I have a confession to make to all of you. It weighs on my mind every time I talk to an agent who’s just come from a Primerica or NAA meeting where they’ve heard they can make $250k their first year. It anchors my soul whenever I hear someone with only a handful of sales being encouraged to recruit. It has been building, and I just can’t hold back anymore:

This job is really hard.

There are a lot of salespeople in this industry. Some are focused on selling things to their clients, while others are more focused on selling things to other agents. And many recruiters really want to sell agents on the idea that a career in insurance is the fast track to making an easy six figures in your pajamas.

You absolutely, positively can make six figures in your pajamas. Rick, our resident Medicare guru, gets dressed three times a week at this point and he has his own airplane – it can be done. But that didn’t happen overnight. Nobody is an overnight success in this business – it takes a tremendous amount of consistency and mental discipline to get to the level so many recruiters blithely dangle in front of new agents. Here’s why:

1. You’re running a business, probably for the first time.

It’s pretty rare that we talk to someone with a “perfect background” for insurance. You’re not just a salesperson, not just an accountant, not just an appointment setter, not just a closer, not just a case manager, not just a benefit specialist – you’re all of that stuff and more. It’s a lot, and it’s all coming at you at a time when you probably need to make some sales to keep the lights on at home.

2. You’ve got no frame of reference

Working from home is, in many ways, awesome. In many other ways, it’s an unending test of mental fortitude. It’s easy to distract yourself from work with household things, and it’s easy to get fat working next to your own fridge. Without co-workers or a supervisor in your office with you, you’ve got no frame of reference. You’re only accountable to yourself – and if you don’t hold yourself accountable, then time is inevitably going to be wasted.

This works both ways, though – if you’re super productive and doing an amazing job, there’s nobody around to pat you on the back but yourself. This can make it tough to stay motivated to give it your all every day. It’s vitally important to reward yourself for good efforts like this to keep that motivation high. Complacency is a career killer, and when you’re self-employed it’s an easy trap to fall into.

3. You’re not going to make $100k your first year

And if you do gross $100k your first year it’ll be because you spent $65k marketing yourself. Setting ambitious goals for yourself is good, but clinging to unrealistic expectations can be toxic. Don’t set up a business plan that requires you to net $7500 a month in profit your first year – it’s just not going to happen without some experience under your belt. This is a career, not a get-rich-quick scheme. Lay the foundation and reap the benefits for years and years to come.

But there’s one more thing to keep in mind: it’s all worth it.

You’re going to have your own business. You’ll be your own boss, set your own hours. You’ll have to work hard, but being in control of your own destiny like that – even with the pressure it brings – is pretty amazing. And you truly are doing a good thing as an insurance agent. One day you’re going to deliver a claim check that saves a family from financial ruin, or save someone’s retirement from imploding. You’re going to put a heck of a lot of minds at ease, and eliminate a lot of risk for a lot of people. It’s hard. It’s worth it.