One of the biggest challenges I’ve had as an entrepreneur is staying on track. In other words, either getting distracted with other business opportunities or getting discouraged and giving up.
What about you? Has your entrepreneurial journey been filled with detours and dead ends?
Have you ever excitedly told your family and friends about how you’re getting into real estate investing and how much money there is to be made and then a couple months later they ask you how it’s going and you sheepishly have to tell them you haven’t really gotten started yet? Or that you started, but it didn’t go as you expected and you gave up?
If you’re already investing, are you steadily moving forward toward your goals with real estate investing, the things that got you into real estate investing in the first place? Or has it basically just turned into another job for you, where you’re plugging away at the day-to-day stuff but not really making any progress?
In another post, I talked about the importance of setting a specific goal and putting a deadline on it. If you haven’t already done that, start there. But after you have a goal, how can you keep on track to reach it?
Here’s the simple answer:
You have to make it harder to give up than to stick with it.
When we start getting into unfamiliar territory, doing things that are new and uncomfortable, our tendency is to follow the path of least resistance, which is to keep doing what we’ve been doing, even if it hasn’t been working. This especially happens when we run into challenges or obstacles that give us an easy excuse to give up.
It’s like gravity. The bigger object always pulls things toward it. When you start out, your comfort zone has the most gravity. The habits you already have will pull you back to them. To be drawn toward something else, you have to make it have a stronger pull. You have to make it so the course of least resistance is actually to stay on track toward your goal rather than to give up.
Here Are 5 Actions That Make It Harder to Give Up Than to Keep Going:
- Get an accountability partner.
Find someone like a friend or another investor who understands what you want to do and believes you can do it and will help you stay on track. Set up a schedule to talk on the phone every week or every two weeks, or meet for coffee or whatever works for you.Be specific in what you need from them. Give them permission to be tough with you. Give yourself incentives to get things done, and incentives to your friend for making you do it.For example, let’s say what you need to do is put out roadside signs. Tell your friend to call you in one week and if you didn’t put out at least 20 bandit signs / roadside signs, you’ll give them $20. Now your friend has incentive to call you and check up and you have incentive to get your butt in gear and get it done. Make the incentive enough that it will hurt more to not do what you need to do rather than to do it. If $20 doesn’t hurt enough, make it $100. You might say, ‘But I can’t afford to give my friend $20 or $100.’ Good. That’s the point. That will give you a strong incentive to get up and get the work done.Besides this specific accountability partner, tell other friends who will be supportive what you’re doing and that you’d appreciate them checking in on you. Be careful who you tell because some people will be discouraging and try to talk you out of it. Choose friends or family members who are supportive. Having other people ask you how the business is going and having to give them answers can be a powerful reminder. Don’t disappoint them by telling them you chickened out or have been slacking. And don’t make excuses. If you didn’t do your marketing because you got scared, tell them that. It doesn’t help you if you’re making excuses.
- Join a mastermind group. Find a group of people who want to achieve similar results and meet regularly, either by phone or in person, and help each other reach your goals. Join your local real estate investment club or local meetup. Talk to people and find several who are open to starting a mastermind group to help everyone move forward. Try to get a mix of people who are at roughly the same point as you and some that are ahead of you. Don’t include negative people and whiners. They will just drag everyone else down. Arrange to either meet in person or by phone with this small group of 3-5 people once a week.If you don’t already know where your local REIA club meets, find the local contact on one of these sites:
- REIclub.com list of investment clubs
- BiggerPockets.com list of investment clubs
- Check on Meetup.com. These may not be “official” REIA clubs but small groups of investors who can help you just the same.
- Search on Google for things like “real estate investment club St. Louis” (using your own city/area name, of course)
Some of the listings on those sites are old and the contact information doesn’t work anymore or the person who used to run a club isn’t anymore. That doesn’t mean no one is meeting in your area. Try all the methods listed above and you should find someone in your area. If none of those work, start calling other investors who have ads in your area, like on the “We Buy Houses” signs along the road, ads in the classifieds in your local newspaper, or on Craigslist. There are investors almost everywhere. Find them. Ask if there is a local group that meets up. If not, start one.
- Get a coach or mentor. If you can afford it, hire a coach to give you specific advice and help you stay accountable. If you’ve been learning real estate investing from a specific person and you know that person is really investing in real estate and not just selling books, see if they have a coaching program. If so, find out if the coaching program is actually with that person or someone else. There are a lot of “coaches” out there that have never done a deal themselves. So be careful who you listen to.If you can’t yet afford a coach, go to your next local real estate investment club meeting and find someone who is where you want to be in 6 months and get to know them. If you’re just starting off and haven’t done your first deal yet, find someone who is relatively new to investing but has done at least a few deals and is moving forward. Ask some questions. See if they will give you some tips. Maybe you can even help them with a deal they’re working on for free, just for the experience. You could also offer them a share of the profits from your first deal if they will help you with it.
- Remind yourself of what you’re doing and why.
Put notes around your office and house with just a couple items – your #1 goal and why you want to achieve it. Put them in places where you’ll see them every day. It could be on your wall, on your computer’s desktop background, etc. The more places you see it, the better. When you feel like giving up, you’ll have these notes staring you in the face, reminding you of what you said you wanted and why you want it.Send yourself reminders. If you use some kind of electronic calendar, set regular reminders to yourself. I’m using a service called “If This, Then That” at www.ifttt.com. They have an app for your phone too and I set it up to send me a text message or reminder every day with my #1 goal and why I want to achieve it. You can send yourself emails too if you want. Every time you get a reminder, stop and read it and think about it. Remember, you sent yourself this message for a reason. Don’t ignore it.
- Go all in. If you’re going to reach you’re goal, you have to be fully committed to it. You can’t do it halfway. You can’t just “kind of” be a real estate investor. Let me share a personal example.For 11+ years I’ve been building websites for real estate investors. I considered myself an entrepreneur, but I was never really achieving the things I said I wanted. That’s because I didn’t have clear goals and kept getting distracted with other things that came along. I kept taking on other projects. I always had other sources of income. However, at one point I lost my primary income source, so I decided to take the investor website business more seriously and give it my focus.I set a goal and a deadline, I created a plan, I joined a mastermind group, etc. I was doing lots of things right. My wife was supportive of it and was helping me with many things, especially the planning. She suggested I hire a business coach because to achieve new results, I need to do things differently than in the past and it would help to hire someone who already is where I wanted to be. So we did that and I started the coaching.It started off well. The first week and a half or so I got all the things done that my coach recommended. But then fear started to set in. Now I had to do things I’ve never done before that made me uncomfortable. Rather than looking for ways to overcome obstacles, I used the obstacles as excuses for why I couldn’t do those things. Soon I was about three weeks behind on the things I was supposed to do and still immobilized by fear.
At this point my wife started asking me where I was at with getting the things done my business coach told me to do. She cut through my excuses and got to the heart of the matter. I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to I was wasting the money we spent on coaching. That was hard to admit, but I knew she was right. Then it got worse.
She said I’ve been saying I want to build this business for 11 years but never fully committed to it. Now we’re spending lots of money to get it off the ground. Then she gave me an ultimatum…
By a certain date (that was only 3 months away), if I hadn’t reached my goal of making the business self-sustaining, I would have to give up entrepreneurship… for 11 years! Eleven years, because that’s how long she had put up with hearing me say I was “going to” do this and not following through. I’m entrepreneurial by nature, so to think of having to give up entrepreneurship for 11 years and get a “normal job”… wow, that’s rough!
And not only did she give me this ultimatum verbally, she made me sign a contract saying specifically, in my own words, what results I would have by a certain date and that if I didn’t achieve these results by that date, I’d give up entrepreneurship for 11 years. And one thing you should know about my wife is that she always follows through. If I sign my name to this, you better believe she’ll make sure I do what I said.
I know, it may sound pretty harsh. I fought against agreeing to this tooth and nail. But then I realized the benefit of it. First off, why did my wife do this? Is it because she doesn’t want me to be an entrepreneur? No, she has been very supportive of it. She has even invested lots of her own time and money into it. So why make me agree to this?
Because I was at a difficult point where it was easier to keep doing what I’ve been doing rather than do new, uncomfortable things. I needed a fire to be lit under me. And believe me, that did the trick.
What effect did it have?
Well, I had this list of “impossible” things my business coach told me to do. Things that I had decided “didn’t make sense for the market I’m in”, things that “wouldn’t work”, things that “weren’t possible.” Guess what?
After my wife made me agree to this, I had the first “impossible” task done the next day. And the day after that, the next “impossible” task. A few days later, the next one.
I also had focus. I could see clearly that if I was going to reach this deadline, I had to be 100% focused on it. That means I couldn’t be looking at other opportunities, I couldn’t be taking on other projects that would tie up my time and not move me forward toward my goal. I had to tune out all the distractions and eliminate all the excuses and just get it done.
If you’ve found yourself doing things halfway and getting distracted, making excuses, etc., light a fire under yourself by going all in. Commit 100%. Take drastic measures if necessary.
In my case, that has meant turning down other opportunities. People are offering me money to help them with things and I’m turning it down. Why? Because at this stage it’s not about making some short-term profit. It’s about reaching the goal. If I don’t reach the goal, it’s game over.
Until I committed 100%, I was never going to reach my goal. I would keep taking on things that distracted me from the goal.
Let’s expand on that last point about going “all in” a little more.
That reminds me of a quote:
“The man that chases 2 rabbits catches neither.”
When we’re just “dabbling” in different things and not committing, it’s never going to go where we want it.
Sometimes to get where we want, we have to burn the bridges to the places we don’t want to be.
How can you apply that in your own business?
Some people who wanted to invest in real estate full time set a certain date where they’d turn in their resignation from their job and followed through on it. Others have actually given their boss their notice. I’m not necessarily saying that’s what you should do, but it certainly would be a strong motivating force.
Thing about what strong measures you could take to light a fire under yourself.
The truth is, when we have an option not to succeed, often we won’t. When you give yourself no other choice, it’s sink or swim. You’ll find a way to swim.
I almost drowned when I was in my teens. I wasn’t a good swimmer and swam across a river and couldn’t make it back. No one else saw me struggling. I went under several times and had no strength left. I didn’t know how to tread water and was completely exhausted. To be honest, I don’t know how I got myself to the shore. But I know I used every ounce of energy and strength I had. I didn’t want to die so I fought with everything I had to stay alive.
If you’ve found yourself giving up or getting distracted, sometimes the only solution is to create a situation where you have to be committed 100%. Sometimes you have to take drastic measures.
Just a word of caution: I don’t suggest getting in over your head in debt as a solution. For example, I’ve been to real estate investing seminars where the “guru” speaking convinces people to max out their credit cards or borrow from friends and family to pay for some coaching program they have for $10,000 or more. Personally, I don’t think that’s a good route. Don’t risk something you don’t have. I think the stress of the debt can be more like a heavy weight that causes you to sink rather than helping you to swim. At least in my own experience, biting off more than I could chew was not a good solution. It was more depressing than motivating. Work with what you have.
No Excuses. Do it now.
Along the way, it will be easy to make excuses for why you can’t do it or why it doesn’t make sense. That’s fear talking. Fear is your #1 enemy. It’s trying to keep you in your comfort zone. If you stay in your comfort zone, you’ll achieve the same thing as 95% of the population: mediocrity and dissatisfaction.
If you want to join the 5% who break through and are successful, you are going to have to do things that make you uncomfortable.
So how can you stay on track? How can you make it harder to give up than to keep going?
- Get an accountability partner
- Join or create a mastermind group
- Get a coach or mentor
- Remind yourself of what you’re doing and why
- Go all in
If one of your excuses has been that you couldn’t afford a good website, I’ve eliminated that excuse for you. Sign up for our free real estate investor website. It takes less than a minute.
If you already have a site, get busy with your marketing and do some deals!
To your success,