NOTE: This article is not intended to offer solutions to longterm depression or anxiety. If you feel as though you might want resources to help you or a loved one recover from serious mental health issues, this list of local organizations in Austin is a much better resource.
Every real estate agent on the earth will go through spells of depression, loneliness, hopelessness, boredom, regret, FOMO—you name it.
It’s part of the territory. When things are good, real estate feels like freedom. You work for yourself, you control your own destiny, and the long-term benefits of success are easy motivation. But then there are entire weeks that go by in a numb blur, when you can't remember why you're making all these calls, dealing with rejection, and after a while, the job can give you a sort of highway hypnosis. Slowly, you'll start to spend more and more energy keeping yourself distracted from the unpleasant emotions that are starting to crop up, until finally, you haven’t made any calls in a week, and your pipeline is empty. Then, when the money stops coming in, the bad thing happens—you start to burnout.
But there are tools that can help you when you start to feel that way. It can be viewed as a discipline. Why do real estate agents spend hours each day doing lead generation? Because it’s filling a pipeline that will benefit them in the future. Well there are other parts of life that work on the same principle. If your pipeline is empty at work, there are practices you can use to reinvigorate your business, right? Well here are 5 strategies you can use to reinvigorate your mental health if suddenly you realize that you’re in a bad place.
I. Start a daily journal.
There are many good reasons why every real estate agent needs a daily journal of some kind. Here’s one: writing forces a person’s brain to talk about things that aren’t fun. If you feel like your brain is too full of information and you're starting to feel anxious, writing is a great way to let off that steam. Some people call it a brain dump. Plus, the paper and pen do a better job of remembering than the human brain, so chances are if you’re stressed, writing will literally help you do your job better, because you won’t be relying on yourself.
Journals are like computers. You decide what you want it to do. There are successful business people who spend an hour each morning journaling about their personal life. Why? Because personal issues get in the way of their business, but they're important, so disciplined professionals often like to write in a journal so when they get to work, they can work without the distractions of personal life.
Some creative professionals use their journal as a way to kick-start creative thoughts. The human mind is like an engine, and it needs to warm up before you use it. Writing is a way to bring your mind to its full potential so that you’re on your A game again.
Making tough decisions? Involved in difficult negotiations? Stressed about money? Write it down. It might save your life.
"I am anxious, and it soothes me to express myself here. It is like whispering to one's self and listening at the same time." —Mina Murray in her journal in Dracula, by Bram Stoker
II. Make strategic, reasonable professional goals.
Another bad habit of sales professionals is that once they realize how much money they’re leaving on the table, they freak out and try to set unrealistic expectations.
The problem with that is that it completely overlooks professional development. Here’s an alternative to trying to be amazing at everything all the time: Sit down with your mentor and supervisor and ask them what is the next strategic goal you should be pursuing. Don’t think about the 800 ways you could be a better person; just find out what the next step is and take it. If you work hard to improve that one arena, soon you’ll be proficient, and you might even find out you’re better at things than you originally thought.
Making sure you are constantly working on something helps add flavor and drama to your life in a way that will make the daily work of real estate stop feeling so tedious and difficult. Then, reward yourself when you meet goals, and immediately set new ones. Have a glass of scotch, and then keep going. If you do that for 10 years, you’ll be successful. If you live that way for 30 years, you’ll end up wealthy and powerful.
It takes discipline to learn and grow, but if you can strengthen your muscles surrounding growth and learning, you’ll be a superhero.
III. Dedicate time to enjoying yourself.
Here’s a major shortcut in the journey toward mental health: Art is emotional enlightenment. Whenever you see a movie that resonates with you emotionally, it’s as if you went on an adventure yourself, so you get to learn from it. If you watch a movie and learn about new experiences, you'll accidentally do what the hippies call "aligning your chakras." At least for a few days, and then maybe you have to do it again. Pro-tip: Listen to entire albums of music instead of taking them apart one song at a time. It turns music into a journey, like watching a film.
"In dealing with those are undergoing great suffering: if you feel burnout setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective." —Dalai Lama
Take your happiness as seriously as you take other areas in your life, and be strategic and intentional about what things make you happy.
Side note here—the discipline it takes to block out times for each specific part of your day is one of the most important parts of success, and emotional success is no different. If you're disorganized, create a schedule with time built in for rest and relaxation, and then obey it. You'll be amazed at how quickly that alone can change your circumstances.
IV. Try new experiences.
Warning: "Try new experiences" does not mean experimenting with stuff that is going to hurt you. There are plenty of ways to bring new flavors and dimensions into your life without resorting to bad habits. Here are a list of ideas to help you brainstorm.
—Try learning a new language, and promise yourself that when you’re proficient, you’ll travel to a country where they only speak that language.
—Read something from a different worldview, like the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Or the Bhagavad Gita.
—Learn your favorite song on guitar or drums. If you don’t play an instrument, try learning an instrument.
—Maybe instead of hanging out at the normal places you always hang out at, try going to some new part of town. Try serving the less fortunate.
—Go into nature. Are you in Austin? Try Ink's Lake! Or maybe, go on a road trip to California with your college roommates. Go on an interesting date, something you've never done before, like a comedy show or a play. Learn to golf. Get your pilot’s license.
What about money? You can ALWAYS afford new experiences. Just because you can’t afford to visit the Taj Mahal (yet!), that doesn’t mean you can’t spend $10 on gas to go somewhere new. You could just explore Austin, and you'd never run out of fascinating people and places.
A Last Thought:
Emotions can be embarrassing and confusing, but if you pay attention, you can see the problems and eventually, you'll find the solutions. Hopelessness is not a fun emotion, and if you start to feel it, just bring it up to someone you can talk to. If your mental health is affecting your work habits, then it's time to take it seriously, and just like an unhealthy person needs a doctor, a mentally unhealthy person needs a brain doctor. Consider whether if might be helpful to see a professional psychologist where you can ask questions and talk openly. Remember: just be patient, be thoughtful, be intentional, and you will get through it. You'll find true happiness.
True success isn’t just about money—it’s about health and joy. You only have a few years on this planet, and you deserve to spend your time at peace, surrounded by loved ones, having fun. If that’s not the life you have, just know that one day you will have it, and if you work hard, it’s not as far away as you may believe.