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How Playing the Long Game Could Help Build Wealth and Success

Posted on: September 1st, 2019

How Playing the Long Game Could Help Build Wealth and Success

We have found that many successful people have one thing in common: They have a very good handle on a concept that is key to success: the long game.

The long game means having a concrete vision of your ideal future down the road—years or even decades from now—and taking specific, carefully considered action steps at every stage along the way to maximize your ability to get there.

Unfortunately, we find that most people don’t effectively plot out their financial or business futures. For example, most entrepreneurs rarely look much beyond their next immediate move or deal. Even those who have a vision of what they want to achieve typically don’t lay out a clear, actionable path to follow.

As a result, people often come up with scenarios that are as unrealistic as they are attractive—fantasies that stand little chance of becoming reality. The lack of a vision, a path to run on or both also makes people reactive: They spend the bulk of their time responding to changes and challenges instead of driving methodically toward outcomes they truly want.

The upshot: It’s probably time to honestly assess how well you’re doing at both creating a detailed vision of your ideal long-term future and acting in ways that consistently move you toward that result. That’s true whether you’re trying to get wealthier through investing, earning a higher salary or building a great business.

Not thrilled with how you measure up? These guidelines can help you get on track!

Start at the end

Always work backward from your desired end result. This big-picture thinking starts with creating a vision of the ideal future you want (for yourself, your family, your business and so on). The word “vision” comes across as a bit New Aged to some. But the fact is, vision is a powerful tool that can be used to motivate, unify and inspire. As you develop a vision for your future, you start to gain clarity of purpose—an understanding of why you do what you do. Such clarity can be extremely motivational.

Well-conceptualized end goals have a number of decisive benefits, including:

  • Keeping you highly motivated
  • Helping you concentrate your actions productively
  • Helping you focus on the processes and activities that really matter and avoid distractions
  • Helping you stay on the path as times get hard
  • Helping keep stress and anxiety at bay

Then think about the specific obstacles that could prevent you from reaching your specific goals. For example, say you’re a business owner who wants income growth of 25 percent annually. Specific obstacles that might get in the way of those types of goals include the time you have to spend training new staff, or the systems you currently have in place that prevent you from spending time on client-focused actions.

Only after you’ve spent time focusing on results and the obstacles in the way of those results is it time to move toward strategy. This works better than the traditional way of strategizing first and ending with goals because often you never get past the obstacles phase when you use that approach. What’s more, the things that seem to oppose our goals are actually the raw materials for achieving them. Thinking about obstacles in this way is extremely liberating. If your obstacles are closely tied to the results you said you wanted to achieve, you suddenly have the keys to overcoming them.

Plot out your intermediate goals and plans

As part of your long-game path to your end goal, you will need to specify intermediate goals. These are stepping-stones on your way to the end goals. You’ll also need to delineate well-thought-out plans that will enable you to achieve the intermediate goals that push you toward your end goal. In short:

Intermediate goals + thoughtful plans = end goals

Example: If you want to become seriously wealthy, you need to specify exactly what that means to you. It might be a net worth of $10 million or $20 million (or much more). This is your financial end goal.

Now, you need to determine how you are going to get there. One possibility is to establish and grow a business. A successful business then becomes an intermediate goal. There will be other intermediate goals on the way to founding a successful business, of course. And there may be other intermediate goals (such as finding and working with a high-caliber wealth manager) that will help you accomplish your financial end goal.

Bottom line: You have a clearly articulated long-term goal, along with specific plans and action steps to make that goal real.

Execute your plan

Perhaps the biggest challenge of playing the long game well is execution. But face it: You’ve got to act on your plan or you’ll make no progress.

Set specific goals and milestones to begin the work of making your vision a reality. Choose the broad strategies you will use to reach each goal. Identify the tactics for implementing each strategy. Once these tactics are clear, decide on actions to execute each tactic. Ensure that each action is specific and achievable, and set a target date for completion.

Above all, communicate on an ongoing basis with anybody else you’ve enlisted for help with your journey. Lack of effective communication is probably the biggest culprit in the failure to execute. You need to get buy-in on your strategic plan from key people you will rely on along the way.

The importance of perseverance

Perseverance is central to a good long game. As with most meaningful and large-scale endeavors, great results are unlikely to happen quickly. You need to be willing and able to stay the course for quite some time, as most successes are built on incremental achievements—that is, on attaining your intermediate goals.

Example: An entrepreneur sold her company for $30 million after taxes. Her financial end goal was to become wealthy, which she defined as a net worth of $20 million or more. She achieved her objective. However, consider what it took her: a quarter-century of continuous attention and effort, a slew of personal sacrifices, and soldiering on when obstacles got in the way. Without perseverance, the end goal would never have been realized.

Of course, life has a way of intruding and pulling people in all sorts of directions. Perseverance becomes much easier and more productive when you keep your end goals, your intermediate goals and the plans to get you there top of mind. Doing so can help you avoid being overwhelmed by immediate circumstances. You can take a step back, keeping the bigger picture in focus as you patiently bring your plans to fruition.

Remaining flexible

The advice that you should stay on track and persevere through challenges comes with one big caveat: You can’t be rigidly locked into a plan. Flexibility is vital as you navigate inevitable changes in your life and the world at large that impact your vision, your goals and your course of action.

Indeed, one major trait of the self-made affluent is that they can generally adapt as necessary. However, they understand that in order to constructively adapt, you need clear goals and the processes to achieve those goals. Without them, you risk overreacting to challenges and veering too far off your desired course.

A road and a road map

In the end, long-game planning builds a bridge that links where you are today to where you want to be down the road. To get the most out of your efforts, remember a few key tenets of success—start with the end in mind, develop intermediate goals that propel you forward and execute with focus. With these ideas and your self-created road map to guide you, you can put yourself on the road to an ideal future. 

Don’t ignore personal goals
Chances are, you have a few end goals that are not financial in nature. Say, for example, you want to stay healthy as you age—a big goal for many people who are highly motivated to succeed. An intermediate goal may be to maintain a particular weight. You accomplish that through your plan—which likely involves diet and exercise.   

This report was prepared by, and is reprinted with permission from, VFO Inner Circle.  AES Nation, LLC is the creator and publisher of VFO Inner Circle reports.

Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra IS or Kestra AS. The material is for informational purposes only. It represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. It is not guaranteed by Kestra IS or Kestra AS for accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions. It should also not be construed as advice meeting the particular investment needs of any investor. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS.

Fusion Wealth Management is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. https://www.kestrafinancial.com/disclosures

VFO Inner Circle Special Report
By Russ Alan Prince and John J. Bowen Jr.
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