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Gimme a Break (and take one for yourself, while you’re at it) | By: Multiple Speaker(s)

Gimme a Break (and take one for yourself, while you’re at it)
By Vena Jones-Cox

All of us—or maybe it’s only the female half of the population—are pretty much constantly told by the media, Dr. Phil, and various personal development gurus that we’re falling badly short in one area of our lives.

Ironically, the additional thing that we’re being exhorted to add to our already-packed schedules (and should, apparently, feel guilty about not doing) is taking time for ourselves. You know—taking an afternoon off for mani/pedis. Or locking ourselves in the bathroom for a few hours with candles and the latest edition of Oprah for a long, relaxing bath. Or, if you’re from the other side of the gender divide, I suppose shooting at stuff and kicking back with Popular Mechanics.

So, with full recognition of the fact of our chaotic lives, let me add ANOTHER to-do that’s just as important: we need to intentionally take time outs for our businesses.

Let me explain.

I have observed that in both start-up and active real estate businesses, the practitioners—that’s us—tend to get so caught up in the to-do list that we lose sight of the big picture. This leads to some serious problems that, if left unchecked, can become fatal problems to our businesses. Among these are:

Getting caught in the “thick of thin things”—robotically just doing ‘stuff’ that we aren’t examining to see if it’s the RIGHT stuff. Without stepping back and reviewing what the real goals of our business are (at the beginning, getting some deals and later, focusing on the 20% of things we do that make 80% of the money, so that we can actually have a life), we just keep checking things off the to-do list every day, feeling efficient, without really examining whether those things are the highest leverage things we could really be doing. The TRULY high-leverage projects never get done, and your business suffers for it. In my experience, it’s not enough to simply decide to think about these things while there are mailers to be sent out, calls to be answered, ads to post, maintenance calls to answer, and so on. You HAVE to get away from your business for a few days, relax, hear some new ideas, get inspired, and THEN, from a distance from the daily hustle and bustle, consider the question of whether you’re focusing on the right things.

Accepting sub-par results. How many days SHOULD it take to re-rent a vacancy? How many deals SHOULD you be getting from 100 mailings? What percentage of your rents SHOULD you be collecting? How much net profit SHOULD a wholesale deal produce in your market? Is this in line with what you’re experiencing? If not, what are other practitioners doing that you’re not? The only way you can know these things is to network with others—LOTS of others—in your business…and, of course, to analyze your own numbers in this regard.

Sticking with strategies that aren’t working anymore, or aren’t working the way they used to. Having a cookie cutter system is great—until it stops working. Ask the thousands of buy-fix-sell guys who are out of business because when subprime home buyer financing dried up, they didn’t move fast enough to learn to deal with FHA buyers, get private money at 8% to buy houses instead of hard money at 15%, and to buy cheaper and renovate to a higher level to grab the much-pickier, much-scarcer “new” homebuyer.

Those of us who have existing businesses are so attached to doing things a certain way that, without intervention, we’re likely to keep doing them that way against all evidence that it doesn’t work that way anymore. Instead of trying to learn with others who are being successful are doing differently, we just try to do more of what we’re already doing, and make the market conform to what we want it to be. What we really need to do is take a break, examine trends, and talk to others to see if they’re seeing the same thing, and what they’re doing about it.

Plain old burnout. Let me remind you that your business is supposed to be FUN. You’re supposed to be excited about being in real estate, and excited about your business life. When you find yourself all depressed and negative about it, it’s probably time to take a break. And yet, when you’re all depressed and negative about it, it’s probably because you don’t have enough money coming in and you’re working your butt off, and a break is the last thing you think you can make time for.
So what form should this “break” take?

Here are the criteria:

It should be multi-day. A REIA meeting is nice refresher, but it’s hardly a break. In my experience, it takes at least one full day of “break” to get out of the day-to-day business mindset. It’s only on the 2nd day and beyond that you actually begin to “think big” and stop obsessing about the building order on your desk that has to be dealt with.
It should be away from home. In another city is best, but if not, at least in a hotel in our own city. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to deal with day to day business issues while on your “break”, which is exactly the opposite of the point
It should allow you to meet others in your business. Their perspective and ideas will be important to your thinking
If at all possible, others in your business should attend, too. It’s tempting to leave the husband/wife/partner home to deal with the fires while you go off to learn new stuff, but it’s also super-annoying to that partner when you come home all bursting with changes you want to make to your business, when they didn’t get the inspiration you did and see your new ideas as an unwelcome dump of new work for your already-burned out partner to deal with.
It should an event that isn’t teaching you what you already know. As you can see, I’m circling toward the idea that your best breaks come at educational events—but not just any educational event. Re-taking a seminar you’ve already attended probably won’t get you what you want, which is to absorb some NEW ideas.
Nor am I going to conclude that you absolutely, positively MUST attend the next OREIA New Strategies Summit in Cincinnati, even though it meets all the criteria above. I’m just telling you that, for the good of your wallet, your mental health, and your business, you should schedule SOMETHING that will give you the mental break we all need regularly. Whether it’s a conference, a multi-day workshop, a mastermind meeting, or even an out-of-town trade show, it’s important that you do this from time to time.

Yes, even though you’re so busy running your business that you can’t “afford” the time or money to do it.

Because, in my experience, you can’t “afford” not to give yourself the chance to examine your business, change your mindset, and make your life better.

Reprinted with permission of Vena Jones-Cox. To get more free articles and tips, subscribe at www.TheRealEstateGoddess.com

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