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By Sharron Richardson

RISMEDIA, Dec. 18, 2008-Some may argue that the most wonderful time of the year is when the kids go back to school in the fall, but there is certainly something to be said about the holiday season which coincides with year end. It’s a time of reflection and new beginnings. It’s a time to examine the past year to determine where you are and where you want to progress, and a time to look ahead to create and execute a plan of action for the New Year. This applies personally and professionally.

Let’s take a look at some of the activities to focus on at this time, from the practical to the professional to the personal:

– This is the time for clean up. A new year is like a clean sheet of paper or a blank monitor screen: it’s full of possibilities. Before moving on to the new, take some time to properly and completely finish off the old. Ensure all your computer data is current and correct. Make certain your accounting records are up to date; 1099 and T4A time will be here before you know it (have you noticed how quickly time goes or is just me?). Clean out your desk and your filing cabinets. Get organized! Examine any unfinished projects and determine what to do with them: Do it, delegate it, or ditch it!

– Schedule a meeting with your broker to discuss goals for the New Year. Running a successful brokerage is always a team effort and a year end meeting to determine the office’s goals will ensure a unified effort.

– Think about your specific contribution. Take this opportunity to examine the policies and procedures which are in place. Is your documentation out of date? This is the time for performance reviews – do you have job descriptions for your people? Is your new agent orientation procedure adequate? Does your duty roster system need updating? What needs to be discussed at the sales meetings?

– If you are in an area where business has been challenging, use this time to position your brokerage for success when business picks up again. Plan events which get your brokerage out into your marketplace for visual impact. It needn’t be expensive, be inventive! Hold a food, book, or clothing drive to provide for the less fortunate. Host a walk-a-thon, sponsor a community event or team. And then send press releases to your grassroots media. Use this time to position your brokerage as the expert in real estate for your market area.

– Maybe this is the time to examine your own life. Maybe the main change you want next year is to bring the best you to the job every day. Maybe you should conduct a performance review with yourself to determine if you did well last year, and what you can do or become in the new year to excel.

Once you have your professional and personal goals outlined, make sure they are SMART goals:

Specific: A goal must be specific in order to have the best chance of success. “I want to run my brokerage more efficiently” is a noble idea but too vague. Determine what it will take to run your brokerage more efficiently and break it down into specific goals: “I will implement a policy of accountability where the agents submit a completed checklist before deals are processed.”

Measurable: In order to confirm you are making progress, you must be able to measure your efforts. Creating a spreadsheet to monitor budget compliance or seeing your filing cabinet become organized are examples.

Attainable: The goal has to be something that is within your own power. My goal might be for Lance Armstrong to win the Tour de France in 2009 but that is not something I have control over.

Realistic: Your goal must be based in reality. Sure, we want you to think big. We believe that if you set a goal, affirm it, and direct your positive energy towards it, you will find that the Law of Attraction kicks in to help you along. You want every agent in your marketplace to join you? Go for it. You want every agent in North America to join your brokerage? Well, it’s possible, but it’s not realistic.

Timely: Your goal must have a deadline. An open-ended goal isn’t a goal, it’s a wish. A deadline creates accountability and a sense of constructive urgency. Certainly you should be flexible enough to extend deadlines because life happens, but a goal without a deadline is like heading out on a road trip from Toronto to Utah without a map. Sure, you might get there by accident, but you’ll run out of gas, run out of resources, and hit a lot of dead ends along the way. Thelma and Louise didn’t have a destination, and look what happened to them (okay, they met Brad Pitt but that’s not the point). In other words, you will waste a lot of valuable energy without a clear deadline in mind.

The end of the year is a practical and psychological cleaning of the slate (for those of you under 30, that means wiping the chalk board clean). It’s a time to reflect, to plan, and to enjoy what really matters: the human connection. Given the commercial nature of this season, it’s important to remember what really matters. As a single mother, I had several holidays before joining EXIT where not only was there nothing under the tree, there was no tree. And while it may sound like a cliché, those holidays were memorable not because of lack, but because our focus was on what we had, and that was our health and each other.

Sharron Richardson has worked 30+ years in administration. Her start in the training and development industry positioned her to create, implement and manage the continuing education program for a busy real estate Board. In 2002, she moved to EXIT Realty Corp International, using her expertise to train in EXIT’s elite Franchise Support department. In 2004 she became the Manager of Franchise Support, taking EXIT’s administrative training and support to the next level.

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