Come Back From Burnout

Feeling tired and stressed? Lost motivation for your work? You could be dealing with burnout. Here’s how to get back on track.

July 1, 2007

When you first started out in the real estate business, everything was exciting and fun. There was always something new to learn, you loved your flexible schedule, and you were so focused on growing your career that you overlooked the long hours, the problematic clients, and the inherent stress that comes with every real estate transaction.

But after a while, that newbie glow can wear off. And if you’re not careful, you can fall into a rut.

Your work may start to seem repetitive, the challenges of your job may become more apparent than the perks, and your enthusiasm to meet new clients and network with colleagues may fade. Sound familiar? If so, you could be on the road to burnout.

Identify the Signs

Indeed, the constant demands of the real estate business can take a toll on your physical and emotional health, putting your career at risk. But by recognizing the signs of burnout, you can take steps right away to reduce your stress and reignite passion for your job.

The American Psychological Association defines burnout as “a depletion of an individual's energetic resources at work.” Psychologists have linked burnout to increased risk for a range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease.

So how do you know if you’re experiencing burnout? The Mayo Clinic, which is devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of virtually all complex illnesses, says these are some of the key signs:

  • You find yourself being more cynical and sarcastic at work.
  • You lack the energy to be consistently productive.
  • You’ve become more irritable or less patient with coworkers and clients.
  • You drag yourself into work and have trouble getting started once you arrive.
  • You feel disillusioned about your job.
  • You have a hard time laughing at yourself.

Remember Your Passions?

If you identify with some of these warning signs, it’s time for you take meaningful steps to relax, renew your energy level, and rediscover the motivation you once had for your job.

The first step is to take a close look at what caused your burnout. The Mayo Clinic says there are many factors that can contribute, including: A lack of control over your hours or workload, unpleasant colleagues, and energy drain from dealing with constant chaos. Or, your job simply may not be a good match for your interests or skills.

Once you pinpoint the underlying reasons for your burnout, you can start to make changes. How about scheduling some downtime every week? Maybe you need to revamp your business plan to reduce your workload. Perhaps you should consider forming a team or taking on an assistant to alleviate some of the repetitive paperwork that you don’t really enjoy. Changes won’t happen overnight, but they will happen.

Change Your Perspective

We all know there are a lot of challenges that come with being a real estate agent. It’s hard work! And often times, it is unappreciated work. It may have been a long time since you took credit for all the good work you do. So start paying attention to the little things.

Set aside an afternoon and take out the nice letters your clients have written to you. Those testimonials aren’t just good marketing copy — they’re a testament to your skills. Also, remind yourself of how devoted you are to your clients. Think of all of the buyers who you helped find their dream home.

Then, start acting like you’re excited to be at work. Look for ways to make the business interesting again. If you love learning new things, start taking some classes. Learn more about real estate, learn more about people, learn more about financing. It doesn’t matter what you learn, as long as you learn. It will keep you engaged and excite you again.

Get Recommitted

Remember all of the things that used to make you happy about this business — your flexible schedule, the fact that you’re not stuck in an office cubicle all day, the opportunity to meet so many different types of home buyers and sellers, and the chance to be so involved in the housing market of your community.

When you get back into the groove, it’s time for your commitment “ceremony.”

It doesn’t actually have to be a ceremony, just a way to mark the moment you recommitted to your business. Commission an art piece to be done for your office. Throw a cocktail party for your closest friends or clients. Take a vacation, and return with your rookie enthusiasm.

The idea is to acknowledge that you are choosing to be here and that you’re ready, willing, and able to take your career to the next level.

Kelle Sparta is the author ofThe Consultative Real Estate Agent: Building Relationships that Create Loyal Clients, Get More Referrals, and Increase Your Sales(AMACOM, 2005). She is also the founder of Sparta Success Systems , a real estate training company.