Monday, December 26, 2011

Setting Goals -- Six Steps That Get Results


I used this silly photo to remind me of the life I wanted.

Is selling your home one of the goals you hope to accomplish in the new year?

If so, can we talk? I want to share with you what I know about setting goals.

When I met Mr. Lucky in 1990, both of us were starting over, refugees who had fled failed marriages. He was living in a campground in a $3500 camper, working for someone else for $10 an hour. I was earning even less, and paying $250 a month for my rental apartment, which was basically half a doublewide trailer.

But both of us had lived in better circumstances and knew we wanted a better life again. Even before we married, we set mutual goals and together we have created a satisfying lifestyle, more comfortable and more interesting than we ever imagined.

We decided that our path to financial freedom would be through real estate investments. We had the skills and determination, so we set specific goals. We wrote these goals down and read them aloud to each other each evening.

We quit our jobs and went into business as painting contractors, something Mr. Lucky had been doing for 10 years. He trained me, and soon we were employing others and handling large accounts. Evenings we studied how to buy and sell properties, how to negotiate prices, how to calculate fix-up costs and interest rates, and how to find and keep good tenants. Midday we listened to audio tapes about real estate investment as we ate brown bag lunches in our work van. We joined a real estate investors club and listened to speakers, borrowed books, and attended seminars.
On some jobs, the lunch break gave us a distant view. These are mountains near Asheville, NC.
In a year’s time, we had enough savings and education to start buying houses, fixing them, staging them, and selling or renting them. Today, we are completely debt-free, and depend on our rental properties to support us.

I’m not an authority on how to set and reach goals, but I know what has worked for us, and I also did my homework for this post. Here’s what the experts say.  
   
Step 1.  Look at the Big Picture.

Double-check that your goal -- selling your home -- is really what you want. If you’re not on board with the idea, or if your entire household isn’t supportive, the path will be uphill.

Make sure your goal doesn’t contradict other goals you have. I knew that investing in real estate did not compromise my ethics or my dedication to my family or health. Will the sale of your home support or undermine the other important expectations you have in your life right now?

This is our notebook we reviewed daily.
STEP 2. Write and Recite Your Goals

When you see what you want spelled out on paper, your subconscious begins believing! You can carry this visualization even further by describing in detail what you want, and even collecting pictures of your goals. Pinterest is terrific for doing this. Twenty years ago, I chose clippings from magazines to represent what we were working for, and put them in a cheap photo album, photos of dreams that are reality today.
         
Be positive rather than negative when defining your goals and new year’s resolutions. Instead of writing, “I will not sleep late on Saturdays,” write, “I will use each Saturday morning to deep clean a different room.” If you have low expectations of yourself, recite positive affirmations such as, “I will be happy with less clutter in my life.” A proactive state of mind is indispensable to achieving success.    

Be realistic. Educate yourself about how quickly homes are selling and at what prices where you live. Work with your realtor to establish fair market value, based on proven formulas and statistics. Mr. Lucky and I knew we couldn’t buy spacious four-bedroom homes as investments. Our first property was a one-bedroom home. But it came with enough land that we were able to subdivide the lot, and have a new house built on the property, which we sold for a handsome profit. Life is full of happy surprises when you begin with realistic expectations.
Mr. Lucky painting a home under construction.

Step 3. Define What Needs to be Done

List the steps to reach your goals. Mr. Lucky and I knew we had to have a certain amount of money for a down payment on our first property. We knew we had to cultivate a relationship with a bank. We knew we had to build a good credit history so we could qualify for a mortgage.

List whatever you need to do to get your property sold.  This list might include:

  • Call a realtor.
  • Write down what is especially desirable about your home, and what doesn’t work for you. Then, determine if any of these problems can be fixed.
  • Start your cleaning and de-cluttering process.
  • Download my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, to learn all the ways staging can help sell your home, and the easy steps to staging frugally and effectively.
  • Let friends and family know you plan to sell.
  • Study the area you plan to relocate to, whether across town or to the other side of the globe. You’ll have a better handle on what’s ahead and what you need to bring from your present home.
  • Examine the skills you have and consider how you can use the tools and knowledge you have at your fingertips.
Step 4. Divide Your Goals into Smaller Goals.

Break larger tasks down into smaller steps. Be specific. Logically organize the things you need to do in order to be efficient. For example, if you plan to replace the doorknobs and hinges in your house, first get prices online, then read how to do it, then purchase what you’ll need, then set aside one morning to do it.

Small steps make even the overwhelming jobs doable. Once underway, many tasks take on a life of their own. Often you will amaze yourself by what you are capable of doing if you just take the first step, then the next one, then the next one…

If any one told me, shy and easily intimidated me, 20 years ago that I would be able to manage my own rental properties, I would have laughed at them. Now, being a landlady is easy and enjoyable! Baby steps.

Step 5. Set Deadlines for Your Goals.

Make a schedule for all your goals and tasks. Review similar projects you’ve tackled in the past so you can give yourself deadlines that make sense. Deadlines keep you focused, and on schedule. And they provide a sense of accomplishment.

Be realistic about deadlines. If you know you hate yardwork, find someone who can do this for you. Mr. Lucky and I knew we didn’t have skills to do finished carpentry, so we hired the best carpenter we knew. In business, time is money, and selling a home is a business proposition.   

Step 6. Track yourself.

One client wanted every door a different color!
If you don’t track results you won’t know if and when you’ve reached your goals. You wouldn’t start a diet without either weighing yourself along the way, or watching how your clothes are fitting you. Small successes build confidence and point the way.

Knowing that you’ve reached a goal lets you know you can move on to another project, or just relax!

Tracking calls for adjusting your goals as you progress. You’ll need to be flexible. Consider alternatives if your top choices seem impossible or impractical.

Are you able to rent your home and still move?

Would it be smarter to remodel your home and remain in it?

Are you able to owner finance your home to a buyer who doesn’t qualify for a conventional loan?     

If you are serious about selling your home, make more than a new year’s resolution about it. Set it as a goal, and start walking towards it!

Happy New Year! May all your goals be reached.


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