A businesswoman stands next to a target and expresses a sense of accomplishment.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

How to set goals, and 6 ways to achieve them 

Coaches and top agents share their tips for goal-setting success, starting with figuring out what you want, then taking small steps to get there.

Updated June 21, 2023
5 minutes

Key points:

  • Should you focus on long-term or short-term goals? The answer is both.
  • Small daily goals are just as valuable as loftier annual or 5-year goals.
  • Personal goals and business goals go hand in hand.

Want to sell 20 houses this year? Great! Make that one of your annual goals. But you'll also want to set monthly, weekly and even daily goals that will get you there.

"It's like saying you want to lose 20 pounds," says Alyssia Essig, a team leader with Compass in Philadelphia and Baltimore. She's also a business coach for the Tom Ferry organization. "When you diet, you need an overall, long-range goal, but you also need sub-goals and a formula to get you there. Same thing for real estate. Your goals are a destination with sub-goals that are rooted in your daily activities."

Revisit your goals often

Janet Miller concurs, noting goals aren't the sorts of things you can set and forget. "Goals help me determine what needs to be on my calendar every single day," says Miller, a Vancouver, B.C., real estate agent and Tom Ferry business coach. She focuses on three business and three personal goals at a time and rewrites those goals daily.

"It's about taking time to remind and refocus," she says. Having daily goals also allows for daily assessment. "I ask myself, 'What were my wins? What were my losses and how can I improve so I do better tomorrow? It keeps me on track."

Think both short term and long term, and start with small wins

Isa Bhandary was still in college when she set her sights on investing and building a real estate portfolio. "But I'm in my early 20s, so I know that, while that's a great long-term goal, it's going to take lots of smaller goals to get there." She started her quest by setting the goal of connecting with a respected Los Angeles-area real estate pro and learning all she could from her. She landed a position as an assistant for Tracy Tutor, a top agent at Douglas Elliman Beverly Hills

"In the beginning her goals were my goals and I did whatever she needed me to do. It's been a great education," says Bhandary, who has since earned her real estate license. "Now, I'm setting goals of my own. The short-term goals that are going to get me where I want to be don't sound very exciting. They're usually focused on following up on leads, mailing postcards, sending biweekly e-blasts, and networking at real estate open houses." Maybe not exciting — but it's all helping Bhandary reach her overriding goals.

Kristine Anderson joined veteran agent Brenda Baakan's eXp Realty team based in Washington state a year ago. She says Baakan's experience has been helpful as the two work to establish both individual and team goals. 

"We have blended long-term and short-term goals, and communication has been the key to making sure we're both fully invested in those," says Anderson. "I've got my own financial goals and lead-generation goals. I've put all those goals on one page and it hangs next to my computer so I can see it all the time." She incentivizes herself with rewards for goals achieved — anything from a long walk or a pedicure to a weekend getaway. 

Business goals can fulfill personal goals

With all this goal-setting going on, Essig emphasizes that it's important to remember personal goals and business goals go hand in hand.

"Very few of us sell real estate because we absolutely love it," she says. "Ultimately the goal is to provide a good life for myself and my family, to own investment properties. I want to show my daughters what it's like to be an entrepreneur and what it's like to be a woman in business. Work, family, life — they're all related, so the goals pertaining to them have to be too."

6 ways to meet your goals

Setting goals is important, but following through is the hard part. These strategies can help.

1. Make sure your goals are SMART

Yes, you've probably heard this one before, but that's because SMART goals — goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound — just work.

2. Visualize your future

Set long-term goals that help you get there: Think one year, three years, five years and beyond. Then break those goals down into short-term goals and actions. What do you need to do today and this week to help make your long-term goals achievable?

3. Share your goals with friends or colleagues

It makes them real and helps hold you accountable. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, conducted research that revealed more than 70% of those who sent weekly updates to a friend reported successful goal achievement, compared to 35% of those who kept their goals to themselves.

4. Learn from setbacks

Embrace obstacles as learning opportunities and adapt your approach accordingly. Analyze what went wrong, make necessary adjustments and keep moving forward.

5. Celebrate achievements along the way

Recognizing your progress boosts your confidence and motivates you to keep going.

6. Stay flexible

While it's essential to have a plan, be open to adjusting it when necessary. Circumstances and priorities may change. Being adaptable allows you to stay on course despite unexpected challenges.

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