I wear a pen on a chain around my neck; it is my only hope for being able to find it when I need it. My husband finds my car keys in the refrigerator as I run around the house frantically searching for them. Everyone tells me this is a good thing.

My neighbor sees me at the grocery store and says, "How are you?" and "I have not seen you for weeks." I tell her that I have been busy. She smiles and says that’s good, as I drag myself to the checkout line and get ready to make that all-important plastic or paper decision.

Some days it seems like I spend all my time on the phone. They call it negotiating but it seems like I am arguing all day. My dog looks at me longingly waiting for her walk but I am still on the phone. My neighbors comment that they have not seen me in the park with the dog for awhile. I say that I have been busy; they say that is good. If my dog could talk she would say the same thing, after she had a walk.

I get up at 4:30 a.m., can’t manage to get dressed before 10, and barely make my 11 a.m. appointments. Most of my work gets done in those early hours before the phone starts ringing. Everyone tells me that is good.

For some reason, people think I should be busy all the time. They tell me it is good when I am busy because they know I have business and are assuming that I am making money. Sometimes I am, and sometimes I am not.

I have been trying hard not to say that I am busy, because I don’t want to hear how wonderful it is that I work 16 hours a day. It doesn’t feel wonderful. Almost half of my income is made between March and June.

Earning half a year’s income in three months is not easy. It takes an amazing amount of stamina to stay out half the night negotiating an offer, get up early and write, and then go out to appointments. I often work seven days a week during my peak earning months and 16-hour work days are not unusual. Everyone says that is good.

Having too much work all at once does not seem like a good thing. "Good" would be having a nice steady income all year long and a manageable 40-hour work week, with at least one day off each week. I suspect that if I ever found myself in such a situation, my friends, family and neighbors would not be saying that it is good. My neighbors and clients might think that I don’t have any business and take that leap of logic and assume that I am not very good at my job.

They seem to all equate success with nonstop activity and a 100-hour work week, yet I don’t see any of them working that many hours and most of them are not so tired that they leave their car keys in the refrigerator.

If there is a Realtor in your life, instead of saying that it is good when they are ready to drop from exhaustion, say, "How can I help?" When the slow season comes, don’t ask them if they sold anything this week.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog. Boardman will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008. Register today.


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