Charting Your Course for 2004

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As we approach the end of another year, it’s important to look forward and prepare to make next year our best ever. Whether your goal is to buy your first storage facility, expand your business, sell your portfolio, or distribute a new product or service, this article will teach you how to create compelling goals and a plan to ensure you achieve them.

Maybe you’re happy with your business, but it has taken a toll on your family or your health. Maybe you want to spend more time traveling, or go back to school. No matter what your goal, there are four steps to making 2004 your best year yet.

Step 1: Get Clear on What You Want

The greatest thing about setting goals is it brings the important things in life into focus. The process helps you identify what makes you tick, what gets you excited. It helps you discover what you want and rediscover what you love to do.

Research shows goal-setting is a fundamental part to achieving success. My favorite study was conducted at Yale University beginning in 1953. Each member of the graduating class was asked several questions. Surprisingly, less than 3 percent of the 1953 graduating class at Yale said they had a clear, specific set of goals with a plan. Twenty years later, in another interview, those 3 percent with goals reported being happier and better adjusted. What’s more, that group was worth more financially than the other 97 percent of the class combined.

Still, most people don’t set goals. They do what someone else tells them to, or they just focus on getting through the day. How do we stick to our goals? Those of us who set goals but fail to achieve them usually don’t have compelling reasons “why” we must succeed. We must carefully choose goals with compelling reasons that align to our life’s priorities. Here is a brief goalsetting “workshop” in which you can participate:

  • Put yourself in a space where you will not be interrupted for one hour. Turn off the TV, unplug the phone. Relax.
  • On a piece of paper, create five sections to write down goals in these areas: personal, health/wellness, spiritual, professional and financial.
  • Ask, “What would I do if I knew I could not fail?” Go crazy. Think about change on every level. Don’t think about the past. Don’t ask how. Just come up with as many things as you can for each section.
  • Divide your list into 10-year, five-year and one-year goals.
  • Pick the top three in each area.
  • Come up with five reasons you absolutely must achieve each goal.
  • Visualize achieving these goals. Make them seem so real, it is as if you have already achieved them.

Step 2: Create Your Plan

Once you have established a clear set of goals with compelling reasons, it is time to create your plan. There are three integral parts to creating a great plan that works:

  • Use role models. There are two ways to learn: trial and error, and modeling. Why reinvent the wheel? Find people who are getting the results you want. Find out their beliefs, strategies and patterns. Find out how they manage themselves and communicate with the people around them. Do the same things to produce the same results. It could take you days to learn what took them years. Where do you find great models? They can be found via industry leaders, books, tapes, coaches, trainers, friends and relatives.
  • Create a short- and long-term plan. Imagine the end result and work backward. Write down every step you can think of and ask yourself, “If I do this, will I achieve my goal?” (Usually the list is a lot longer than you expected!) Put a timeline on each step (three, six, nine and 12 months). Chunking down your plan is very important to recognize progress and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Create a winning environment. You are the company you keep, and the results we get in our lives are directly related to the expectations of our peers. Take a good look at the people around you. Will they challenge you to grow and be your best?

Step 3: Check In Regularly

It’s important to review your goals continually. I recommend once per day or, at a minimum, once per week. Ask yourself if the results you are getting are taking you closer to your goal, but remember that success doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why you included stepping stones. People often fail to recognize when their approach is not working. Or worse, they recognize the results are not what they want, but continue on the same path. That’s why step number four is important.

Step 4: Be Flexible

If the results you are getting are not what you want, change your approach. If what you are doing is still not working, change your approach. How often do you change? Until you get the results you want.

Step 5: Celebrate

Let’s not forget to celebrate. In our culture, we tend to move from one thing to the next without recognizing our achievements. Let’s get ourselves in the habit of celebrating every win, big or small, along the way. This helps us to enjoy the process as well as the end product.

I wish you the best of luck in 2004. I hope it is your best year ever. Please let me know how you do along the way.

Scott Duffy is the founder and principal of Self Storage Capital Group Inc., an emerging owner and operator of public self-storage facilities based in Santa Monica, Calif. Mr. Duffy is an entrepreneur and investor whose background includes more than 15 years of management experience with media and technology firms, including FOX Sports, CBS Sportsline and NBC Internet. He has also worked with best-selling authors and speakers Anthony Robbins and Jim Rohn, conducting workshops throughout the United States and Canada in sales training, customer service and personal development. For more information, e-mail scott@storagecapital.com.

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