What decisions and paths should the real estate industry be prioritizing? And how can you, whether managing a team or an entire company, bring those best lessons to bear where you work? In February, in advance of building an industry blueprint at Inman Disconnect, we’ll plumb the topic of leadership with Q&As with top industry leaders, contributions from esteemed Inman columnists and more.
When I first started my own business, a big part of my motivation was the opportunity to spend more time with my children. Having previously been a schoolteacher with a long commute, I was often up and out of the house before anyone else was awake, and when my kids had a school event, I was away in my own classroom — and frequently missed out.
By starting a business, I definitely got to stay home more and attend more school functions, but I was also working harder, more stressed out over money and far more distracted 24/7 than I had been before. Fortunately, my girls are my biggest cheerleaders, and they’ve always supported my endeavors.
Professional achievement often comes with unintended consequences. Longer hours, bigger workloads and more people depending on you — all of these can translate into disruptions at home.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re communicating with the people in your personal life before, during and after any major changes to your work life. Whether you’re starting a new business, expanding your current one, studying for the broker’s license or taking on a leadership role in your brokerage, association or professional organization, here’s how to smooth the path.
1. Talk to your significant other early in the process
To make a big change work, you’ll need to be on the same page with your spouse or significant other. Their support will be essential for you as you pursue your career ambitions and you’ll both need to present a united front when communicating with your children, extended family and mutual friends.
Even if you haven’t yet signed up for that training class or asked for that promotion, you’ll want to talk to your SO while you’re still formulating your intentions. The earlier they’re brought into your thinking process, the better able the two of you will be to navigate the challenges ahead.
2. Make sure you know what to expect so that you can communicate it
As you’re beginning the process of going for your goals, make sure that you’re aware of the realities you’ll encounter. Talk to those who are where you want to be and find out what it’s like.
Are the hours longer or wildly unpredictable? Are the demands far more extensive than those of your current job? Is there far more stress and will you need to do more to manage your day-to-day schedule?
While you may be excited about taking on a new professional challenge, you need to be realistic about what it entails. Starting a business can take years and there may be a great deal of financial uncertainty involved. Taking on a leadership role can create demands that consume much of your time and energy. You need to know — and clearly communicate — what’s in store before you move forward with your goals.
3. Communicate clearly with your children
You may think that your children are too young to understand things like jobs, finances and schedules. You may think that your teenagers are too concerned with their own lives to worry about yours.
However, your children want to and need to be brought into the loop so that they feel like part of the process. Sit down with them and with your SO and give them the chance to ask questions and understand what’s happening.
Think through how your decisions may affect your children as well as yourself. Will there be less money for impromptu treats? Will their college plans be affected by a change in finances? Will you be less available on a day-to-day basis? All of these things need to be part of the discussion so that you can ensure the support of the whole family.
4. Listen more than you talk, and keep listening
While you’re no doubt excited about your new role and responsibilities, you need to prioritize listening to your family. Do they miss you? Are they struggling to get time with you? Are they concerned about your stress level or that you’re working too hard?
Don’t dismiss your family and friends when they express needs or concerns. They must be able to talk to you and feel that they’re being heard, and you need to be aware that they can sometimes see things you’re missing. Remember, these are the people who love you most, so give them your attention.
5. Discuss personal priorities and define non-negotiables
Both upfront and as you move forward with your new professional responsibilities, it’s important to figure out what needs to happen to keep your family life functioning properly. That means instead of trying to fit your family in around your professional obligations, your professional obligations should fit your personal and family priorities.
Do you want to pick up your child from school each day? Do you want to ensure you have time to worship together as a family? Do you want to be home for dinner each evening or for a weekly date night?
Figure out what rituals and traditions are most important to your family’s life and time block for those priorities. That way you and your family will keep the things that matter most front and center in your focus.
6. Don’t forget to keep checking in
Once you’ve been through a period of adjustment, you may feel like you’re home-free. However, it’s important to keep checking in with your SO and family so that you can make sure things are still working well. Continue to adjust your schedule as needed and make sure that everyone is feeling good about the balance you’ve struck together.
Be careful of schedule creep — the tendency to let your professional obligations trespass across the boundaries you’ve set. Make sure that you revisit your schedule regularly and adjust where necessary and practical.
7. Set aside time to reconnect regularly
If you have less time on a daily basis, you may need to spend additional time checking in with your loved ones in other ways. For instance, if family vacations have been a nice-to-have low-priority item for you in the past, you may need to plan them more consistently now so that you all have a chance to get away without the distractions of your job.
Remember, when you get to the top of the professional mountain, you want to make sure that you are celebrating your achievement with those you love the most. Keep communication and connection front and center with the people who are closest to you so that everyone feels heard, seen and supported.