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Lightbulbs, your Business and your Life

Is that post title cryptic enough for you? What do lightbulbs have to do with real estate? Well, it’s not about LEDs or CFLs, it’s about priorities. Confused? Hopefully I can shed light on the subject.

Photo credit: photohannah on Flickr. CC license

As real estate agents and brokers, we have no shortage of people offering advice to us. Marketing companies harvest our email addresses from our MLS and send us all kinds of “surefire” ways to increase our business. Real estate “coaches” encourage us to prospect more. Market more. Blog more. List more. Sell more. Do more. Make more.

But almost nobody mentions maintaining some semblance of a life. What about your personal time? Your family? Your friends? Your physical health? Your sanity?

Look, I get it. First things first, like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, right? You’ve gotta feed and shelter yourself first before taking care of that other stuff. But, as we approach the end of the second year of a pretty decent real estate market, it might be time to start thinking about priorities.

So what does this have to do with lightbulbs? Well, recently I was listening to a new podcast called Hello Internet. It’s CGP Grey (the dude who makes the fascinating and informative videos on YouTube about things like The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England, or Holland vs the Netherlands, etc.) and his friend Brady Haran (a journalist and fellow YouTube star) just talking about various stuff.

This particular episode, entitled Four Light Bulbs, was about life/work balance. He used the analogy of four light bulbs: Family, Friends, Health and Work. Given that a human being has only a finite amount of time and energy to dedicate to these bulbs, how are you going to distribute yours? The more you put into Work, the less you have for Family, Friends and Health. I’m betting that many of us have been putting too much into the Work bulb lately and not enough into the rest.

Philosophers and electrical engineers alike may argue that it’s a flawed analogy. Surely they’re right, but that’s really not the point. You may want to rename the bulbs or add some additional ones, or choose a different analogy entirely. The point is to put some thought into it. Just sayin’.

Photo credit: photohannah on Flickr. CC license

About Mike McGee

My wife Tina and I own and operate Intown Elite Real Estate in Atlanta GA. Like most small business owners, I wear many hats. I'm the broker, IT support guy and amateur webmaster, among other things. I run a few websites, including my primary site at, a niche site at covering lake homes near Atlanta, and others.

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  • Nice post Mike to get us thinking.

    I would add for the work bulb you have think about what you like doing for work and are you doing it?

    In addition to having a balanced life and making lots of money, you have to really like what you are doing daily.

    I recently shut down a 2nd business I had that made a lot of money but it was not really something I liked doing. My income is now less, but my quality of life is better.

    I think many people think the more money you make the better your quality of life, but once you have enough money, that is not really the case.

  • Great post. You had me at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There are lots of cliches about work/life balance, but it’s a huge issue for our industry.

    We don’t have the false assurances of a salary and an 8 hour work day to make us feel like everything is stable and will continue to be so. Even when we’re making plenty of money, our mindset is always on the next unknown month.

    The hardest thing is convincing yourself that you’ve done “enough” work for the week, and you’ve made “enough” money this year to take some time off without jeopardizing next year. For the first few years as a real estate agent, there’s no such thing as enough. At a certain point, though, you have to change your mindset if you’re going to have any sort of peace of mind.

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