Let’s return to childhood for a minute. In my office, we make extensive use of crayons. In fact, drawing with crayons is one of the most important things my new hires do and it’s also a requirement for every person that I mentor.  Of course, it doesn’t need to be crayons per se – it could be colored pencils, markers, or even a pen or pencil – the important thing isn’t the tool, it’s the task the tool is used for: visualization… life visualization.

When I hand a new employee crayons and paper here’s what I say to them: “Draw a picture of your ideal life. Not your career, just your life. What does it look like? I don’t want you to worry about coloring inside the lines or to be embarrassed about your drawing skills. This isn’t a job interview. Just make sure that what you draw on the paper is what you really want.” Then I step back and let them think. What I really care about isn’t how well they draw (or how excited they are to be repeating the first grade in a professional office setting). What I care about is that these employees take the time to visualize.

This visualization process is an exercise in goal-setting – likely the only goal-setting these individuals have performed in a long time since a study from Virginia Tech shows 80% of us admit to not having any goals whatsoever. What’s more, just 4% actually write or memorialize their goals in some manner (yikes!). Of those 4%, just 1% will take the critical step of continually reviewing their progress on a regular basis. Here’s the amazing thing, that group earns 8x more income over their lifetimes than the rest of us! They’re doing something right!

That, my friend, is why the crayon is your most important tool for success. I suggest you take a moment to do the exercise yourself. Grab some crayons real quick and envision the life you want—regardless of what career you are in. Think about your life goals and priorities. What matters most to you? Owning your own business? Being able to clock out at 5 p.m. to see your kids play baseball? Spending eight weeks at the beach or creating a home that you enjoy and that accommodates the people you love?

Just picking goals will put you ahead of 80% of your compatriots, but of course, simply picking goals isn’t enough for all your dreams to come true. Once you start to coalesce around the distinct goals in your new life, it’s time to develop an achievement strategy for them. In my forthcoming book Blue Collar Cool (sign up here to learn more about it), I lay out 5 steps to achieving any goal:

  • Congratulate Yourself – Why not? You have just separated yourself from the majority of all people who just wait for things to “get better.”
  • Identify the Goal – Take your artwork apart, item-by-item, vision-by-vision, goal-by-goal. If you’re just starting, pick the easier ones. Find a goal you can achieve in a few months or less so you can build some momentum.
  • Build Certainty – This is where success or failure happens. build in a certainty that you will, in fact, succeed by being honest with yourself about the time and effort you’re willing to spend and then by chopping your goal into smaller pieces.
  • Set It, Don’t Sweat It – The objective is to make your goals automatic.
  • Share – creating an insurance policy that will guarantee that you won’t back down or step off the path. Find someone who cares about you and believes in you and your potential and then share your goals with them.

I firmly believe in the ability of anyone to accomplish their life dreams when they are given the right tools. Start planning for your future today and you may be surprised how quickly we can get there.

What newfound goals are you looking to accomplish? Let me know in the comments below. Maybe you can try using pictures and not words.

Ken Rusk is a blue-collar entrepreneur who has started several successful endeavors and mentored hundreds of young people in their pursuit of a satisfying career and fulfilling life.

Discover how Ken’s approach to life and work can help you set and achieve your goals – all while avoiding the nearly inescapable trap of college debt. Pre-order his new book, Blue Collar Cool: How to Earn Without the College Burn today!