Having emceed an event featuring Canadian-American motivational speaker Brian Tracy, who is fanatical about the value of goals, I realised that I needed to be open to luck and flexible to change. Tracy’s book and talk – Goals – taught me 10 essential truths to achieving your ambitions.

1. Use your strengths

Look at what you’ve achieved so far and see that as stepping stones to future success. Focus on what you have got right, not wrong, and use these wins as fuel to inspire you to greater heights. Tracy calls it “unlocking your potential”. You need to do a SWOT analysis on yourself as an important first-step goal.

2. Take control of your life

Stop blaming others, even if they had a role in your problems. Time spent worrying about the past stops you making the best of the future.

3. What do you really care about?

Get to know yourself better. Write down what you care about and make sure your goals are aligned with that. You might want to give your family a beautiful home with a swimming pool because you want to see your kids having fun. Know yourself, set your goals and make them happen.

4. Do you believe in yourself?

Be realistic about yourself as a means to help with your goal setting and making them happen. Muhammad Ali once explained his meteoric rise to become arguably the greatest boxer ever, this way: “It is the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
Ali always told us: “I am the greatest!” and he certainly became exactly that.

5. Who are you?

When you understand more about who you really are (as you will through these steps), you can start working on what you’re here for – your purpose.

6. Get out of your comfort zone

If you don’t, for example, like the hard numbers that define your money life, then it’s time to get uncomfortable and do things differently. US President Theodore Roosevelt summed it up: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

7. Hang out with successful people

If the crowd you hang around with is full of negative types, then get a new crowd.

8. Measure your success

Once you have set your goals and the associated plan, set another goal to measure or assess how you’re going with it all.

9. Read about successful people

If I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I’d read Sir Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity and any book on Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. If I wanted to be a top share market investor, it would be books on Warren Buffett, Sir John Templeton, Ray Dalio and people of their ilk. Take notes and use them to change yourself.

10. Visualise your goals

When my wife and I were growing our business, we read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich on Friday nights when we were having a relaxing drink. It linked a good time with our goal to grow our business. We ended up visualising our business in five years’ time. We guessed how valuable it would become, and it was what we thought was a “big, hairy audacious goal”, as Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, the authors of Built to Last, would advise.

These actions put us in the zone and gave us something that we could regularly measure our progress against. It made us write down not only what we saw in our vision/goal but how we would make it a reality. We took on a business partner, got access to his capital, his expertise, his network, and even his friendship.

He helped us give our sons, who worked in the business, new leadership ideas and business knowledge. The business hit its target way before the five years was up and a public company wanted to buy half of our business.

The Switzer Dividend Growth Fund (SWTZ) is listed on the stock market and a part of our business has been bought by another public company. Those Friday nights took us out of our comfort zone – we were working, albeit with a glass or two of Champagne. As Robert Frost said, we took the road less travelled and that has made all the difference.