Do you know Superagent? Superagent works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Superagent sells more real estate than anyone. Superagent never sleeps, always ready and on-call, tirelessly working on while her colleagues are falling behind.
Well, I have news for you: Superagent doesn’t exist. And yet almost every agent I know is trying to become Superagent.
See, the true fact is that we are human. Humans cannot operate continuously like a machine. We need rest. We crave diversion. We must relax and enjoy our lives away from work every once in a while—just to keep our mental sanity intact.
But some of the smartest agents I know are still trying to ignore the fact that they are human. One of the first things I tell stressed-out agents who can’t get to the next level of their business is “Take a week off”.
“What!?”, they say. “You want me to lollygag around for a whole week? I can’t do that!”
I tell them that if they don’t take a week off, then I can’t work with them. And when I say a week off, I mean no telephone or email either. I’m that serious about it.
A funny thing happens every time. After taking a week off, that harried and frustrated agent is no longer harried and frustrated. She’s lucid and clear, refreshed and ready with new ideas for her business. Time off is one of the most important parts of a successful business—no matter what some agents try to tell me:
“Denise, agents aren’t vacation people. We thrive on being on-the-go constantly.”
I used to be this way. Back in the day, I was Miss Energy, completely unable to stop. One day, I noticed that I just wasn’t getting to the level I wanted to get in my business—even though I had just put in an 80-hour week.
“Denise, you look awful!”, said my mentor. “I want you to take a week off starting right now. Go!”
I resisted, but it was one of the greatest things I ever did. I too never believed that a vacation could be helpful. In fact, I felt guilty about taking one.
Now, looking back, I’m so glad I did. What an eye-opener! I began to see things in my business that I had been blind to because I was too close to the work. When I returned, I had a clear plan on how to get to the next level.
Why is vacation so important? Stepping back and getting out of the daily frenzy allows you to “zoom out” and see the big picture of your business. While on vacation, you will get sudden flashes of insight—little “A-ha” moments that don’t show up if you’re not rested.
“But Denise, I can’t afford a vacation”, some agents tell me.
I say you can’t afford NOT to take a vacation. And when I say vacation, I don’t necessarily mean an expensive trip to Europe. I define vacation as a set amount of time away from work where you get to focus on nothing but you, your family, your hobbies, your interests—or on nothing at all.
You can stay home if you want. You don’t need to leave the house if that’s your wish. That’s the essence of a true vacation—it’s whatever you want it to be.
“But Denise, I have so much to do.”
I know you do, but the truth is you’re not doing it effectively by putting in 80-hour weeks. 80 hours is worthless if you’re only working at 50% energy. When you work too many hours, your productivity level drops. It takes twice as long to get the same amount of work done. If you’re stuck at a 50% productivity level with only 50% of your energy, you literally have to work double the amount of hours just to get the same amount of work done.
This pattern begins to become dire as your energy and productivity levels drop down to 40%. Your solution? More hours! Which leads to even lower productivity. Which leads to even more hours. It’s a downward spiral that spins out of control and leads to burnout.
One of the first signs of burnout I commonly see is an agent who is working 6-7 days a week. When I ask them why, the answer is “Because I have to.”
No you don’t.
The most successful agents I know take time off—a lot of time off. They’ve learned their lesson after having burned themselves out several times in their careers.
You can learn from them. Don’t fall victim to burnout. If you sense that you have to work more and more hours to get the same amount of work done, then something is very wrong. Time for a vacation. Time to step back and let the answers come to you as you relax and enjoy life.
Every engine needs a time to stop and to refuel. You are no different. The magic that will happen is that you return to your business excited and with a clear head. You will have more energy and you will know exactly what needs to be done right away.
No business owner can reach his or her peak without time off. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are a handful of “workaholics” out there who reach a pretty high level—but at what cost? If you can’t enjoy your life and time with the people for whom you care, then it’s just not worth it.
So, stop trying to be the mythical Superagent. If you really want to reach your personal best, take regular time off. You will see how amazing your performance becomes when you are rested and re-energized.
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI