Take a step back from thinking about your passion. Imagine all the money you need is in your bank and you can snap your fingers and have whatever you desire. Remove all limitations and fast-forward ten, fifteen, or twenty years into the future. Project a vision of the life you want. Spare no expense. Really think about this for a moment.
If you can have anything you want, then:
- What is your perfect life?
- What is the life you want to have?
- What is your health like?
- Where are you living?
- What car do you own?
- What does your ideal day look like?
- How much money are you making?
- What are your goals?
Allow yourself to dream. There are no limitations. Right now, just imagine every goal you would like to achieve in life.
Take a moment to create a new note. Come back to this book when you have a blank document ready. Write today’s date at the top, and then write a list of all the goals you have. Yes, all of your goals—and be specific!
You may think this is absurd and will take forever, but write them down anyway. The list will be much shorter than you think. Consider everything you would accomplish if you had no limitations. Write each thing down.
This part is not optional. You might as well delete this book or throw it away if you skip this exercise. This is for you and your future success, so do yourself a favor, invest in your future, and take a brief moment to write down your goals. Get them out of your head and write them on a piece of paper. We’re going to come back to this list, so make sure you have it written down before continuing.
If You’re Going to Dream, Dream Big
Successful people are goal-oriented. They project a vision into the future of what they want to accomplish. One of the greatest regrets of successful people is setting goals that were too small and then achieving them.
As a kid, I always wanted a Lamborghini. I thought it was the coolest car. But when I was old enough to drive a car and had a job, I understood what it actually took to make money—and how much money a Lambo cost. When it came time for me to buy a car, I decided that my original goal was too big. I settled for a Mustang.
Now, I didn’t just buy the next Mustang I saw. I set criteria for myself. I wrote down the specifics: “I’m going to buy a red Mustang, standard transmission, with fewer than 85,000 miles for no more than $5,000—in cash.”
I worked hard and saved. I’d search the classifieds and come across listings that were close to my criteria but didn’t quite match. Sometimes the make and model would match, but it’d be too expensive, or the car would meet everything on my list, except it was white. That wouldn’t do.
Some said I was being unreasonable, but I knew what I wanted.
Months later—or maybe it was a year—I finally found the car. It was a red Mustang, standard transmission, with eighty-one thousand miles listed for $5,000. I had a mechanic check it out, and he told me everything looked perfect.
“The only thing,” he said, “was I noticed that the clutch needs to be replaced. That’s normal though for a car with eighty thousand miles.”
I thanked him and called the owner. “The mechanic said everything looks great! He said all it needs is a new clutch.”
“Oh, no!” the owner said. “I had no idea. The car was my son’s, and he went off to college. I wasn’t aware the clutch needs to be replaced. I’m really sorry about that. I wasn’t trying to sell you a broken car.”
The owner was apologetic!
I replied, “That’s okay. It should just be around twelve hundred dollars to repair.”
“Okay, how’s three thousand eight hundred then?”
I was shocked. I wasn’t asking for a discount at all! Ecstatic, I met the owner, signed some papers, and bought the car.
It was a great car that served me well for many years, and it felt good to have defined what I wanted, worked hard, and achieved it. However, in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but remember my original dream car: that red Lambo. I pushed the thought out, but it never really went away. I’d made the mistake of lowering my goal to the constraints of my current reality. If you’re going to dream, dream big.
I regret lowering my goal.
“I Have My New Job. I’ve Got It.”
When I was twenty-one, I wrote a letter to myself.
I was making not much more than $1,000 a month—which was just enough to live off of. I’d also just gotten married. We were barely getting by, had a mattress on the floor, and we had no couch. We sat on the floor, but we were happy to finally be together after four years of a long-distance relationship. We ate a lot of ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese—not the finest dining. My wife’s car was older than mine and had 230,000 miles. It died two months after we were married.
Remember the Mustang that needed a new clutch? In my twenty-one-year-old-wisdom, I replaced it with a performance clutch, which was a lot of fun for me to drive but uncomfortable for my wife to operate. That meant I had to drive her to and from work, the grocery store, and anywhere else she needed to go for the next several years. We couldn’t afford another car.
The letter I wrote to myself at age twenty-one was only three sentences long:
“I want a job that pays $3,000+ a month doing either computer work that I like or playing/making music. I have my new job. I’ve got it.”
I especially like the “+” symbol after the dollar amount. I was really stretching myself. Again, at the time, that was three times the amount I was making. It felt huge. But what’s important isn’t the monthly goal or the type of work I wanted to do. It’s this part: “I have my new job. I’ve got it.”
I didn’t have it, but I believed that I had it. In my mind, it was already done. I was already there. Once I believed that I’d achieved it, it was just a matter of having reality align with my mindset. How long do you think it was before I met that goal? One week? Three weeks? Eight months?
Two years later, it hit me: as someone who was self-employed, I didn’t immediately know how much I made each month like an employee with a paycheck would. I had to run some calculations and add up revenue from various sources, but once I did, I saw that I had passed $3,000 in the last month.
That was a big moment for me. When I’d first written that goal, I was shooting for the stars. The time it took to get there didn’t matter. The important thing was that I’d already accomplished the goal in my mind two years ago.
At twenty-eight, I now make twenty times the monthly goal I set when I was twenty-one. Next year, our company will make fifty times that goal. What’s different? What’s changed?
Nothing. I continue to write down my goals and believe I’ve accomplished them. I never allow myself to think that I’ve failed to meet my goal—only that I haven’t gotten there yet.
Where you’re at now is a result of the goals you’ve set prior to this day and the steps you’ve taken to achieve them. If you’re not where you want to be, look at what you were doing several years ago to see why. Where you’ll be in five years is a result of the goals you set now and the steps you take to achieve them.
Don’t Underestimate What You Can Accomplish in Ten Years
I set what felt like a big revenue goal for myself at the time, and six years later I found myself making twenty times that amount.
When you’re in a place you don’t want to be, every second feels like an eternity. This can result in a year feeling like a long period of time. But even six years is not a long time with the right perspective. Everything about your situation can be totally different in six years. You get to decide how radically or marginally different your life looks by the kind of goals you set today.
Bill Gates is quoted as saying, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
We underestimate what we can accomplish because we think in limited units and linear growth. Your current reality becomes a unit by which you measure your potential. When you set bigger goals, you break outside of that restricted context. Big goals force massive action which results in exponential change.
You have so much more inside yourself than you realize. To set a small goal is to limit your potential. Your big goal should scare you a little bit. When it feels just outside your reach, you’re on the right track.
- When you dream big, people will call you impractical. But you can’t think like everyone else if you want to experience different results.
- People will try to talk you down from your big goal. Expect it, know it will happen, and prepare for it.
- Don’t underestimate what you can accomplish in ten years. Set a big goal.