One of the realities of life is impermanence. And yet, people act as if their current state of circumstances will never change, when of course, they inevitably do.
Sadly, you can find stories of suicide in any local paper – people overwhelmed by their current set of financial circumstances…or bullying at school….or their loss of love. But as we all know, financial fortunes can change seemingly overnight, high school bullies fade into a memory, and you meet your love in a coffee shop on a normal random morning.
The Economic Change
As our economy changed over the last couple of years, many of us have struggled with this reality of impermanence. Our burgeoning home equity, our expanding 401k’s, our profitable and growing business felt so good. And while we know intellectually that all economies have a curve, and that we were likely at the top of that curve, many of us believed that it would be the ‘soft landing’ that was mentioned by economists at CAR, the financial world, and even leading government.
I’m not speaking for everyone. Some moved their investments to commodities or cash. Some sold their real estate investments and rented. Some planned for the downturn in their real estate practices. But from what I’m seeing locally – that’s unfortunately a significant minority of the population.
Lessons From My Youth
One of the early lessons of impermanence came from my father via his after dinner lectures. He used to say to me that nothing was guaranteed in a marriage. One might divorce, one might be an early widow and it was my responsibility to own some ability to care for myself. Hence, my real estate career.
Fortunately, I married a man I adore. And yet, my father was right in some ways; you never know when circumstances may change. I did anticipate a downturn in my residential real estate business. What I didn’t plan for was the news we got last January – my husband, in commercial development and construction, was laid off. The check that simply appeared in our bank account every two weeks over the past 6 years felt…well….permanent. My real estate business immediately took on an entirely new level of importance in our home.
Let’s Look at Your Business
My reason for bringing this to your attention is that while circumstances do change, we often do not change our desire for a sense of permanence. Many of us simply go into another set of circumstances believing THIS is the new forever. So let’s examine how this in your business.
Your Business Before The Changing Market
- Did you find that you were too heavily focused on one sector of the market – FSBO’s, first time buyers, or ‘B’ paper loans – that diminished or simply went away?
- Did you find that you have been too reliant on one form of marketing – newspaper ads, real estate magazines, expensive farming methods – that were no longer as effective?
- Did you create enough of a safety net for a shift in economic conditions?
What Have You Learned
The bigger questions are really about what you have learned. Are you allowing yourself to believe that THIS set of circumstances is permanent OR are you making the long term plan for the next change?
- Do you have systems that are diverse? If you are having success as an REO agent, an ‘expired listing specialist’, or a ‘short sale specialist’, are you still working your other systems?
- Have you thought about the areas of expansion that you can capitalize on when the market begins to recover, such as FSBO’s or farming?
- Most importantly, if one of your most profitable systems went away tomorrow – could you still sustain your business and your life?
The Sphere of Influence Caution
If you are thinking, ‘Most of my business is from my sphere of influence; I don’t have to worry,’ – be careful. I’ve seen it with colleagues – the dissolution of a marriage, a disagreement with a friend that is a ‘connector’, can change a social situation overnight. Again, even a business heavy with sphere of influence revenue, should not be considered ‘permanent’.
I wonder if we fool ourselves into believing our current state is permanent – if only to believe that WE are permanent. At it’s core, it’s a denial of our mortality….but I realize I’m getting a bit too deep here.
The Moral – just check your damn systems people! Be diverse. Be flexible. Live in the now – just don’t be married to it.