How to Create the Life that You Want in 2017

By the time you read this, the countdown to 2017 is but 7 days away. It’s time to pull up your socks. Quit whining about how terrible 2016 was, and how you can’t wait for it to be over. Focus on how to make 2017 fierce. Screw 2016. It’s done. You have the opportunity now to make this upcoming year great. You have a chance to start 2017 like a giant. Here’s your chance. Who else is going to make your next year any different than the last?

If you’re thinking that you’re at the mercy of the constraints of the market downturn, government, who your president is, what celebrity couldn’t even make it to the next year, stop reading. Close your browser. Never come back again. Nothing I can say will help you…ever. Seriously. I have absolutely no capacity to alter the market downturn, no facility to influence the current government. I have absolutely no way to affect the national leadership in whatever country you’re in. I also don’t give a damn which celebrity died, who’s made it, and who might die in 2017. Newsflash. People die every minute, of every year. Always has, always will. It’s a fate that none of us escape. The fact that some TV guy kicks it has no bearing on what my future holds. And if you just got offended by this paragraph, you should close the browser. Do not read any further. I’m not talking to you.

 

 

On the other hand, if you’re thinking “Hells ya!” then let’s chat. We are, in fact, running out of time to plan out the coming year. Most high achievers have already completed their yearly goals, and vision by now. (They would have started at the very latest a couple months back.) But hey, there’s still 7 days for the rest of us.

Last week we began our illuminating discussion of setting goals in How to Make your 2017 Fierce with Purpose. I mentioned one John Assaraf, whose goal setting methodology I somewhat adopted this year for my own goals. What I love about his method is that he starts off with illustrating what his life purpose was. Next, he outlined what his outer mission is, followed by is inner mission.

 

Photo Credit: http://johnassarafreviews.com/

 

To recap, your Outer Mission is how you can use your skills and talents to contribute value to the world. Your Inner Mission is how you use your skills and talents to fulfill your personal self. The final step before getting into the actual goal setting is to identify your most important values, and beliefs. This is going to be the benchmark on which you make all of your decisions and choices going forward.

Here’s the rub. Life’s all about choices. Where you are today is directly the result of the choices you made previously. End of story. There could be really compelling reasons for your choice. But the fact of the matter is that you have been responsible for the life that you lead today. You and you alone made the choice to create everything you have today.

 

 

Like a Diamond, We have Different Aims for Different Areas

Here’s where I deviate from John. Towards the start of this year, I wrote “How to Achieve the Crap out of your Goals.” I illustrated the various areas in which I personally have specific goals: Me, Family, Physical, Financial, Career and Community.

 

 

 

Very simply, your goals are your ‘what’ by ‘when’s.’ As cliche as it sounds to make SMART goals, it does keep us aligned with setting our sights on something just out of our reach so that we grow. Isn’t that the point? Why bother setting goals, if you’re not planning on growing, getting sharper, creating a better life?

 

 

Financial Goals

Where do you begin with this? For me, I have been tracking my net worth on average every month since 2006. After all, what you focus on, expands. And it is certainly in my best interest to expand my net worth. Incidentally, if you don’t know how to track your net worth, you can use my net worth tracker. Just enter your email on the right, and you’ll get it in an email. Easy.  Tracking your net worth might be complicated, but well worth the effort. Perhaps you simply want to reduce your living expenses or get out of some debt currently. Those are completely noble financial goals as well. Your financial goal might be that you want to save $x dollars per month. If you’re completely at a loss for what financial goals to make, I can recommend at least this:

 

 

Achieve $x in net worth by the end of 2017

Your net worth is calculated very simply as your total assets less your total liabilities (debt). So if you aim for a hopefully positive, and somewhat higher net worth than you have now, it will include the fact that you’ll reduce your overall debt. After all, there are only three ways you can increase your net worth.

  • Increase your assets, while keeping your liabilities the same.
  • Keep your assets the same, and reduce your liabilities.
  • Do a combination of both.

It’s obviously best to do a combination of both. I talk to a lot of people about their perspectives on assets and liabilities. The most popular liability is your mortgage, which of course, is strung to your most popular asset: your house. But unless you own that house outright (ie. you have no mortgage), your house is probably the worst asset you have.

Gasp! How can you even say that, Cat? Everyone knows your house is your largest asset! Yea… That mentality went out of style with MC Hammer’s parachute pants in the 90’s. (Yes, I know, they’ve made a comeback in a slightly different version.)

 

Photo Credit: www.nathanbeaver.com

 

Here’s the rub. If you don’t know by now that your bank owns your house until you’ve made that last mortgage payment, you need to read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The bank has your ass until you’ve fulfilled that mortgage.

The definition of a good asset is something that continually adds to your net worth. A good asset is something that is hopefully liquid, and that will appreciate in value, or is a vehicle that will add to your income. Your house does none of those things, except maybe, increase in value over time. Even then, it’s questionable, since it’s subject to the volatility of the housing market. It’s certainly not liquid. That is, you can’t break off a doorknob in order to buy a loaf of bread whenever you need. I suppose you can rent out a bedroom in your home and gather some income that way. But mostly, your house shouldn’t be the focus of your asset acquisition. Just as paying off your mortgage shouldn’t be the focus of your liability reduction strategy. So many people want to pay down their mortgage as soon as possible. But this isn’t always the best answer.

 

 

Back in the 80’s when interest rates were in the double-digits, it was like buying a house on a credit card. Sure, then it would make sense that people wanted to pay off their homes as soon as possible. But stop and think of what your situation is currently. If your mortgage rate was low, why wouldn’t you better use that money to put into an investment that would return a higher rate?

My point is that blindly paying down your mortgage isn’t always the best answer. You could be using your money more optimally. You just have to evaluate the investment alternatives. Very often it could be that choosing to put money in a series of investments over paying down your mortgage increases your net worth more quickly.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m obviously not a financial advisor. I’m not telling definitively to go one way or the other. Get the opinion of a professional before making any financial decisions. That, however, shouldn’t stop you from making a goal to achieve a certain $x of net worth by the end of the year.

 

Career Goals

I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared this with you, but my vision for ITsolopreneurs is eventually to offer career coaching/mentorship for people. Sure everyone can get a free career plan at whatever company they currently work. But it’ll likely be how you fit into the corporation’s vision. This may or may not line up with what you truly want as your heart’s desire.

 

 

This situation comes up time and time again. You look at where people are in 5 years, and it’s nothing like where you want to be. What if you wanted to go into business for yourself?.. what if you eventually wanted to become a competitor to your employer? No one in their right mind would tell their employer that. That’s just asking them to phase you out of the company.

My vision is that you would get a coach that would help you craft a career plan that is yours truly. We’re always in your corner. Want to climb the corporate ladder? It might not be with that same company. No problem. Your career plan should be whatever is in your best interest, as aligned with your highest values. Until that comes to fruition, you’re on your own in developing your career goals. Have you ever asked yourself this:

  • Take a look at someone who has been in the industry 5 – 10 years longer than you have. What are they doing? How happy are they? Do they exude the happiness and vivacity that you want in your career five years from now? If any of these answers are no, what would you see yourself doing in 5 to 10 years?

 

 

Even though you’re planning goals for only 2017, you would do well to have a picture of what your career would look like in 5 – 10 years. The reverse engineer to the three-year mark. Once you have your 3-year picture, reverse engineer back to what you can achieve by the end of 2017. Often we over-estimate what we can achieve in 1 year, but underestimate what we can achieve in 10 years.

 

 

If you feel like it’s a bit too far of a stretch halfway through the year, revamp your goals to make it more achievable. There isn’t a goal police, who penalizes you for not achieving what you said you would do by the end of the year. This is all for your personal growth.

 

 

Family Goals

Everyone’s got family. Sure the immediate picture that comes to mind is your spouse, your kids, your parents, your siblings, then your crazy extended family. Even if you’re single, you still have some sort of family. They may or may not be blood-related. But the fact of the matter is that humans thrive in social communities.

 

 

Even if you’re estranged from your real family, you’ll probably have a group of individuals with whom it fills your soul to spend time. That, to me, is just as noble a definition of family. It’s important to include goals to continually develop those relationships that are important to you. It’s not all about work, career, and money. People say that your family will always be there for you. But that’s no excuse for ignoring them until you need them. That’s just poor form. Relationships are like plants. They need continual effort to maintain, bloom and flower. While your family may always be there for you when you need them, think of how amazing your relationship with your family, your spouse or your kids could if you made it a point to continually work on them?

 

 

Physical Goals

I can’t say that I have a favorite area to work in when goal-setting, but physical goals never go neglected on my goals chart. To be honest, I’m mostly in maintenance mode now. I’m always aiming to keep within my optimal weight and body composition. One goal that I continually have is to be able to do a cartwheel forever, no matter how old I am. Or that I can continually do un-assisted pull-ups forever, no matter how old I am. Here’s one thing I would recommend, though. I know that many of you will likely have a goal to lose weight.

 

 

First of all, that’s not a goal. You’re just being lazy. Also, you’re not really committed to losing weight. You’re probably enjoying the idea of it, but you aren’t really going to work at it. By the end of the year, you’re hoping to surprise yourself with whatever weight you happened to have lost. Guess what? Simply by declaring that you want to lose weight in 2017, you will have achieved your goal by losing 0.000001 lbs. Congrats. Big whoop.

It’s not just about losing weight, y’all. What are you trying to achieve by ‘losing weight?’ Is the overall quest to become healthier? To feel better about yourself? To breathe and sleep more easily? The answer to these questions will lead to a more defined amount of weight that needs to be shed. What if it’s not even the weight that needs to be shed? What if it’s muscle mass to be attained? Muscle obviously weighs more than fat, so if you change up your body composition, you’ll likely weigh the same, but you’ll look a lot leaner.

 

 

Yes, it’s super important to identify a tangible quantity of whatever you wanted to achieve physically. My point is that before landing on a quantity of weight to lose, distance to run, muscle mass to gain, think of the overall purpose of working toward these physical goals? It could be that you want to run a half-marathon this year. Do you know how to train for it? It might do you well to consult a trainer to see what needs to be done to prepare yourself to run that race. Then you can reverse engineer as to what targets you need to achieve at certain points in the year.

 

 

Me Goals

Your Me goals are the ones that are aligned with your Inner Mission. Remember your Inner Mission? This is whatever you need to do to fulfill yourself as an individual. It could be anything: traveling to exciting places, creating music even though you don’t currently play an instrument.

 

 

Me goals are also personal development goals It could be that you want to work on communication skills, your negotiation skills. You want to get good at persuading others, whoever it may be, your employer, your prospective clients to your way of thinking. None of these traits are innate. Sure some people may exhibit better communication than others, but it’s not to say that if you currently suck at talking, that you couldn’t work to better it.

 

 

Winson Churchill had a speech impediment as a child. Through years of training and development, he got over his lisp and went on to use his communication skills to lead and inspire millions of folks all over the world. Even departed, he still continues to inspire generations of leadership.

 

Community Goals

Read any personal development book involving goal setting, business building, or the law of attraction, and you will find a few common themes. One of these themes is the practice of tithing. Tithing. In the book Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki discussions in one of the latter chapters the importance of paying it forward with tithing.

 

Photo Credit: http://guykawasaki.com/

 

At a high level, aren’t we all put here to make the world a better place together? Isn’t that the point of humanity?… that each generation would make the world a more beautiful, more peaceful, more efficient world for our children, our children’s children, and so on? Either we can tithe by giving money to a meaningful organization doing good things to make our community better. Or we can tithe our time. We can volunteer. We can contribute our effort and talent to do our part in creating peace, social justice.

 

 

It’s about contributing to a cause that is larger than ourselves. All the rest of the areas are mostly about us: our finances, our careers, our families, us. But when we make it a point to contribute to our community, we get out of our own head. We are reminded that not everyone has it as good as we do. We are reminded that the skills and talents that we have are supposed to be used to help make our community great. In return, something magical happens. The more we tithe, the more of what we want comes back to us. It truly it paying it forward. When you pay it forward, you make an emotional deposit in the overall bank account of the universe. That good might not come back to you right away. It’ll come back to you when you most need it, and in exactly the form in which you need it. That is the law of the universe.

 

 

Enough talk. Time to do. It’s time to take pen to paper (or fingers to word doc, or spreadsheet). It’s time to identify the goals that we want to achieve in 2017. I’ll leave you with John Assaraf’s Exceptional Life Blueprint as a template. If you haven’t gone through the exercise of thinking about your life’s overall purpose, outer mission, inner mission, and values, do it first. Then as you scroll through the pages, create a section for your goals in each of the different areas that he has listed. I did the same thing. Reach out to me if you have a question. I’m here to help.

Happy goal-setting!


Also published on Medium.

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