What Causes Burnout in Real Estate Agents?
Many real estate agents view competition, clients, and supply as their main challenges in the real estate business. However, one area agents often overlook is the threat of burning out. Occupational burnout, or the unshakable feelings of cynicism, stress, and loss of motivation, is something that many professionals feel. The good news, though, is that while real estate agents can burn out from long hours, high stakes, and client drama, they are largely in control of their work environment.
In fact, according to a study from Market Leader, those who've pursued a real estate career are 60% more likely to be happy with their lives than workers in other industries. Of course, stress and burnout in the real estate industry still happen. To be sure you’re on the sunny side of the statistics, we’ve put together this guide to help you combat burnout.
What Are the Symptoms of Burnout for Real Estate Agents?
If you’re not careful, burnout can sneak up on you and leave you wallowing and disenfranchised in a mental mess of regret. It affects people in virtually all industries. Recognizing the early signs and symptoms of burnout — and addressing them — is key to staying healthy. Here are some symptoms of burnout that you should keep on your radar:
Physical Symptoms: The real estate agent who experiences chronic stress or worry (especially financial stress) can see burnout symptoms manifest physically. If you’re feeling stressed and begin to notice that you’re having gastrointestinal abnormalities, headaches, or losing hair, that could mean you’re working yourself too hard.
Poor Performance: Are you hard at work, but you feel like it’s hardly working and everything you do is done in vain? That could be a sign you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your work-life balance. Assess ways you can be more efficient in your work, such as hiring a personal assistant for monotonous administrative tasks. Also, look for ways to get more of a break so that when you are working, you’re your best self.
General Cynicism: If you’re feeling cynical about your work as an agent or life in general, that could also be a sign of professional burnout. This can manifest as feelings of both depression and anxiety. Occupational stress (your work as an agent) can absolutely be a cause of these feelings! Combine that with the stress of homelife, and you can have quite the combination of challenges. We’ll touch on this point with more details later, but consider talking to a mental health professional. More than 40% of Americans have seen a mental health professional at one point in their lives, so you’ll be in good company!
One of the most stressful aspects of becoming a real estate agent is working on commission. Income isn’t always guaranteed, but in most cases, you can control what you spend. To help alleviate one of the industry’s most imposing stressors, here’s our guide to setting a realistic real estate budget.
10 Ways to Minimize Real Estate Agent Burnout
If you suspect that you’re beginning to get burnt out, it’s important to take care of yourself right away. Like bending wood, a small but constant force and a little steam can result in getting permanently bent out of shape. Once you begin to feel like you’re approaching a breaking point:
- Ask Around: Ask peers/mentors at your brokerage if they’ve ever felt the same way. Chances are that they’ve also been in the same situation. Even if they don’t have much in the way of advice, it’s always nice to know that we’re not alone.
- Improve Work/Life Balance: Think of your work/life balance as a “cycle” or “routine” more than a balancing act, and stick to it. Then adjust accordingly — say if you need to block out an hour lunch versus only taking 30 minutes for yourself.
- Find a Healthy Outlet: If we’re going to take time for our outlets, let’s make it about self-care. Avoid using your free time to scroll through social media or watch television. Instead, try meditation, going for a walk, trying a new recipe, or just sitting back with a cup of tea and contemplating your blessings for a while.
- Eat Healthily: There’s a lot of science that suggests that eating healthy can do wonders for your overall well-being and just make you feel better about yourself.
- Get Plenty of Sleep: Not only is a lack of sleep associated with increased chances of certain diseases, it can put a real damper on your mood and heighten existing spells of anxiety and/or depression. Plus, experts say sleeping can help keep your weight under control.
- Set Boundaries: Real estate agents are often required to work around their clients’ schedules, which can be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to set reasonable boundaries with them. For example, set the standard that any phone calls or text messages after a certain time will be addressed the next workday.
- Take a Vacation: As many real estate professionals will likely tell you, it can be easy to put your business before your own time, but you shouldn’t. If you feel emotionally drained, take some time off, plan a trip, get a new perspective, relax, and recharge so you can return feeling refreshed.
- Exercise Often: If you can exercise (even if it's just a brisk walk), make it part of your regular routine. Exercising not only helps prevent certain diseases, it tells your brain to release hormones that can boost your mood.
- Limit Alcohol and Drugs: Of course, a drink here and there is fine for those of age, but regular heavy alcohol and drug use can exacerbate certain moods or behaviors (like not getting enough sleep) that can increase your risk of burnout.
- Seek Professional Help: Work is a major pillar of life, and definitely something you should talk to a mental health professional about — even if you don’t feel like it’s “that bad.” Oftentimes, they’ll be able to help give you a new perspective, find effective ways to care for yourself, and keep you true to yourself. If you don’t pursue help for yourself, do it for those around you.
Regardless of whether you feel burnt out or ready to get to work, confident or defeated, enthusiastic or under the weight of the world, trying these tactics can help you stay positive and attract success in both your personal and professional life. So what do you say? It's time to take a healthier approach to real estate!