Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Does anybody really know what they want?

Do you "want" to be a millionaire?

I've been hosting some "focus groups" -- small 3-4 person groups with the "focus" being on becoming better Realtors.  The first question I pose to the group is simply, "what is it that you want in life?"  In other words, "what are your life aspirations?"

While this is the most important first step toward personal and professional growth, it is interesting to note that most people haven't really thought about it.  I mean, really, really thought about it!  And yet, you must know what you want in order to get it.

I think that most of us think about something we want, do what it takes to get it, then forget to want something else!  Thus, we reach this "status quo" level that begins to falter and not deliver what we thought we'd get.  (Uh-oh, now you're thinking "Hmmmm......the old bird is getting deep here.")  Maybe I am.  But I realized it's time for ME to rethink what I want so that I can move on to the next level.

As I've discussed "life aspirations" with these groups, I began to realize that everyone wants "financial independence," but can't really define it . . . or the definitions vary considerably.  So, let me share what I learned it to be from a man whose name I can't remember; however, his first name was Ken and he was one of the owners of the ERA Regional Office in Houston in 1980, partners with Dale Climer.  That's where I first met Helen Perry who now owns a real estate school.  (Helen, what was Ken's last name???)  You may remember that I opened an ERA franchise in 1981 . . . as did Jim Keenan, Joe Rothchild, Patty McCracken, and several other "old" friends who are still around in the business today!

But I'm digressing again . . . so here's how Ken simply defined "financial independence:"  have enough money in the bank in cash to pay for 6 months' expenses without earning a nickel.  Ok, sounds simple enough, so I made a goal out of it later in life.  The hard part is knowing how much your monthly expenses actually are!  (Do you?  Are they written down?  Do you live by what you have, or what you budget?)  There's 3 questions for you.  I realized, in my focus group, that this is going to take some work.

I will say that I operate my life in "financial independence."  And Ken's model got tested a few years ago after Hurricane Ike.  Remember when houses simply couldn't sell because of all the hurricane damage?  My 6 months' expenses were spent down to month 5!  Then, through hard work and determination, income began to grow again and the stockpile was replenished.  I call this stockpile my nut . . . and like a squirrel, I store my nuts for the winter months!

I also found that many (if not most) people want "to get rich."  But unless that is dollarized and defined, it just won't happen.  Wanting money won't get it.  Notice that "financial independence" requires a very specific number (which varies for everyone).

To "get rich," you must have a vision of what those riches will do for you.  Buy a house?  Car?  Pay for college for your kids?  How much exactly is that?  

What is a "millionaire?"  You don't know, yet you want to be one?

What are YOUR life aspirations?  What do you REALLY want?