Advice for estate agents – how to stay motivated

Advice for estate agents – how to stay motivated

Private Property South Africa
Sarah-Jane Meyer

Under Covid-19 restrictions, most agencies aren’t running sales, marketing, and motivational conferences and talks as usual. This means that many agents are having to find ways of keeping themselves motivated. Adding to the difficulty is the reality of having to function in virtual isolation rather than as a member of a marketing team.

Every motivational speaker and life coach has their own tips along with DVDs and seminars. These include:

  • Setting realistic goals

  • Setting a schedule

  • The Goldilocks rule

  • The distraction list

Many of these techniques are universally useful, and among them, you are sure to find those that work best for you.

Goal setting

Setting realistic goals is the first step to getting motivated. Suzanne Gerber, Next Avenue contributor at, suggests the following:

  • Set a goal and visualise it in microscopic detail. For example, if your goal is to sell two properties a month, envisage yourself handing over the keys to the two buyers.

  • Write down a list of the reasons you want to accomplish the goal. Writing by hand actively engages the brain. As you are focused on selecting letters when typing, there is decreased mental connection to the actual words.

  • Break the goal down into smaller chunks. Set intermediary targets - and rewards. For instance, targets could include canvassing for new sale stock, dealing with photographic requirements, arranging viewings, and attending to legal affairs. Decide upfront how you will reward yourself after completing each task.

  • Be prepared to change course if things don’t work out as planned. Setbacks are temporary diversions that often lead to better outcomes.

  • Ask for help if you need it. You don’t have to accomplish every task on your own, and there is real value in collaboration. Even during the Covid-19 restrictions, it is possible to find ways of reaching out to others.

  • Decide upfront how you will deal with flagging motivation when this inevitably overtakes you. Keep in mind Sir Winston Churchill’s quote: ‘Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm and looks for the things that help you maintain your levels of enthusiasm.


Motivation guru James Clear ( says many successful creatives set up rituals to help them keep motivated.

“Setting a schedule puts your decision-making on autopilot by giving your goals a time and a place to happen. It makes it more likely that you will follow through regardless of your motivation levels at that time.

“You should stop waiting for motivation or inspiration to strike you and set a schedule for your habits. Professionals set a schedule and stick to it. Amateurs wait until they feel inspired or motivated.”

Rituals are effective as they provide an automatic way to initiate behaviour. Starting your habits is easier, so following through consistently is easier. You ideally want starting a behaviour to be easy and automatic so that you have the strength to finish it when it becomes challenging.

Here are some examples of ways of incorporating ritual and routine into your daily life to increase your motivation:

  • Start your day stress-free: Meditate for five minutes at the beginning of each new day.

  • Sleep better: Follow a ‘power down’ routine before bed.

  • Exercise more consistently: Put your exercise clothes out the night before, and put the items on in the same order every time before going for your morning walk.

There are three simple steps you can take to build better rituals and make motivation a habit.

  • A good pre-work routine should be so easy that you can’t say no to it. You shouldn’t need motivation. For example, before making marketing calls sit down at your desk and check that everything is in its proper place. Then, begin at the top of the list of names to call and work through them in order.

  • Your routine should get you moving towards the end goal. A lack of mental motivation is often linked to a lack of physical movement. In your task of making marketing calls, take a break after every second or third call to get up and walk around for five minutes.

  • You need to follow the same pattern every time. The main reason for a pre-work routine is to create a series of acts that you always perform before doing a specific task. Your pre-work routine tells you, “This is what happens before I do _.”

Eventually, says Clear, this routine becomes so tied to your performance that by simply doing the routine, you are pulled into a mental state that is primed to perform. You don’t need to know how to find motivation, you just need to start your routine.

Stay motivated for good

People love challenges, but only if they are within the optimal zone of difficulty. Tasks that are too easy are boring. Tasks that are too difficult are discouraging. But tasks that are right on the border of success and failure are motivating. Clear calls this phenomenon the Goldilocks principle.

“You need to find a way to pull your tasks back to the border of your abilities where you feel challenged, but capable,” he says.

The distraction list

Nick Wignall ( says one of the biggest obstacles to the ability to stay motivated and make progress on set goals is distraction. This includes the unexpected text from your spouse during a workout or the old friend you bump into at the coffee shop while you’re trying to work.

“Sometimes the most powerful and destructive distractions are internal: worry about how the big meeting will go tomorrow distracts you from our work today; daydreaming about how great it will be to look fit distracts you from going on that run; replaying a frustrating conversation from the day before in your head makes it hard to be present in an actual conversation.”

His distractions list helps to manage internal distractions like these and keep your motivation high.

  • Keep a small notebook or pad of paper and pencil at hand.

  • If you get distracted by a thought, a feeling, a memory, or any other internal distractor, quickly jot it down and then shift your focus back to your task.

  • Once your task is over, review your distractions list. If there’s anything important, make a brief plan for addressing it.

Although ignoring distractions might sometimes seem to work, this usually leads to an even stronger surge of internal distractions. By briefly acknowledging distractions on the list and having a plan to deal with them later, you can train yourself to becomes less reactive to them and better able to stay focused on the tasks at hand.

You aren’t a superhero

A major reason for demotivation is the feeling that you have an impossible number of things to do. If you take on too many projects you’re going to be overwhelmed – there is no getting around that.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be a Superman to be successful. Break each project down into the smallest realistic steps and only focus on one at a time. Each small success will trigger a release of dopamine - the brain’s ‘feel-good’ chemical. This helps focus your concentration and will motivate you to take another small step.


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