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2007-03-27 15:40:00

Real Estate as a Profession and a Passion

Many of us either has spent, or continues to search for that place in our lives where our work has meaning. I remember in college during an externship at a halfway house for women breaking out a well known book called What Color Is Your Parachute? The purpose of the book was to help uncover what drives you. 
I felt though, that this examination could go a bit deeper. Instead of a simplified category of skill sets, or even more difficult, trying to articulate a passion, look at what matters to you, even things that may not translate into an easily described trade or field.
For instance, how I came to be a real estate agent. I do not have the “My Father was a broker for 25 years and here I am continuing the legacy”, or “I was in corporate America with an MBA and after an unexpected layoff, found real estate to be the perfect fit for my skills”. Instead, for me, it started with a book. Yes, this is a bit cheesy, but it was Rich Dad, Poor Dad that of all things inspired me to examine what matter to me. Security and a sense of belonging. 
I grew up as a renter. My mother was a single working parent whose luck in relationships kept us on the move. I can say that while growing up, I had moved approximately 15 times and attended 13 different schools. You could say we were bit of the gypsies. Every place we lived was either someone else’s or was ours with a lease and hand-me-down furniture. I think I was about 16 years old before I had my first real bed and dresser. Up to that point, laundry baskets and crates were my place for clothes. I can remember several times having to pack up our belongings in the middle of the night in the ever-so-quaint hefty bags and hope we didn’t leave too much behind.
Homeownership was not in my vocabulary. I can recall be envious of my friends who had what was to me, beautiful rooms and a knowledge that tomorrow, their address would still be the same. I was very much on the outside looking in. What I think was the saddest part of it all is, that I did not emerge into adulthood with a drive to own. I clearly felt that homeownership was for the privileged. I succumbed to the notion that I was and will always be a renter-class kinda girl.
After I turned thirty, attending college (something else that I believed was too good for me) and recently married, I picked up the Rich Dad, Poor Dad book and started to read. From it, I learned something very valuable about myself. I craved financial independence. I was so terrified that I would end up like my mother did, living by the seat of her pants, small child(ren) in tow, and never having a place to call her own. This was a very real fear of mine that I had not, up until that moment, put my finger on it. 
The book talked about using real estate to accomplish this task. It was from this book, that I started to believe, why not me? But of course, running out a buying an investment property was not in my immediate future by any means. Instead, I had decided to educate myself on the process. If I was going to eventually own rental property and have my cash flow, I needed to feel confident in the procedure. Hence, during my holiday break from school, I enrolled in a real estate sales class. Did I have ambitions to become a sales agent? No. In fact, there is much about sales I absolutely hate. I did however need to feel in control. And for me, what better way to learn the tricks of the trade then from the inside? 

Helping Others Was a Gift to Myself
It was shortly after I earned my license and in my head, mapping out my plan of attack, I discovered something else. Helping others achieve that very goal that I felt was so out of reach for me, homeownership. I worked almost exclusively with first time home buyers in the early part of my career and discovered a wondrous change in me. I was empowering myself by empowering others. Single men, women and even young couples challenging and embracing their futures by taking financial control. This wasn’t accomplished by some fantastical dream of becoming the next Donald Trump, but by very real steps that will forever change them. I learned about as much from my clients as they have probably learned from me. I envision extensions of this to include better opportunities for women just like my mother, single parents and working hard to survive.  Homeownership shouldn’t be out of their reach for them or their children, and yes, I eventually purchased my own humble abode and watch my children thrive in the security of knowing they will always have a place to call their own.
So what is the moral of my story? Real estate never started out as a passion for me, but instead a profession out of a need. It became one that granted me fulfillment and appreciation beyond my expectations. Real meaning in your life and joy in your work doesn’t always come about in conventional ways. Never be afraid to explore the what-ifs or to waiver off the paved road. There is a saying, “Sometimes on the way to a dream we get lost and find a better one”.

(Julie Woodward-Trenker, ABR, ASP, RFS, e-PRO, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Serving the Chicagoland Area, 773-469-2037. She has a great blog.)

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