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14 Ways to Keep Calm, Stay Cool & Beat Burnout

Low inventory, high interest rates and maximum time spent trying to get buyers and sellers off the fence: It’s a recipe for burnout. Here are some ways to ease your frustration.

After a 22-year career in the U.S. Navy, CW Phipps, a Realtor® with EXIT 1 Stop Realty in Jacksonville, thought success in his new field would come easily. Resolved to thrive in the real estate industry, he worked long hours, skipped workouts, got less sleep and missed out on family time. The result was burnout, with Phipps losing his energy and passion for work. “At first, I tried to keep pushing through it, thinking it was just a phase that would pass,” he recalls. “But the more I ignored it, the worse it became. I knew I had to do something to regain control of my life, family and business.”

For help, Phipps turned to a mental health professional and relied on support from his family and friends. If you’re having trouble juggling all the aspects of your life, you can start with mindset.

Adjust your mindset

Changing your thoughts has the most impact when it comes to dealing with frustration and burnout, says Karen Briscoe, principal of the HBC Group at Keller Williams in Northern Virginia, creator of the “5 Minute Success” concept and host of the 5 Minute Success podcast. “The most valuable real estate to renovate is your mind,” she points out.

Try adjusting your perceptions with these tips:

1. Focus only on what you can control

Accept that the market, your competition and customer decisions are beyond your control, says Phipps, who says that this realization was his turning point. “Instead of dwelling on things I couldn’t change, I focused on what I could control: my work ethic, attitude, approach to challenges and how I prioritized who and what were truly important in life.”

2. See obstacles as opportunities

Embrace the idea of “amor fati,” meaning the love of fate, Phipps adds. “See every obstacle as an opportunity to grow and learn. Instead of viewing setbacks as failures, think of them as stepping stones to success.”

“In fact, eliminate the word, ‘frustrated’ from your vocabulary and replace it with ‘fascinated,’” counsels Rich Fino, a real estate coach and speaker. “One word leads to negative energy, while the other keeps you positive and curious.” Shifting his mindset in this way allowed Phipps to approach his work with purpose and passion again.

3. Live in the present

“Stop worrying about the future, and stop dwelling on the past,” counsels Phipps. “Instead, focus on what you can do in the here and now.” By shifting your emphasis to the present moment (rather than goals), you’ll give each task your best effort—which ultimately translates to achieving your long-term goals anyway, he says.

4. Be optimistic

Thinking negatively can reduce motivation and outreach, which can result in fewer listings and buyer consults, says Briscoe. Instead, adopt a forward-thinking and positive approach. Here are three examples from Fino on how to shift your thinking:

  • Instead of asking why someone didn’t list a home with you, think about how you can get the next opportunity.
  • When someone ghosts you, assume their lack of response has nothing to do with you and that they’ll follow up when they’re ready.
  • When your offer isn’t accepted, rather than blaming the market and being frustrated that you invested time with no payoff, brainstorm creative ways to land new inventory.
5. Remember your value

Even in a down market, embrace the knowledge that people always have a need to buy and sell, says Briscoe. “Tell yourself that you’re capable and worthy of offering a tremendous service to them.”

6. Don’t feel trapped

At any point, you can decide to make a change, says Briscoe. “For example, an agent could increase lead generation by adding new activities, such as door knocking and letter writing. This would result in increased opportunities, which would change the market circumstances for that agent. This would lead to thoughts of creating one’s own market dynamics, which would ultimately lead to feelings of abundance.”

Change your routine

Once you’ve tweaked your thinking, move on to how you spend your time. Translate your new mindset into behaviors that can galvanize your career, boosting your confidence and optimism in the process.

Here’s how:

7. Be realistic about your daily workload

One of the leading causes of burnout in real estate is setting unrealistic expectations, says Phipps. That’s why it’s important to set achievable daily tasks. Then, when you come up with new tasks, add them to your checklist—don’t feel you have to tackle them right away. In general, avoid multitasking, which often leads to substandard results, he adds.

8. Take breaks

When Phipps has a daunting task, he’ll set a one-hour timer, put his phone in airplane mode and work. But, when the timer goes off, he’ll walk for a few minutes, stretch and clear his mind. He’ll also comb through his messages and emails and add new tasks to his checklist. After this period of replenishment, he’ll return to his task. Thanks to this mini vacation, he’ll feel a renewed sense of focus.

9. Set boundaries

Learn to say “no” to unreasonable demands from clients, colleagues and superiors, urges Phipps. Similarly, establish a set time for responding to emails and phone calls, and communicate your boundaries, says Stacy Strobl, regional owner of EXIT Southeast in Franklin, Tennessee. Then, when you’re outside of those work times, savor each moment, counsels Phipps. Don’t feel guilty. “Remember, you have a checklist that will get you back on task when it’s work time.”

10. End each workday with objectives for the next day

Before you turn off the office lights, create a checklist of the next day’s priorities. Along with helping you be more efficient and organized, you’ll be able to measure your daily productivity. As you complete each item, you can check it off your list.

11. Ask for help

“When you’re feeling frustrated and at the end of your rope, that’s when it’s critical to seek help,” says Kenneth  “Kenny” Lynn, regional owner of EXIT Southeast in Franklin, Tennessee. Talk with your broker or find a mentor to support you, he suggests. If possible, seek out people with positive energy who can elevate your mood while offering tips and resources.

12. Delegate

Take the mundane professional and personal tasks that you get zero enjoyment from doing and off-load them, says Fino. Whether it’s mowing the lawn, scheduling inspections or entering listing information, reinvest your time into activities that provide you with energy.

13. Prioritize self-care

Remember to take care of your physical and mental health, says Phipps. Get enough exercise and sleep and eat nourishing, balanced meals. Manage stress by spending time with family and friends and engaging in relaxing activities, like yoga, reading and meditation.

14. Take time off

Just as you add listing appointments and sales meetings to your calendar, schedule in activities that replenish you, from getaways to staycations. Most important, Phipps stresses: Whatever the activity, give it your undivided attention. Forget checking work emails and returning phone calls. “There’s no need to think about work; you have a checklist waiting for you on your desk.”

The bottom line

Phipps ultimately overcame burnout and regained his passion for his work. “I learned that success is not about working harder or longer, but about working smarter and finding balance,” he says. “By focusing on what I can control, embracing every challenge as an opportunity and living in the present moment, I found a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment in my personal and business life.”  #

Dina Cheney is a Connecticut-based freelance writer.