The past year and a half have been a whirlwind. First, the pandemic brought business to a screeching halt, leaving many real estate professionals anxious about the future. But then, the market took an unexpected turn, with home prices soaring, time on market at record lows, and deals closing in no time at all. While it’s been great for our bank accounts, real estate agents are feeling the pressure. Real estate agent burnout is at an all-time high. We thought it best to revisit an article we wrote pre-pandemic, updated with new information to help you ride out the storm that is the 2021 real estate market.
Real estate agent burnout is very real and very common. Even before the housing boom during the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate agents faced long days, late nights, working weekends and holidays. The stress of it all can quickly lead to exhaustion – and has in many, many cases. Now, our lives are also impacted by the pandemic. There is anxiety about physical and mental health, along with social and political issues that have infiltrated our everyday lives.
Even if you’re not currently at your breaking point, would you know how to recognize the symptoms of burnout and bring yourself back from the proverbial ledge? Do you practice healthy work-life balance strategies to keep you from getting overwhelmed with your business? We’ll explore common symptoms of real estate agent burnout and how you can overcome it if it rears its ugly head.
Symptoms of Burnout
The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” It’s typically associated with work stress and can lead to physical, mental, or emotional symptoms such as:
- Lack of motivation or desire to do your job.
- A sense of dread when thinking about work.
- Lacking energy or feeling sluggish.
- Getting irritated easily; being irritable or impatient with clients or coworkers.
- Getting little or no satisfaction from accomplishments at work.
- Not sleeping enough or sleeping too much.
- Thinking about quitting your job or changing positions.
- Physical symptoms like headache, upset stomach, or other complaints.
Of course, many of these symptoms could be related to serious medical conditions. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s best to check with your doctor to rule out any other underlying causes.
Burnout differs from stress in that stress is short-term and is typically related to a specific event or issue. While the two are closely related, burnout is a long-term feeling that is persistent over time, even when the stressful situations resolve themselves. It’s a feeling of disillusionment and dissatisfaction that continues for many weeks or months. Of course, the pandemic has heightened many of those stressors. Workers across the entire workforce are exhausted. It’s a phenomenon that social scientists haven’t seen in decades – and many are warning that we must make time to care for ourselves before we reach irreparable professional burnout.
Causes of Real Estate Agent Burnout
While any profession has its fair share of stress that could potentially lead to burnout, real estate agents face unique circumstances, particularly in this current real estate market. In addition to the everyday stressors that come with being a real estate agent, there are the added stressors of a low-inventory market. While we have seen some relief compared to the summer real estate buying craze, it’s still common for buyers to face multiple offer situations, often missing out on houses they really love. It can become disheartening to work with buyers, only to watch their hopes be dashed over and over again.
However, there are ways you can prevent and manage real estate agent burnout. Each person is different, but there are a few leading causes of burnout among real estate professionals:
Inability to Disconnect from Work
Often, we’re working at all hours, taking phone calls and texts from clients well into the evening, answering emails before dawn, and putting out fires seven days a week. Unlike an office job, real estate agents have no set schedule. We are expected to answer client phone calls no matter what we have going on at home. That stress can lead to burnout fairly quickly unless we set some boundaries and learn to manage our time.
Lack of Control
High job demands with little to no control over the outcome can be discouraging to real estate agents. Not having control over your schedule, which clients you work with, or the final outcome of a deal can quickly lead to burnout. Over the past year and a half, we’ve perhaps faced more uncertainty and loss of control than during any other time in our lives.
Conflict of Values
If you’re feeling disillusioned, it’s time to check your values. Perhaps your core values do not align with those of your managing broker, your clients, or another member of your team. Core values are things like integrity, loyalty, service, fun, compassion, and consistency. Every person has differing values that guide their lives and their work. Working in an environment that consistently goes against your core values will take a toll.
This is perhaps the most common cause of burnout among real estate professionals. It’s the sense of having too much to do and not enough hours in the day to get it all done. As humans, we are not designed to be firing on all cylinders, working 20-hour days, running ourselves ragged. While some people can make this lifestyle work for a while, most will find themselves physically and mentally drained as a result.
Lack of Community
Humans are social creatures. Yes, your job requires you to be around clients daily, but that’s not the same as having strong, personal connections. If your work is getting in the way of meaningful relationships with family or friends, that loneliness will start to creep in and affect your work. Maintaining those relationships is essential to your mental and emotional well-being.
How to Avoid and Overcome Burnout
If you’re nearing burnout (or you’re already there), how can you pull yourself back from the ledge, find renewed energy, and enjoy your work again? It’s not easy, but there are strategies you can apply to your life that will help you find a better work-life balance.
Work Better, Not Harder
You don’t have to work 12 hours a day. By practicing some simple habits, you can increase your productivity and get more done in less time.
As a real estate agent, you’re never going to have a set-in-stone schedule. That’s just life. But you can set boundaries with your colleagues and clients and stick to those parameters. It’s perfectly fine to tell your clients, “I don’t answer calls, texts, or emails after 8:00 pm, but I’ll get back to you first thing in the morning if there’s an issue.” By setting those expectations up front, you’ll be carving out space for self-care.
Whether you take a few minutes every day to meditate, journal, or pray, practicing mindfulness is a great way to reduce stress and clarify your values. You can find plenty of free or low-cost mindfulness exercises and prompts online. Even five minutes a day can make a drastic difference in the way you view your life and your business.
Consider Your Options
If you’re still miserable after trying the suggestions above, it may be time to take a sabbatical or move on to a new career. Real estate isn’t for everyone. Changes in your family dynamics, financial situation, or location can cause stress that won’t get better over time. In the end, if a job is affecting your health, it may be time to consider whether your career is worth the cost.
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