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Success ladderAs this year winds down, it’s a great time to take a critical inventory of your business. I like to think of it as a checkup that’s similar to an annual physical at the doctor’s office.

At those visits, your doctor evaluates your overall health by conducting a battery of tests on your blood counts and cholesterol level, evaluating your diet and weight, discussing what adjustments you made for certain conditions and, most importantly, developing a plan of action to correct any new concerns. Unless you make that appointment and take the time to visit your doctor, you won’t know what ails you.

The same can be said of your business. Setting goals and creating strategic plans doesn’t happen without some introspection. A good place to start: Revisit the goals you set for 2014 to see if you accomplished them this year. Did you close as many transactions as you wanted to? Are you on track to earn the gross income you wanted for the year? Have you generated the number of new leads needed to keep a healthy inventory of listings?

If you answered yes to these questions, that makes it easier to plan for 2015. If you’ve fallen short of your production goals, take a long, hard look at what you might need to change. This is a crucial step; you don’t want to spend time or money in areas that are not dollar-productive and will keep you from moving forward. Whether it’s fine-tuning your advertising, finding administrative help so you can get more face-to-face time with clients, or increasing your listing price range, you should be able to pinpoint what’s working—and what isn’t—so you can adjust your approach accordingly.

Figuring out what you need to change and making a plan on how to do better is a great first step. Next, it helps to write out your goals for the year ahead. We all have different systems for business planning, so pick one that works for you (even if it’s daily sticky notes or auto-reminders in your calendar).

Not everyone’s goals are tied to income. Maybe you want to break into luxury sales so you can take fewer listings. Maybe you’re thinking about earning an advanced degree. Or maybe you want to schedule more time with your family or get more involved in charity work. No matter what it is, take the time to write down your goals. Remember: People who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. Think of it as a road map to your own success.

One fantastic thing about working in real estate is your freedom of choice. It’s up to you to shape your future, and it all starts with a positive mindset. And keep in mind that no successful company—even a small business—reaches its potential without having a clearly defined plan to get there.

So take a day or two to reflect on what’s next for your real estate business. Celebrate your triumphs, learn from your missteps and, above all, grow from them to have an even more fulfilling year ahead. You owe it to yourself—and your clients.

Margaret Kelly (CRB) is chief executive officer of RE/MAX, LLC. For more information, visit