In my column last week I introduced the idea that the wealthy know a “secret” the rest of us don’t.
It’s the idea that success—financial or otherwise—doesn’t come because of a single grand action. Rather, it’s the result of a thousand small steps and smart habits.
Perhaps you remember the nineties business book Built to Last by Jim Collins. In that bestseller, Collins popularized the idea of a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal,” or BHAG for short. A BHAG is a grandiose vision meant to inspire and guide behavior.
Are BHAGs useful? You bet! They can keep a multi-billion dollar company on track in pursuit of an ambitious goal. On an individual level, a BHAG can motivate you to chase a dream like opening a business or running a marathon.
But a BHAG by itself isn’t enough. Success also requires a DISH. (That’s my shorthand for the “Daily Implementation of Simple Habits.”)
Hanging over your head every day, a BHAG can start to feel intimidating. The longer it remains unaccomplished, the more daunting it becomes. Rather than drive vision, it can start to feel like a ball and chain. Before long you wonder, “Am I making any progress at all?”
I see this battle raging all the time with clients who are working towards big financial goals. The monetary figure they need to reach “retirement freedom,” for example, seems so unattainable. Often they feel like throwing up their hands and moaning, “Oh what’s the use!”
This is where we need a DISH.
Instead of losing heart because of your BHAG, your DISH allows you to say, “Here’s where I am today. There (in this case, retirement) is where I eventually want to be. I don’t have to get there today. I just need to continue making small but wise decisions and taking small but smart steps.”
What a relief! Rather than obsessing over a massive financial goal that’s still twenty or thirty years off, you take an incremental approach. You focus on the small but important act of saving “x” each month. And you trust that a good habit like that, over time, will lead to a good destination.
This is not to imply that such financial habits are easy to start or keep. They’re not.
Which is why, in addition to your DISH, you need a calendar and a coach.
A calendar assigns specific times to desired activities. Financial planning, exercise, spiritual growth, reading, learning a new skill whatever—each of these activities takes place in time. That means they can be calendared—and made habitual.
A coach is one with the expertise and experience to help you develop skills and accomplish worthwhile goals. When you enlist the services of a gifted coach, you get so much value in return: motivation to reach your BHAG, practical insight for how to utilize your DISH, plus helpful accountability all along the way.
Want to impress people? Tell them all about your BHAG.
But if you want to actually begin and finish a journey that leads to a better you and a better future . . . AND if you want to enjoy that journey . . . you need to bring a DISH to the party.
It’s the Daily Implementation of Simple Habits that will help you become what you want to become.
I’ve got a new e-book that talks in greater detail about the journey to financial freedom—and the small steps you can take to get there. It’s called “How to Put Money Worries in Your Rear View Mirror.” If you’d like a FREE copy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll get it to you right away.
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