Two key things define a strong vision. First, it reflects your “why.” It reflects the strongest part of your reason for wanting to achieve in the first place. Second, it focuses on you.

If you don’t know your “why,” ask yourself this question: What two or three things would you keep if you had to give up everything else? Is it your family – your spouse and your children? Is it your volunteer work at the soup kitchen or local orphanage? Is it your dune buggy, because you live in the desert and your passion in life is racing that vehicle over the sand?

Whatever you choose to hold onto is what you really desire in life. It’s also your reason for investing, because no matter what you want to do or have, you need money for it. It takes money to provide for your family. It takes money to support yourself while you volunteer. It takes money to have a bigger impact in your volunteer work. It takes money to participate in your hobbies. The bigger the hobby, the more money it takes to support your passion. Your decisions as an investor need to support those ideals.

The second key to vision is that it must be about you. If your vision is to volunteer at an orphanage, that’s great – but you have to want it because you get a personal sense of fulfillment from doing that. Never use your vision to convince yourself and the world that you deserve the money and the life you want. It truly has to be your passion. And it’s okay to be completely materialistic about this. If you like nice cars and your dream is to own a completely restored ’69 red Mustang convertible, then that car should be in your vision.

Your vision cannot be vague. It needs to be complete and detailed. To create your vision, you can use the same exercise that my brother, Kent’s mentor taught him: What is your perfect day?

When you create your perfect day, be as specific as you can, and don’t leave anything out. Close your eyes. Ask yourself: What do I hear and feel when I wake up in the morning? How long do I lie in bed after I wake up? What do I cook for breakfast, and whom do I cook it for? What does it smell like? What music is on in the background? Describe every part of the experience in detail from start to finish.

Kent challenged me some years ago to go through this exercise myself. He challenged me to spend some time thinking about what my perfect day would look like. He challenged me to be specific and detailed and not to worry if it sounded hokey. It also has to be real. Meaning that, unfortunately, you cannot go back in time. You cannot share a meal with someone from your past who is no longer with you. Those types of experiences, while they may be something that you desperately want, are not going to happen. So, focus on what can happen. Focus on the feelings, the experiences, the sights, sounds, and smells that you can experience. By way of example, here is an excerpt from my personal perfect day:

There it is . . . the familiar sound of the morning tides coming in and crashing on the beach below. I open my eyes as my body begins to awaken. I take a moment to really explore my body with my mind and assess how I am feeling, what I am hearing, what I am smelling. The drapes flow into the room from the strong ocean breeze and let the dim light from the rising sun peek in. I can hear the ocean birds singing among the sounds of the waves. I notice the faint smell of the fresh flowers we have planted on the patio in full bloom, even though their fragrance is mostly overpowered by the salt air. The air is cool, and I smile as I realize my wife has taken the blanket from the bed and rolled it around her, leaving my skin to cool in the morning air. No alarm clocks to wake us, just the sounds and smells of nature and the little feet of our children that climbed into our bed sometime during the night. I pull myself up from the bed and take in the room as I hear the coffee maker with its familiar grind go off downstairs. I am sore from my recent race and feeling a bit stiff, but happy to be competing at my age. I feel strong. I sit on the side of the bed and go through my morning routine of finding three things I am grateful for. I know I will write these in my daily calendar shortly, but right now I concentrate on being thankful that I woke up this morning, thankful that I am in good physical condition and can still run, and thankful for my wonderful, healthy family.

Take this exercise seriously. My perfect day is 12 pages long. I spent an entire day working on it that I set aside just for that purpose, and I’ve been reading it once or twice a month ever since. I have tweaked it several times as I get older and little parts of my perfect day come to fruition. I follow the same advice I gave you earlier and always adjust my goals to fit my vision. The main part of my vision never changes, but as I have gotten older and welcomed five beautiful kids into my world, it has changed a bit. No matter how I have changed it, though, I intend to live that perfect day 365 days a year, and every day I get closer to it.

When you set a clear vision and keep reminding yourself where you want to go, you put yourself on track for success.

Excerpt from The Turnkey Revolution: How to Passively Build Your Real Estate Portfolio for More Income, Freedom, and Peace of Mind” by Chris Clothier, p. 36-39 (McGraw-Hill Education, 2018).