Adding One More Thing Into an Already Full Life


The older I get the more difficult it seems to take on new adventures. Not because I don't want to. Not because I'm lazier than I was before. Not because I'm not as smart or dedicated as I used to be. Not because my work ethic has changed. So, why is it so much harder now to do this whole real estate thing than it would have felt a decade ago? What's changed, if it's not me?

I think it's because the rest of my life is already full. And I mean that practically, not emotionally. I have a job. Well, two jobs, technically. I have family commitments. Social commitments. Financial commitments.

I'm tired at the end of every day. I go from one thing right into the next, often only knowing where I'm supposed to be because my day planner tells me. If you have kids, I can't even begin to imagine how impossible it might feel to add in: One. More. Thing.

I don't claim to have the answers that will work for everyone or make this experience easy. But, I can share some ideas. And maybe one of those ideas will help you. Or maybe it will spark another idea that will be the difference between whether this whole thing seems like a pipe dream or whether it starts to look so achievable that you can see your name on that real estate license.

I think one of the big keys is to be realistic about how much time you can devote to studying. This is dense stuff. And if you're going into it with little or no knowledge of the ins and outs of the real estate biz (I did!), it's going to be a lot of information to cram into your brain. Maybe it will take months instead of weeks for you to get through the material. Better to spend one or two hours on it a day, than to try to cram in two or three times that in order to finish in a few weeks. Whatever it is, I would emphasize taking that number and then figuring out how long it will take you complete the requisite study hours. Having a target date to work toward helps you stay accountable, but it also reminds you that this won't last forever! A refrain I've repeated to myself many times over the weeks I've been studying.

Give something else up, temporarily. There are only so many hours in the day. If you've got a full schedule already, chances are something is going to have to give in the short-term so you can find those hours to study. You could get up an hour early and spend that time with a cup of coffee and your study materials. (Make sure you're still getting your 7-9 hours though!) Or maybe you sacrifice your lunch hour at work a couple of times a week. Or maybe TV time has to go and you use an hour of that for studying. That's what I did some days. (There are some studies that suggest that information we learn before bed sticks with us better than information we learn earlier in the day anyway.)

No matter how many hours you do, be consistent. Working on it a little every day (or over several days) is way better than trying to hit your 10 hour/week goal on one day.

Write down your study time goals on a calendar or in a journal and then cross off the hours as you complete them. I don't know about you, but I need visual representations of progress to stay motivated. Crossing off one study session was really gratifying. I also set rewards for myself each week. If I met my study goal that week, then I got to go to a movie, or buy new music for my iPod. One reward at the very end was a spa day. Whatever little or big things would be nice rewards for you, plan some of those regularly.

Be sneaky with studying. Take some flash cards with key terms or concepts everywhere you go. Keep them in your coat pocket, your car, your purse, or the bag you take to work. When you find yourself with time on your hands--say sitting in a waiting room or waiting for a friend to show up for a coffee date--break out your cards and do a few minutes of studying. It all adds up!

Give yourself permission to say "no," and then do it. You will inevitably be invited to something or asked for help on a day and at a time that conflicts with studying. It's okay to say "no." And you're probably going to have to in order to save your sanity. There are obvious exceptions--work requirements, family commitments, etc.--that aren't really voluntary. But don't spread yourself too thin by agreeing to optional activities if you're already managing a jam-packed life and study schedule.

As always, please share any tips you have for fitting studying in to a busy life below. Thanks!