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2022 is in full swing and we know that you have hit the ground running towards your goals. For goal-driven people (and it’s virtually impossible to be successful in real estate without being goal-driven) New Year’s resolutions are a powerful and effective way to reflect on the past year, and identify areas where you can improve.

New Year’s resolutions are a great place to start, but a more effective approach to ensure you stay on track might be: setting goals. Goal setting is a great way to create an actionable plan to make the improvements we need to make in our professional lives.

Today, we’re going to take an in-depth look at goal-setting strategies. From the SMART goal framework, to breaking down a goal into incremental steps, to accountability and more, we’re going to provide you with the information, resources, and (hopefully) motivation you need to achieve your career goals in 2022…and beyond.

The SMART Goal Framework: How it Works, and How to Make It Work for You

The popular job search site Indeed recently published an article detailing an extremely powerful framework for setting goals and doing the necessary work to achieve success. It’s called SMART goals. Here’s how it works:

  • S: Specific.  Make your goals focused and narrow. This allows you to create a more tailored plan.
  • M: Measurable. To quote legendary business writer Pete Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
  • A: Attainable. Pie in the sky won’t put food on the table. If your career goal for 2022 is to get the listing for Buckingham Palace, you’re going to end up disappointed. Be ambitious, AND realistic.
  • R: Relevant. The best goals always fit with your long-term career objectives and personal values.
  • T: Time-based. Give yourself a firm deadline that pushes and motivates, without frazzling you.

Using the SMART Goal Framework in Your Real Estate Career

What makes the SMART goal framework so effective is the way it forces you to think about your goals in specific ways. Instead of just “networking more,” your SMART goal would be “in 2022 I will attend 5 industry events and make 25 new contacts.” The specificity gives you something to work towards, and allows you to track your progress along the way.

The framework is perfectly suited for the real estate industry. Let’s examine a couple ways it can help both agents and brokers to reach their goals, starting with what you should not do.

NON-SMART goal for agents:

I will get more listings in 2022.

Why this will likely fail:  It’s not specific. There’s nothing to measure. There’s no time component.

SMART goal for agents:

In 2022, I will increase the number of listings I get by 10% over my 2021 totals.

Why this has a much better chance for success:

  • It’s specific, which gives the agent something concrete to work towards. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say this agent had ten listings in 2021. That means she needs to get 11 to increase her listings by 10%.
  • It’s also If she gets 11 or more listings in 2022, she’s attained her goal.
  • A 10% increase is inherently If her goal was to get 40 listings, it would certainly be ambitious but likely not realistic.
  • Of course, it’s A real estate agent always wants to get more listings.
  • Finally, it’s time-based. It gives her a year to get one more listing than she got in 2021.

Now let’s see how it works for brokers…

NON-SMART goal for brokers:

My brokerage has ten agents but we need to grow. Therefore, I will poach 100 of the top agents in my area in the next month by promising them 10X the listings they earned in 2021.

Why this will likely fail:  On the surface, this seems better. It’s specific, measurable, and it contains a time-based component—albeit a bonkers one.

But it’s obviously not attainable—the idea of 100 top real estate agents leaving their brokerages en masse in the next month is not realistic, to put it mildly. More importantly, it’s not relevant. Aside from the fact that just about every top selling agent would see right through this scheme.

SMART goal for brokers:

I will double the size of my small brokerage in the next year by recruiting ten of the area’s top agents by investing in more flexible technology and switching to a profit-sharing model.

Why this has a much better chance for success:

It’s specific, measurable, and though it’s ambitious, it’s certainly attainable. It’s also more relevant to their goal of long-term growth by offering top-performing agents better tools and greater earning potential.

Now let’s take a look at another effective goal-setting technique: making goals buildable.

How to Make Your Real Estate Goals Buildable

“We believe that when our employees grow, the company grows. Every time we’re leveling up our careers, that has a direct impact on the company.” Tanya Reu-Narvaez, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, Realogy during a recent “Making Bold Moves in New and Exciting Growth Areas” virtual event.

What Tanya says is true in many ways. Leveling up via individual growth can be contagious, fueling others to aspire to achieve more. That’s how companies grow. At the same time, setting and attaining smaller “subgoals” is a powerful technique for fueling more growth and more achievement on an individual basis.

In the summer of 2019, Real Estate Express partnered with McKissock Learning and RISMedia to survey thousands of real estate professionals across the country to “understand what successful agents do to attain those six-figure incomes. One of the key findings was that successful agents have the ability to set goals for themselves.”

A truly revelatory finding from their survey was “Agents who set goals for themselves and followed through reported earning over $50,000 more than those who didn’t set goals…giving yourself an ambitious yet attainable goal can help keep you motivated and productive all year long.”

One thing that the most successful agents had in common was the ability to make their goals buildable. That means setting smaller sub-goals that build up to bigger goals. How would this work? For a broker, it might look something like this:

  • In three months: design a marketing campaign designed to recruit top agents. Components include website, social media outreach, and printed marketing materials
  • Within six months: Target, contact, and begin negotiation with 25 top-selling area agents
  • Within one year: Recruit 10 top-selling local agents

Over time, these smaller goals stack up, and become more than the sum of their parts. The result: a better track record at achieving long-term success.

Planning for Uncertainty—The Importance of Backup Goals

The concept of sub-goals can be critically important in a volatile market, or times of uncertainty—like right now. But instead of linear goal planning where A leads to B to C, think about including various sub-goals for different situations. If you have a goal of attending X amount of industry networking events in the next three months, what would an alternate goal look like if there simply aren’t that many in-person networking events going on? Having a backup plan, a way to reach your goal if circumstances change, can help you stay on track during times of volatility, so you’ll always be prepared no matter what happens.

One final note about sub-goals. Remember, they are building blocks to help you reach your long-term career objectives. Their job is not to single-handedly get you to your end-goal, e.g. a certain amount of money or career title. Your sub-goals should be actions you can do now that will eventually put you in position to succeed. Think of them like your daily workout. One or two of them alone will not get you into shape. But if you put in the time, and do the work every day, they’ll get you to where you want to be.

Goal Wisdom—Advice to Help You Plan Your Professional Future

It’s been said that you’re never too young to start saving for your future. Also true: you’re never too young to start planning your future. If you’re just starting out in your career, planning your future now could give you a real leg up for both your short-term and long-term goals. At the same time, industry veterans can use goal-planning to refocus on your core priorities and values.

Here are some more helpful tips for focusing on your goals in 2022.

  1. Take the initiative. Tony Lee, a recruitment-trends expert and vice president of editorial for the Society of Human Resource Management says that many young people just starting out in their career should realize early-on that work is not like school, and passively waiting for assignments may not serve them well. “If they’re too acclimated to that culture, then they’re going to sit back in the job and wait for someone to come to them and say, “OK, here’s an assignment that is due by this date, rather than take the initiative and ask “What can I do?”
  2. Stay Accountable. Dotloop published a piece about Goal Setting for Real Estate Agents. One of the more important ideas was remembering to stay accountable for your goals. If you don’t keep track of your progress and push yourself to achieve, nobody will. “Accountability is often the difference maker between those who simply set or attain and those who exceed their goals. All real estate pros — individuals, team and brokerages — must be held accountable to ensure they’re tracking toward their goals.”
  3. Continue Learning. In an industry that changes as much as real estate, it’s difficult to stay on top of your goals without keeping up with industry innovations. An evergreen goal of yours should be to commit to continuing your professional development. Whether it’s an online class, a seminar, or a national event, take the initiative to continue learning and growing.

More Goal Setting Resources

Tools, apps, and planners

Earlier this month in most recent blog post, we detailed some apps and paper goal-setting solutions. It’s worth reposting them below:

  • Forbes has a list of tools to help you keep you on track all year long.
  • PC Mag lists some apps geared to keeping your goals in sight.
  • More of a paper person? The Simple Planner details some goal-oriented planners.

Did you make a list of career goals in 2021? Did you reach them? If yes, what techniques were helpful to keep you on track?  Let us know what worked, and what didn’t work.

Email us at or share with us on Facebook or LinkedIn – we want to hear your career goals for 2022.