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In business, there's always an excuse why not to improve yourself. In this month's tip, Don explains how this mentality will cripple your career and he'll show you how to grow your business the right way.

September 2001, By Don Hobbs

For more than 15 years, I have been traveling around North America, discussing marketing and other success-related topics with real estate agents. In that time, my goal has always been to educate agents about the power of personal marketing. But for as much teaching as I’ve done, I’ve certainly learned a lot myself, mostly about what creatures of habit real estate agents tend to be.

It’s always been baffling to me to witness how agents operate. While a few would take the information and put it to use, the vast majority of people would simply admit how much they believed in the concepts, but then still never acted on them.

It’s actually rather frustrating: Why do some people just not do what they know they should do?

“Well, I know it’s a good idea,” they’d often reply, “but I just don’t have the time right now.” Then they’d tell me that next month, next season, or next year they’d definitely make some changes and get out of the rut of continually chasing business the hard way. Of course the excuses would vary from person to person – they didn’t have the money, they didn’t have the time, the kids were out of school, the kids are going back to school, the holidays are coming up, etc.

Almost 20 years later, I’ve accepted that many agents are always “getting ready to get ready,” but it can become rather frustrating, especially when you see the success stories. “Why can’t they all be like that?” I ask myself. The simple answer is that they could, if only they would abandon their constant excuses and just do it already.

Always Defining, Never Doing

Work can generally be divided into three categories:
1. Defining the work that we need to do – Making “To Do” lists, etc.

Doing whatever comes up – Tending to the “urgent” rather than the “important”.

Actually doing the activities defined in #1 above – Accomplishing the “important,” dollar-productive work that will build a healthy business for the long term.
Unfortunately, far too many agents are stuck in numbers one and two, constantly defining what they’re going to do and spending the rest of their time reacting to “emergencies.” Without ever getting to number three, you never really accomplish anything – you just sort of survive. This may get you through each day, but it’s far from a formula for long-term success and for growing your business. This approach only breeds inefficiency. And eventually, working in this fashion will cause burnout and fatigue.

Success is Usually Inconvenient

My dear reader, pay attention: There will always be an excuse why NOT to make changes now. Without even giving it much thought, I’m sure a few have popped into your head already. Well, success isn’t always convenient. It doesn’t present itself at an opportune time. It requires a little sacrifice, but the rewards for that small sacrifice can be tremendous.
At some point, you just have to get it done. Just do it. The key is to break it all down into individual steps and then focus on accomplishing the very next step. Then repeat that process over and over until you’ve accomplished a task in whole. Don’t look at the big picture — that will only paralyze you. Instead, look at what you can do to move one baby step closer to your goal.

If you lose focus, you’ll lose momentum. When you are bogged down and overwhelmed, it drains your energy. Conversely, when you truly devote yourself and focus on the important, you’ll build momentum as you begin to see results. Making changes is a very exciting process, and once you begin to taste the results of your efforts, energy will no longer be a problem. At that point, adrenaline takes over and guides you the rest of the way.

Small Sacrifice, Big Reward

Fast-forward three years from now: Imagine where you’ll be if you continue the status quo. Now imagine where you’ll be if you make the sacrifices now to improve yourself and grow your business by making changes. Read Todd Alguire’s story. A year ago now, he hadn’t even thought about personal marketing. Today, he’s become a top producer in his market. Sure, he had to make some sacrifices and work a little harder to get the systems in place to implement such a powerful campaign. But do you think he regrets it?

I know school is just starting and the holidays are just around the corner, but these are not valid excuses for letting your career drift unguided from season to season and year to year. If you do, when it’s all over, you’ll live with regret. You’ll wish you had made the changes when you still had time and had the opportunity to really make something of yourself.

Discipline Weighs Ounces; Regret Weighs Tons

Don’t let it come to that. The time is now. Stop making excuses. Instead, make a decision and take some action. Good luck.