October 6, 2015

Setting Goals

I enjoy reading positive thinking personal development type books. Here are some I've read in the past. I recommend any of these if you're looking for a little inspiration and motivation.

  • The Power of Intentions -- Dr. Wayne Dryer
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People -- Stephen R. Covey
  • The Millionaire Course -- Marc Allen
  • The 4 Hour Work Week -- Timothy Ferris
  • Think and Grow Rich -- Napoleon Hill
  • Getting Things Done -- David Allen
  • Flight Plan The Real Secret of Success -- Brian Tracy
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad -- Robert Kiyosaki
  • Awaken the Giant Within -- Anthony Robbins

To be honest, there's a good amount of dog and pony shows going on in that list. Some aspects of this stuff is pretty cheesy. But, after experimenting with suggestions from these books over the past 5 years, I think the good outweighs the B.S. by a long shot. I've found a lot of value in thinking about the ideas presented in these types of books. The neat part is that most of the concepts are common sense.

For example, a common theme in all of these books is that in order to get what you want out of life, it's important to set goals. Another common theme is that the more accountable you are to meet your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.

In "Think and Grow Rich", Napoleon Hill talks about a joining a "Master Mind Group" which is essentially a group of mentors and peers who meet regularly to share goals and progress. It's a great way to bounce ideas off of others and also to have people who you respect hold you accountable.

About 5 years ago, I joined a mastermind group of 5 other software developers and we met a handful of times. I only had time to participate in maybe 4 or 5 meetings over 2 months. Even with this tiny bit of effort, I think it was very valuable.

Back in 2009, I sent the following email to the mastermind group. This was my vision of what 2016 would look like:

"Begin with the end in mind", "Think Big", "Write down your ideal scene", "50,000 Feet View". It's September, 2016. My wife, our 2 kids and I are hanging out in our awesome back yard by the pool. We're trying to decide whether we should hop in our 1980 Beechcraft Sierra airplane and fly to Blacksburg to see if the Hokies can defend their 7 year winning streak against Georgia Tech (really, a no-brainer) or if we should fly down to the outer banks for a week at the beach and kite boarding. I'm earning $10K/month passive income from software programs and websites that I've created. I'm also earning $1,000/mo as a flight instructor and have trained 10 people to earn their private pilot licenses.

I stumbled across this email the other day and was surprised how much of my visualization from 2009 has actually come true. It didn't work out exactly how I planned, but the planning I did back in 2009 definitely kept me on course to get me to where I am today. Which I think is pretty cool.

  • Our second son was born in 2010. So, 2 kids: check. [4]
  • We don't have a pool, but we saved up to have landscaping done and I also built an outdoor stone fireplace in our backyard and. Now our backyard is a nice place to hang out and relax.
  • I was big into General Aviation back in 2009, but have since found an even bigger passion for Sailing. Although my vision of owning my own airplane didn't come true, I'm even happier with what actually did happen: I now own a 28 foot Hunter Sailboat and a Vacation Home 2 blocks from the marina.
  • Hokies beat GA Tech four times in past five years, not too shabby ;-) [2]
  • I started a Single Person LLC Software Development Company. It's my 4th year doing independent software consulting and I love it. No passive income yet [3], but free-lancing is definitely a step in the right direction.
  • I've since realized that becoming a Flight Instructor is a commitment that I just don't have time for right now. I'd still like the challenge of training people to fly airplanes. Maybe in a few years I'll revisit that goal.

I don't think there's anything magical [1] about setting goals. But I do think it's very useful to spend time thinking about goals. Thinking consciously about what you want to accomplish in 5-10 years clarifies the day to day tasks necessary to achieve the goals. To put it another way (which I hope makes this all less magical and more obvious) is that it's very unlikely that you'll achieve a goal unless you think about it (... duh!).


[1] Except, of course, the way our consciousness works and life itself is pretty magical and mysterious

[2] I went to Va Tech. One of the other guys in the Mastermind group went to Ga Tech. So that's what that's about.

[3] We plan to rent the vacation home as a weekend rental property and so it's very likely that I'll have some "passive" income before Sept 2016.

[4] That was a bit tongue-in-cheek, the truth is that older I get, the more I appreciate having and raising kids. It's amazing the fulfillment and opportunity for growth that comes with raising kids. In fact, raising kids is sort of an end in itself and all the other stuff (sailing, coding, etc, is sort of to support that)

Tags: planning personal development