A local radio station posed a question the day after Labor Day: What does a job mean to you?

The radio program’s hosts also asked what listeners would be willing to trade for job security. It was an interesting discussion.

As someone who is self-employed, I look at things differently than people who have "W-2 jobs." For one thing, that second question seemed kind of ridiculous.

In my experience there is no such thing as job security, yet people do pay a price to get a job that they think will be secure.

I spent almost a decade in a job that I hated because it was a secure job and it had excellent benefits, the managers never fired anyone, and layoffs were almost unheard of.

It was a horrible place to work. People took the jobs and more or less sat there until they were old enough to retire — and they seemed to age quickly. The workplace seemed to be full of unhappy, angry people who did not want to be there.

The question about what a job means is the easiest to answer. Even the self-employed have work, and let’s face it: having work or a job is about more than a paycheck.

When someone meets me, one of the first questions they ask is, "What do you do for a living?" or "Where do you work?" and I do the same.

Most of us get satisfaction and enjoyment from working and getting paid. Our occupations become a significant part of our identity. The money we earn makes it possible to eat and to enjoy the comforts of life.

It isn’t easy to be a Realtor right now. Real estate professionals struggle with the double whammy of fewer sales and lower commissions because home prices have dropped but our own mortgage payments and grocery bills have not.

Sales are slow and many are wondering what they should do. Should they try working harder and hope that it all works out? Or should they look for additional income from a full- or part-time job? A few whom I have spoken with are considering quitting real estate altogether.

Some are looking for magic solutions that will produce an enormous income. The contents of my spam folder indicate that there are easy answers and that it shouldn’t be hard to make a small fortune selling real estate, even in this economy.

For some that is true, but it isn’t true for everyone. The number of real estate licensees is far greater than the number of home sales each month.

Often, real estate companies and brokers discourage agents from getting jobs of any type, and the common wisdom is that success comes to those who work it full time. …CONTINUED

Selling real estate is a full-time business, but if it is getting hard to make ends meet and it is causing stress on budgets and relationships, finding some steady, paying work might be a wise choice.

There is a kind of dignity about being able to bring home a paycheck on a regular basis, and no one should be discouraged from doing it. It isn’t a sign of failure, and I know some great agents who are working part time and continuing their real estate business.

Many agents will get through the housing slump without having to supplement their income, but some will not.

Knowing when to work harder and when to work at something else is an art. Working harder isn’t always going to be enough, and sometimes it isn’t even possible. There are times when quitting is the right thing to do.

I did that with my job that was so secure and have never had anything like job security since, but I know I did the right thing and wonder what made me stay as long as I did.

I have been downsized, fired, laid off, self-employed and unemployed, but never in the same month. It is all just a part of life, and I suspect that I will fail and succeed a few more times before I go to my final closing.

I will never say never to the possibility of picking up some extra work if I need it. I will do whatever it takes, as I always have, and I won’t let anyone else’s rules or ideas dissuade me.

If you need to take a job or find work, do it. If you think you can make it selling real estate, keep going. Homes are bought and sold every day, and often a Realtor is involved in the transaction.

I think we need to throw out the common wisdom that a good Realtor cannot have a job on the side. The new common wisdom should be that a good Realtor needs to do what he or she needs to do to make it through this recession and come out of it whole and happy.

For some, that means finding work outside of selling real estate.

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