Sometimes the goal is not to die.
As a first responder we see a lot of bad things. We also fear ever needing to call 911 for ourselves. Not so much because it would mean we suffered a tragedy but because we fear we might survive. And that the very people who saved our lives would absolutely never forget and would remind us, and all of our peers, about the time we shot ourselves in the pinky toe. Don’t believe me? Ask any first responder what thy would do if they shot themselves in the toe in the city they work in. I guarantee you 10 out of 10 will say drive my self to a hospital in another county, uber to a hospital in another county, bleed to death or any combination of these. None will say “call 911” because they can probably survive with nine toes and no one will ever know. By calling 911 you ensure you’ll get a new nickname (not a flattering one) and it will stick better than any short-lived one you left at your last station. There will probably be some altered images stuck to the fridge door in the station to commemorate the event. And you can’t take the photo down or you break some universal, unwritten code. Only someone else can take it down – maybe the house Captain. And they will, in about ten years. I’m not kidding. It will have ketchup splatter and coffee drips on it. If your face has been photoshopped onto the image, it will have a mustache drawn on and probably devil horns and at least one front tooth will be blacked out. Not by the artist him or herself, but by an anonymous accomplice who appreciates the work but sees room for improvement. There will be questions asked about whether or not you swim in circles now. It’s bad.
So imagine my concern when running on the treadmill at the gym for the first time after several months of weight-lifting only and feeling pretty crappy. I felt weak. I was sweating profusely. My legs were shaky. I was wearing hideous basketball shorts from ten years ago and socks that my nine year old daughter said I shouldn’t wear with shorts. Something about the height they reached on my paper white legs and the fact that they were black (kids these days!). So as I considered my fate, I slowed the treadmill to a slow walk and pictured my life like I was having an out of body experience. I saw the stained shorts, the sopping t-shirt I slept in last night and wore to the gym this morning and the socks which evidently weren’t the epitome of cool. I wondered if any of the beautiful gym people would do CPR – not that anyone should do mouth to mouth on a stranger – but about if they would soil their really strong hands with an old guy’s sweat or risk getting vomit on their “Gym Shark” workout outfits and barely visible socks to give me a few chest compressions.
Then my stomach really sank. I thought about what ambulance might respond and which shift may be on duty. I thought about how many fridges would get a new picture if I passed out at the gym. Dying is not always the worst fate. Maybe it would be quick, I thought. Maybe CPR wouldn’t work and I could have an honorable burial – really the only outcome that would keep the guys from agitating me to death over the whole thing.
This Really Is About Goals
What does this have to do with goal setting, you are thinking? Everything! And I thought it was funny. You see, I was getting physically stronger by a steady gym routine but my heart wasn’t getting stronger. My cardio was crap. And that didn’t align with my “why” of spending time with family (longer life means more time with them) and traveling and adventuring as much as possible to see the world. If I don’t stay in good shape I will be limited in what adventures I can endure.
So I had to make a plan to change this. Veronica is a runner and as she discussed a half marathon with a good friend, I got an idea. Maybe by setting a goal of completing a half marathon, I would force myself to run and get into better cardio shape. But where does a non-runner start? With Google, of course. Veronica found a training plan for me that was called “twelve weeks to running a half marathon – for beginners”. It literally told me what to do every day for those twelve weeks. The running a half marathon in twelve weeks was my goal or “lag measure” which is how most of us set goals. But the daily assignments given to me by the trainer Google found for me are the “lead measures”.
To clarify just a bit on lead and lag measures; the lag measure is generally what we set as a goal like “lose 10 pounds”. The lead measures are the specific actions we can take to get there, such as “run five miles a week” or “practice intermittent fasting five days a week”. For business, it could be “buy three houses this year” as your lag measure. What makes it happen is deciding on lead measures. Something like “make one offer a week from the MLS”. Or “mail 100 cards to potential sellers each week”. The step of turning lag measures into lead measures and then following through with the lead measures is critical – it is what turns goals we lose sight of by the end of January into goals we accomplish by the end of December so that we can set some more goals for ourselves.
It’s not an exact science in setting the lead measures but the good thing is that you can tweak your inputs as you go through the year. If five miles a week isn’t working then you can increase to eight miles a week in March. Better yet, what if five miles a week does the trick? What is your next goal going to be?
It’s December. Have you set any goals for 2022 yet? We are getting ready for our goal setting day. Each year we do this. It really matters to us.
We spend the day discussing what we want to accomplish in our business, health, travel, giving and family. The business goals are the most structured but this year I want to set more structured goals for family, travel and health too.
I tease Veronica that our goal setting day is the day that she decides what all I will accomplish during the year. The reality is that she is more structured than I am and that is a very helpful trait when setting goals. We write them down and set up lead measures (from the book The Four Disciplines of Execution which is a great book to read this time of year leading up to setting goals).
While a whole weekend would be ideal, we generally spend one day while the kids are in school setting our goals for the year. We go to a nice library and talk about our crazy dreams. We take a lunch break at a cool cafe somewhere and then resume in the afternoon with firming up our lead measures to reach our lag measures.
In regards to buying real estate, we have found a lot of our leads through networking so one of our lead measures is to attend two networking events a month. We may do more, but not less. I cannot tell you for certain that we will find ten deals this year at networking events but I bet I find at least one and develop two new private money lenders that want to do business with us.
Why not twenty networking events then? Because our overarching “why” has to always be in alignment with our goals. Our “why” is to be present for the fleeting moments we have with our kids living at home and still actually wanting (not having a choice) to spend time with us and to travel with us. This means that we don’t want to be gone every night of the week (most networking is in the evenings).
So how can we find our other nine deals? Mail. How much? Not sure. Start with something. How about those MLS offers? Three offers we had accepted this year were from the MLS. How many offers did we make? About ten. What?!?! What if we make 100 offers in 2022? Probably won’t 10X our outcome because the offers last year were scrutinized and hand picked but I bet we can double our results from MLS with more offers. The point is to pick some areas to set lead measures in and then follow-through. Feel free to steal these ideas.
How about personal goals? We are currently training for this half marathon. Veronica’s goal is different than mine but we have a training plan that includes the actual lead measures for each of us. Why don’t the training plans just say “run a half marathon in under two hours” for someone like Veronica who is fit? Why don’t they say “keep your tubby self moving faster than a walk for thirteen miles” for someone like me who is just hoping to run the entire distance without walking? Because that would be like saying on January 1 “I am going to buy three houses this year” or “I am going to lose ten pounds this year”. Because these are just lag measures. The lag measures are important and will help you set the lead measures to get there. Think of lag measures as the outcome you desire and the lead measures are the steps to take to get there. The lead measures for training for a race are literally a calendar that shows what to do each and every day, including rest days. What a relief; all the thinking is done for us in advance.
I would urge you to try to see your goals this way. Make your own “training plan” calendar for the first month of the year with lead measures written out and stick to them the best you can. See if they are getting you towards your lag measures. At the start of month two, you can adjust the lead measures. Maybe you have more leads than you can handle in your business and need to scale back (or grow your systems to handle them). Maybe you don’t have any leads and need to try another lead measure or you need to double down on what you are already doing. Try this in all aspects of your life that matter to you. If you were overly ambitions at the start of the year then tweak the lead measures to what is sustainable but I would urge you to stretch yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone – or a lot like me with this half marathon!
Come February in Austin, if you are watching the marathon and see a guy that looks like he’s being chased by police in slow motion, that might be me. Don’t worry, that just means that I’m the last guy and the police are closing the course. But I will be “running” the entire 13 miles as long as I can stick with the lead measures that have been set for me by some running coach Google found for me that published a running plan for fat guys to train for a half marathon.
Good luck with your goal setting and, as always “keep the main thing the main thing”!