How to set goals and effectively accomplish them
November 1, 2009
Don’t bother getting out pen and paper, calculator or abacus, rent and expense records and doing any planning, unless you have some intention of doing a proper job of it. A proper job is more than just writing a bunch of stuff down on a piece, or pieces, of paper and calling that your planning for the next thousand years. Your time would be better spent watching bass fishing on television.
An itch to plan and set goals infects all kinds of people in January of every year. It brings them into health clubs for three entire weeks; it makes them balance their checkbooks for the months of December and January; it makes them stop watching television for an entire week in January—they start again “just for the NFL playoffs.”
For myriads of landlords the month of January finds them actually sending out late notices and demanding late fees from their tardy tenants in a vow to “start getting the rent on time.” When February rolls around, though, life interferes and they never get around to demanding on-time rent payments. The tardy tenants heave a sigh of relief because they were afraid they would actually have to start coming up with the rent when it was due.
The upshot of the mess is the jokes about broken NewYear’s Resolutions. You can only nod your head in dejected agreement.
Is there some magic formula or trick for planning and setting goals that I can pass along to you that will keep you online to doing what you need to do to accomplish what you want to accomplish? I wish there were because I’d be a lot more efficient than I am now. Even so, there are things you can do to make your rental property work better for you—things that will help you get on the right track for getting your properties back on a better-paying basis.
Fortunately, you don’t have to take my word for it, I looked up what the experts in the field of goals and time management say about what we need to do to get done what we want to get done and applied it to rental property ownership and management.
First you need to set aside time for planning and goal setting. Time set aside, sit down and figure out exactly what you want to accomplish in the coming year: how much money (both gross and net) you want to earn, your management plans for your units, your plans for sale of the rental properties you own now and fi¬nally, your plans for purchase in the com¬ing year.
Goals have four guidelines you need to follow if you expect them to work:
1. They have to be specific. That means that the goals you set and plans you make work best, or possibly, at all, only if they are more than just a nebulous wish and hope. For example, “I want more good tenants” is just a wish and hope. If you got one more good tenant, you would have accomplished your goal; but that wasn’t what you had in mind. “I want good tenants in all my units” is a specific goal that goes to the reason for setting the goal.
2. They have to be in writing. Once you put them in writing, goals become real. You can post them on the wall, you can carry them around with you, you can refer to them and repeat them aloud whenever you want and don’t think anyone will look at you funny. Once written they become a commitment and something you can remember.
3. They have to have a due date. “I want good tenants in all my units” is a goal that would be achieved even if you accomplished it by the year 2050. But you want them this year. So more in line with what you really want is “I will have good tenants in all my units by July 1, 2010.”
4. They have to be believable. No matter how much you make them specific, no matter how much you write them down, no matter what date you put on them, if your brain sees the goals and plans you have made and says, “Yeah, right” you will never accomplish them.
There are a number of ways to fool your brain, though. You can have big plans and goals and get them accomplished, but you have to take them apart and make lots of small, manageable goals or benchmarks. Broken into small enough pieces, anything becomes believable.
For example, if your goal is to have good tenants in every unit, but you’ve never in your professional career have you been much good stopping bad tenants from slipping by you, your brain will reject the notion that you can select good tenants. Benchmarks in this case would be to first learn everything you can about good tenant selection. Then you could begin by using those techniques to fill your next vacancy. That done, do the same thing for the vacancy after that, and so on. Your brain won’t reject the goal of good tenants in every unit after that. begin by using those techniques to fill your next vacancy. That done, do the same thing for the vacancy after that, and so on. Your brain won’t reject the goal of good tenants in every unit after that.