Self discipline is the path to real estate success

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

From the outside looking in, a career in real estate looks like a walk in the park. You get to spend your days looking at houses, making new friends, and taking time off whenever you want to meet friends for lunch or attend a child’s sporting event.

Once you’re in the trenches, you realize that while some agents do treat it that way, success requires a considerable amount of self-discipline to stay on track.

With no employer to set your working hours, direct your activities, withhold your taxes, possibly provide your insurance, and bring in the customers and clients, it’s all up to you.

Your working hours:

Although you can schedule your time to be present for your children’s events, and you can schedule schedule time to worklunch with a friend or take time off for a dental appointment without having to get permission, you do need regular working hours.

It takes discipline to get up and get moving when there’s no one but yourself to answer to. So be a stern taskmaster. Don’t allow yourself to sleep an extra hour or two in the morning, and don’t put off getting to work just because you don’t happen to have a pressing appointment.

Your daily activities:

Who knew that there would be so many choices – and so many things that really need to be done?

Perhaps the fact that there ARE so many things to be done is what stops so many agents from doing them. They’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. So – instead of getting busy, they gossip with their office mates, spend time discussing last night’s TV shows, or go on line to shop, play games, or while away their time on Facebook. They may go to the office, but they don’t “work when they’re working.”

To avoid falling into that trap, make a plan, then make a list.

Put the most important, most urgent items at the top and get to work on them any time you have a spare half hour. It wouldn’t hurt to make two lists – one with items you can do in 15 to 30 minutes. You may be shocked at how much you can accomplish taking “One small bite at a time.”

If you’re feeling stuck and can't think of anything useful to do, check out the 14 activities you can do to make profitable use of an “empty week.” I challenge you to try to do them all!

Your finances:

It takes discipline to put money aside to pay your income taxes, dues, business insurance, health It takes discipline to put away money for taxesinsurance, etc. but failure to do so can be your ruin.

I’ve known agents whose spouses worked, so they didn’t have to have their income from real estate for daily living expenses. Because they had no discipline, they spent every dime of every commission check on things they and their families perhaps wanted but didn’t need. When it came time to pay Uncle Sam, pay their annual dues, or renew their licenses, the money wasn’t there.

Self-employed individuals like us also have to plan ahead for business expenses such as new equipment and software, and we have to budget both time and money for marketing.

Your Marketing:

It takes discipline to keep marketing yourself when you’re busy – and sometimes even when you’re not. It also takes discipline to keep marketing when you feel like you can’t afford it. But failure to do so can lead to months without income. So don’t go overboard and put yourself deeply into debt, but don’t stop marketing.

It’s a fact that most of us pay first attention to those activities that that have urgency because someone else is involved. For you that might be a meeting with a client, getting documents to a closer, attending an inspection, etc.

And that’s fine – those do have to be done on time, but so does marketing. Just because there’s no one demanding that it be done is not a reason to let it slide. Just like with budgeting, you ignore it at your peril.

To market effectively, you must first decide on the outcome you want.

Is it more listings in a certain area? Is it more listings of a certain type – such as homes in probate, vacation homes, or homes belonging to divorcing couples? Perhaps you’d rather serve buyers – do you want first time buyers, move-up buyers, vacation home buyers?

Next decide how you’ll reach them, both on line and off.

  • Will you use postal mail to send prospecting letters, just listed cards, and just sold cards?
  • Will you use email to prospect to internet leads?
  • Will you create a monthly or weekly newsletter?
  • Will you place newspaper or magazine ads?
  • Will you use social media?
  • Will you blog about your listings, your market, and your community?
  • Will your blog include advice for buyers and/or sellers?
  • Will you hold open houses, knock on doors, or network extensively?
  • Will you cultivate your sphere of influence and past clients?

Usually, it takes more than one form of marketing to keep your pipeline full, and each of the activities you choose should be done both consistently and on schedule.

Consistency and continuity are crucial to an effective marketing campaign, so decide what you can do and when you’ll do it - and then stick with it.

Turn on your self-discipline and don’t cut yourself any slack.


 This content first appeared at:

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles


Comments (18)

Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Great post, Marte... of course, I believe that self-discipline is the key to success in any endeavor in life... not just in real estate.

Jul 19, 2021 04:48 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Marte - while reading this post, I kept thinking of alliteration and the tricks we attempt on the road to everyday self-discipline.  It's definitely not a game and your advice reminds us of the importance of proper planning and prioritization.  Oops - there goes my overuse of Ps.  Now, it must be time for the inclusion of some Qs.  🙃

Jul 19, 2021 04:55 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

These are all great points. It takes dedication and self discipline to successfully run a real estate business. 


Enjoy your day!

Jul 19, 2021 05:09 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Nina Hollander, Broker You're right. We need self discipline to succeed at anything from having a healthy diet, to cleaning the house, to having a successful career.

Jul 19, 2021 08:40 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Michael Jacobs - I'd enjoy watching you overuse the Q's!

Kat Palmiotti - and to keep your garden free from weeds!

Jul 19, 2021 08:42 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Haha, Marte Cliff - true!

Jul 20, 2021 05:41 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Marte- self-discipline is good for all of us but agents in particular!  You are working on your own in a manner of speaking. So if something needs to be completed, it's up to you. 

Jul 20, 2021 09:39 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

That's right, Kathy Streib. Agents are their own bosses, with no one to blame but themselves if things don't get done. 

Jul 20, 2021 01:43 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Jul 24, 2021 06:39 PM
Marte Cliff

Thank you Kathy!

Jul 26, 2021 04:23 PM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Marte. Great reminder the self-employed means a dedication to self-motivation and discipline. Enjoy your day.

Jul 25, 2021 05:18 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Marte - these are many of the points I have made to others. Above all the word discipline is most important.  Most people fail because the do not home themselves accountable like a boss would.


Jul 25, 2021 09:41 AM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Having a lot of self-discipline is critical to our business.  Being able to work alone and still self promote is what separates a good agent from the rest of the pack

Jul 25, 2021 10:50 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

Very true about self discipline in this job.

Jul 26, 2021 09:22 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Wayne Martin When you don't have a "boss" to tell you what to do and hold you accountable - you have to do it yourself or fail.

Grant Schneider I agree. When you are your own boss, you have to be a stern task-master.

Ed Silva - the fact that so many cannot or do not is a good part of the reason why 20% of the agents have 80% of the business.

Thanks Lyn Sims The need for it should be stresssed from the first day of real estate classes. Too many people think "Being my own boss" means freedom to goof off.

Jul 26, 2021 04:28 PM
Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD - Vail, CO
Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D

people need to self assess propr to embarking on any entreprenurial pursuit...including real estate.  Many fail at this aspect of planning and it an lead to their demise

Jul 27, 2021 08:38 PM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

GREAT post!  Being in finance (banking, insurance and securities) prior to getting into real estate has been a HUGE advantage for me.  Creating a plan and working that plan, and communicating quarterly with my CPA, keeps me in motion!

Jul 28, 2021 10:29 AM
Greg Mona
Hague Partners/72SOLDHUB - Scottsdale, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

Wonderful post, Marte Cliff!  Your points are spot on. And real estate certainly can look and sound easy as a career path, but it is self-discipline, consistency, and keeping an organized schedule where it trips many people up. Even after 13 years in the business it still is still something I can improve upon. Thanks for sharing!

Jul 28, 2021 01:12 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD Those who have an employee mindset - and can't shake it - are destined to fail as entrepreneurs.

Jan Green I would guess that background has served you well in many aspects of your career in real estate.

Jul 28, 2021 03:07 PM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Self discipline and self motivation are essention to succeed in this business.  Would be agents need to know that from the very beginning--how you can work so so many hours and not get paid for any of it!

Aug 02, 2021 08:04 AM