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“If you’re not making some else’s life better, you’re wasting your time” Will Smith. That’s a good way to start a brand new year! While you are finding ways to positively impact another’s life, positively impact your own as well.

Spend 30 minutes or so today to think about what you want 2014 to bring you. Write them down and then add 2 or 3 strategies or action items under each goal. Keep the sheet handy, somewhere will you will see it fairly frequently, spend a few minutes every week connecting with those goals and considering what opportunities have presented themselves that will help you get closer to a goal. Literally 10 to 15 minutes a week connecting with a goal, thinking about how you might achieve it, looking for opportunities that enable your goals will make an enormous difference. It can take you from thinking about your goals the way you think about winning the lottery to actually realizing that most things are achievable with a little planning, a little thought and keeping them close to your day-to-day decisions.

Business owners can really benefit from this process, but I like the holistic approach of combining professional success with personal success so don’t just concentrate business goals. My goals almost always include a revenue benchmark I want to reach with the number of hours a week I would need to bill to reach that goal. I then add marketing strategies, expenditure control and other action items that would help me get new clients and keep the ones I already have. But they also include goals having to do with my personal life; my savings strategy, my tennis game, how to connect with my kid, the kind of friend I am, etc.

I have laminated my goals in the past. They were not New Year resolutions, they were just visions I had for my life. I met with a friend once a month and we would discuss what our goals were and think about ways to achieve them. It was surprisingly effective. I had a couple of goals that I almost laughed at when I first wrote them down because I did not see a way they could be achieved, but that laminated sheet has all but been completely accomplished. My daughter and I have traveled to Europe several times and stayed for a month on 3 different occasions. That was a goal I had that I initially laughed at, but now several years later, we have accomplished it, not once, but several times now. I would never have seen the way to make this happen if I had not first let it be a goal. Once it was a goal, the strategy to achieving it was an opportunity that I recognized when it presented itself.

I also like the idea of a vision quest board. You get a cork board, cut pictures out that represent what you want to have in your life. It can be a photo of a hobby you want to start, the way you want your storage room or garage to look, a list of books you want to read, the new sofa you want. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? You find those pictures that most closely represent to you what you want and what you want to achieve, small and large. Make a collage of it and hang it somewhere you will see it. The pictures mean something to you, but visitors to your home or office won’t be able to decipher your goals unless you want to discuss them. It’s a great way to keep your vision close to you, but not necessarily communicate it to others that will see the collage.

I think I will start a new sheet this year to update and re-familiarize myself with what my current goals are. I don’t know why writing them down is so important, but it is. Again, I will laminate on some neon color paper and keep them somewhere I will see them at least weekly and see what I can accomplish in 2014.

I like being in charge of my present and my future. To be in charge, I have to know what I want and be steering the ship, driving the car or whatever metaphor works for you. I choose to be in charge. Today and over the next few days I will make sure I have mapped the road ahead to make getting there more of a reality than just a pipe dream that frustrates more than inspires me. I am inspired, now let’s find that neon orange card stock….

Post Author: Tricia O'Connor CPA MBA

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