It struck me one afternoon. It was a beautiful spring Saturday afternoon. The sun was out but the winter’s coldness and snow was still a vivid memory. I wanted nothing more than to jump into my convertible and go for a drive and feel the warm breeze on my face.

But NOOOO. I was stuck in yet another damn real estate investment seminar. The content was good. The networking opportunities were good. The reasons for being there were good. But the warm sunshine was calling out my name.

It was then I had an “ah ha” moment. To get to where I want to be, I had to forego the occasional sunshine day and forge ahead to my eventual goals.

I’m reading Thomas Beyer’s book, 80 Lessons Learned. Beyer is a guy that built his investment portfolio from $80K to $80M in about a decade. He quotes Bill Gates “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year but underestimate what they can do in ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction”. Beyer drives home the point of what if you started today, imagine what you can accomplish in a decade.

Today I’m sitting on a cruise ship heading back to New Orleans. We just celebrated New Year’s on the ship and the question always asked at this time is “what is your New Year’s resolution?”. The host asked this question a number of times and got a number of silly responses. Most people truly don’t know what they want. They don’t sit down and really think about what they want. When asked by my table, I pulled out my trusty Blackberry and rattled off my goals for 2014. Whether or not they really wanted to hear some real goals I guess I don’t care.  I read somewhere that less than 3% of North Americans have a list of written goals. By writing down your goals, you instantly put yourself in a select company.

I wish I could tell you that the seminar I attended that warm spring day changed my life. Or I met someone who eventually became my business partner or even a client. But alas, it was uneventful. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth attending. Change is a process with a whack load of little steps. Giant leap forwards and big breaks don’t happen until you’ve put in the fundamentals to make yourself ready for the big leaps.

I know how this sounds, but sometimes when I’m being dragged into something that will take up a fair bit of my time, I’ll look at my list of goals and remind myself if this is bringing me any closer to any of my written goals. If it isn’t, should it be one of my goals? If the answer is still no, I try to get out of it. Now, please note, not all of my goals are business or financial in nature. In fact, less than half are that way. Many are family, personal growth and travel related.

I remind myself, on days when I see the sunshine out and I want to play, that doing the seminars, networking on days you don’t want to, sending out the newsletters, etc, etc, allows me to take my family to a New Year’s cruise where we can see Mayan Ruins in Mexico, walk up Dunn’s Falls in Jamaica and stroll down Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

Now I’m worrying about not getting a sunburn while everyone back home is dealing with the after effects of the ice storm. Growth isn’t easy, but it can have its rewards.