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Write a letter to your past self

Realtor Notebook

The year is almost over, so I’m thinking about making New Year’s resolutions.

But I’m also thinking about what I accomplished — and did not accomplish — last year.

Some of the things I did were smart, and other things were not so smart.

It got me to thinking that if I could write a letter to my past self, and have it arrive in January of 2012, I would actually have been able to give myself some useful advice.

My letter to my past self would go something like this:

Dear Self,

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2012 is going to be good and bad, but very different from 2011. In the end, you will be happy with most of your choices and you will see that your hard work is paying off. But there are a few things you might want to do differently than you’ve planned.

I am writing this letter in December of 2012, for you to use as a guide in 2012.

1. Go ahead and buy that new camera. You will be happy that you did. It will pay for itself in a couple of months. But think before you buy that Macintosh. You might be happier and more productive with a PC.

2. You did the right thing by taking that second vacation in September — don’t hesitate to make those reservations. All hell will break loose shortly after you get back, and you will be very happy that you went.

3. Wear two hot mitts when you reach into the oven to take out the Easter ham or you will get a burn on your wrist that will leave a scar.

4. Be happy about going out on that cold Saturday morning in January and showing houses. You will have to show only four, and the buyers will close on one. The transaction will be the smoothest one you have all year, and it will help you reconnect with an old friend.

5. Don’t worry about the buyers you meet in May who take so much of your time — and then the offer you write for them does not work out. They will eventually buy a house, and they will refer some clients to you. Those clients will buy a house and introduce you to someone else who will also become a client.

6. Make sure you go out to lunch with that woman you met last year, even if you are tired. You end up becoming friends.

7. You will donate a bike to a charity and be very happy that you did. It is part of a chain of events that unfold the first Saturday in June.

8. Your car will be broken into in December, but it will be OK. Something good will come out of it.

9. You will need a break on Thanksgiving morning. You will decide to take a walk on a bridge and photograph an amazing sunrise. By Christmas you will have sold a few copies. Be sure to take that walk — and this time bring a tripod.

10. One of the sales that you worked hard for will never close. But there isn’t anything you could have done about it. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that things can happen that are out of our control. Even though hard work is necessary, there are no guarantees.

I think the reason I get excited about the new year is that I know almost anything can happen. Each choice we make takes us someplace. Sometimes things don’t work out, but other times they do.

Each year is a journey and when it is over we should end up in a different place than where we started. We don’t get any do-overs. There isn’t any way to send a letter to the past and change it.

It isn’t enough to just make New Year’s resolutions. We need to revisit the past year and consider our successes and our failures and the choices we made. Mistakes and mishaps can be the best teachers if we allow ourselves to learn from them.

It doesn’t hurt to review 2012 before we move onto 2013. What would you say in a letter to yourself if you could write it now and send it to January 2012?

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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