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The Success Principles of Poker: The Power of D.U.M.B. Goals

The light came on for me after I had quit alcohol.

If I was so effective and aggressive at working towards my business goals, why didn’t I have the same philosophy and application in my life?

The thought of treating your life like a business makes you reach for the razor blades. I get it.

But I think that mindset stems from the belief that business is boring. Business doesn’t have to be like that. Your life doesn’t have to be like that.

Start With a Breakthrough Goal

Antonio Esfandiari
Things change after you accomplish your breakthrough goal.

After that eureka moment I started to run my life like a business. It was one of the smartest decisions I have made and I continue to refine the way that this works today.

I have achieved more in the past five years, operating in this manner, than the previous 35-years that passed before. And it all has to do with the power of goal setting.

"What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals" - Henry David Thoreau

I was stuck in a job I hated, I had £30,000 in gambling debt, I was lying to my wife and I was a terrible father.

Yet here I was on the other end of the line, speaking to a Jack Canfield Success Principles Coach, and she was telling me that I could be/do anything that I put my mind to.

“All I needed was to create a breakthrough goal," she said.

A breakthrough goal is a goal that if reached will turn pessimists into optimists. It’s an achievement that will change your life.

Its genius lies in the belief, confidence and assurance it gives you. Things change after you accomplish your breakthrough goal. They change in ways you could never imagine.

From 'Playing Poker' to 'Through Poker'

My breakthrough goal was to earn $45,000 through playing poker in 12 months. Six months into this goal, I made a slight adjustment.

I removed the word ‘playing’ and so it read ‘to earn $45,000 through poker in 12 months.’

"Stop setting goals. Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them" - Stephen Covey.

Business in the front, party in the back
Treating your life like a business isn't a bad as it sounds.

I changed that word because during my continued revision of my goals - a vital piece of the goals pie - I realized that it wasn’t a smart goal to try and earn that money through poker alone.

By widening the scope of my project I was more likely to hit my target. Also by this time I had realized that poker players need multiple sources of income because poker in itself is not a reliable source on its lonesome.

Those 12 months flew by and I didn’t hit my goal. I never made $45,000 through poker.

"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn" - Harriet Beecher Stowe

I didn’t let my head hang low. Instead I persevered, reset the goal and continued on with my work.

Less than 12 months later I'd earned over $70,000 through poker and today that annual income exceeds $100,000. That money came from a goal.

It would never have materialized without it. The vision to create a goal, the balls to change when it wasn’t going right and the desire to keep plugging away when all seemed lost turned nothing into an annual six-figure income.

All this happened because I had started to operate my life like a business.

Quick Wins Create Belief, Drive & Purpose

Read any literature on goal setting and it will predominantly say the same: make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T, challenging and have a time deadline stamped on them.

I agree with a lot of the generic information that's out there but there's also a lot of great new innovative thoughts emerging behind the power of goal setting. Take my decision to tweak my goal and change it from purely ‘playing poker’ to making money ‘through poker’.

Quick wins poker
Quick wins create belief, drive and define a sense of purpose.

Some people may believe that I took the easy route, that the goal was weakened and made less challenging, but it was this tweak that made the goal more achievable.

You have to remember that I was starting from scratch. I had never written anything more than a love letter and I was terrible at playing poker.

I needed a quick win. I needed to feast off that low-hanging fruit.

Quick wins create belief, drive, and define a sense of purpose. It’s one of the reasons that heaters exist.

Don’t make your goals so lofty that you need a stepladder to reach them. Create the opportunity to take the quick wins to build up those reserves of confidence because you're going to need them.

How to Set D.U.M.B Goals

Brendan Burchard is one the greatest thought leaders of our generation. In his Accelerator Training Program Burchard believes we should stop focusing on S.M.A.R.T goals and instead focus on D.U.M.B goals.

D.U.M.B goals poker
An exemplar of goal-setting.

He loosens the rigidity because he believes our goals are not the main goal. Instead it’s all about achieving certain improvements in your lifestyle and understanding this means that S.M.A.R.T no longer fits into the picture.

Burchard believes your goals should be Dream-focused, Uplifting, Method-based and Behavior triggered.

I was always using this methodology without ever realizing it. I knew, for me, that it wasn’t all about poker.

It was what poker could do for my life. How could I improve my overall lifestyle, not how could I improve my poker game.

Daniel Negreanu is a Goal Setter

One of the biggest exponents of goal setting in our industry is Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu.

His 2014 goals include cashing for $2m, making five major final tables, winning three WSOP bracelets and ending the year in the Top Five of the GPI.

Creating these goals, writing them down on paper (or typing) and then sharing them with the world gets the sub-conscious mind working on the ‘how’ while you aren’t even thinking about them.

It also creates accountability. But it’s the things behind the scenes that you and I don’t see that allow Negreanu to truly reach his goals.

The minutiae of the daily practices. The meditation, the eating schedules, the regimental trips to the gym. His scheduled learning and reading all accumulating into a mass of success.

That’s the true work behind these goals. That’s the gravy right there.

Fancy Stacking
Fix your life and the poker results will follow.

Fix Your Life and Poker Results Follow

I have goals to win European Poker Tour, World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker bracelets. That’s because I love poker, am competitive and believe one day I will be able to actually achieve these feats.

But these aren’t the things that I focus on today.

As a poker player, one assumes these are also your goals. They are almost generic. So leave them that way.

Instead, focus on goals that will improve your life. That doesn’t mean you're neglecting your poker. Just look at Daniel Negreanu. There is nothing that this man doesn’t have. His joy is mirrored in his success.

Can’t you see that? Fix your life and your poker results will follow.

Start using the power of goal setting today. Don’t wait for the New Year - that’s just a cop out.

Figure out what you want in life, what makes you happy, how you can contribute to the world and then start creating some achievable, and D.U.M.B, goals.

Now go get to work.

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