How to Deal with an Indecisive Home Buyer

By Working with an indecisive client can be incredibly frustrating. Sometimes it may feel as though s/he isn’t listening to your expert advice, or maybe s/he simply doesn’t know what s/he wants. Here are five roles to assume in order to place, inform, listen, mediate and encourage your client to make a decision! After all, knowing how to deal with an indecisive home buyer can be the difference between closing a deal and losing one.

 

judge

Be the Judge

When beginning to work with a new client, it’s important to find out exactly where in the home buying process they’re at. Do they have a few neighborhoods they’d like to purchase in? Have they made a list of the necessary features and desired amenities they’d like in their ideal home? It’s important to gauge the decisiveness of your client(s) at this stage in order to prepare yourself for other roles you may need to assume as the process moves forward.

 

teacher

Be the Teacher

Make sure that your clients are informed. A lot of indecision can stem from lack of information or even misinformation, so make sure to clear up any confusion. Knowledge is power, so it’s important to empower your buyer clients as much as possible. Ultimately, their empowerment will translate into decisiveness when it comes time to take the next step.

 

Be the Confidant

confidant

Listen, listen, listen! The best way to find out what your clients want in a home is to open your ears. If you’re working with more than one person, like a couple, find out more than what they want as a unit. Approach each client individually and find out what aspects of a home they find more important than others so that you can cater to their specific as well as their mutual needs.

 

Be the Mediator

mediator

The role of mediator comes into play if you’re working with more than one buyer client, especially a male-female couple. A recent Consumer Outlook Survey revealed the differences between male and female home buyers, highlighting their responsibilities, favorite activities and disagreements during the home buying process. The findings placed the realtor as “couples’ therapist,” someone to balance both clients’ objectives. In fact, 83 percent of consumer respondents said that their real estate agent was helpful in forming an agreement between themselves and their partner.

 

Be the Cheerleader

cheerleader

Once your clients are informed, in agreement and ready to make that crucial decision, it’s time to play cheerleader. Support and encourage them as they discuss contingencies and start to write an offer. Continue to assume other roles as necessary, but make sure you are positive and encouraging overall. Convey your approval of their informed decision and exude excitement! This is an incredibly important and exciting time of your clients’ lives!

 

Although it may be difficult to assume multiple roles and personalities (we can’t all be Sybil), in the end, real estate agents are the jack-of-all-trades in today’s society, especially when dealing with people. By judging, teaching, listening, mediating and encouraging your buyer clients, you’ll be able to curtail indecision at the source. If indecision does raise its ugly head, you’ll know how to deal with it gracefully and professionally.

 

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How to Become a Successful Real Estate Agent: Part 2

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During Jim Droz’s second installment of the “Releasing the Winner Within” webinar series, the top producing real estate agent gave us some tips on how to become a successful real estate agent. He laid out who we should be targeting and gave us an effective five-step system to successfully market to these consumers. Below are some helpful hints from the webinar.

Who to Target

Mr. Droz gave us six areas to focus on when it came to consumer targeting. This is the pool he drew from to become the first agent in the U.S. to earn over $1 million annually.

call internet leads

1. Internet Leads: Jim suggests that you call these leads immediately. After speaking with the lead, send a thank you email. Once the prospective client is automatically placed into your database, send emails with value-added information and additional properties. Lastly, call these leads on a determined basis.

2. Sphere of Influence: Build a database of every person in your sphere of influence. This includes friends, family members, acquaintances and the like. New agents should send an introductory letter while experienced agents should send a sphere of influence/referral letter. Commence and continue a drip system with every person in this group.

3. People with whom you’ve worked in the past: Reach out to former coworkers and past clients. For experienced agents, this should be done by sending what Jim Droz deems a “Relationship Renewal Letter,” outlining why you’ve lost touch and why you hope to reconnect. If you’re a new agent, you can send a letter announcing your new career and that you hope to be considered if the recipient is ever in need of an agent. Follow up these letters with phone calls.

target a neighborhood

4. Target group(s): Choose a target group or groups. This can be a geographic location or specific niche. After one is chosen, build a database of every person in the targeted group. Next, place an “item of value” in front of the targeted consumers once every two weeks. This “item of value” can be a new listing you have in the area or a recently sold property (success marketing). Knock on seven to 10 doors daily in the targeted area until you’ve introduced yourself to every property owner. Lastly, follow up each meeting with a “thank you for being receptive” letter and continue to drip on these new contacts until you retire.

5. Local businesses: First, build a database of every business with whom you would like to develop a relationship. Next, print and send both first and follow-up letters for everyone in this database, then call all of the business owners to whom you sent letters. During the phone call, make sure you inform the owner of your desire to establish a mutually beneficial relationship in which you refer clients to him/her and vice versa. Schedule a meeting to discuss this proposition in person and then follow this interaction up with a thank you letter. Lastly, place the owner into your drip system and stop by once a month to deliver referral cards and other marketing materials.

For Sale by Owner

6. For Sale By Owner and Expired listings: In order to increase business, Mr. Droz suggests that you work for sale by owner (FSBO) and expired listings. Some FSBO property owners may become discouraged after having their home on the market for some time with little to no bites, becoming open to the idea of hiring an agent. By calling up expired listings from the past two years, you can find owners who still wish to sell, albeit with a new agent at the helm.

The Five Step System

We’ve covered most of these steps in the “Who to Target” section above, but here they are nicely laid out:

1. Build Databases
2. Send letters and emails
3. Call and meet face-to-face
4. Send follow up letters and emails
5. Employ repetitive exposure (success marketing)

 

By targeting the right consumers using the right method, you can increase the scope of your business in a relatively short time frame. By increasing the reach and depth of your people bank, you will begin to build a group of loyal clients that will continue to work with you and send you referrals throughout your career. With these loyal customers and countless referrals comes increased revenue and a more successful you!


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Google Autofill and Real Estate

Google Autofill and Real Estate

Inspired by a recent UN Women campaign, we decided to use the Google Autofill feature to see what exactly people are looking for when it comes to real estate. First, we played with a few different entries to see what we could unearth. By simply using the term “real estate” along with a few different verbs and prepositions, autofill results told us a lot about what people want to know. Below you’ll find screenshots of our Google Autofill and real estate searches and what we learned from them.

 

Real Estate

Google Real Estate Autofill

From these autofill responses, we can glean that people searching for this term alone may be interested in becoming agents themselves. There are also people searching for news about the current market and possibly some potential buyers looking for current MLS listings.

Google Autofill Real estate is

Yes, it can be hard dear Google searcher. However, we tend to agree with the second autofill result, especially over the third. Searchers have heard that real estate is a good investment, but why? This is your cue, dear agents! It’s important to get why real estate is such a good investment out into the internet ether. This can make a great blog post—one those Google searchers may just stumble over when they start typing in “real estate is…”

 

Real Estate Agent(s)

Google Autofill Real estate agent no S

These results tell us that 1) there are some future agents in Googleland, 2) people are curious as to how much money you make, 3) potential home sellers may be curious as to how much money they’ll have to spend on you and 4) there’s some confusion as to the difference between an agent and a broker.

Google Autofill Real estate Agent

The difference an ‘s’ can make! These results tell us in what cities people are looking for agents. Los Angeles, Torrance and Las Vegas seem to be where the housing market is on the up and up!

 

Buying

Google autofill buy real estate

The top autofill result comes from agents looking to buy internet leads (shameless plug: why not check out HouseHunt’s system?). Our second result comes from those looking to use their individual retirement accounts to purchase real estate. Lastly, we have some Grand Theft Auto 5 fans and those looking to buy property in Belize.

Google autofill buy real estate for

Once again, we find searchers looking to invest in real estate. We also see that some are interested in tax deed sales, while others don’t want to put money down on their real estate purchase. Lastly, we find out there’s a good amount of all-cash buyers out there.

google autofill buy real estate in

Here we see where people want to purchase property. While Belize shows up again as a hot market, we also see that Detroit is on many a searcher’s radar. Ignoring another GTA result, we see buyers are also looking to purchase in Spain. ¡Olé!

google autofill buy real estate with

Again, we see that many people are looking to purchase real estate with an IRA. Secondly, we find that some searchers are simply out of luck. Thirdly, we see that bitcoin is becoming a more popular currency and that people are looking to purchase property with it. Lastly, we see that people are dipping into their 401k funds to make the ultimate investment.

 

Selling

google autofill sell real estate

From these results, we can glean that many sellers are looking to the internet to sell their home. Many people are also putting their homes up for sale on eBay, there’s even an observatory for sale on there!

google autofill sell real estate after

Some sellers need help selling under special circumstances. These include a property owner’s death (probate), a divorce, or if the contract with a real estate agent has expired. These would all make great posts for your real estate blog.

google autofill real estate seller

Tweak the entry a bit, and you see that not only are agents looking for seller leads, but sellers want to know what fees and closing costs they’ll incur, as well as what financing options are available to them.

google autofill real estate sellers

Here we see that sellers need guidance: they want to know if the market is in their favor and want access to a net proceeds sheet, a guide and an agent. In short, searchers want access to you, so make yourself easily found online.

 

As you can see, you can learn a lot about what buyers and sellers are searching for by simply starting to type in a phrase then letting Google do the rest of the work. Try it out yourself! Use basic terms and try out various wordings to gain insight into prospective client’s minds while getting great ideas for your real estate blog!


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Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act 2014

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short sale tax
Short sale and foreclosure tax slated to return in 2014

The time has come. The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act has finally run its course, and many homeowners will now be on the hook for short sale tax or foreclosure tax in 2014.

Let’s start with the back story. Originally passed in 2007, the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act provided a tax exemption to homeowners when their mortgage company forgave debt though a short sale or foreclosure.

Let’s say you had purchased a home for $400,000 and took out a mortgage for $300,000. Later, you short sold the home for $200,000 and your lender agreed to forgive the balance of $100,000. Instead of the IRS considering that forgiven $100,000 as income, Congress allowed homeowners to short sell or foreclose without having to pay the IRS for their canceled debt.

In October 2008, due to the ongoing hardships suffered by the housing market, the act was extended through December 31, 2012. It was then extended once more by Congress through December 31, 2013. According to the LA Times, “as much as $2 million in forgiven debt for each household was exempted from federal taxes under the 2007 law.”

With 6.4 million homeowners still underwater on their mortgages, meaning they owe more on the loan than the property is worth, the government aid is still very much needed. However, despite bipartisan support, the law expired at midnight on Tuesday, December 31st and wasn’t extended because lawmakers were home for the holidays.

All hope is not lost however, as pending legislation in the House and Senate would extend the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act through 2015, the LA Times reports. Such an extension could be passed retroactively, going into effect January 1st, as it was last year.

The extension of the act would not only alleviate tax burdens for homeowners, it would help keep the housing recovery alive. The legislation for extension is backed by the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, to name a few.

Seeing as the health of the housing market is indicative of that of the overall economy, lawmakers will hopefully do whatever they can to extend the act—ensuring the housing recovery is sustainable rather than a fleeting resurgence.

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Best Real Estate Business Plan

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2016 is upon us, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to come up with a real estate business plan for the new year. Whether your 2015 was successful or lackluster, there’s always room for improvement. Here at HouseHunt, we’ve devised a business plan that we hope will help you reach all of your real estate goals in 2016.

Build a Better Business Plan

Coca Cola marketing strategy

The Strategy

Who better to look to for an effective plan than those at the top? If you take a look at the basic marketing strategies of companies like Coca-Cola, Heinz and Campbell’s, you’ll see that they all employ the same technique: introduce their product to individual consumers, and through repetitive exposure, ensure the consumer doesn’t forget their product. When they experience success, they use that success to build more consumer recognition. So, why not use what has already proven to be an effective and successful model? If it can sell carbonated beverages, ketchup and soup respectively, why can’t it be employed to sell real estate?

customer loyalty

Client Loyalty

The most important aspect of a real estate agent’s business is client loyalty. If you’re still prospecting for clients after two years as an active real estate agent, you haven’t managed to build up a contact database big enough to sustain your business. Who makes up this database? Consumers that have been introduced to your product, (you!), and they never forget it because you’ve made  consistent, repetitive contact.

The more diligent you are at first constructing your contact database, then providing it with proper maintenance, the more loyal clients and less prospecting you’ll have to do.

By building up this people bank year after year, each year becomes more productive than the last. Eventually, not only will your prospecting days be over, your income will be secure and have gradually increased over time.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Efficiency

Our first step in the process is efficiency. The more efficient you are, the more time you’ll be spending making your business more successful. The more successful you are, the more money you earn. Your business should be working for you, not the other way around.

HouseHunt has created a Business Efficiency Analysis you can use to find out where you need to make adjustments in order to have a more profitable business. The 22 question analysis includes inquiries like “Do you know how many loyal customers you need to generate your desired income?” To answer this question, check out the infographic “The Formula for Success.” Using it, you can find out exactly how many loyal clients you need to achieve your financial goals based on factors like the amount of commission per transaction and your desired annual income.

Other questions in the analysis focus on the agent’s internet presence, asking “Are you efficiently converting internet leads into transactions?” If you answered no to this, check out our other featured articles under lead generation and lead conversion categories on our blog.

The Business Plan

After completing the questionnaire, you’ll find out where you need to make adjustments and improvements in order to make your business more efficient. Want to do more? HouseHunt’s Diamond Business Plan will provide a road map to your desired destination in 2016, using the strategy outlined above and helping you retain more clients and work more efficiently. The real estate business plan will allow you to constantly monitor your progress and get you back on track if you deviate from the path. It is a free service meant to help all real estate agents meet their real estate goals.

We wish you the best of luck on your real estate journey in 2016, and hope you meet all of your professional goals!


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Infographics for Dummies

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You can turn boring stats and information into something fun and accessible. Showcase a message, raise brand awareness, and establish authority in your area of expertise with infographics. With visual-based websites like Pinterest and Instagram, it’s important to still get across your information without just writing an essay for your audience time and time again.

Real Estate infographics could serve all kinds of purposes. You could share with your audience the importance of buying a home soon, ways to pay off their mortgage, or just something fun for the sake of engagement.

If your first thought is, “I’m not a designer,” then no need to worry – I’m not, either! We’ll take a look at making and sharing your infographics under ideal and not-so-ideal circumstances. With just a few key tips, you can create visuals that will attract a whole new audience to your business or cause!

So, without further ado, here’s how to make an infographic.

#infographic

Design Software

Ideally: In a perfect world, you would be equipped with an entire Adobe suite, with everything from Photoshop to Illustrator to InDesign. You would have access to more public domain photography and artwork than you knew what to do with via a service like Shutterstock.

Instead: Turns out you’re in perfectly fine shape with no more than the software that came pre-installed on your computer. Microsoft Powerpoint is a remarkable tool for designing infographics. Matter of fact, Hubspot was kind enough to pre-design some templates to get you started. When you’ve got a finished product in Powerpoint that you’re proud of, just save it as a JPG file, and you’re good to go. You may have to save text boxes as separate images to make sure the file transfer doesn’t distort them. Fun fact: All of the infographics by HouseHunt have been designed on Powerpoint.

You can import public domain pictures from free services like Wikimedia or Flickr Creative Commons. And if you want to tinker with those stock photos, Six Revisions has a list of great, free alternatives to Photoshop. One thing I do a lot when designing is extract a certain part of an image to use in my infographic. For example, if you can’t find a usable picture of a plate, you may be able to find a picture of a dining room table and slice the plate out of it, onto your creation.

Design Knowledge

Ideally: You probably went to school for four years for a BA in graphic design, right?

Instead: You’ll certainly be a better designer with some professional education. But for your purposes, you’ll amaze yourself with what you can accomplish based on just a few simple rules.

  1. Steal Like an Artist – Find an infographic that you like and model yours after it. I’m not talking about the content; just the formatting. Take inspiration from a couple great sources and see if you don’t turn out something entirely unique.
  2. Font Selection is Important… So Don’t Overthink It – A lot of beginner designers want to impress audiences with their vast font collection and wind up with a product that looks like Comic Sans barfed on a picture book. Limit yourself to one extravagant font per graphic. Other than that keep them basic and easy on the eyes. Mix it up between serif and sans serif fonts.
  3. Color Scheme – Just like with fonts, put a cap on the number of colors you can use before you even start. ColorCombos.com is a great way to find colors that complement each other.
  4. Gridlines – Activate the gridlines feature on PowerPoint to properly align different elements on your infographic. Don’t have everything centered either; that’s boring. Put the central elements on one of the lines dividing the graphic into thirds; that is more captivating for the viewer.
  5. Advertise – Let’s be real: the reason you created your infographic was to bring attention to your business. So at the bottom of each infographic you’ll want to set aside some space to promote your company, website, social media platforms, etc. This is also a great spot to credit the sources you used to make the graphic. At HouseHunt, we keep this part of each infographic pretty uniform so that no matter how diverse the presentations, the audience stays grounded in the resource they’re using.
  6. Keep It Simple – This is the most important design rule, especially in 2014. The reason you made an infographic in the first place was to simplify a wealth of knowledge into something your readers could easily digest. Don’t just try to plaster all your information onto one picture. That doesn’t help anyone. Have a clear thesis in mind, one point that you’re trying to make when you start, and stick solely to that.

That should be more than enough guidelines to get you started. But once you’ve mastered those, if you’re interested in perfecting your craft, Hubspot has created an incredible design resource covering all the elements of design for infographics. And if you want to get really meta, here’s an infographic about creating infographics.

The 12 Costs of Christmas Pic

Promotion

Good news here, folks! There’s no difference between how a professional would promote his infographic under ideal circumstances and how you will with what’s available!

Social media is the driving force behind the shift to visual advertising, so it makes sense that social media will provide some of the best platforms to advertise your new masterpiece. Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter are the best at formatting specifically to accommodate infographics.

Pinterest is great because you can link the picture to your blog or website. You’ll be amazed at the traffic it can drive! Your infographic shows knowledge and accessability, and your online presence will flourish because of it.

Share your creation on Google+ Communities and Facebook Groups. These are online gatherings of people with a similar interest or purpose. So if your infographic is about rising home prices in your town, you can find communities about your town, real estate, or good investing. Just make sure you follow the guidelines set by these various groups.

Depending on how often you develop infographics, you may want to use them as an excuse for an e-mail blast to touch base with existing clients.

No matter the content you’re trying to share, an infographic will serve as a great medium. And with these simple tips, there’s no excuse not to try your hand at this new marketing tactic.

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Agent Success Story: Leslie Mackenzie Smith

by Vicki Duong
leslie mackenzie smith
If there’s ever been any doubt about the long-term success of our member agents, take a moment and read Leslie Mackenzie Smith’s agent success story. Leslie of The Wailea Group, LLC has been using our HouseHunt systems for 15 years! You read that right, 15 years. When we asked her if she could remember how many closings she’s had thanks to HouseHunt, all she could say was “There’s too many to count!”

If you’ve ever been to the beautiful island of Maui, chances are you’ve driven past a couple homes that Leslie sold or helped an investor acquire. She notes that most of her clients come from out of town and are usually looking to purchase their own slice of paradise in Maui, whether as a second home, investment purchase, or because they’re looking to relocate to the area. On average, Leslie’s transactions usually close in the $400,000-$1,00,000 range, all of which come from HouseHunt.

“For the first 8 years of being a member the majority of my business, about $5-$8 million a year, came directly from HouseHunt leads. Now not only do I have the leads, I have repeat business and referrals from past HouseHunt clients!

“HouseHunt brings in a constant flow of leads for me,” Leslie continued. “Being on an island, these leads are not local so I’m often in contact for many months or years before [my clients] arrive. But the trick to a successful closing is constant follow up and thanks to HouseHunt’s drip system it’s easy to follow up on my leads immediately.”

We are so proud of Leslie! Her 15 years of success truly says something about our system and that we are definitely meeting the needs and exceeding the expectations of our member agents. In turn, our member agents win in the long run and at the end of the day we’ve done our job – helping our clients grow their business.

Congratulations, Leslie! Thank you for sharing your story with us and for being a longtime HouseHunt member agent. We look forward to many more years of success!

 

Agent Success Story: Caroline Cinamon

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Caroline Cinamon

2013 was a very fruitful year for Caroline Cinamon over at FC Tucker Company in Indianapolis—the closings just keep coming in! In fact, she had 28 closings and closed her twenty-ninth deal at the end of the year. She’s also working on her first two transactions for 2014 and when we last spoke in December, she was listing three new properties. Clearly, Caroline already has the ball rolling for a busy and fantastic start to the New Year!

Caroline and her mother, Kathy Curry (who also happens to be her business partner), were first introduced to HouseHunt’s services back in the fall of 2009 and quickly became fans of our program. After cancelling her HouseHunt account due to personal reasons, Caroline promised us she would come back when the time was right, noting what a truly valuable service HouseHunt provided for her business. And so at the beginning of 2013, Caroline and Kathy kept to their promise and came back to HouseHunt, purchasing the Westfield, IN territory.

Caroline begins her day at 6:50 AM after her son gets on the bus for school. She answers emails and gets caught up on paperwork until about 8:00, then she heads to the office, sets and confirms appointments, networks and attends to other business related activities. With the holidays right around the corner, she’s been delivering holiday wreaths to clients—a nice, personal touch to get in the spirit of the holidays.

A natural planner and list maker at heart, Caroline has a visual schedule laid out for the week that helps her stay focused on day-to-day tasks while never missing a beat. Next year she intends to be even more efficient and is thinking about enlisting the help of an assistant.

Along with exploring the idea of hiring an assistant, Caroline is determined more so than ever to take full advantage of HouseHunt’s TIM system to help her follow up with leads. She also plans on attending Jim Droz’s webinars to learn how to further advance her business model. “[HouseHunt] is a great program and, like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. The more you work the HouseHunt system, the more money you will make from it. I do honestly think that this is where real estate is going.”

For 2013 alone, Caroline expects her average closing cost to run close to $250,000, slightly lower than usual but she receives a great deal of referrals from a previous client. Her last closing was for $78,000, a home that needed a lot of work and was on the market for quite some time. “We worked on three offers and finally worked out the last one through to closing. My next closing and final for the year [2013] is $472,000.” Caroline also notes she and her team worked on more new construction transactions in 2013 than in years past. “We’re also starting to work with an investment property broker, something we’ve done very little in the past.”

Now that the holidays have come and gone, Caroline will be busy gearing up for what will already be another great year. Keeping her eye on the ball, her mission is to strive for fantastic customer service through all phases of the home buying and/or selling process while making sure her clients’ stress levels are kept to a minimum. Caroline is ready for the next challenge that comes her way and HouseHunt is ready to help make it happen.

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6 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

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keeping new year's resolutions

We recently posted some ideas for New Year’s resolutions for real estate agents. But keeping a resolution, as we all know, is much easier said than done. Here’s a look at how to make your professional goals successful.

1. Don’t Have Too Many Resolutions. In our previous blog post, we only recommended a small handful of goals to think about in 2014. And even out of such a short list, we recommend you choose just one or two. They need to be things you really care about, and that you’re not just doing because you feel like you should. If you’ve got too much going on, you’ll compromise them one by one until you realize you’ve lost sight of them altogether.

2. Be Specific. Don’t just say something like, “I’m going to start prioritizing in 2014.” Figure out exactly what needs to get done, what tasks should take precedence, and how much time each task should take to complete.

3. Automate. We’re just going to be honest here – we don’t trust you. And frankly, you shouldn’t trust you either. If it’s possible to automate your New Year’s resolution, make it happen! For example, set alarms for when you should be finishing a task and schedule pop up reminders on your online calendar for meetings, project deadlines, etc.

4. Prepare to Change Habits. Have you always been the type of person to do everything yourself? Well, if you adopted delegation as one of your new year’s resolutions, it’s time to change. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself and start letting other people help lighten the load.

5. Find an Accountability Partner. This step is really easy, and also happens to be one of the most important. Your accountability partner can be anyone from a friend or business partner to a significant other. Even if the person holding you accountable isn’t in on the resolution with you, s/he will still be essential in not letting you slack off.

6. Believe In Yourself! A lot of us set New Year’s resolutions knowing good and well they’re not actually going to happen. So maybe the first commitment you should make to yourself is that no matter how lofty your professional goals are for 2014, you can make them happen!


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