parents may have done in your baby book? Or are you going to strive to fill every page, every day with extraordinary, sustainable success stories?

I like to believe that everyone’s ultimate vision is to lead an extraordinary life. By that I mean doing what you love and loving how you do it. The best tool I’ve found for helping you get to an extraordinary life, to have joy in your work, and of course to make the money you want to make is to set goals. Goal setting propels your vision forward. They are the things that allow you to maximize your resources: time, skills, knowledge, passion, etc. Goals are what help you make the most of your life and feel fulfilled with what you are doing.


Goals Need to be Written

When you write out your goals, you’re creating an external representation of your internal desires and reinforcing their value. Setting tangible goals allows you to break the big dreams of your vision into bite-size, achievable steps. But more importantly, goals hold you accountable. They get you out of that “if only” rut that so many of us fall into: if only I had this or if only I had that, I’d be happy. You can’t allow “shoulds” into your vision and you can’t allow “if onlys” into your goals.

Part of goal planning is becoming that person who is joyful and happy today even though you haven’t yet achieved your total vision. Goals allow you to celebrate your successes along the way. Celebrating is important. Celebrating reinforces your commitment. And more importantly, it re-patterns your brain to strive for more successes. To be effective goals should be S.M.A.R.T.

Specific – get exceptionally clear about what you are going to accomplish. The more specific you are the easier it is to accomplish a goal and celebrate it. So rather than saying I’m going to make $200,000 this year, you could say I’m going to contact 30 people in my database each week.

Measurable – set goals that you can measure. If you can’t measure it, then it isn’t specific enough. You can’t celebrate what you can’t measure and you are trying to generate feelings of success. Don’t assume because one of your goals is a feeling, i.e. I want to feel more gratitude, that it can’t be measured. It can. All you have to do is assign your feelings a scale where maybe 1 is I feel no gratitude and 5 is I feel gratitude for everything around me. Each day give yourself a number based on how you feel.

Action Oriented and Realistic – nothing gets done if you can’t take action. Make sure your goals are realistic and within your control. If you have to wait on someone else to do something before you can accomplish your goal then you’re back to relying on “if only.”

Time Sensitive – if something is going to get accomplished it must have a non-negotiable deadline. Set it and hold yourself accountable to it.


Goal Setting Process

Your vision encompasses your entire life, so your goals need to do so as well. You’ll need to balance your goals in four categories: Business, Financial, Health, and Family/Relationships. Make sure that the goals in one category are not in conflict with the goals in another.

So create a couple of short-term (3 months) and long-term (12 months) goals in each category. Next identify the top action steps you’re going to take to accomplish them. Then finally, you need to identify what you want to avoid the most – these are your away values.

Away values are the things that will cause you to self-sabotage and not achieve your goals. Examples of away values might be passivity, perfectionism, or judgement. Write these down next to your goals so you don’t lose sight of them.

I use a simple 4 step process for setting goals in each category.

  1. Make a commitment. No matter what you are committed to these goals.
  2. Identify what you really want. Not what your wife or your boss wants – what do you want?
  3. Recognize why you want it. Let’s say you want to make $20,000 a month – okay why? What difference does this number make in your life? Do you need to pay for a child’s college? Do you need to take care of sick parents? What is the why behind the goal?
  4. Create a plan in order to achieve it. Nothing gets done without an actionable plan. Writing your goals down but not taking action to accomplish them is a waste of time.

Every day I recommend that you review your goals so that they are set deep into your subconscious and conscious mind. At the same time review your away values. Were you able to keep them from interfering in the action steps you needed to take today to achieve your goal? If not, how will you keep them from interfering in the future? It is only when we are vigilant that we are able to re-pattern our brains to lead an extraordinary life and to find sustainable success.