How Is Your Real Estate Muscle?

I am into Geezer Fitness.  That’s what happens when old people work consistently toward achieving fitness goals.  Geezer Fitness.  I got serious about it 10 years ago, in my early 50s and it has paid big benefits.  I am much stronger, healthier and happier than I was when I began.  I look better too.

Geezer Fitness means 3 things:

Diet – which doesn’t mean denying yourself anything, but rather taking control and making small adjustments.

Mental Conditioning – stretching your brain and pushing it to grow.  For me this takes the form of learning new things:  another language, a new sport, painting.

Physical Exercise – (in order) Stretching – Cardio Exercise – Resistance Training.  I say ‘in order’ because if you haven’t exercised in a long time, that’s how you should start:  consistent stretching every other day until it becomes an anticipated habit;  then adding in a little Cardio, and a little more, and a little more, until it, too, becomes an important routine; then doing the same with Resistance Training.  If you’re just starting out, it will take at least a year to get all three happening in an integrated rotine.

If you are not a little careful, it is possible to ‘strain’ any part of this recipe.  If you go overboard on the diet thing, you can end up craving stuff that will set you back.  If you push too hard in learning, you can become fatigued and muddled.  And when you over-do any part of your exercise program you can end up in pain . . . as I have.

I strained my back late last week.  Believe it or not, I think I did it stretching . . . in a yoga class.  Yes, it’s even possible to over-do when you are doing the most gentle part of your program.

Pain is your body talking to you.  It’s telling you you’ve gone too far, done something wrong, and now need a break.  I’ve had five days of pain – each day a little less severe than the one before – and near complete cessation of physical activity since.  You have to do that when you strain a muscle:  stop, sit down, take a break, give the muscle time to heal.  And while you are recouping, think about how you did this to yourself and make plans about how you’ll avoid it in the future.  In baseball they call this the ’15 Day Disabled List.’

And all of this is true for your real estate career too! (you knew I’d get around to that, didn’t you?)

If you’ve done it right, your real estate career is a set of pleasant routines you’ve developed over time that produce a beneficial outcome. . . just like my Fitness program.  Your routines are probably in several categories:  Marketing, prospecting, lead management, client base development, and so on.  You can ‘strain’ your real estate muscle by being out of balance, by dropping the ball on any one of your routines, by becoming reactive and out of control of your business.

No matter what the cause, Real Estate Muscle Strain always feels the same:  you hate your job.  The thought of talking to one more FSBO contorts your entire face into a frown.  You can’t find the gumption to call the Seller with the unrealistic price to report no new activity and to suggest a price reduction.  You put your phone on d0-not-disturb mode and let it all go to voice mail . . . and then dred all of those calls to return.

Just as with physical muscle strain, there is a prescription for Real Estate Muscle Strain, and it is the same:  Stop.  Rest.  Think about how you got the strain and plan how you will avoid it in the future.

But how do you do that when your business is clicking along?  You can’t just abandon everything and take off to Cabo!  But maybe you could get the flu.  Here’s the cure:

  • Identify your real estate pals:  the one or two people you would trust to cover for you and for whom you’d be willing to cover in return.  Do this NOW, before you strain your muscle.
  • Meet with them and form a pact:  when one of you go down, the other(s) will pick up the slack.

Now, when you discover you’ve strained your Real Estate Muscle:

  • Devote an hour or two to organizing your current business so you can hand it off.
  • Meet with your pal(s) and give them your files.  Plan to talk with them once a day.
  • Contact your active clients – sellers and buyers – and explain that you have the flu or a family emergency or a sick parent or something and that your Pal(s) will be covering for you.  You expect to be back in the saddle within the week.  
  • Go somewhere where you can rest.  This might be home . . . or maybe it really is Cabo!
  • Give your mind and body a break from real estate.  Talk to your Pal(s) once a day and then drop it.  
  • Think about what it was that caused the strain.  What drove you over the edge?  
  • What can you do immediately on your return to put that straining influence in check?
  • And how can you organize yourself and your business so that a strain in this area will be unlikely in the future?  

Need an example?  Here’s one that has ‘strained’ many real estate people:  shifty, rude or obnoxious clients.  Honestly:  if you are working with people you really don’t like, it’s a strain and it can drive you right off the cliff.  So give yourself permission to get the real estate flu, hand your business off and go to . . . Cabo!  But think:  how did  you get yourself into this pickle?

You’ll probably realize that at some point you were so desperate for business that you took whatever business you could find.  That’s usually how we end up with obnoxious clients.  The real problem isn’t the clients, it’s the desperation.  Without the desperation you can be picky about who you work with.  So what caused the desperation?  Oh, lack of leads (perhaps).  So how can you generate enough leads so that you can be picky about the ones you choose to work?  Oh, I know!  Marketing!  Maybe it is time to jump into that great mailbox program from Excel . . . or try this Facebook pay-per-click thing, or buy a zip code from Zillow.  And when you get back to work, is there a listing you want to give back?  A buyer you want to pass off to someone else?

See how it goes?  Strain is a symptom.  First you have to take care of the symptom by stepping back, by stopping.  Continuing to work when you have a strain only makes the strain worse.  You think:  what caused the strain?  What can I do NOW to get control?  And what can I do going forward to ensure that I don’t have this problem in the future?

I’m sure my strain came from forward bends:  downward facing dog, child pose, bent-leg forward bend and so on.  I pushed too hard and, I think, did a lot of bending from the low back, not from the hinge of the hips.  When I go back to yoga next week, I am going to limit my forward bends.  I’m going to use blocks under my hands to ensure that I don’t over-bend.  I’m going to consciously think about my hips and stop when they stop hinging.  It’s taken a week in a chair on muscle relaxers to come to this understanding.

Now:  What’s your plan of attack on your Real Estate Strain?  And where are your muscle relaxers?