7 steps to better investing

As an author and business mentor to real estate investors across Canada and the U.S. I have come across thousands of real estate investors. All these investors have access to the same resources to get their business off the ground: magazines, books, internet, education forums, etc., however, interestingly, only a small number of them achieve the success they wish for.

If I give a copy of one of my books to three different investors, despite them having the same information, there are three possible outcomes. 1) The person puts the book on the shelf to gather dust without reading it. 2) They read it and try to implement the content and get it wrong or 3) They implement the strategies successfully and make money. What sets this last (small) group of investors apart? In a word: mindset.

The biggest difference between successful and unsuccessful real estate investors comes down to their plan and the authenticity behind it. In other words, why do they want to achieve their real estate goals and do they firmly believe in the 'why' behind the plan? In light of this, I have devised an Authentic Goal Setting System which, if you follow, will help you create an authentic plan that is achievable while also rewarding.

The tale in which 3% of the world's population sets and writes down goals, and the remaining 97% do not, suggests that all one must do is set goals and the rest looks after itself. All too often I see this happen and people come to me frustrated that they have been unable to achieve their goals (or if they do achieve their goals they remain unfulfilled). There is one major piece of advice missing from the '3% versus 97%' story and that is that the goals you set must be meaningful to you and must belong to you - so often I come across investors who have a long list of goals on their wish-list, yet upon questioning have no idea why they actually want them. You are much better off not goal-setting at all than setting goals that have no meaning for you. Why? Because you're wasting your time and energy walking in the wrong direction.  

So how do we set true and meaningful goals? Follow this seven step system for authentic goal setting:

Step 1:
Face reality. It's time to get real about where you are in life. It's only from a place of knowledge of where you are at, that can you truly move forward. Be real about where you are at financially, personally and emotionally. It's super-easy to set a goal of buying x number of properties, however if you are in debt and your credit rating is low how real and likely is this going to happen? Now your goal might be to get out of debt and clean up your credit rating. Likewise, if you are challenged on the relationship front you can buy all the properties you want and still not be fulfilled.

Real Estate Investors tell me all the time how passionate they are about real estate, and I push some buttons when I counter them by telling them they're not. The bottom line for humans is that we are really only passionate about three things: family, spirituality and contribution. These are really relationships at the end of the day. If you can get real with this then the question becomes, how do I use real estate to support these?

Step 2:
Create space. Someone once said that the quality of your life will be determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself. The challenge is that many people are not asking themselves questions to begin with because they are either running from something or afraid of the answers. Others are asking themselves the wrong questions and therefore getting the wrong answers. Lastly, you have the people who are asking the right questions but expect the answer to magically show up straight away.
Ask yourself real questions to figure out what it is that you truly want. It's also important to give yourself the space to find the answers. Some of the questions you might like to ask yourself are:

  1. - Why am I in real estate?
  2. - What do I expect real estate to do for me?
  3. - What are my strengths and how can I use them to invest in real estate?
  4. - How do I want to live?
  5. - Am I truly happy now?
  6. - What would make me truly happy?
  7. - Am I really passionate about real estate?
  8. These are just some examples of questions you can ask yourself (again, choose questions that are a fit for you). And be sure to give yourself plenty of time and space to answer them.

Step 3:
One Summit. The answers from the above questions should offer clarity on what it is you want. If not, go back and ask yourself more questions. When you do have clarity, pick one goal that you wish to achieve - I call this your Summit - and focus on achieving it. Too often we create lists of goals that we wish to achieve and get overwhelmed by the list, becoming frustrated and end up achieving very little. Pick one Summit that really motivates you, take massive action towards achieving this Summit, once achieved move on to another one. An analogy I like to use is that we can only physically climb one mountain at a time, then why would we consider climbing more than one mountain in life?

Step 4:
Patience. We have become obsessed with expecting immediate results - we want all the answers yesterday, we want the cable car to take us to the top of the mountain - rather than putting in the hard work of planning, practice, acclimatization, etc. Be patient, put the work effort in and the results will come.

Step 5:
Golden Rituals. Ensure you have a foundation of rituals that support you in how you live in the areas of mind, body and spirit. These can be anything from exercise to massage to meditation - whatever you need to support you. These are distinct from goals - as a goal is defined as what you want to attain in the future. Rituals must support you and be part of your life and how you want to live now. I cannot overstate the importance of these.

Step 6:
Tell the World. Let people know what it is you want to attain. We've all heard about asking the universe. However, once you start to tell people what it is you are going to do or achieve, you notice things will happen to support your goals. From a basic viewpoint, you will be pleasantly surprised who will reach out and help you reach your goals - but this will only be discovered if they are made aware. On the flip side you may receive negative feedback from some people; I strongly suggest surrounding yourself with people who believe in you.

Step 7:
Persistence. While being patient in achieving your goals and dogged in your persistence, don't be afraid to look at what you are doing and change it accordingly. It's OK to change your mind about what it is you want, rather than stubbornly persisting in the pursuit of a goal that no longer serves you.

Finally, the key to success is to enjoy what you do on a daily basis - this is a quick and easy litmus test you can apply to everything you do. If you don't like the answer, make some changes now.

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