Why you must stretch for your SMART goals

Here’s how to make your SMART goals even better by setting the bar high and making it a Must.

Longtime readers will know that I’ve been busy growing a real estate empire over the last 6 months, and have started a new calendar era called Anno Darwinii (Year of Darwinian) to mark its birth.

In January, the empire officially grew to 3 rental properties with the purchase of a single family home in Little Rock, Arkansas.  I’m excited to report about my experience with this property in a few months. Suffice it to say, it’s been much better than my first turnkey purchase in Birmingham, which lay vacant for three demoralizing months after purchase.

Bigger and better goals

Recently, a lot of my time and energy has been spent gearing up for even bigger plans for the empire.  

I’m taking a real estate investing course and readying my mindset for the next evolution in my investing career.

One of the first assignments was defining my Why.  This is the driving reason that provides the motivation to achieve your goals.  

My Why

This is my Why:

I want the ability to spend more time with my kids, see my friends when and where I want, and have the freedom to travel the world for months at a time.

SMART goals

The next assignment was to define a SMART goal.

I’ve talked about SMART goals in my review of K Kai Andersons’ book, Retire on Real Estate (affiliate link).

But the Semi-Retired MDs use a different definition of this acronym.  Their SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

I actually like this version much better.  

Stretch goals

In addition to making goals SMART, they also recommend making the goal something that will be pretty tough to reach.  Set the bar high, they say, so you’ll have to stretch out of your comfort zone to achieve the goal.

With this stretch comes growth and the ability to achieve larger goals.

Make it a Must

Finally, they emphasized the importance of using the right words.  Instead of saying “try” or even “will,” they recommended making the goal a “Must.”  Although it might seem like a subtle difference, I found for myself that this slight change makes a big difference.

Advanced goal setting summarized

  1. Make it a SMART goal  
  2. Make it a stretch goal
  3. Make it a Must

The Darwinian Doctor’s SMART goal

After much pondering, I came up with a goal of my own:

I must have $100,000 of tax-free annual cash flow from rental properties by 2025.

Edit: Clarified to $100,000 tax-free cash flow, equivalent to $150,000 of regular income.

Let’s see if it meets the criteria:

Is it SMART?

This goal has a Specific cash flow number.  I’ll be able to Measure my progress towards this goal with relative ease.  It’s Attainable, but it’ll certainly take a lot of uncomfortable stretching to reach this goal.  It’s Relevant because it directly supports my Why.  Finally, it has an exact year when I must achieve this goal, so it’s Timely.

Is it a stretch?

Absolutely.  I’ve done some spreadsheeting running through various scenarios to reach this goal, and trust me, this goal is going to be a big stretch.  It’s just a massive amount of cash flow.

I can delve further into these scenarios in a later post, but it seems very likely that I will have to move swiftly into larger multifamily investing to achieve this goal.

Just thinking about this makes me feel stressed out.  But there’s no growth without some level of discomfort, right?

Did I make it a Must?

Actually, this goal initially started out with the wording “I will.” A couple of weeks after I set the goal, I changed the wording from “will” to “must”.  

As I mentioned above, it made a surprisingly big difference.  

When I changed my goal to “I must,” I immediately felt a higher level of urgency and my problem solving kicked up into a higher gear.  I started to strategize more concretely about the things I’d need to do to make this goal a reality.

This led to a few hours of spreadsheet work, an application for a HELOC, and a discussion with a commercial loan broker.


I never took myself for a big believer in the power of mindset and visualization, but I think I’m coming around to this camp. Having this specific, time constrained goal to guide my efforts has led to a new level of intensity in my life that I’ve found electrifying.

Whether I meet with success or failure, I can guarantee it’s going to be fun to grow and evolve with me. I hope you enjoy the ride!


Have you decided to stretch for a SMART goal this year? Did you make it a Must? Comment below and please subscribe for more!

Want to support the blog?

Notify of
CommentLuv badge
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x