• Being ready and available for our clients 24/7 consumes agents.
  • Our struggle to put first things first can be characterized by the contrast between two powerful tools that direct us: the clock and the compass.
  • The clock represents our commitments, including schedules, goals, activities and appointments; and the compass represents our visions, values, principles, missions, direction — what we feel is important in life.

An agent’s typical morning: The phone is ringing, you have 200 pages of disclosures to read through, you have an offer due in two hours, you need to put together the contracts and send them over to the clients for electronic signature.

You’re about to be late for your pest inspection on a home that’s currently in contract that took a week to schedule, and your quarterly taxes are due.

The moment you’d love to walk out the door and head to the office, the baby needs to be fed. Her diaper needs changing, and she needs a bath and fresh change of clothes. But your wife needs some time for herself and hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in ages.

Welcome to the world of being an agent with a family. We all know how much time and effort goes into this career, but at what cost?

If you take a moment to look back over the years at how much sacrifice you have made to build your business at the expense of others — your spouse, parents, children, etc. — it’s a sad thought.

Being ready and available for our clients 24/7 consumes us, and we are willing to put our families on the back burner. I have done it countless times.

My first 2 1/2 years in real estate, I worked seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. I didn’t take any vacation.

I brought all of my work home and begged my wife to understand that these are the preliminary stages of building the brand. I asked her to please bear with me, and I told her she would get to enjoy the fruits of all this labor later on — the concept of pleasure delaying.

In hindsight, that was a terrible thing to do. If my clients cared for me or respected me, they would understand if I didn’t pick up their calls or answer emails on Saturday — family day. They wouldn’t call me late at night because the baby is sleeping.

They would completely understand if I told them I have had a vacation on the books and would not be available during that time. It was my fault for not making family a priority and also not making it clear to my clients during our initial consultation.

There is no doubt that being an entrepreneur — beginning a career in real estate — is an arduous task. This job is not for the faint of heart. It’s the cause for a lot of failed relationships and neglected children.

I am currently reading a book to help me rectify my shortcomings called “First Things First” by Stephen Covey. Putting first things first is an issue at the heart of life.

Almost all of us feel torn by the things we want to do, the demands placed on us and the many responsibilities we have. We all feel challenged by the day-to-day and moment-by-moment decisions we must make regarding the best use of our time.

Decisions are easier when it is a question of good or bad. We can easily see how some ways we could spend our time are wasteful, mind-numbing — even destructive.

But for most of us, the issue is not between the good and the bad, but between the good and the best. So often, the enemy of the best is the good.

Our struggle to put first things first can be characterized by the contrast between two powerful tools that direct us: the clock and the compass.

The clock represents our commitments, appointments, schedules, goals, activities, what we do with and how we manage our time.

The compass represents our vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, direction, what we feel is important and how we lead our lives.

The struggle comes when we sense a gap between the clock and the compass — when what we do doesn’t contribute to what is most important in our lives.

I have adopted a new strategy when it comes to my business planning. My wife and I — and now my daughter — will go somewhere for a couple of days in December. It will be a relaxing destination to get away from everything, unplug, detach, and just have some time to recharge and think clearly.

As I put the pen to the pad for my next year’s business plan, the first thing my wife and I do together is eliminate all of the days I will not be working but instead living.

For example, birthdays, vacations, self-help seminars, training, weddings, personal days, etc. After all of those days are crossed out, I can begin each workday with 110 percent effort and focus.

Money comes and goes; jobs come and go. For a child, love is spelled t-i-m-e, and how many people on their deathbed wish they’d spent more time at the office?

Watch Roh Habibi on “Million Dollar Listing San Francisco” on Bravo on Wednesdays.

Roh Habibi stars in “Million Dollar Listing San Francisco,” the latest installment to the Bravo reality dynasty. Follow Roh on Twitter and on Facebook.

Email Roh Habibi.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription