How to define your goals to live by design

Australia’s top auctioneer Damien Cooley writes down his personal, business and life goals every year, and says you should too if you want to live by design.

Living by design and harnessing the right mindset to achieve sustainable success comes down to understanding your goals and your motivations.

The importance of goal-setting

Damien told KnowHow founder Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast that it was a former mentor who shifted his entire mindset on goals and showed the importance of setting your own (regardless of other’s opinions) and following your own pathway in life.

“Dr. Fred changed the way that I live my life. He really did. He helped me understand what is important in life to you, and what’s important to me, is different to what’s important to the next person,” Damien said.

“He helped me understand that I need personal, business and life goals. He helped me understand that I need to do things every single day that work towards achieving those goals, while also making them fun and interesting.

“I learnt about what he defines as rewards and non rewards. I learnt a lot about living and creating wealth.”

The power of writing down your goals

According to Damien, you need to go one step further than simply thinking about your goals in your head. Writing them down and frequently evaluating your progress is key.

“Living your life by design is, I would say, one of the most important things that changed my life without any shadow of a doubt. I always used to think I had goals. I always used to think I wanted to achieve things. But until I actually started writing these things down and goal dumping and writing down what’s important to me, I realised I was just living day by day. I actually wasn’t living my life by design at all,” he said.

“And I know that I need to review my life goals all the time. And I mean, I’ve got them in front of me right now because I have them on me all the time. And I will literally sit down every week and look up my wealth spreadsheet. I review my goals, I look at what’s working and what’s not working, and for me that’s important.

“So I think everybody should go grab a piece of paper and start writing them out. And it doesn’t matter how grand or how small or how silly you think they might be.”

Defining your personal, business and life goals

Damien said there are three categories of goals you need to consider regularly.

“I write out my personal goals, my business goals and my life goals through to the end of every calendar year,” he said.

“And the life goals are the ones that excite me. I write my lifestyle out. I try and put dates on them with my life goals. But I think that the life goals are just, for me, the things I want to achieve at some point in my life.

“And it doesn’t matter whether I change them this year, next year, the following year or whenever it might be. And it’s the sort of things that make my heart sing. I’ve got literally a list of two pages of life goals, but these are the things that are important to me, and these are the things that excite me.”

Bushy also added that these goals will provide valuable guidance throughout your endeavours in life.

“They act as a compass, because every decision you’re making day to day is based on whether it’s taking you closer to those goals or further away. And all of a sudden you’ve got a guidance system that’s keeping you on track, rather than just allowing life to happen and and using the excuse of being too busy and then getting to the retirement age where you go, wow I haven’t done much,” he said.

Knowing your number and retirement goals

Every single person needs a number or amount they need to live by design long term.

“I had a goal many years ago to have $20M in unencumbered debt that I could use. My number was 20 because I believed that if I had a house that was worth $10M and then I had $10M in unencumbered investments, then if I earned a 5% return on that $10M, then that would be half a million dollars a year,” he said.

“And to me that was a significant amount of money that I could use for holidays and for doing all sorts of fun things, while not interrupting the asset itself and not reducing my net wealth. And that net wealth would continue to grow as property values increased, share portfolios increased and other investments increased.

Bushy added: “We call them freedom numbers, because if you don’t know your numbers, then you don’t know what you should be doing and how to do it”.

Listen to the full interview here.

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