I’ve always loved to read, and when I was young I devoured women’s magazines. One of them – I don’t remember which – had a column called “I Knew I’d Made It When …” It featured a reader sharing a particular accomplishment she was proud of, and it was usually, but now always, a work accomplishment. I always loved this column because I liked reading about women that had a dream or a goal and were proud to achieve it … whatever that dream or goal was.
After ten years in business, I continue to be goal-oriented, but what I’ve learned about goals is that you never really reach them, in a sense, and that’s good. If you’re driven and focused, accomplishing one goal isn’t the end. Almost immediately you’ll want to accomplish more, and you will formulate another goal, and set out to achieve that one. I started out many years ago with the dream of leaving corporate life behind once and for all, and making a living on my own terms. Making that dream a reality felt like coming home after living in a foreign land for a very long time.
Once I took the proverbial plunge, work began trickling in. So the goal became to generate steady work, and I set out to look for clients that could give me volume. And then it happened: I got my first steady client. Awesome! Mission accomplished. Then I got my second one. As I learned more about business and about my industry in particular, I decided I wanted to target the legal and financial sectors, and I created a plan to target law firms and banks. I became very focused about building a portfolio with those types of clients. And boom! We started doing lots of work for law firms, financial institutions and mortgage brokers.
And so it goes. Being in business for yourself is a long continuum of goals that you set and then work to accomplish. The goals don’t have to be stratospheric; in fact, that’s counterproductive. I’ve learned to start with goals that are realistic and achievable, and to work my way up from there. I’ve learned to pace myself. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to build a billion-dollar company, but billion-dollar companies are not built overnight. They’re built faster now than ever before – think Airbnb, Facebook, Uber, and countless others – but they are not the norm. And even for those companies, big-time success came one painstaking step at a time.
For me, the sense of “having made it” means that I finally get to live the kind of life that is aligned with who I am. In my mind I’ve already “made it,” but there is still much more that I want to do. I have revenue goals; I have goals for the kind of business I want to have. I have one-year goals, five-year goals, and ten-year goals. I always need to be reaching for something. When I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I’ve set out to do and have nothing else to set my sights on, life becomes staid and boring. There is so much need, so much opportunity in this world … and so many ways to generate income by providing products and services. Once you get started and accomplish your first milestone, you’ll be wanting to get to the next level. I believe you should always be striving for something. Achieving one goal should be a natural steppingstone to creating another … and as you check off your accomplishments and look at the future possibilities, you’re not just on the road to “making it.” You’ve already made it.