Have you ever been certain an event would turn out one way and then were devastated when it didn’t? If so, you know what it’s like to be "slain by an expectation."

In the last few weeks, my closest friend and mentor "died" five times due to heart failure en route by helicopter for what ultimately turned out to be successful heart bypass surgery. Two weeks later, I had a problem that put me in the emergency room. Days later, our beloved chief operating officer was diagnosed with breast cancer. While my mentor has had ongoing health problems, I wasn’t prepared to have a personal health issue nor was I prepared for our COO’s problem. I was slain by the expectation that "it can’t happen to me."

Have you ever been certain an event would turn out one way and then were devastated when it didn’t? If so, you know what it’s like to be "slain by an expectation."

In the last few weeks, my closest friend and mentor "died" five times due to heart failure en route by helicopter for what ultimately turned out to be successful heart bypass surgery. Two weeks later, I had a problem that put me in the emergency room. Days later, our beloved chief operating officer was diagnosed with breast cancer.

While my mentor has had ongoing health problems, I wasn’t prepared to have a personal health issue nor was I prepared for our COO’s problem. I was slain by the expectation that "it can’t happen to me."

Slain expectations are tough even when times are good. When times are difficult, they can wreak havoc with every aspect of your life. To avoid being "slain by an expectation," take the following steps:

1. Assess your emotional resiliency
Emotional resiliency is a key predictor of real estate sales success. This refers to your ability to persist at the task to be done regardless of any setbacks you may encounter. If you have high emotional resiliency, you bounce back quickly from setbacks. You push ahead regardless of the challenges you face. If you lack emotional resiliency, you will face a tougher struggle. Regardless of your emotional resiliency level, having contingency plans for natural disasters, major illnesses, or serious business problems will help you cope with the worst-case scenario if it should happen.

2. Prepare for profitability shifts
To avoid being slain by an expectation in terms of your commission income, create a four-tier business plan. The first tier assumes that you will do the same amount of business that you did last year and allocates expenses accordingly. The second tier reflects a 10 to 20 percent increase over the preceding year. The third tier reflects a 10 to 20 percent decrease over the preceding year. The fourth tier is the unthinkable — a 50 percent decline. Working through the adjustments you would have to make in each situation will help you to survive no matter what the market does.

3. Back up your technology systems
Whether it’s a crashed hard drive, a hacker or a virus, a great way to be slain by an expectation is to expect your technology to work perfectly all the time. For example, is your computer backed up? Do you have your contact database backed up somewhere other than on your computer or on a disk at your house? If not, how would you retrieve your data if your house burned down? It takes very little effort to back up your computer using a system such as Carbonite.com or Mozy.com. …CONTINUED

Another issue has to do with your personal Web site. Do you own your URL or do you rely on a company-provided Web site? If you rely only on your company’s Web site, what would happen if your company was purchased by another company or went bankrupt? If you do not own your own site and your own domain name, take immediate steps to set these up now.

4. Create reserves
Do you have enough money in the bank to run your business for six to 12 months without a commission? Is your errors and omissions insurance current? How about your health, house and auto insurance? Do you have disability insurance that pays you if you are ill and unable to work?

If the swine flu escalates into a full-blown epidemic with large areas being quarantined, do you have the necessary supplies to survive without leaving your home for several weeks? While no one is ever truly prepared for a major disaster, having as many individual safeguards in place as possible will make the process of living through it easier.

5. Markets always change
Most real estate markets run in 10-year cycles. Today, the primary opportunities continue to be selling distressed and first-time-buyer properties. If you build your business exclusively on short sales or REOs, however, your business will eventually start to dwindle as the market begins to improve over the next two to three years.

When price appreciation kicks in again, the short sale and REO market will virtually disappear. The key to market survival is to be willing to shift your business to where the market is the most active. As the old saying goes, "If you want to fish, you have to go where the fish are."

To avoid being slain by an expectation, don’t ever believe "it can’t happen to me." Instead, a far better approach is to "pray for sunshine but be prepared for rain." There’s nothing wrong with being an optimist — just keep the umbrella handy in case you happen to need it when you least expect it.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.

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