Are you deferring joy?

I ask because a) it’s so easy to do, and b) having a happy heart is imperative to becoming a successful Realtor.

I’m learning firsthand about joy thanks to my beautiful 16-month-old. Certainly, I had joy before she was born, but recognizing your own joy and actually seeing it in someone else are two different things.

In real estate, the list of "things to do" is endless. There are money-making activities and then there are business maintenance activities. And both have to get done.

Diabolically boring data entry is a perfect example: Someone must physically upload listing information and make sure it is properly syndicated to all the real estate websites. Someone must also physically put signs in the dirt. And fill-up flier boxes. And attach lockboxes.

As one professional characterized it: We are hamsters in an exercise wheel. Stop running, and your business stops working.

Systems and assistants can make all the difference. But even with the menial tasks taken care of, many professionals continue to define their success (and subsequent joy) by the numbers.

If they only had two more listings, they would feel good about this month. They think, "One more under contract and then a weekend with the wife." Or, "An additional sale next month would push earnings over the year-end goals, and then there’ll be time to relax."

See, that’s human nature. Meet a goal, create a new one. And it’s not wrong! It’s the way we all "get ahead" in life. Of course, sometimes we get so caught up in the next milestone to meet — the one that "must" be accomplished before we can take the time to relish life — we forget the joy that sits unclaimed right in front of us.

Every morning my daughter runs down the hallway laughing her head off. In her hand she carries a washcloth, which the dog dutifully attempts to take away from her. This game can go on for hours. HOURS! I can’t think of a better example of claiming joy, than this little vignette. The washcloth game is not a money-making activity or a business tool. It’s a moment of unencumbered living.

Even those of you who say, "I love this job so much, I willingly work seven days a week!" need to step back once in a while.

While endless spinning on the hamster wheel has its own rewards — there’s always a plan, total control, predictability — it leaves little room for new experiences, delightful surprises or growing relationships. You can get so set in your plans as to x-out what really counts.

My friend, a mortgage broker, is like this. I can actually set my watch by her — no exaggeration. I can tell you exactly what she has in her refrigerator right now. I know where her car will be parked, what she will say when she answers her phone, and the two sentences I can expect on every thank-you card.

She has her life down to a science. But where’s the fun in that? Every day needs a margin. Every day needs a washcloth!

So don’t wait until you have three more listings to be content … that’s just disappointment waiting to pounce. Make a list of five things you are so thankful for they crack your face in half! Then celebrate them. Don’t defer your joy; you’ll be a better Realtor (and person) for it.

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