18 May 2013

How To Change a Work-A-Holic Realtor

(It Includes Thai Food and an Ambulance)

Last Friday afternoon, my entire office personnel and my husband went to eat at our favorite Thai Food restaurant. It was like any other normal day, except I wasn’t leaving in my husbands truck. I was leaving in the back of an ambulance.

This is for all of you work-a-holic Realtors out there and for anyone in any position where you just can’t stop working. Stop. Take a break. This is my first time for this to happen and hopefully the last time as I have had to change my entire work schedule and how I do things entirely. We had paid our bill and were just talking about our responsibilities for the remainder of the day which were quite hefty. We are blessed with a busy brokerage. Suddenly the top of my head went numb. Then my face went numb and inside my head felt like someone had just plugged me in and it was electrically humming! Then the numbness went down my neck into my chest and arms then into my hands. I started feeling heavy like I couldn’t hold myself up and keep my eyes open. My husband immediately called 911 as he is a Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician. He knew I was about to go out.

My co-workers immediately saw my color change, I slumped in my chair and my speech was slurred. One of my co-workers pulled my hair up using a chopstick. I didn’t even know it at the time, I couldn’t feel my head. By the time the ambulance got there, I didn’t even know what was going on. Only during the ambulance ride to the hospital did I start to realize what was happening. It happened twice more at the hospital and it was a very scary feeling like I was about to lose consciousness. I couldn’t shake the dizziness, nausea and numbness. They tested me for a stroke, heart attack, did a CT scan and every other test you can run. They kept me overnight to observe me to find out why this wasn’t stopping or why I wasn’t feeling any better. My vitals were normal and all my tests came out normal. I am perfectly healthy. So now is where I get the lesson of a lifetime.

The Doctor came in and asked what my work week was like. Before I could even start talking, my phone started ringing, buzzing, and dinging with multiple texts and emails from clients and other business related issues. He asked if it was always like this. I said, “Yes. It’s the life of a Realtor.” He said, “No. That’s where you’re wrong. That’s the life of a dead Realtor.”

Silence.

After I explained that I work every day and haven’t taken a real day off in two years and haven’t taken a vacation in over 4 years, he simply shook his head and asked me if I wanted to live. I told him I thought I was living. He said, “You’re going to die if you don’t stop. Yesterday, your body told you it needs rest and to slow down. If you don’t slow down, you’re body will slow down for you and next time may not be so nice.”

I get it. I understand. I cried for what seemed like hours because at that moment, I realized I had been cheating my family of my time. And if I had kept on, I was cheating them of my life and my presence completely. For a work-a-holic, the only way of life that we know is to wake up thinking of work, to work all day and to go home and stay up on the computer working out ways to be ready for the next day and to get one step ahead. I realized that I haven’t had a full nights sleep in over 4 years that hasn’t been interrupted in some way. I’ve pushed my body to the absolute limit and I can’t expect to continue this way.

Today, I’m typing this during an Open House and I’ve had to reschedule three clients for Monday because I’m taking tomorrow off to be with my family. Because my family deserves ALL of my time. I had clients that I cannot show rental homes to them this evening because my husbands birthday party is tonight. They didn’t like my answer and it was hard to tell them no because I don’t want anyone to be upset with me. I have changed my voicemail to let people know when my days off are and that I won’t be available. I have also set normal work hour parameters. I would usually get home around 8:30 at night. That is unacceptable. I’m wrapping up at 5 and headed home to hang out with my precious daughter. Life is simply too short to not focus on God, family and quality relaxation time. I still have a great work ethic, I just changed the rules. If this story has hit too close to home for you, take today to change your priorities and change your schedule. Set the right expectation for your clients and anyone else in your life that demands your time. Let them know when you start and stop accepting calls, emails and texts and if it’s beyond your “end” time it will have to wait until tomorrow. Nothing is more important than your health and being able to be there for your family for years to come. I’m a new Realtor. A better Realtor. A healthier Realtor. It just took a big slap in the head to make me see it. Thanks for the reminder, God.