Last week, I started discussing the importance of goals in your life. These principles apply to almost everything, even the act of playing and trading Magic: The Gathering. I talked about determining what is important to you in life, basing your long-term goals around it, and how to formulate them in a SMART way (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-related). Now it is time to pick up where we left off and polish your newfound goal-making skills with some finishing touches.
Make It Postive
You’ve done your brainstorming and have managed to narrow down your goals and made them SMART. It’s easy for humans to focus on the bad side of things. It’s in our nature to emphasize the negative situations in our lives and that leads us to formulate our goals the same way. Stating a goal in a positive fashion, however, helps your commitment to the goal. Rather than looking at it as if you are pulling yourself out of a bad situation, you can experience your goal as a way to grow towards a greater version of yourself.
Once you’ve decided on your long-term goals, it’s time to cut them down into smaller, more grokkable steps. Having hard-to-achieve long-term goals can be intimidating. If you have decided that your goal is to accumulate $2500 by flipping Birthing Pods within the next five years, you need to set some incremental goals to get there. Setting smaller goals that are directly related to your long-term goal help you maintain your focus and allow you to adjust your strategy.
Rather than shoot for highly-visible community positions such as streaming or podcasting professionally, I knew I had to take it slow. Going from zero to hero doesn’t come naturally and certainly can’t be expected in one week. When I decided to contribute to my community on a more local level, I knew that it was just a way to grow. A stepping stone, and at the same time, a measurable checkpoint. Had I just kept my eye on the greater goal at the top, I would have just given up. Even thinking about all the work that had to be done was overwhelming. But determining the steps that had to be taken to help out as tournament organizer was a lot easier for me to do. After I managed that, I made my next goal to become a valuable member of the Brainstorm Brewery team. And look where I am now.
If you formulated your goal following the SMART ruleset, then there is really no excuse not to track your progress. Remember that M stands for measurable and T for time-related. If we want to sell $2500 worth of Birthing Pods within five years, we know exactly where we have to be at every moment along the way.
You could set a goal where you want to have $125 from your Birthing Pod sales after three months. After those three months, you can check if you have met your goal, and if not, adjust accordingly. If you’re short on sales, you might want to reconsider the way you’re trying to sell your product or the price at which you buy in. If these variables are hard or impossible to change, then your last resort is to adjust your goal, either by decreasing the amount of dollars you want to earn or increasing the amount of time you give yourself.
Knowing where you are and where you need to be gives you a clear view of what has to be done to get from point A to point B. If you have no roads, how will you ever arrive in Rome? Take note of what you have to do to get to your main goal and then do the same for your incremental goals. You will find it gets a lot easier to move along toward your destination!
Purely from a financial perspective, it is wise to always keep track of whatever you buy and sell, whether you’re setting goals or not. The Birthind Pod example above is a very simplistic goal. It doesn’t consider anything aside from the money earned over time as you sell copies of Birthing Pod. That’s neither complicated nor elaborate. More realistically, you probably have many different cards in stock that you intend to sell and each might be part of a goal you’re trying to set.
I recommend using Excel spreadsheet to keep track of every transaction you make. Whenever you buy something, write down how much you paid. And whenever you sell something, mark that down, too. You can get fancy and incorporate other information in your bookkeeping, but that’s up to you. Having this information available to you lets you quickly see how far you are in meeting your goals, but also shows how effective you are. If you don’t do this already, I can only suggest you start now.
Rewarding Your Progress
Reaching your goals may take a while, and sometimes they can end up on the backburner along the way. It’s common for people to become demotivated just because of the sheer amount of work that has to be done to reach a larger goal. It’s not wrong to reward yourself for reaching milestones on your way toward your goals! Treat yourself to something nice every time you reach one. Not only does it keep you motivated, it also gives you the opportunity to look back at what you’ve learned, and sometimes just taking a moment to think about that is a reward in and of itself.
You’ve Done It!
After all this hard work, you are well on your way towards reaching the top, or wherever you intend to go! Keeping these steps in mind will truly help you on any part of your life, even playing Magic.
Do you have stories to tell about reaching your goals or what you are currently doing to reach one? Don’t shy away, tell us in the comments! You can always contact me on Twitter @TheMeddlingMage or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sander van der Zee is an industrial engineering student who specializes in lean-thinking. He stepped back into Magic in 2009 after a three-year break. Picking back up the pieces, he developed an interest in the financial, technical, and community sides of the game.