Brooke Wolford admits her life can be crazy. This single mother of two is a broker and regional manager for RE/MAX Results in Minneapolis, overseeing five offices and about 200 agents. Her schedule doesn’t leave her much “me” time.
Many brokers and agents have similar realities — they put in a lot of hours on the job serving others, leaving no time for R&R.
“I don’t even remember the last time I went on vacation,” she says. “And if I did go anywhere, I was always available by phone, working the whole time.”
But stress started to take its toll on Wolford. Something had to give. So just after Christmas, she completely broke away from the phone, Internet, work, and even her family for an entire week to get away.
She didn’t have a plan when she arrived at her tropical destination. She didn’t follow a schedule, didn’t dress professionally, and didn’t check her e-mail or Facebook.
“My body finally became relaxed on the third or fourth day,” she says. “I stopped worrying.”
Through the years, significant research has been done on the correlation between vacations, productivity, and good health. Back in 2005, Marshfield Clinic in Chippewa Falls, Wis., conducted a study on 1,500 working women, finding that those who vacationed less often than once every two years were more likely to suffer from depression and increased stress than women who took vacations at least twice a year.
In Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Crown Business, 2010), he describes brain research that demonstrates the power of positive thinking, citing productivity gains of 31 percent and sales increases of 37 percent when an individual approaches work with a positive mindset. This leads to increased creativity and revenues.
For Wolford, the vacation did just the trick: “I feel more productive now because I took a break and I got my head out of the tailspin,” she says. “I haven’t felt stressed about anything since I got back.”
“You need a week’s vacation as a way to unplug that you can’t get with just a few days away,” says business coach Cheri Alguire of Livingston, Texas. She cowrote the new book Agent Revamp: How to Break Out of Your Real Estate Slump and Explode Your Income (Grow To Greatness Publishing, 2016), which became a best-seller on Amazon within hours of its release in mid-January.
Alguire mainly works with real estate brokers and agents, marketing professionals, and small business owners to help them become more successful in life and their careers.
“Real estate professionals really start to feel overwhelmed. Some work nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because they are constantly on call to their clients,” says Alguire, who used to be a real estate agent herself. “I help them figure out what they want.”
Many real estate professionals believe they can’t take time off because it will negatively impact their success. But the toll will eventually catch up to them, Alguire says.
“They can’t continue like that,” she says.
Alguire uses this analogy: Say you have a glass jar filled with big rocks, pebbles, sand, and water. The big rocks are the important things in life like your family, spouse, vacations, and taking care of yourself. The water represents all the less important things, like a phone call from a title company. If you put the water in the jar first, there isn’t room for anything else without the water overflowing. You have to put the big rocks in first. They are the things that need to be scheduled.
So, Alguire tells her clients to schedule those vacations way ahead of time even if you don’t know where you are going.
“You have to stay committed to the big rocks. Find a time when the real estate market isn’t so busy,” she says. “Block out a week or two and make sure you are getting away to recharge your soul.”
When you are in charge of your own business, it’s scary to let go and take a vacation, says Nikki Holmes, broker and CEO of Gold Rush Realty in Auburn, Calif.
She understands the fear over what will happen if you don’t respond to e-mails right away, or the anxiety that a call will go unanswered. “We just get so connected. I don’t know if that’s a good thing,” she says.
When Holmes went on her honeymoon to Maui three years ago, she made herself a promise that she would only check her messages/e-mails in the hotel after breakfast and after dinner.
“To me that was a compromise which allowed me to be in Hawaii for 11 days,” she says.
But in late 2013, Holmes and her husband received the opportunity to travel to Cuba on a People to People education tour for nearly two weeks. And that’s one destination where you can’t stay connected 24/7.
“I knew once we were there, I wouldn’t have access to e-mail or phone,” she says. “But I wasn’t willing to sacrifice that opportunity to go.”
The result of disconnecing? She fell in love with Cuba and was inspired by the artistic and talented people she met. And the trip showed her that she can be away from her business for several days and still be successful.
“I realize not everyone’s livelihood can allow them to go on vacations like that. But you need to go someplace and indulge yourself. There is a bigger reason for a paycheck then the day in and day out stuff,” Holmes says.