First Aid for Career Self-Doubt

Arlene Alpert, licensed psychotherapist and business adviser, says here are some areas you can review to determine whether you have the right stuff for sales success. Included are a few suggestions for improving or revitalizing certain strengths.

January 1, 1997

Q: Sometimes I'm not sure whether I'm really cut out for sales. How can I reassure myself that I have what it takes?

  • Belief--Your beliefs determine your success. They dictate your attitudes, feelings, behaviors, and actions. To examine your beliefs, ask yourself, Do I like to sell? Do I have what it takes? Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to sustain the ups and downs that occur in every sales career?

    • If your beliefs are unclear, monitor your actions and words for a week and keep a record of whether or not they're in sync with a desire to succeed in sales.
  • Self-image--The way you picture yourself helps determine how successful you'll be in sales. If you imagine yourself making the sale, getting the listing--you will. If your picture is fuzzy or negative, you may have to do some mental exercises to get rid of self-critical thoughts and reinforce positive ones. Self-esteem grows in direct relationship to your good feelings about yourself. If you like selling and have positive thoughts about your career, your selling will get better and better. Don't expect overnight success. Sales success usually requires a preparatory period of five to seven years of hard work.
  • Choice--Some people choose to go into sales for the wrong reason. Some people go into it because they want to make a fast buck. That may be an unrealistic expectation.
  • Risk--A good salesperson is a risk taker who knows when to leave the ''comfort zone.'' Taking risks means listening to your inner wisdom, that inner voice that intuitively knows the right moves toward success. You have to be willing to risk vulnerability, to risk being rejected, to risk losing some to win.
  • Energy--You need extra energy to persevere, especially when the going gets tough. People can sense your energy level. They'll move either toward you or away from you depending on whether your energy is free of resentments, irritations, and frustrations.
  • Team spirit--To launch yourself effectively into the next century, you can no longer work alone. We're moving into an ''us'' generation of team planning, problem solving, and goal setting. To do that means learning how to ask for help, how to brainstorm as a unit, and how to collaborate to succeed

As mentioned earlier, it takes years to become an accomplished real estate professional, just as it does to become a master violinist or ballet dancer. If you know your choice is a sound one based on your love of people and your desire to help them buy or sell a home, you shouldn't gauge your success by money alone.

Here are some better benchmarks of success:

  • The years you've been in business
  • The continuing education you've had beyond the mandatory continuing education needed for license renewal
  • The networking, marketing, advertising, and personal promotion you do consistently
  • A feeling of satisfaction most of the time, despite the rejections, disappointments, and lost sales
  • Personal and professional development--This is an ongoing process of learning, study, and practice. As you become knowledgeable about the industry, as you polish your professional skills, and as you increase your self-respect and learn to fully trust and accept yourself, you can better determine whether sales is the career for you.

To be right for sales, you must satisfy your longing to master your world and you must give yourself permission to succeed. How many of us allow ourselves the freedom of doing exactly what we want? Instead, we do what we think we're supposed to. You must be 100 percent committed, and then you'll be able to say yes to sales and yes to your dreams.

Alpert is president of the Jupiter Counseling & Training Institute, Jupiter, Fla. She's a licensed psychotherapist, a business adviser, and a national trainer who has worked with real estate professionals since 1979. She has two real estate courses approved for continuing education and is the author of a book, Moving Without Madness: A Guide to Handling the Stresses and Emotions of Moving (Gemini, June 1997). You can reach Alpert at

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