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May 25, 2007

Keeping A Life While Making a Living

Are you giving up your life to make a living?

Now, let the irony of that question soak in a minute.

I hope you’re not one of those folks falling into the new trap that has hit the workplace; it’s being dubbed “extreme jobs” working 60, 70 and 80 hours a week.

Recent reports in the Christian Science Monitor and Harvard Business Review (HBR) say extreme jobs are on the rise.

Why? The HBR found these reasons (and I think each applies to the real estate industry):

  • Competitive pressures. More folks are entering the real estate profession, so the talent pool is becoming flooded. 
  • Communication technologies. Cell phones, Blackberries, and e-mail have expanded work boundaries.
  • Work as a social center. Co-workers become friends and so work, not home, is where admiration and respect are dished out.
  • Globalization. As more and more companies do business around the globe, the need to work during primetime in foreign time zones has increased.

All of this blur the line between work and home. Stirring work and home together in one glass is a dangerous cocktail. I’m talking shortened careers, health problems, divorce and, on the whole, a pretty rotten life. 

  • Consider these questions. Do you:
  • Feel exhausted at the end of the day?
  • Cancel family plans to assist a client?
  • Lack good relationships outside of work?
  • Talk mostly about work at parties?
  • Dream about work?
  • Rarely miss a day of work or go on vacations?
  • Call in to check messages when at home?
  • Work more than 45 hours a week?

If you’re getting “yeses,” then you’re likely heading down an ugly river that ends with a potentially lethal waterfall.

So what can you do to make a living and keeping your life?

I want you to remember the three Bs: Boundaries Bring Balance.

Too often in my travels, I see agents and brokers who haven’t built boundaries between their work and personal lives. They’ve made their cocktail and gulp it down daily. Now their vision is blurry, and they can’t see the world clearly. And, they end up getting lulled into believing that long work hours will lead to success.

One of the foundations of my work with agents and brokers is a balance. Yes, my job is to increase income. And yes, working long and hard can increase income but only in the short run. I hope you’re in this business for a lifetime.

So I work with clients to set up systems so their business can operate on autopilot. When that happens, setting boundaries becomes ten times easier. 

And the key to set those boundaries is taking control of your schedule and making yourself accountable for how you choose to spend your time.

I have an article on my website called "Setting Work and Life Boundaries" that offers details on building boundaries. But for now, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Develop cues that serve as a signal to stop working. For example, if you pick your kids up at daycare, that’s your cue to stop working.
  • Learn to turn off your cell phone or other devices that connect you to work.  
  • Schedule non-work activities with others who will hold you accountable if you miss the date: playing golf or tennis, taking kids to soccer practice, etc.
  • Set aside time every day for something you enjoy listening to music, walking or reading. 

Just remember, you don’t have to give up your life to make a living. I wish you the best of luck!

(Bob Corcoran is a nationally recognized speaker who is founder and president of Corcoran Consulting & CoachingSM.  Sign up for his free “Tip of the Week.” You can reach him at 800-957-8353.)

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