“Why Am I So Tired All The Time?”
By Linda Brakeall
"I'm tired of having so many intimate relationships with strangers that I
forgot my nephew's birthday!" one of the loan officers I coach blurted out.
And in a blinding flash of the obvious, I understood the chronic overwhelm,
the unexplained daily exhaustion and all-too-often crankiness of far too
many loan officers. But not being one to jump to my own conclusion I did a
little research among my originator friends and realized that I had hit a
nerve! Some replied that there was no problem and some wrote or called and
told me volumes.
Let’s go back to the problem. All too many loan originators wake up tired,
when they know they haven’t always been actually working all that hard. And
yet -- on those days -- getting to the office is a chore and dealing with
ordinary, simple problems on a file cause temper flare-ups.
There is a level of intensity or intimacy that is one of the main causes of
loan originator burnout, exhaustion and/or crankiness. Some of this results
from devoting extra attention to a borrower and ending with an
unsatisfactory result, while other issues involve dealing with borrowers
with whom you would prefer not to associate. Most of it involves the
originator having to become so close to the borrower’s finances, family and
other personal matters that sometimes they aren’t able to separate the
professional from the personal relationships. For example, there are several
scenarios that require the originator’s attention, but can often be
frustrating and overwhelming. Here are a few of the more common:
Scenario A: You work with a borrower, take the app and a day or a week—or
even a month later, they disappear or call to say they’re not doing the loan
or they’re doing the loan with someone else. You’ve invested the time in
them and they don’t reciprocate.
Scenario B: You take the app at a customer’s house and meet their children,
spend weeks getting to know a customer (as they call for updates, you send
e-mails etc.), close the loan successfully, call a few months later just to
keep in touch and they barely remember you. (One loan officer said that
makes him feel like a function, not a person.) For some originators there
may be a temporary let-down, when they are no longer in contact with the
Scenario C: You work with a customer who has taken so much of your time,
that it becomes a negative experience. You dread the thought that they’ll
call you for another loan later.
The Key Issue
I see several areas that need to be addressed. First, let’s talk about that
opening quote, “so many intimate relationships with strangers.” When you’re
talking with people about their bank accounts, their income and their net
worth, that’s pretty intense. When the initial relationship ends, some
originators think of that as “business as usual,” and some tell me they feel
“used.” I believe there are degrees of intimacy and I encourage you to spend
some time examining how you feel about that whole issue and setting some
I sold real estate and managed Realtors for a total of 12 years before I
started educating, speaking to, and writing for lenders and originators. The
similarities between the two professions are similar when you talk about
this issue. When working with transferees, I would have a couple in my car
three to five days for up to 12 hours per day. When they were with me, I saw
them more than I saw my family! Now, that’s intimate. Then they’d go back
home for 30-60 days and I’d see them again just before closing. It was like
going to a family reunion. We often knew so much about each other that it
felt like we OUGHT to become friends. And I might have been the only
friend-like person they knew on this end of the move. I had to devise rules
and regs in order to keep my sanity.
Certainly many originators know how to maintain the proper balance. They
spend the appropriate time with customers, allow their assistant to handle
much of the daily contact with customers, keep in touch with personal
follow-ups, (birthday cards etc.) and welcome the opportunity to handle
their future loans—while continuing to develop their business with new
However, there are others as noted earlier, who find it difficult to
maintain that balance.
The Key: Don’t become consumed with their personal issues if you would not
consider them to be a friend under other circumstances.
It’s also essential that your professional boundaries are clearly drawn and
respected. When I sold real estate I trained my clients to call me on
Tuesday afternoons. I’d say, “Of course you can call me when you need me,
but I have a tight schedule and sometimes it takes awhile for me to get back
to you. If it’s not an emergency, you’ll almost always find me in the office
on Tuesday afternoons from 1-5. That’s the time I allot for paperwork, so
chances are, I’ll have your file right there on my desk when you call.
Tuesday afternoon calls will save us both time.” And you know what? Most of
the time, most of them called on Tuesday afternoons
I believe the thing that many originators forget is that boundaries need to
be set. You have to create your own rules and regs about how to continue the
relationship. Because if you want to be in business--successfully--for a
long time, it is essential that you keep in touch with all clients and most
What about the vendors or customers that you just don’t want to see much of
in the future? As in most things, I find a Bell Curve about who might
becomes a real friend, who will remain an professional acquaintance and I’m
very clear on whom I never wish to see again. Most fall into the
professional acquaintance category--- maybe 90% or more for me. Professional
Acquaintances get 6-12 mailings a year. A Happy Anniversary of the loan/home
purchase, a birthday card(s), a first of the year and mid-year economic
forecasts, several odd holiday cards such as Ground Hog’s Day and so forth.
Perhaps a phone call once or twice a year and a few emails, or maybe your
own e-zine--just in case they may need you or have a friend to refer.
There are also about 3% that entrance me, or we have something in common
that we are both passionate about, or who are just plain fun. Those people I
invite out to lunch with no other agenda than getting acquainted. And I make
it clear that this is social not business. If they reciprocate, a friendship
is in the making. If not, they still stay on the mailing list, but I do not
pursue it further.
Those I never wish to see again for any reason don’t even get mailings. I’m
very clear about who is an “Energy Vampire” for me and costs me more in
emotional energy than I’d ever make up in money. Those are usually under 3%
of all the people I work with.
Off course, an essential ingredient in maintaining your own balance is
taking time off from the job. The other boundary I insisted upon was
Wednesdays and Sundays off. I swapped pagers/cell phones with a buddy and we
protected each other on our days off. Off course, in case of a true
emergency, we’d call each other. But most of the time, those calls only
needed a factual answer, a procedural answer or some hand-holding. They
didn’t really require ME. (Note to Loan Officers: Processing a loan is not
brain surgery. No one dies if you don’t call back in 23 minutes!)
Now, let me tell you the real key to emotional health and maintaining your
sanity that I learned from mega-successful people. TIME OFF. Regular,
reliable, scheduled time off in at least one-week chunks. Four to six times
each year. Really.
Judy Johnson, Empire Equity Group, Inc., near Los Angeles if I remember
correctly, does a planning session in the fall and includes 6 full weeks off
during the year and never schedules anything professional on Fridays,
Saturdays and Sundays. She says she also always takes off Sundays and
averages about 70% of Saturdays off and about 50% of the Fridays. And she
calls all of this her Recovery Time.
Judy has been a successful originator for a very long time because she has a
system and she works it. And she says it is all based on her Recovery Time.
What you do is hard work. It is often emotionally draining work and if you
do not have sufficient time to recharge your batteries often enough you’ll
wear our your engine far too soon. Your work will suffer, your family will
suffer and you’ll be miserable. And you’ll be too weary to be very effective
I can hear you muttering, “I can’t work a 4-day week! I can’t take off 6
weeks a year!”
Tell me, is your method working? Are you happily making lots of loans and
lots of money? Or are you chronically tired, underpaid, overwhelmed and
If you fall into the latter category, it’s time to rearrange your life.
Linda Brakeall, author of How To Get Men More Loans from Realtors, The Ten
Commandments for Loan Officers and
How to Turn Ad Calls into Commissions,
can be reached at 800-662-7248 or Linda@LindaBrakeall.com for in-house
training, company events and to subscribe to her Free E-zine, The Secrets of
Success. For free articles on sales and marketing for loan officers,