Work, Life, Volunteer — Finding Balance


It’s an eternal conversation in the real estate industry. With unlimited opportunities to grow business and zero limitations on the hours or days to be worked, how does a professional strike a balance between work and life in general? Is there such a thing as work/life balance in real estate, or any demanding career, for that matter?

Rather than addressing this question by setting hard-and-fast rules for carving out personal time, we find many of the most successful real estate brokers and agents invest their time in additional industry work, over and above their primary occupations.

Volunteering for association committee work, MLS boards, advocacy activism and REALTOR® leadership, it appears that for these individuals, balance is not the goal at all. And they seem extremely satisfied with their decisions.

Though it might seem illogical, studies have shown that people with two careers often self-identify as being much happier than those with one. The individual with a primary occupation that pays the bills, and a second job that brings personal fulfillment, are often those bound to be more satisfied with their lifestyles.

Could this be the reason so many high-caliber real estate professionals also engage in industry volunteering? Reviewing the rosters of association volunteers shows that many high producing and highly successful businesspeople are taking time away from their companies and investing their time in shared industry efforts. While they could certainly keep their heads down and passively benefit from the work of other volunteers, they instead actively engage with regulatory agencies, politicians, policy boards, and association events.

There’s no doubt that REALTOR® volunteers understand the direct business benefits that advocacy work provides for their occupations. The opportunity to network with other professionals can create referral business. Serving in association leadership roles can provide experience and credibility that leads to career leadership advancement.

Yet it seems that the overriding theme that creates the engagement, investment, and loyalty to our volunteer activities and organizations is the satisfaction that it brings to the participants. Supplementing a primary career with personally-enriching industry volunteer work keeps many of the industry’s top tier professionals coming back. Whether or not that looks like balance from the outside, it seems to be a highly successful combination.

Sam DeBord

Sam DeBord is CEO of the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), VP of Government Affairs for Washington REALTORS®, and NAR President’s Liaison for MLS and Data Management.

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