Industry expert, Lisa B, gets personal, as she considers how being in real estate can affect the social and family lives of agents and sometimes leave you feeling isolated or lonely.
Real estate is a demanding career path. It requires a lot of our time and energy. It often asks us to counsel and comfort, to keep secrets and personal stories, to compromise on quality experiences with family and friends in order to accommodate the needs of clients.
As well as being highly rewarding, it can also be competitive, incessant, exhausting.
As an agent, the beginning of my career was an incredibly lonely experience. I was working tirelessly to find my place and build my platform, I was losing time with loved ones, and I was often working alone, so didn’t have the opportunity to connect much with colleagues.
My experience isn’t unique. In talking to agents, I have learned many encounter periods of isolation or loneliness in their careers.
For some, like me, it is at the beginning of your career, when you are trying to find your feet.
For others, it is during stages of growth in work and personal life, when you are desperately trying to balance family with clients.
And finally, some agents experience isolation when their career is at its peak; when management of others means long hours, little time for friends, but complexity in anything more than professional relationships with colleagues.
By sharing my experience and how I worked to minimise my own isolation, I hope any agent who is experiencing some of that same loneliness, might find a path to better relationships and more connection…
When I first started in real estate, it was scary. I was in my early twenties with a brand new qualification to work in the industry. I knew the legalities of real estate but I had no understanding of how to sell property and I had no idea how competitive and cut-throat the industry could be!
Boy, was I in for a shock!
After completing my course, my next step was on-the-job-training. I decided to immerse myself in the industry and to learn as I went. I worked hard and I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
But during this learning stage, I really had no one to talk to. No one with whom I could share my inner thoughts or concerns. No one to ask what the heck I should do. No one to confide in.
I felt isolated and often lonely.
Then, as luck would have it, I became friends with a competitor at a neighbouring real estate office. He helped me learn the ropes.
I would ask him his thoughts about deals and I would ask his opinion on virtually anything that challenged me both in my day-to-day real estate practice, and in plotting my career.
With this mentor, I didn’t feel so alone. I felt that I had someone to talk to that understood, because, at the end of the day, we all want to be understood. We all like to have people that can relate to how we are feeling. I loved that even though he was my competitor, he was willing to help me.
Meeting this ally changed my approach — it helped me see how isolated and lonely I had become, and that I needed to work harder to ensure I was building real relationships and staying connected with people in a genuine way.
I needed to acknowledge that being a good and successful agent (or friend, family member, colleague) meant being a well-rounded person first.
With this understanding in mind, I made a conscious effort to ensure I was always connected and never isolated because of the demands or nature of my work. Here are some of the ways I still stay connected to this day:
Find balance. With the demands of our industry, it may seem impossible, but part of our isolation often comes from putting so much into our work that we have nothing left for social or family lives outside of the office.
It’s good to be committed. It’s good to work hard. But to be really good at what you do, you need to be well-rounded and happy, and that means having friends, family and enough leisure time outside of your career, to be truly balanced.
Listen to good quality training material. Find trainers, coaches and speakers with whom you can relate. Find those that have similar values to yours or who have been through similar experiences or challenges and listen to how they overcame them.
As the common saying goes, ‘there’s no need to reinvent the wheel’ — other agents have been here before you, they have likely experienced some of the isolation you are experiencing; learn from them.
Find friends in the industry. Your friends outside the industry might not understand really what’s involved in your career — your highs and lows. They probably won’t understand what you are going through.
Sometimes you may think you are the only one going through what you are going through. Know that others are in the same boat. Reach out, connect and enjoy the opportunity to learn from and support each other, or just to have a laugh!
Join a support group or form a support group. Network within the industry and pay particular attention to finding positive people.
Learn to feed off other people’s success and feed off their energy. Have accountability moving forward in your career and look for people that inspire you to greatness. Look for those who are already making a difference or want to make a difference.
Help others; when you do this, they will come to you for help and you can count on them when you need some help too. Helping others will let you feel better about where you are.
Your demeanour can attract or repel others. Be honest. Be nice and take care of people. Take criticism constructively and don’t take everything to heart. Know you have done your best and know you won’t always make others happy. Don’t alienate yourself if something goes pear-shaped.
Calm your ego and don’t think you are better than anyone else. This seems like an obvious one, but it is one we all need to think consciously about, as ego can really isolate us from others.
Don’t treat people poorly. Treat everyone with respect, with genuine interest and as though their input, feelings and opinions count.
Look for your motivation. Always ask this question: ‘What motivates me?’
What do you really want in your life? What do you want to have or experience? Be really honest with yourself and think bigger picture — not just career.
A fulfilling life is often that way because it combines a number of different aspects — don’t get fixated on just one aspect of life, think about everything you need and work equally hard on each part of your life — you can have it all!
Real estate agents don’t have to be all about career — so fixated that we lose the time and energy to really connect with others and we become isolated.
If you are feeling this way, know that over time, most agents get it right — they find a way to balance, to shift focus, so they can enjoy their career and also feel fulfilled by real relationships.