In an industry where you often must stretch yourself thin to meet client demands and increase productivity, it’s easy to put your personal health and wellness on the back burner. But that’s one sacrifice many rookie real estate professionals may be unwilling to make. Brittany Wrenn, a sales associate with @properties in Chicago and founder of Beyond the Sale, LLC, believes a work-life balance deficit in the real estate profession is part of why 13 percent of practitioners left the business in their first year between 2017 and 2018, according to National Association of REALTORS® data. “Being available 24/7 creates unnecessary stress, which could be why so many people drop out,” Wrenn says. “In the real estate industry, we aren’t taught how to put up boundaries and to be productive rather than busy.”
Wrenn, organizer of the Beyond the Sale Summit, a Chicago-based conference exploring how real estate pros achieve work-life balance, joined other women at the meeting, held earlier this month, to discuss fostering their careers in a healthier, more mindful way. Attendees focused on gaining self-awareness, creating a plan to avoid burnout, establishing a balanced schedule, and learning mindfulness exercises. “Being in a career that demands you wear many different hats, it can be difficult to slow down or to cope when something goes wrong,” says Alina Kindelan, a leasing manager who attended the summit. “I learned that it’s OK to work hard and take a moment for yourself. It’s OK to take that much-needed time and to not feel guilt about something falling through.”
Wrenn says her goal is to promote more practical methods for growing a real estate business—ones that allow pros opportunities to recharge. “Running around frazzled will lead to fizzle,” Wrenn says. “When I hit [my limit], I said, ‘I need to do something about this. I know I’m not the only one who’s been through this.’” The summit provided takeaways practitioners can incorporate one step at a time into their careers.
Make a burnout prevention plan. While writing up your annual business plan, insert notes and action steps you can take to prevent burnout. List out helpful details such as your stress warning signs, which could include headaches, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, and overeating. Also, make daily commitments to getting more rest for yourself, note your contacts who can help with your workload, and identify tasks you can delegate. “We want to be successful, but also, we need to put it in perspective,” says Tanya Sinclair, a mortgage banker and real estate attorney at Sinclair & Groat Law. “When you appreciate things in your life, your business will [be better for it].” Prioritize your health as an investment, not an expense, Sinclair advises, and follow the five areas of self-care: physical maintenance, lifestyle habits, social support, spiritual connection, and mental and emotional care.
Be mindful of your choices. Mindfulness is an approach for directly confronting the difficult questions and situations that arise in your life, says Sherri Wick, a licensed counselor. When it comes to setting goals and working for a better work-life balance, Wick says you should be aware of what your goal is, what tasks are needed to reach that goal, what your execution strategies are, and what distractions could hinder your work. “If you’re going to work every day for money, you’re also going to make sure you’re healthy,” she says, adding that mindfulness is empowering because it opens up the freedom of choice.
Listen to your emotions. Your feelings can start to affect you physically if you ignore them and keep them bottled up inside. Teri Kersting, a holistic health practitioner, says it’s imperative to acknowledge and express your inner moods in a way that’s most comfortable for you, emphasizing the importance of protecting yourself while being perceptive of others’ emotions. “You get back what you put out,” Kersting says. “Don’t let the outside world shape you; you shape your outside world.” When you’re feeling positive, she suggests, make a list of 10 things that are most enjoyable to you in that moment. Then, when you’re experiencing a depressed mood, look back at that happy list to give yourself a boost.
Giving back helps with balance. Volunteer work and social consciousness can be another way to balance your work and personal lives. Caroline Pinal, co-founder of Giveback Homes, says her organization empowers real estate pros to turn their businesses into opportunities for social good. Pinal works with agents, brokerages, and technology and service providers to see the act of buying or selling a home as making social change. She also connects agents with communities in need worldwide. “Giving back reduces stress and helps allow for balance in a career,” says Wrenn, who works with Pinal’s nonprofit on homebuilding projects.
Take one step at a time. It takes practice and discipline to get out of the mindset that your career is everything. Just as you may have a mission statement for your business, consider what your mission statement might be for your life. “Many times in the workplace, you hear that you should really have a work-life balance, but no one tells you how or where to begin,” Kindelan says. “I learned that even taking baby steps in how you begin your day or what you’re thinking during your day can all come together in having a work-life balance.”