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When You’re Being a Dipstick, Change Your Oil

July 5, 2022

Two weeks ago, a thick, white smoke began emitting from my exhaust pipe.


I thought to myself, “Well, this is probably why I’ve had multiple icons lit up on my dash for the past few months.”


Coincidentally, I had scheduled an appointment for a check-up and oil change only a few days prior to this for the following week. So, the smoke wasn’t too much of a concern, initially…

Only a few days later, a little bit of white smoke became a substantial amount of white smoke. Reluctantly, I ended up getting my car towed to the closest body shop.

Shortly thereafter, the results were in.

The shop manager communicated that they found basically no oil in my car and the head gasket blew.


My immediate thoughts were: “I don’t care what a head gasket is, give me the bill.”


But then the manager went on to mention that they weren’t sure whether the car will last 1,000 miles or 100,000 because there may be internal engine damage which is difficult to diagnose less thousands of dollars.

If we can put aside my personal stupidity and ignorance for a second, this situation encouraged me to realize the parallels between car maintenance and how we take care of ourselves – specifically mental health.

I would argue that an overwhelming amount of people treat their physical and mental health similar to how I treated my car. Generally, we don’t acknowledge a problem or try to find a solution until a head gasket blows. And, in some cases, it might be too late to “save the engine”. In essence, it’s a difference between being reactive and proactive.

Changing your oil is synonymous with a life reset.


The action or actions one must take to balance their life will be dramatically different from person to person. Therefore, a reset is not simply taking a vacation for everyone, for example. We must be intentional with the introspection that will lead us to gain clarity  on what makes us happy and what gives us purpose.


This could otherwise be described as a journey to identify our personal core values and our personal mission. Identifying our core values and mission, respectively, will help us achieve clarity on what types of things we must do to successfully balance our lives in the face of volatility.

I, for example, take weekend vacations to places all over Pennsylvania about once a month.

As an only child, I’m an introvert by nature; therefore, networking, client meetings, and business ownership take a toll on my energy – despite my unequivocal passion and desire to do these things. However, in order to continue doing these things at a high level, I need to give myself an escape which comes in the form of mini-vacations.


While I fully realize I’m not the poster child for excellent mental health, I’ve identified what I need to do to maintain my productivity, lifestyle, and most importantly, sanity.

In real estate, we are constantly operating at a rapid pace to hit deadlines.

While there is typically a lucrative payout which is used – for better or worse – as justification for this behavior, constantly putting money and our client’s needs on a higher pedestal than our own mental health is a surefire way to burnout.


Sure, there are exceptions to this, and we certainly need to put our client’s needs above our own in most circumstances.


However, consistently doing so at the expense of our physical and mental health is dangerous and unsustainable without periodic resets. We simply need to acknowledge that it’s happening if/when we choose to engage in that behavior.


This will allow us to better serve our clients at a high level for a longer period of time.

As the saying goes, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”

In conclusion, we sometimes need to look under the hood of our personal lives even though we’d like to avoid doing so due to apprehension of what we might find. This will allow us to enhance our relationship with family, friends, food, faith, work, and especially ourselves.


Are you ignoring the check engine light on your personal dashboard? 

 Michael J. Rohm, MAI, CCIM, R/W-AC, is a fee appraiser and real estate agent working throughout Pennsylvania.

He is president and owner of Commonwealth Commercial Appraisal Group and is director of valuation advisory and senior associate with Landmark Commercial Realty. Contact him at

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