Stability is the most important quality of your emotional, financial, and business infrastructure. Without it, risk-taking becomes gambling, and your sense of confidence will constantly be infected with anxiety, anxiety which your clients may pick up on. If you want your infrastructure to be stable, you must exercise the “Four Rs”:
Reserve: YOU MUST HAVE A STRATEGIC RESERVE. We can’t emphasize this enough. You should have six months of income set aside. Don’t wait until you’re exhausted to stop working. Have a little left over so you can finish strong and go over the top if need be. It’s common sense, but also a common problem. Let’s look at blackouts. When a section of a city’s power grid goes out, the power requirements of that section is placed upon the adjacent grid. However, without regular, real-time upkeep, this handoff will overwhelm the grid next to it, which collapses as well. As each grid collapses under the snowballing power vacuum from the previous ones, the result is a “cascading failure” and you get a blackout. The key here is consistency and self-awareness, both of which have to be conducted with the assistance of an outside, objective observer. Otherwise, you’ll be vulnerable to your biases.
Review: Let’s say that Saturday is your day off. Every Friday around noon, conduct a cost-benefit analysis of your systems (in terms of cash, time, energy, etc.). If you’re great at open houses but spend 8 hours a week without any offers or solid leads, you have to invest elsewhere to get your listings sold, perhaps even delegating it to another agent. Marketing plans for each listing have to be intensely reviewed and constantly reassessed. I’ve had clients who’ve insisted on having their homes in “Dream Homes” magazine. Usually, people who’re drawn in by “Dream Homes” are dreamers themselves. If a listing is over $800,000 and is reasonably priced (by reasonable sellers) then several hundred dollars a month may be worth it. But you need to ensure that your cost-benefit analysis is based on current assets, NOT forecasted income, no matter how solid. Also, a reserve needs to be flexible. Whatever you have set aside, it won’t involve penalties for access or result in cannibalizing yourself. HELOCs are an excellent example of this. As Chris likes to say, the equity in your home is not income. Cash is cash, period.
Reboot: When you reboot a computer, you’re essentially refreshing it’s capability to function optimally. Friday afternoons should be spent clearing out the waste/residue left over from the operations of the past week. Take your staff out to lunch (i.e. get out of the work environment) and have a “what’s working, what’s not” session (this is also a powerful method for your marriage). Delete all unnecessary emails, text messages, refill your flyer boxes (better yet have your assistant do it). Reviewing and Rebooting tend to overlap, but at the end of the day, you can expect only what you inspect. I like David Allen’s (“Get Things Done”) endstate for each week; get clear, get clean, get current, and get complete.
Reposition: It’s vital to take a day off between rebooting and repositioning. Ladies and gentlemen, a day off means your cell phone is off, the laptop is shut, and you’re out somewhere with your significant other. If you don’t have one, then spend this day to court one. Just like a real reboot, you need a complete shutdown for awhile in order to enjoy the benefits. On the following day seek to implement or reinforce the things which seem to be working. Make sure you haven’t missed anything before the reboot stage (Maintaining focus on Friday afternoons can be challenging!). So if you took Saturday off, by Sunday morning your systems are in alignment, in their proper place, and focused. The time to prepare your materials and set aside your clothes for your Sunday open house is Friday, not Sunday morning (but check your comps shortly before leaving to make sure there’s been no significant activity in the tract). Also, your refreshments have been purchased and chilled, your gas tank is full, and you have something to do during any lulls (work-related, not recreational reading).
Achieving stability is one of those things which sound simple, but is difficult to do. Not because the actions required are hard, but because you won’t see the benefits in the short term. Perhaps the hardest thing about achieving stability is engaging your faults and choosing to take them on. These are difficult times. “The last thing we need” is to discover yet another chink in our armor, or worse yet, finding out that what we do well isn’t producing results. But that’s exactly why we must go for it and get help in doing so. Don’t get caught in the “busyness” trap. Concentrate on being effective, not productive. Don’t strive to fix the same problems year after year. You’re too good for that, and your clients expect more from you. Exercise the “Four Rs” and you’ll have a business which works for you, not the other way around.