By Jason Felts
Advanced Merchant Services
As we say farewell to 2008 and welcome 2009, it's time to shine. What an ideal juncture for reflecting, planning and determining what our dreams really are and how we will achieve them. How many of you have already established your resolutions (goals) for 2009? If you take this process to heart, it can transform every aspect of your life.
I've been a dedicated goal writer since I was 18, and herein I will share some notes and ideas about the process from my personal journal.
Studies suggest less than 4 percent of people in the United States set written goals. The same studies show that many of that 4 percent are among the wealthiest people in the nation. Why are these numbers so low? There are several reasons, but the one that concerns me most is lack of know-how.
When I ask people why they don't set goals, they often say they don't know how or they've just never done it before. Indeed, most people spend more time making grocery lists than planning for their most cherished dreams. Isn't that unbelievable?
We send our children to school for a dozen or so years before they graduate from high school. Many of them go on to trade schools, colleges and universities. We teach them many important disciplines, including math, history, economics, literature, science and so forth, but we miss one critically important skill: goal setting.
We award them degrees, pat them on their backs and send them into the world. They may be full of knowledge, but they are almost always ill-prepared to design and pursue the lives they really want.
Many children cannot get this training at home because their parents have not been disciplined to write goals themselves. Therefore, approximately 96 percent of our population simply go through life having never understood or practiced the art of setting and obtaining goals and dreams.
Question: How can you achieve that which you cannot see? How can you strive toward a mark that's not even defined? Whether you're already a goal setter, you used to set goals and quit, or you've never set goals, the following six steps will help you build a better life. So let's welcome 2009 with clarity of purpose and plan to achieve our goals.
Dream big. Get a blank ledger pad, and let your imagination run wild while you fill up your sheet of paper with everything you want to accomplish, become, experience or have. Many adults have lost their ability to dream, and that's unfortunate.
By dreaming you instill hope for your future, and with hope, there's possibility. So your assignment is to take this advice seriously and make a list. During the coming week, devote at least one hour to dreaming. I want you to create a "dream list" filled with ideas.
Your list should include at least 25 to 50 dreams pertaining to what you want to accomplish, become, experience or have. The page should have lines. Each goal should be to the left side of the line, with the remaining portion of that line left blank. Skip a line between your goals, leaving plenty of room to write beside each goal.
You can separate your dreams into categories: family, education, work or business, travel, spirituality, personal objectives, and so on. Think about what you would like to accomplish in your lifetime. What are your plans related to educating yourself and (for parents) your children? Where would you like your family to live? What type of house do you want? What kind of car?
List several events you've always wanted to attend -perhaps concerts or sporting events like the Super Bowl or World Series. When you think you're done, consider exotic vacations you've always dreamed of experiencing with your family but have never been able to pull together.
Most goals should be specific. Envisioning a nice home is not as effective as depicting a 3,000-square-foot, Tudor-style home with four bedrooms, three full baths and two living spaces; a new car is not as good as a black, BMW 5 Series with tan leather interior or a silver Lexus RX 350 with charcoal interior.
Define how large you want your portfolio to be. How many merchants will it contain? How many agents will work for you? How much revenue will you earn?
Step 2: Why
After you complete your list, wait 24 to 48 hours. Then for each item listed, write down why it is there. If you can't verbalize in one sentence why you want to be, do or have this dream, then it's not really a dream, and it won't become a goal. Cross it off your list. The why behind your dream is your real purpose. If there's no legitimate why, there's no valid purpose in achieving or pursuing that goal.
Step 3: How
Beside each goal, you need to write down how you can achieve it. What will it take? One of the most critical components of goal setting is to begin pondering a realistic plan of action. For example, if you have a goal to drop 25 pounds, you should write down some specific ideas on how you can do that.
If your goal is to create a million dollar bankcard portfolio, consider how you will put it together. If you want to move into a new house or have a certain amount money in a retirement fund, how are you going to do it?
Step 4: When
For each goal, jot down a timeline. You will notice some goals will be short-term or immediate and can be attained in less than three month's time. For example, spending more time with family could be an immediate goal; establishing a weekly uninterrupted game night could be how it is attained.
Other goals will be intermediate: attainable within six months to two years. Some goals will be long-term, say, three to seven years. The longest term you should consider at this point is seven years out - with the one exception of college preparation for your children. I strongly recommend not going beyond seven years because it becomes hard to identify with something so far away.
So, separate your list into short-range, intermediate, and long-range goals. This step will help you quickly determine whether you have a balanced perspective between what needs to be done now for immediate goals versus what will be done later as future dreams unfold.
Remember, some goals must be big to make you stretch to your full potential; having long-range goals keeps you on track and reduces the possibility of short-range frustrations. Some goals must be small and daily to keep you disciplined. Some goals must be ongoing. Certain goals (weight loss, sales success and education, for example) may require analysis and consultation to determine where you are before you can establish a timeline with accuracy.
Step 5: Share
This step is hard for some. However, I strongly suggest an accountability partner. You may have several: a spouse for family goals, a sales manager for sales related goals or a minister for spiritual goals. In any event, you should have loving, caring people in your life who will encourage you and keep you on track toward attaining the goals on your list.
Step 6: Achieve
After you identify your specific goals and write them down, begin the daily and weekly action steps that will take you closer to attaining them.
And once you have identified your goals and plotted the activities you intend to do to fulfill them, pat yourself on the back. When you achieve a goal, reward yourself; celebrate as you cross them off your list. You have just spent more time planning your future than most of your friends, relatives or associates will ever invest.
As you embrace 2009, I wish you health, wealth and happiness. If I can be of assistance or answer any questions for you, please reach out to me directly. If you read this article and take this lesson seriously by putting together a list, drop me a line so I can celebrate with you. You will be taking a very important step toward reaching new heights in the future, and I would love to give you an e-mail "high five."
Remember, Jim Rohn, one of the greatest philosophers of our day said, "You should set a goal to become a millionaire, not for the millions of dollars, but rather what you will become during the process of the achievement."
Jason A. Felts is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida-based Advanced Merchant Services Inc., a registered ISO/MSP with HSBC Bank. From its onset, AMS has placed top priority on supporting and servicing its sales partners. The company launched ISOPro Motion, its private-label training program, to provide state-of-the-art sales tools and actively promote the success and long-term development of its partners. For more information, visit www.amspartner.com, call 888-355-VISA (8472), ext. 211, or e-mail Felts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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