Goal Setting

Yeah, yeah I know, the last thing you want to hear about is goal setting. The truth is that most New Year’s goals have the staying power of pudding in the microwave.

I think we all get a little bored with real estate from time to time. We aren’t stimulated enough. And during the colder, damp season, it’s easy to go into hibernation and start binge watching Forensic Files and Shark Tank or surfing the net to see a bunch of stuff that you don’t really care about. Trust me, I’ve done it myself.

I’m sure you’ve done your own version of this now and again.

And I’m sure you already know that no amount of goal-setting happy talk will mitigate the gloom.

There are actually a few enlightened health pro’s that say we should let our bodies wind down every year or so. Get a full system flush type of crawl under the covers for a few days and let the demons and other bad stuff bubble to the surface. So you can purge the crud. Evacuate the used-up bacteria out of your pipes, physically. And shoo the whispering monsters out of your head.

We aren’t perfect creatures. We need to sleep and recharge our batteries. And it’s wise to gather your bearings at least once per year. So don’t beat yourself up over it if you have the occasional down time. We all have it, we all do it, and all of the successful people just roll with the punches.

It only becomes a problem when it becomes clinical depression. And trust me, as a real estate agent that can happen fairly quickly. That’s the cold, empty state where nothing looks good and hope for your business and your life is an absurd memory.

I’ve been there before believe it or not. Nearly a decade ago, I lost my business partner, my fiancé, my job and my Grandfather all within a 30 day period. Then my gold-digging ex-fiance framed me, sued me and cost me everything I’d ever earned in my entire life, all given to the attorneys just to defend my innocence.

The shit can wear you down.

I have two things to say about this:

Thing Numero Uno: If you ever think you are losing a grip on your mental state, seek professional help. Don’t head straight for the pharmacy counter though. Give “talk therapy” a try with a real, qualified psychotherapist.

Remember to choose this person carefully. You are going to dump every secret you have on them. And remember, this is going to be your new best friend but they will bring a professional expertise to the table at the time that you need them. You only need to see them until your head is straight. It might be a week, a month or a quarter. Just like hiring a dentist, you may need serious dental work or you may find out that you just need a cleaning once a year. The same is true with talk-therapy.

Keep in mind that everyone goes through bumpy roads and emotional states. The percentage of people that actually “lose it” are very small.

That’s why talking about your problems with someone who has perspective can be so beneficial. The first thing you learn is that you aren’t alone. And what you’re going through is normal.

Most of the time, you are going to be just fine. Even when problems seem overwhelming.

This kind of talk-therapy helps you to find out how others have dealt with the same nonsense you’re suffering through. That piece of information can change everything. Seriously, just discovering that you’re not alone in what you’re going through and that others have navigated similar troubles makes it much easier. Learning about super simple and effective ways to obliterate feeling overwhelmed can solve MUCH of what’s currently holding you back.

A good book to read is “Learned Optimism” by Martin Seligman. I’ve read it a few times and a long time ago, it vaulted me out of my funk.

The main lesson you’ll learn in the book is that someone tested the “happiness” level of a huge number of people, including Holocaust survivors.

And it turns out that, at some point in your life, Abraham Lincoln was right – “you are as happy as you decide to be.”

This is startling news for anyone lost in despair. Because it seems like you’ve been forced to feel that way. With no choice.

But it’s not the case. The happiness study revealed that you can NOT tell from a person’s current attitude what sort of trauma they had gone through earlier in life. People who suffered horribly could be as happy as larks, while silver-spooned never-had-a-worry folks are miserable and all but suicidal.

The difference? Attitude. Optimistic people work through setbacks and trauma while pessimists settle into a funk that can’t be budged.

And it’s a CHOICE. At some point in your life, you choose to either live in gloom or sunlight.

This realization rocks most folk’s boat. Especially pessimists. They are very protective of their gloom and doom outlook. They are invested heavily in proving themselves right about the nastiness of life.
Maybe you’re one of ‘em.

If you are… you’re killing yourself, dude.

The guys in lab coats who study this stuff say that heart disease rates are HALF for optimists over pessimists. So, even if you doubt the ability to measure “happiness”, you still can’t deny the stats on dropping dead from a gloomy ticker. If you are negative, you’ll die faster. And be miserable while you are alive.

Now, I am certainly not a clear-eyed optimist. I get creepy feelings around people who are too happy all the time. I am very real and “in the moment” at all times.

With that said, you’ve likely witnessed me verbally, if not nearly physically attacking any overly negative, pessimistic, excuse laden people around me. I can’t stand negative losers and I fight them off at every opportunity because I’m scared to death that shit may be contagious. That’s one disease I never want to get.

But yes, we all have good times and bad times. I do prefer having a good time, enjoying the finer things in life, enjoying the ocean breeze or the wind through the palm trees or the secret smile from the wonderful women I live with.

I’m just good at balancing out the bad with the good.

Gary Halbert used a term years ago to describe most successful people as “pessimistic optimists”.

How does that work? Easy.

We expect horrible atrocities at every turn…and rejoice when we defy fate to experience unreasonable success raining down on our undeserving heads.

If you focus on the bad things that can go wrong, you’ll never crawl out of bed in the morning.
When you finally realize that pretty much everything bad that business, or relationships, or politics can throw at you will not kill you…then you begin to relax.

You then eagerly court the unknown and start a new project within your real estate business.

Have you ever had your heart broken? Hurts like hell doesn’t it? Feels like your life is over. Well from my perspective, sitting here quickly approaching 40 years old and pretty darned happy, all those romances-gone-wrong that broke my heart long ago look just plain silly now. And my resulting deep depression, where I was sure my life was over, are just tiresome lessons that I had to get through.

Not one of those ladies was worth a Shakespearean suicide. Heck, today they aren’t even worth 60 seconds of thought. Looking at it in hindsight, I would’ve left one of them for a freakin’ Klondike Bar.

It’s taken me a while, but I’m now a certified realist. My youthful idealism has drained away and my wanting to make sure everything is absolutely perfect went out the door long ago.

Look, I’m in no position to tell anyone else how to live their life. I’ve screwed up plenty. Maybe more than my own fair share. If I have any wisdom at all, it’s only because I’ve survived some truly hairy situations. I’ll be discussing some of those lessons at the upcoming two day event Ninja Money Tactics.

My wisdom is strong enough to feel confident in telling you that if you have a hateful, brooding attitude, it will stunt your growth. It will make you a smaller person, a less-wise person, an older and feebler person. And you won’t grow. Not in business, not in life and not in health.

Most people don’t want to grow anyway. Growth only comes from movement and change. Most people are terrified of change.

You can’t blame them really. Change is a form of death. Whatever was before, dies. And whatever comes next must be nurtured with devotion and sacrifice.

That’s hard. That’s a hard way to live, always dying and being reborn.

And because it’s hard, it’s avoided.

Well screw that.

I suspect, if you’re reading this, you’re not afraid of change. But you may not yet understand the power that REALLY giving yourself to change offers.

And that brings us to…

Thing Numero Dos: Goals are all about CHANGE. The death of the old you and the birth of the new.
That’s a subtle point many people gloss over. Rookie goal-setters often get stuck on stuff like quitting smoking or vague concepts like “becoming a better person”.

Or “get rich”.

That seldom works. Goals need to be specific…And they need to involve profound change in order to take hold.

Halbert often talked about “image suicide”. The necessity of killing and burying the “self” you are so heavily invested in, before you can move to a new level of success. If you are fat, you have to decide that person will die today and you’ll no longer identify with being fat. You’ll identify with being at a more ideal weight and you’ll make that happen as quickly as possible. This can’t be the same person hoping to look a little better. The fat person dies TODAY. Let’s bury it, get rid of it, play the bagpipes and be born again as a new person. Same goes for smoking. Same goes for laziness and procrastination.

Same goes for being broke all the time. Which by the way, there’s a very specific list of things you’ve done that have caused you to be broke. There will be a very specific OPPOSITE set of things that will need to be done to reverse that disease. Most of this is a mental struggle.

I see this all the time in my one-on-one consultations with agents. Realtors often refuse to do even slightly different marketing for fear of damaging their “reputations”.

And my question to them is: “What reputation? You sold 12 freakin houses last year. Your reputation is your income and that reputation ain’t good!”

Unless you are the top dog in your marketplace, no one gives a rat’s ass about what you think or do. No one is looking at your marketing for inspiration or condemnation because you aren’t the agent to look at. You are completely obscure to them.

No, what these scaredy-cats are talking about when they say “reputation” is what other agents in their office think of them. And that’s a sure sign of a losing attitude.

My fellow Mastermind Member is Ron Legrand. Him and I spend several days together each year within a top level coaching group. This real estate investor guru brings in over $10,000,000 per year in income and he’s one of the best natural salespeople I’ve ever met. You’ve heard him on your radio and you’ve seen him on your tv. He understands fundamental motivating psychology. And he knows that one of the major obstacles he faces when he’s in a sales presentation is the prospects spouse.

This is usually the wife. She can nix the entire deal with a sneer. Or she can nix it in the prospect’s head as he imagines that sneer!

Ron counters the objection expertly. He encourages the prospect to get his spouse involved in the decision so she becomes invested in it. He is careful to always get her on his side of the fence.

This is the reality of most people’s lives. As much as they want what you offer…they are terrified of making a mistake. Cuz they’ll pay dearly for it with the spouse.

This is a huge deal killer in real estate. It hurts YOU in your own home and it certainly comes up with your prospects at every presentation you give. When you look down, the Husband glances at his Wife. She can kill the deal with a sneer that lasts less than a half-second.

That’s why you include lots of “reason why” copy in your pitch. Unfortunately, most agents seldom give a thought to this when structuring their presentation. They must have both parties on board and they have to be extremely good at eye contact, building value and keeping the prospects emotionally engaged.

You see, the agents that get the most accomplished are comfortable with change and additions. They like to do autopsies to find out why things die. They try new things. They are risk takers. They embrace change, because growth is impossible without it. You need specific goals to grow as well.

The oldest trick in the book is to:
Decide what you want.
Write it down.
Review it as often as possible.

Reading this on a regular basis alters your mind. So as an example, if your goal is to make $300,000 per year as an agent, you won’t be chasing the first time buyer that wants to buy a mobile home. You know that this client won’t get you where you want to be.

In an old moldy bankers box in the back of my closet I opened it to reveal some old goals I’d set years and years ago when I first got my real estate license. I was a totally pathetic, clueless rookie. One of my goals was to buy a new used car that was less than 10 years old. The other goal was to net $75,000 in income after all of my expenses.

Even though these were very modest goals, I can say I am proud to have a line crossed through each and every one of the goals that I set out to achieve. And there was years and years of them. I remember carrying them around with me each day in my pocket. Thinking about them as I stepped on the porch to knock on the door at a scheduled listing appointment. And I met those goals.

Today, I’m far greater than 10 times stronger. And I still push myself towards big goals. Let me assure you, if you do this shit the right way, it actually works. If you do it the wrong way, you’ll fail. And each time I set those goals, I felt like there was no way I’d be able to reach something that high.

It’s powerful voodoo going on here. The keys are action, movement and guidance.

My Trick To Setting Goals Is Very Simple:
Every January 15th I sit down and write myself a letter, dated exactly one year ahead.
And I describe in the letter, what my life is like a year hence. (So in 2015, I dated the letter to myself as January 15, 2016.)

It’s a subtle difference to the way other people set goals. Took me a long time to figure it out too.
For many years, I wrote out goals like “I’ll move to a big house on the water in Florida” and “I’ll earn $400,000 per year”. And it worked okay, but it was like pushing my goals.

Writing this letter to myself is more like pulling my goals. For me, this works even better. Every decision I make throughout the year is unconsciously influenced, as I am pulling toward becoming the person I’ve described.

But here’s where I do it very differently: My goals are deliberately in the “woah” to “no friggin way” range. Mega-ambitious, to downright greedy.

There’s a sweet spot in there. It’s doable, if I commit myself, but not so outrageous that I lose interest because the required change is too radical.

I’m pretty happy with myself these days. It was a long hard road to get here and I earned it every step of the way. I’ve helped a LOT of agents to become better people…better providers for their family. And if you know me, you know that I’ve learned to enjoy change. I change as often as I can.

And you know every year I open that letter, I think “what a greedy bastard I was being back then”, yet I always have the best year of my life with massive increases in all aspects of well-being.

The kicker is that I wouldn’t have had such great results if it weren’t for that letter I wrote to myself and knowing that I’d have to open it very soon. I think about it constantly.

The letter forces you to look into the future, rather than today.

A lot of people make their living peering ahead and telling everyone else what to expect. Most do a piss-poor job of it. Weathermen are notorious at getting it wrong. So are stock market analysts, wanna-be trend setters and more.

Yet they stay in business simply because the general public is terrified to look into the future. It would require them to be sincerely honest about their current actions…since what the future holds is often the consequence of what you’re doing right now.

If you’re chain smoking, chasing street hookers and living on doughnuts, your future isn’t bright.

If you maxed out all your credit cards and you aren’t doing your due diligence to start bringing in big money, you are screwed. And it’s YOUR fault.

No one can see into the future for real. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. In fact, it’s easy to see into the future for yourself rather than the world.

The things you do today will have consequences tomorrow. If you get your marketing out and make some lead calls, tomorrow looks good. If you sit in front of your computer and check your email repeatedly, you are again screwed my friend.

I’m rambling… Go make some money,

Greg Luther

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