As we come off a long holiday season and look ahead into the new year, the commercial real estate professionals’ mindsets shift from simply surviving the mad dash to year end to planning the year ahead. January is a time for goal setting and reflecting on what we hope to accomplish in the new year. We are entering the last year of a decade and an extremely long cycle, and we ask ourselves “how do we beat last year?” and “where does the next deal or project come from?” As technology continues to blur the line between work and home life, we find ourselves working 24/7. It’s easy to get lost in the incessant stream of emails, the constant pursuit of new business, the worry of completing current business, the endless networking events and letting the general hustle of commercial real estate cast a pall of anxiety over your life.
It seems with the availability of information and ease of reach to your clients, that you must do more to produce the same results. Work harder, run faster, always watch your back! Servicing your client is the most important part of your business, but you must realize that the most important client you have is you. The way you take care of yourself reflects the service you can provide to the client. As I transitioned from being a “producer” to starting an organization, I noticed what a toll this industry can take on your body and mind. Commercial real estate is not for the faint of heart and it requires a lot of energy and hard work. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Start 2019 with a marathon mentality. Here are the priorities I recommend to anyone looking to join the industry or seeking lasting success:
Sleep is the most important part of your life. It is how your body recuperates and reenergizes for the day ahead. When and how you sleep have major implications for your mood and cognitive function. Set a regular bedtime and stick to it. Try to go to bed and wake up the same time every day. Your iPhone even has a setting to help remind you. On a full night’s rest with quality sleep, you will think clearer, have more energy, and be in a better mood. Let’s face it; everyone likes to do business with happy people!
- Plan ahead
I don’t need to preach to you the importance of exercise and eating healthy in 2019. I’m sure you know how important both are for your body, but regular exercise and healthy eating require you to do some planning ahead. If your client required you to have a standing 9 AM Tuesday meeting, you would be there. Apply the same mindset to exercising and eating healthy. On Sunday, plan the days you will go for a run, take a yoga class, or hit the gym. Also, plan out your meals for the week, even if you’re dining out. All menus are online. As the day goes on, last minute meetings, tours, and calls happen, so make your “you” time non-negotiable. Keep in mind that we were all given the same number of hours in a day. I love the quote that if Beyoncé can do it in 24 hours, so can you.
- Exercise your right to say “no”
If you wanted to, you could go to a networking event for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner every day of the week. You could also find a way to volunteer and serve on committees 100 percent of your work week if you wanted to. If you’re just starting your career, you should say yes more than no, but as your career and life advance, focus your networking and charitable efforts on people and organizations that you can commit to and give 100 percent. If you aren’t 100 percent present, those people and organizations aren’t getting the best version of you. Your loved ones waiting for you at home need you to be present and will appreciate getting the whole you.
- Take a beat
In 2018, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training certification. While yoga is a hugely important part of my life, I cannot stress enough the benefits of meditation. Yoga provides me the physical release I crave, but it also a wonderful avenue for mediation. Your mind is a muscle, just like your biceps or quadriceps, and it requires exercise just the same. We are constantly juggling all forms of noise (phones, co-workers, kids, spouses, endless talk of a looming bad economy) and our minds race to keep up. Quieting your mind for 20 minutes will have tremendous effects on the rest of your life. Your reaction time will slow (in a good way), your patience will increase, and your demeanor will improve. You will learn to take a deep breath before responding during a hostile negotiation or remain calm when managing several deadlines. Start with five minutes every other day and watch how much you can improve with time. I recommend the app Headspace as a starter. Keep in mind that mediation is hard for everyone at first! Like anything, it gets easier with practice.
Traveling to new places is so important to your mindset. When you travel, your perspective changes. When I’m in Dallas, I always have something to do; an errand to run, an RFP to respond to, an event to attend. However, when I travel, I focus on the present and enjoy where I am. Regardless of your budget, take time to go see the world and experience new people and places. There are many ways to travel regardless of your income level. If your current position does not allow for many days off, ask your boss if you can work extra hours to be able to have a few days off each quarter. You will be reenergized and reinvigorated when you return, and you will bring fresh ideas to the table with your new experiences.
- Build a support system
Regardless of the sector of real estate you’re in or your rank at your firm, there are always failures along the way. If you’re starting out as a tenant rep, it might seem like you’re never going to set a meeting after making 1,000 cold calls, or if you’re a new architect and your mistake cost the client money to fix your mishap. We’ve all been there, we all mess up and fail. Having a mentor, a friend that understands the business or even a therapist will help you immensely. The act of talking about the fears and frustrations you’re facing will clear negative energy to make room for the good. As a wise man told me at Fight Night one year, it’s never as good or as bad as it seems in your head. Knowing that someone else has faced the same tribulations as you, gives you the strength to keep fighting to reach your goals.
Having faith is the most important thing you can do for your life and career. Regardless of your religious beliefs, having faith in a power much greater than you takes a lot of pressure off the daily grind. When you trust the “plan,” you can relax and allow great things to come your way. Work hard, and do the everyday blocking and tackling that it takes to succeed, but show grace in knowing that your hard work will pay off. It might not come in the timeframe you would like it to, but eventually, it will come.
This industry is highly competitive, and sport-like in nature. As opposed to physical sports, commercial real estate “athletes” in whatever capacity (brokerage, development, architecture, law or construction to name a few) improve with age. Focus on keeping your competitive edge with a sound and healthy body. Keep your priorities in order and remember that a healthy mindset and home life allows you to give your clients the service they deserve. Your health is truly your wealth. Cheers to a happy and healthy 2019!
Sarah Hinkley is the founder of Thirty-Four Commercial.