Real estate investing is not easy. I know because I’m trying to do it and because my clients (real estate agents and investors) tell me horror stories.
My experience searching for my “first” makes it obvious to me that investing in real estate is like starting your own business, earning a black belt or sticking to the salad when those fall-off-the-bones short ribs look amazing. It takes discipline.
It’s also becoming obvious that I have three particularly bad habits that are common, but surprising, among many first-timers. These habits need to be kicked. Because if they’re not, it’s very likely that I (and anyone who shares these) will fail.
Read below for my top three bad habits and how I’m working on changing them. If you feel this whole “I’m a failure!” feeling is getting old, I recommend you examine this quick list and see if you need to make a change:
Reason 1: It only took her one month to drop 50 pounds. Why can’t I just lose five?
Call it obsessive comparing or impatience. We all do it and it’s not because we’re millennials. This impatience is a big trap because:
- …you’re basing your conclusions on something that hasn’t been verified (we all exaggerate a bit…and we all know about the legitimacy of those “lose weight without dieting” and “make a million dollars without working” schemes. They totally work!)
- …you’re probably comparing your beginning to someone else’s end – which can be daunting, discouraging and make you feel inadequate. You see only the curated Facebook pictures and not all of those mundane hours of (*gasp*) work; and
- …it puts you in a mindset of “I’m not good enough and I can’t do that, so why bother?”
All of this obsessing is draining and it will lead you nowhere, guaranteed. This is because your energy won’t be focused on what you should be doing. And that’s networking and finding the veterans in your field who can provide you with everything from war stories to investing models and, yes, shortcuts.
It’s always better to learn from someone else’s mistakes than your own. If you’re motivated by competition, use your role models as people who you want to compete against – just don’t be envious or jealous. It always shows and it will hurt the relationship.
Reason 2: I’m keeping my goals a secret – someone will steal them!
I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs, real estate investors and students in competitive fields (I’m looking at you, law students) fail miserably because they believe that someone will steal their idea. They work in isolation and do everything by themselves. This is a big problem because it forces the suspicious to become a jack of all trades and master of none. They do nothing well and experience very little headway because they’re busy working in their business and not on it. The suspicious also lose the richness and value offered by different perspectives and opinions. Need an example?
When starting Groundworks, my mission was simple – to improve the way the law was practised and delivered – but how I got there changed several times. If it didn’t share my idea and work on concept, I would have failed.
I spoke with countless real estate agents, lawyers and CEOs of everything from fitness clubs to investment companies and food chain supply managers with the goal of refining, re-evaluating and revising the delivery model in order to produce a better end result. And during this entire idea-sharing process, not one person stole my idea. Everyone’s busy with their own goals. Or binging on Netflix.
Reason 3: Paralysis by analysis
I am very risk adverse. So much that I worked four jobs in undergrad to avoid taking on any debt. It gets better: I mull over ideas for so long that I typically forget what it was that I was originally mulling over! My risk adverseness has also caused me to miss many great opportunities and, most importantly, delay what I really wanted do in life.
I know plenty of people who believe that you should only make a decision once you are ready and only after you’ve assembled and reassembled all possible information. I also know that these people have done very little. This is because you’ll never have all of the information. And you’ll never be ready. Just ask anyone who’s had a kid or quit her job to start up something new (and successful). Were they 100 per cent certain and ready? Doubt it.
Mulling through the details is important, but don’t place the majority of your focus on the need to analyze at the expense of the need to act. This is because inertia will set in. After all, an object at rest stays at rest. Especially if that object feels nervous moving.
If you need a motivator, think of this: it’s very unlikely that you’re making an analytical decision. Too many brilliant people have proven that even with all of the information we need, we still base our decisions on “gut” and we still make mistakes. We’re just really bad at predicting outcomes, not to mention what makes us happy. So don’t try.
My quick solution: when getting nervous or over analytical, remind yourself that only action gives you experience and it’s only experience that will encourage you to move. In other words, moving by action means you’re moving towards your goals.
Doing anything new is daunting. But, as many people agree on their deathbeds, it’s much better living a life of “oh wells” than a life of “what ifs”. I’ll take the wisdom of those reflecting on life over those who are just moving through it.