January is typically the month for setting "To Do This Year" goals. However, digital devices and related trends move us away from traditional goal setting and may leave many with a goal-less 2013.
Pen and paper have a long-established track record when it comes to goal achievement. Study after study has proven that when goals are written down and remain "in your face" - highly visible and regularly reread - goals move from impossible to achievable. Neglect to write goals down and review them often, and the odds of success drop dramatically, especially if goals require commitment to new behaviour or thinking.
Those who trade pen and paper for digital devices, won’t automatically make the mental leap to creating achievable goals, but they can if they understand how to harness the power of SMART goals.
When it comes to real estate, wanting a home, cottage, or income property is not enough. Neither is needing it or being entitled to it. Believing or "asking the universe" are good starting places, but only the beginning.
The following 5 criteria for achievable goals are the essential combination for success. Miss one element when goal setting and you miss the opportunity for success.
- Specific goals: Invest time to create written details of exactly what is to happen. Settle on a condensed version which you can reread easily, so you’ll regularly review the goal to refocus your efforts. Post a note on your bathroom mirror, or post a message that pops up on your favourite screen, or both.
- Measurable goals: Establish standards for marking progress, so you can easily identify how much is left to accomplish and when the goal is achieved. For example, break what has to be done into task-based specific steps which can be "checked off" digitally or by hand, and celebrated as they are completed.
- Accountable goals: Without your commitment, success remains a dream. To reinforce your intentions, select a few key people and share what you are doing and why. Choose those who’ll support your progress through face-to-face meetings or email and text. Their involvement is meant to reinforce yours, not replace it. Select this group based on where you lack experience or have barriers to overcome, not on who you want to impress. Find the right balance between keeping your efforts focused and broadcasting vague intentions to everybody. Repeat "if this is to be, it’s up to me!" to help you concentrate on what lies in front of you. Thank supporters warmly, listen to what they tell you, and don’t monopolize their time.
- Reasonable goals: Doable steps and strategies ensure goals can be achieved using the approach you’ve committed to. For example, a mind-map, flow chart, or time-line to help you see how progress will roll out and what needs to be done at each stage.
- Time-sensitive goals: A realistic time-frame will hustle you along through the tough sections, and keep you focused if things drag. Set deadlines based on expert advice, not on how you’d like things to turn out. Make sure deadlines make sense and don’t just add pressure that can force you to make unnecessarily-hasty decisions. Whether you opt for a wall calendar or respond best to prompts from your digital devices, keep realistic about what can be accomplished within the time available.
S-M-A-R-T - the acronym formed from the first letter of each initial word in the bullets above - provides a great memory-jogger for consistently creating achievable goals, on paper or digitally. SMART goals, that is.
The greatest challenge in goal setting can be identifying exactly what is a reasonable, affordable stretch for those who emphasize investment opportunities, or a practical alternative for those who want to use their housing loonies conservatively. The key to success with real estate goals is finding the best fit with a real estate profession who has the creativity and knowledge to help you think outside your "box" of past experience. Avoid following trends and friends. Spend time researching neighbourhoods before you look inside homes. Invest time learning about the full range of housing options in your preferred locations and within your budget. Learn how an acceptable offer includes more than just purchase price. Then, work with your professionals to decide what real estate makes the most sense for you, that is, which are SMART goals to set. Repeatedly faced with too much to do and too little time to do it in, many property owners and wanna bees react by deferring decisions to buy or sell real estate until whatever is currently in their face is finished. The problem is that before one crisis ends, another begins. This means there is never a perfect time to buy or sell real estate, or a perfect market for either activity. Now is always the best time. Knowledge—yours and that of the professionals you engage—is what assures the best results in any market. Your best real estate goal for 2013 may be to locate that experienced, professional real estate negotiator who can move your SMART real estate goals toward achievement in 2013.