Having a Supreme and Overriding Goal The Fastest Way to Grow Rich… (And Risk Everything Else)

September 12, 2017 in Blog,Essays

You’ve probably heard this story already…

When I was 33 I decided to become rich and made that my supreme and overriding goal. There were plenty of other things that I wanted to do – like reading books and playing sports and traveling – but I made them all distant secondary objectives. The lion’s share of my time and mental energy would be devoted to getting rich.

This one decision radically changed my life. I went from broke to kinda rich in about eighteen months and became a deca-millionaire about six years later.

Having a single supreme and overriding goal gave me laser-sharp focus and shark-like ambition. Day to day decisions about projects and people and protocols – once complicated – were easy to make. I simply asked myself, “Which is the option that will bring me more money?” And presto! The choices were clear.

It was also easier to make other, non-financial decisions. When a conflict arose between my supreme and overriding goal (like working all day Saturday) and something else (like spending the day with my family) I chose the former.

I didn’t abandon all my other duties. In fact I did them as well as I could. But they were always secondary.

And they were always noticed. By my family and my friends and late at night even by the other little selves that still lived inside my heart.

Making “getting rich” my supreme and overriding goal was ruthlessly effective. If I were restricted to a single piece of advice on growing wealthy I’d have to offer that as my suggestion.

But you know – as I did even back then – that there are other ways of being rich. For example:

  1. You can be rich in your relationships with other people: friends, family and the community at large.
  2. You can be rich in health: having a robust immune system, strong muscles, flexible joints and abundant energy.
  3. You can be rich mentally – knowledgeable and skillful but also curious, excited, always eager to learn more.

If you want a life of wealth that includes these things you are probably going to do what I did when I turned fifty. I created a rather rigid protocol for spending my time that I followed on a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily basis.

Here’s what I did:

I spent a week thinking about and then writing down every goal, ambition, desire and obligation I could think of. My list was dozens of pages long.

Then I sorted all those into four categories, each corresponding to my primary goal of financial wealth and these other three ways of being rich.

Becoming rich in my social and personal relationships I categorized as a Social Goal. Achieving optimal health and fitness became my Health Goal. And my self-improvement ambitions (such as writing fiction, learning foreign languages, mastering a martial art, etc.) I categorized as Personal Goals.

I studied the list and then I put it away for a week while I tried to narrow down all the specific goals into about a dozen and then finally just a single goal for each of the four categories.

To do this you’ll have to make those four single goals very broad. For example, my list was something like the following:

  1. I want to have enough money to support my desired lifestyle on passive income I get from my savings.
  2. I want to be a good father and husband, have lots of good friendships and contribute in some meaningful way to the world at large.
  3. I want to become a published writer and speak several languages and make a few movies and become very good in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
  4. I want to be in optimal health, both mentally and physically so I can enjoy my other riches.

You may be thinking, “Aren’t goals supposed to be specific? Shouldn’t my financial goal be something like, ‘Have a net worth of $1.2 million in 6.3 years’? Isn’t that what the experts say?”

Yes they do, but I believe they are wrong. Your long-term goals should be broad because (a) you won’t really know they are what you really want until some time has passed (in other words, you will likely change them as you gain experience) and the pleasure you get from setting goals is the pleasure of moving toward them, not achieving them and so you don’t want to either fall short of them or achieve them.

(If you don’t understand this last bit, don’t bother. It’s not important now. You’ll get it in a year or two if you do this seriously.)

After you’ve established your long-term goals it’s time to write down yearly goals. Within each of the four categories you might want to list two or three or even a dozen one-year goals: For example, under Personal Goals you might say:

  • Write a book on fly-fishing.
  • Complete a course in beginning Spanish.
  • Watch an average of no more than two hours of TV a night.
  • Learn to dance the Samba

As you can see, these goals are still broad, but they are more specific than the long-term goals.

Now you are ready to create monthly goals. These again are one-step more specific. For example, to achieve your yearly goal of writing a book on fly-fishing, you might set your first monthly goal as, “Write the first 30 pages.”

The weekly goal is similarly more specific: “Write five pages” and then the daily goal could be, “Write one page.”

By arranging your goals from broad to specific, you increase the likelihood of success by decreasing the likelihood of failure. (If you fail to write one page of the book on Tuesday you can write two pages on Wednesday.)

The reason for such an analytical approach is that it’s impossible to become wealthy in all four areas of life unless you can see very clearly – on a monthly and weekly basis – exactly how much work you have to do in each area.

What happens to most people that try to achieve a balance of riches is that some tasks tend to crowd out other tasks and as time passes they fall so far behind on certain goals that they give up on them entirely.

Will you have time to accomplish all your goals?

I think you will, but you have to start off by being realistic. That means that you need to recognize from the outset that of the four areas of wealth, achieving financial wealth will take you the most time.

We all want to get rich working four hours a week, but the reality is that you will probably have to spend the bulk of your time – as much as eight to ten hours a day – pursuing this goal.

The good news is that you can move along the path in the other three areas without spending so much time.

Getting richer socially can be accomplished in just a few hours a week. It really amounts to quality time – that you give your full attention to the time you spend with your family and friends. (Of course if you are a single parent, this won’t be possible unless you have help. If you don’t you have to lower your hopes of becoming financially rich.)

Health goals take even less time. It’s mostly about eating and sleeping well. In terms of physical exercise, you can achieve a high level of health by spending a half hour a day exercising intensely.

Your personal goals? They will take some time – probably an hour or two a day. My recommendation is to devote the first hour or two of your day to personal goals – preferably early hours before you focus on making money.

If this is at all motivating, I’ve got plenty of books and programs I can recommend, including several I’ve authored. But for the moment, take a few minutes to think about the following:

  • Of the four, only your health is not entirely under your control, whereas becoming rich in the other 3 areas is completely up to you.
  • Getting richer in any area requires purposeful action. Desire is not enough.
  • Any bit of enrichment in any area makes you feel better.
  • Nobody else cares whether the next time he or she sees you, you have become richer in any of these areas, but they will notice if you have. Only you should care. And only you can do something about it.
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