Staying positive in a negative time
By Michelle Bobart
As the nation stands amidst one of the largest financial crises since the stock market crash/Great Depression, I, like many Americans, stand a bit numb and shell shocked. I ask myself, Am I just in a bad dream or is this really happening? We are living through a time when our children/grandchildren will look back and say, Wow, it must have really been rough living through those years. We will be referenced in history and economics books about the blunders of the U.S. financial markets and how never to repeat it.
LetÕs face it, many of us grew up seeing our country as the invincible Super Power U.S. We live in an ego-filled world. The rug was pulled out from under us the first time with 9/11, and the myriad of recent events is yet another reminder that our nation does not have a bulletproof vest.
The entitlement view
I think as Americans, we all suffer from a bit of entitlement to some degree. The general feeling is, I have worked hard, I have earned it and I deserve it. So when something gets taken away from us leaving our lives just a bit more uncomfortable than we were yesterday, there is a quick opportunity for resentment and anger to build. This then erodes our thinking and our view on life and how we respond to those around us. It is easy to wallow in a world of self-pity and get lost and stuck in it. This thinking self-perpetuates, causing emotional paralysis and negativity that can leak into all facets of our life, which can lead to work productivity plummeting.
Life has its ups and downs. There is much that can be taken from us in life that we have no control of. There is no explanation as to why this happens. Right this minute, thousands of people are suffering a loss. Some are losing their job, while others are losing their home. Some are losing their family, as the No. 1 reason for divorce is financial stress. Worst of all, some will take their own life; suicide rates will inevitably be up this year.
Choosing how to react
Although many things can be taken from us in life, no one can take away our right to decide how to react to a situation. This choice remains exclusively ours. I encourage you to reflect on this a bit in your own life. Are you going to let bitterness erode your heart as we move through these next few tough years, or are you going to choose to persevere and focus on what you do have vs. what you do not? You can get up every morning and count your blessings Ñ the love of family, friends, health, the gift of food and shelter Ñ or you can get up grumbling about what you do not have.
Realities of the industry
For most of us, we lived through the glory days of the Chicago real estate market, where we rode the wave of prosperity. Every industry is cyclical and we are now finally experiencing the downturn of our own. However, we are actually quite fortunate, as our local market is experiencing much less upheaval then the coasts. Imagine being a Realtor/mortgage professional in California or Florida with broad brush 30 to 40 percent depreciation. Comparing our market to theirs allows us to breathe much easier.
The housing market does echo the job market and we are still stable. We are in a transaction business and are fortunate that we operate in a large metropolitan city where lives change fast. Our client cycles are much quicker than most of the U.S; everyone loves Chicago. From fresh out of college to the suburb empty nester wanting to downsize, Chicago is embraced by everyone, from Generation X and Y to the baby boomers, and our city stands the test of time. Chicago is New York without the attitude. We are a city with world-class amenities complimented with Midwestern friendliness. I always joke and say if it weren’t for our winters, we would have to build walls to keep the whole country from wanting to live here. And if we host the Olympics, this will lead to bonus wind beneath our wings.
I encourage you to ask yourself, Do I like the core of this business? If the answer is yes, then you need to put your best foot forward and say, this too shall pass. We will experience what feels like normal times again in a few years, and there will be no competition at that juncture. If you were in this business for the money, no longer have passion for what you do and the clients you serve on a daily basis, I encourage you to get out and start looking for something that will ignite excitement in your life.
Gary Keller published a great book called Shift, and I encourage you to read it if you have not already. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D, a 60-minute read, also offers the same insight. These times call for extraordinary, outside-the-box thinking backed by a lot of muscle. We will work twice as hard as we have done in the past to make the same amount of money.
The fact is, 98 percent of people do not like change. It is uncomfortable and it pushes us outside of our comfort zone. Interestingly, I have found that all of my personal growth does not come when I am in the confines of my own happy ideal world. It is when I get pushed outside these walls that the opportunity for growth flourishes. Change builds character. Consider viewing these current times as a unique opportunity that will make you a better and stronger person even though it doesn’t feel so fabulous, as you are actively walking through these life and industry trials.
Make smart moves today to stay ahead of the curve and this will ensure safe delivery through the industry storm. Higher ground and prosperity awaits all of us committed to staying the course. To your continued success!
Michelle Bobart is founder and president of Mobium Mortgage Group. An industry veteran, she is consistently ranked as one of Chicago’s top loan originators. Bobart can be reached at 312.379.3516, by e-mail at [email protected] or visit her blog at Michellebobart.com.