A lot of people confuse goals with wishes. We can wish for whatever we want, but those wishes will forever remain dreams unless we work to achieve them. Not only that, but the journey to a goal is a lot like a journey to anywhere else: you need some way to navigate from where you are now to where you want to be.
GPS for Your DJ Business
A long, long time ago, in what seems like a completely different life, I was almost completely destitute. I had lost my job, lost my license and had no car, and had warrants out for my arrest on unpaid traffic tickets. Suffice it to say, the late ’70s and early ‘80s were tough, especially for American auto workers, of which I had been one. It was not where I wanted to be.
Right around this time, a friend of mine got a job for a distributor of self-help videos. She would let me watch them, saying that they were being grabbed up by all the Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller companies aspiring to grow, and they were making their CEOs watch them. Not having much else to do, I checked them out. Names that we know well today, yet hadn’t heard much about back then, paraded across my TV giving advice for success. Some of it was total fluff, but I noticed one clear directive emerge from the best of them: you need to create a pathway—a roadmap, if you will—to get from your current place to your goal. In fact, you need two.
First, you need a list of your immediate short-term goals, since life is all about immediacy. We have bills to pay, food to obtain, and needs to be met. Then, there’s the long-term goals where we must ask ourselves where we want to be at this time next year. In five years? 10?
Chart a Course
Another thing the experts stressed was to be flexible. After all, life is fluid. One must be adaptable, or as REO Speedwagon once put it, we need to “roll with the changes.” Sometimes our goals will change. So I decided to create my agenda using a simple ring binder and loose-leaf paper. This way, I could consult my plan every morning and revise it as needed.
I began with an overall assessment of where I was, listing all the resources at my disposal, no matter how scant they were. Between you and your goals will be certain barriers and obstacles that need to be overcome. Some might seem huge and others minuscule. Regardless, you must list them, being as complete as possible. Some obstacles have multiple parts, where one action must happen before another. List everything in the order required, if any. Or just list them as you plan to attack them. Step it out: what steps do you need to take to get from here to there?
Then consult your agenda each day. Decide what, if anything, you can do to get one step closer to knocking off something on your list. Maybe you can’t, but you can at least make a phone call, meet with a friend, family member, or colleague, dash-off an email, or other small action to get you a tiny bit closer to your goal. Don’t be discouraged! Be persistent. Be unstoppable. Dogged persistence and focus is the key. To borrow a line from the U.S. Marine Corps: “improvise, adapt and overcome!”
Proven, Time and Again
This is basically the “big secret” among many of the most successful people on the planet. And it was for me, too. A year after I began my agenda, I had a job, my license had been restored, and I had a decent car. I got all warrants dropped without spending one minute in a jail and even spent a lot less than the face value of the fines that had originally been charged!
Sidenote to those interested: Suffice it to say that I had the power of surprise! Very few people ever voluntarily answer a warrant. I asked for, and got, a hearing date for all of them. Two out of four were dismissed outright, one was dropped for a fraction of what was owed, and one I paid the original fine, without additional costs. “This never happens! We usually have to catch you guys,” said one judge. I got over $3,000 in fines dismissed for less than $900. True story.
This process sounds so simple as to be laughable, yet it is amazingly powerful when you use it to focus your efforts. My immediate needs met, my one-year goal following that time was to start my own business. I didn’t know what that might be at the time, but I wanted a business that I only had myself to answer to. The end of that year, 1979, was when my DJ business was born. That will have been 38 years ago this coming October.
So if you’re not where you want to be, or maybe you’re doing just fine, but have ideas of how you might be doing even better, don’t overlook this powerful technique. Until next time, safe—and successful—spinnin’!