By Debbie Hanlon

It’s that season again when the new year, new me talk is all the rage. Resolutions have been made and in many cases already broken. More than half of us declare quite publicly that we are going to do something that will improve our lives and make us better people in the year ahead.

Resolutions have been around almost as long as there have been people to make them. The ancient Babylonians would swear at the beginning of each new year that they would return things they’d borrowed and repay the debts they’d collected in the outgoing year. The Romans would make promises of better behaviour to their god Janus, who January is named after.

Sadly, research shows that two out of three people will not keep their well-meant and well-believed resolutions for success in the new year. The reasons for this high failure rate are a lesson we would all do well to learn.

You see, resolutions are really just wishes, I wish I could quit smoking, I wish I weighed less, I wish I didn’t eat bad food, I wish I hadn’t made any resolutions. A wish is a hope that something will happen without too much effort on our part, and caught up in the season, it’s easy to believe that our wishes will all come true.



So this year, instead of making a resolution or wishing something good will happen, why not set goals instead? There’s a huge difference between the two: you write down a goal and keep it somewhere you can read it and be reminded that you need to work on it. You break your goals down into increments, you have a plan in place on how to reach your goals and you have a reward system in place for reaching various stages of your goals. In short, goals are much more thought out, trackable and doable than a champagne-fueled wish for better things to come your way.

Personal vs. Professional

Each new year I do two sets of goals, personal and professional. I set an accomplished date for each of them and I decide at which points I’ll reward myself and what that reward will be. Personal goals are usually about getting healthier and spending more time with friends and family. Professional goals are all about producing, moving inventory and getting new listings. If I set a goal to make $500,000 in 2015, that number can be a bit scary until I break it down into quarters, then months and finally weeks and days.

It’s a system that’s really not unlike my For Sale By Owner Capture System or all the other systems I’ve developed to make my professional life go a whole lot smoother.

Keep them in sight

Once I work out the details I put it into an easy-to-see format on paper and in my iPad. That way I can keep an eye on my progress, see where I need more work and adjust the plan as needed. That is what I strongly suggest you do for success in the new year.

Break it down

How much money do you want to make? How much do you think you can make? Don’t have this figure too high or it can be discouraging and don’t have it too small or you’ll lose interest. Generally taking what you made one year and adding 50 per cent is a good place to start.

Next, break the number down into sales. How many houses do you have to sell to reach your goal? How many a month? The more detailed you get with your plan, the better and the more control you’ll have over it. Break the main figure down into smaller quarterly numbers. Do not simply divide by four – you know from experience that certain months are better for sales than others. Adjust your numbers accordingly.

Once you work that out you get to the fun part. How do you reward yourself for reaching these mini-goals? Once you make as much or more than you had written in for a period, buy yourself something that will be a reminder of your success. This should be something visible that people can comment on.

For me it could be a new hat or cool new boots or whatever. Then when someone mentions it you can tell them it’s a reward you gave yourself for reaching a goal. It makes you look good to them and helps you feel good about what you’re doing. So today, set your goal, break it down and work it out. Don’t wish another year away.

Debbie Hanlon is the owner broker and Realtor at Debbie Hanlon Real Estate, a new boutique brokerage in St. John’s, Nfld. She is also a motivational speaker, real estate coach, author, former city councillor and children’s entertainer. She lives in St. John’s with her husband, Oral Mews and her dog Fisher.

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