Put this ‘ONE Thing’ goal-setting strategy to work in 2024

‘The ONE Thing’ author Jay Papasan says goal setting to the now allows you to work backward from your long-term goals and figure out what you can do today to make them a reality

BY JAY PAPASAN
January 13, 2024

This January marks Inman’s fifth annual Agent Appreciation Month, which culminates at Inman Connect New York in a celebration of agents at the end of January. Plus, we’re rolling out the coveted Inman Power Player Awards, as well as the New York Power Brokers and MLS Innovators awards.

“Begin with the end in mind,” Dr. Stephen R. Covey said.

When our kids were in preschool, I remember getting a bulletin from the director to the parents. Written on an old-school typewriter and photocopied, the headline read: “Poopyhead.” Yeah, it got my attention.

The director had received some concerned notes from parents about the fact that he allowed the kids to call him “Poopyhead.” He noted that adults learn how to be appropriate in context. We know to be more formal at work, at church, at a fancy restaurant or meeting new prospective in-laws.

In other contexts, we get to be more casual and cut loose. He felt part of the job was to help the kids learn contextual behavior. While he allowed the Rated-G potty language, the other instructors did not. The kids had figured it out quickly. They were learning to be appropriate in the moment.

Being “appropriate in the moment” is a wonderful social skill. And it is even more appropriate for goal setting and achievement. The challenge with extraordinary goals is two-fold. They often take many years to achieve and, as a result, people struggle to know how to behave today to be in alignment with that distant goal.

Say you’d like to be the top producer in your market. You just crossed the $500,000 gross commission income (GCI) mark and the number one agent is doing $3 million in GCI. That’s a big gap. It will take years to get your business to $3 million in GCI and, by then, the top producer could have grown as well.

You can plot out the math in a spreadsheet, but how are you supposed to behave this week? That’s where goal setting to the now comes in.

As we wrote in The ONE Thing, goal setting to the now (GSTTN) is the practical answer to Dr. Covey’s call to “begin with the end in mind.” It’s reverse planning in seven steps.

You start with a someday goal, grounded in your purpose and values. The key is to think “extraordinary.” I want to be No. 1 in my market, a best-selling author or play Carnegie Hall.

Next, ask the question, “What’s the one thing I would have to achieve in five years to be on track for my someday goal?” That answer becomes your five-year goal.

Here’s the key. Your one-year goal isn’t based on your someday one, it’s based on your five-year goal. You’re working backward to the present. “What’s the one thing I would have to achieve in one year to be on track for my five-year goals?” That answer becomes your target for the next 12 months.

Based on your one-year goal, you ask what you need to achieve this month. That goal becomes the basis for your aim this week. Your goal for the week informs what you must achieve today. And each day, you can ask what’s your one thing right now.

Although your five-year goal may be the stuff of crystal balls, each step you take should get progressively clearer about the priority. Having lived this for many years, I can share that each year you will get increasingly clear on your distant five-year objective. GSTTN allows you to be appropriate in the moment and paints the straightest possible path to your extraordinary someday goal.

Setting annual goals is great. The problem is, you may not be working backward from something meaningful. You’re prone to chasing the low-hanging fruit. And those quick wins may be leading you in the opposite direction from your ultimate destination.

With GSTTN, your annual goals become milestones on your ultimate journey. You may not achieve 100 percent of the goal, but you move forward with absolute certainty that you’re going in the right direction.

This January, take a moment to examine your 2024 goals. Where are they leading you? Can you direct your efforts toward something bigger and ultimately more rewarding?

One question to ponder in your thinking time: Do my annual goals reflect the opportunity of the moment or a milestone on a bigger journey?