Motion vs Action—Check Your Blind Spot

By Patrick Francey

Experienced and well-intentioned real estate investors may not realize there is a blind spot obstructing their success of achieving the results they desire—but often there is. By definition, a blind spot is an area of space that is not visible or an area of obstructed view. The blind spot we’re referring to is when investors fail to recognize they are fooling themselves into thinking, feeling, and believing that being in motion equals acting. 

The two words may appear to be synonymous, but their meanings are quite different. Motion, by definition, is the act of changing position or location whereas action is the act or process of doing something, typically to achieve an outcome or executing something. 

Motion vs Action 

Motion is essentially busyness, doing things without actually getting anything done. Action, on the other hand, is the “doing” that leads to and produces results. Tasks themselves won’t produce results without action. 

Here are some examples of motion vs action in real estate investing: 

·       Analyzing five potential real estate deals is motion. Writing an offer on one of those deals is action. The action of writing the offer is necessary to close the deal and purchase the property. 

·       Emailing potential joint venture partners to start a conversation about the benefits of partnering in real estate is motion. Asking for capital and writing an offer is action. 

·       Researching and analyzing the economic fundamentals of a city or neighborhood and visiting the prospective area is motion. Closing a deal on a property in that area is action. 

·       Investors interested in owning investment properties outside of Canada will do research and due diligence on the country of choice, looking online and speaking to investors familiar with international investments. That is motion. Travelling to the country of interest to view properties first-hand and meet with local investors and real estate agents in the targeted area is action. 

·       Attending a Real Estate Investment Network event to learn investing strategies and networking with other investors, asking questions and reading reports, that is motion. Applying the strategies and closing deals is action. 

·       Reviewing multiple tenant applications for a recently purchased property is motion. Accepting an application and signing a lease to have the chosen tenant move in, that’s action. 

Being in motion is necessary to prepare, strategize, and learn, which in turn helps investors decide the best course of action to take. But motion on its own won’t lead to results. Regardless of how many properties you analyze or how many investing strategies are memorized, the motion in and of itself won’t grow your real estate portfolio—or your bank account. It is only the actions of physically writing an offer and signing a lease or mortgage documents that will yield the results you’re looking to achieve. 

Why Investors Find Themselves in a State of Motion 

If motion doesn’t lead to results, why do we believe it does? Often, motion fulfills our need to learn more and to plan to prepare. It’s easy to get caught up in motion because it usually feels as though our findings and time spent “doing” and being “busy” is moving us forward. The blind spot, in this case, is that we are fooled into believing that our motion is in fact action. 

Often, investors stay in motion to avoid acting, hiding behind their constant motion to avoid the results that come with taking action. The commitment to move from motion to action can generate results that scare us. The fear of failure or making a mistake is reason enough to linger in motion. Making mistakes puts us in a vulnerable position; the potential scrutiny from family and friends, or even the wider public, is a terrifying thought. Even success itself can be scary! After successfully taking action and closing a deal, investors must go to the next level of complexity and uncertainty with that transaction. 

Being in motion generates the illusion of being in action, and it makes us avoid situations that leave us open to failure. This is one of the greatest reasons well-intentioned investors slip into and linger in motion rather than action: they want to avoid risks—whether perceived or real—and the possibility of failure. 

Here are a few examples of fears that can keep investors from taking action: 

·       Yes, I want to write an offer and buy the property. But I don’t want to look stupid by not negotiating the best deal, so I’ll just analyze the deal until someone else’s offer is accepted. 

·       Yes, I have a money partner, but if I present an opportunity, they might question the split and I won’t know how to respond. So, instead, I’ll practice my pitch and talk to and keep learning from other potential investors firsthand. 

·       Yes, I’d like to secure financing, but I don’t want to draw attention to my bad credit history and tax issues. I’ll wait until I figure out how I can clean up my credit card debt and the outstanding taxes I owe Canada Revenue Agency. 

Keeping busy and hiding behind the illusion of motion and convincing yourself that you’re moving in the right direction is easy. So, the question to ask yourself is: Is being in motion your blind spot to taking action to achieve your goals? Take a moment to think about that. 

If your response resembles any of the following examples, you need to reevaluate how you plan to get the results you desire. 

·       I’m talking with four potential JV partners right now. This is excellent! I’m moving in the right direction. 

·       I spoke with my realtor about looking at some deals. This is all coming together perfectly! 

·       I’ve called some FSBOs and looked at dozens of MLS listings online. I haven’t found the right deal yet, but I’m going to keep looking! 

Despite feeling like you’re getting things done and making progress, is the action you’re taking just the ongoing motion of preparing to get something done in the future, at a time yet to be determined? Is your motion of learning and preparing your blind spot, obscuring your goals with procrastination of acting on your findings? 

Ideas for Taking Action 

There are endless strategies to help investors move from motion to action. The list below offers a few suggestions to get you started: 

1.    Set a Schedule for Your Actions 

I commit to physical training at least three days a week: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I schedule the workouts in my calendar, and every week I look forward to Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays because I know that I will always take the action of training on those days. By doing so, I know I’ll get the results I’m striving for. That is a good feeling. I’m not just scheduling the workouts, I’m physically doing the exercises. In the same way, I’m not researching training programs or talking with my trainer, I’m working out. I’m in action, not motion. This is an effective approach for achieving continued desirable outcomes and lifestyle results. Set a schedule for your actions and stick to it! 

2.    Pick a Date to Shift Your Motion into Action 

Decide on a realistic deadline for when you intend to start taking action, such as buying your next investment property. Add it to your calendar so it’s visible. Set reminders as the date gets closer, if that helps. Perhaps you might even want to add some pressure by assigning a penalty to yourself if you miss the deadline. If so, have a friend hold you accountable for paying the penalty. By making a decision and committing to a deadline, you have no choice but to focus and align your actions in a way that supports the desired outcome. 

Some helpful tips: 

·       Decide to take the necessary actions to resolve any financial blocks you might have and set a date that it needs to be resolved by. 

·       Don’t just talk to potential joint venture partners, make the deal! This way you define and take action to deliver on your role in the deal. 

·       Submit as many offers as necessary to lock in the right deal and ask for the help you need along the way but make the choice to act in a way that results in getting the deal closed. 

For larger, occasional goals, set a daily or weekly schedule of the small action steps you need to take leading up to your deadline to achieve the results you want. Remember, decisions drive actions! 

Choose Action 

“Never mistake activity for achievement.” – John Wooden 

Motion doesn’t produce results, action does. When you are in motion, you are planning, strategizing, and learning. Those are all good and necessary things, but they don’t produce results. Be careful and watch for this blind spot. Motion isn’t action. 

Ask yourself: Are you doing something or are you just preparing to do it? 

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