"Some days you eat salads and go to the gym,
Some days you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants.
It's called Balance."
Mary and I have been working together for 19 years, and as empty-nesters for most of those, we have had little excuse for the lack of balance between our work and personal lives. When we started, our focus was on building our business, and that's where most of our time and energy went. The fact that it was our choice didn't make the lack of personal time less noticed, but the excitement of creating something for ourselves meant that it wasn't terribly missed in those early years - the satisfaction more than compensated for the lack of dimension.
We took few trips, and when we went out, at least by ourselves, our conversation was most likely about work. We really were 24/7 Realtors, and we needed to be, because our business was growing quickly. We were pretty happy.
But in 2005, a fortunate combination of events and good moves helped us rediscover much of what we had put aside. We hired an unlicensed assistant, a great one who took on pretty much all of the administrative burden. Initially, we used most of that extra time to refine our marketing and expand our reach, but we also started traveling again. The regeneration of energy provided by those trips became something we have come to rely on.
Also in 2005, we bought our current home, in what had to be the great deal of the year. That home, on 2 acres of lakefront, became our retreat and refuge, one that has served us well from the bad years of the Great Recession up to the present low-inventory insanity. We had always maintained an office and seldom worked at home during normal business hours - we continued to do that even in - or maybe especially because of - the hard times. While we still answer the phones and take care of pressing matters while we are at home, we work hard to get everything done before that. And when we are home, we focus on relaxing, giving our furry family a lot of attention, and enjoying the show Mother Nature always has on display. The physical separation between where we work and where we live helps immensely in providing some balance in our lives, and maintaining that is an inviolable principle of our business.
We're also fortunate to have our own brokerage. Our office is pleasant and comfortable, without much in the way of distraction or drama. We call our own shots and, at least theoretically, we have the freedom to scale our business to the level of effort we choose. We haven't tried that yet, but someday, we may want to slow down a bit. In the meantime, an effective partnership and good systems help us keep the demands on our time to a reasonable 40-50 hours per week each, with enough slack to do a couple of big trips a year - right now, we're planning for Africa and Greenland.
Have we really achieved balance? Probably not in any way that most people would recognize, but first and foremost, Mary and I are Realtors. We love the work, and are continually fascinated, educated and entertained by it. It isn't something that has us clock-watching or counting the days until we don't have to do it anymore, and we're not discomfited by a blurry line between work time and personal time. So if some days we barely have time for ourselves, that's okay - we'll make it up some other day.