What a Bold Next Step Requires

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By Patrick Francey

Blind spot: An area of a larger space that is not visible; an area of obstructed view.

Motion: The act of changing position or location.

Action: The act or process of doing something, typically to achieve an outcome. A thing done; execution; executed.

There is a “blind spot,” which even the most experienced and well-intentioned real estate investors don’t realize is obstructing their view of achieving the results they desire. The blind spot I’m talking about is not seeing when you’re fooling yourself into thinking, feeling, and believing that when you’re in motion you are taking action. Yes, being in motion and taking action sound similar, but they’re definitely not the same thing. Consider the following:

Motion vs. Action

Motion is when you’re busy doing things, but the task (or tasks) by itself will never produce the result you’re looking for. Action, on the other hand, is the “doing” that leads to and produces a result.

Here are some examples:

  • If you analyze five real estate deals you feel are worth your consideration, that’s motion. Writing an offer on one of those deals is action—it’s the action necessary to produce the result of purchasing the property.
  • If you e-mail five possible joint venture partners to open a conversation with them about the benefits of real estate investing, that’s motion. If you ask for the money, that’s action, as is writing the offer.
  • If you research and analyze the economic fundamentals of a city or neighbourhood and even visit the area, that’s motion. If you write an offer and close the deal on a piece of real estate in that area, that’s action.
  • If you want to challenge your comfort zone and consider owning investment property outside Canada, doing research and due diligence from the comfort of your home office is motion. Getting on a plane to go look at properties first-hand and meet with investors and real estate agents in the areas you’ve targeted, now this is action.
  • If you attend a REIN meeting to learn strategies and network with other investors to ask questions about investing in real estate, that’s motion. If you apply the strategies and write an offer, that’s action.
  • If you review multiple tenant applications for the property you recently purchased, that’s motion. If you accept an application and sign a lease to have the tenant move in, that’s action.

Being in motion is almost always necessary to prepare, strategize, and learn. These things will help you take the best action. But motion will never—by itself—lead to the result you are looking to achieve. It doesn’t matter how many properties you analyze or how many buying strategies you learn, those motions alone will never grow your real estate portfolio or your bank account. Only the actions of writing an offer and signing a lease or the mortgage documents will get you the result 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 this is because the motion fulfills our need to learn more and to plan and prepare. However, it’s easy to get caught only ever being in motion because it leaves us feeling as though we are moving forward. Our blind spot is that, while being in the motion of our “busyness and doingness,” we are fooled into believing we’re taking action.

The reality is, there’s a good chance that we’re re staying in motion to avoid taking action. We might actually be hiding behind our constant motion to avoid the results that come with taking action. A commitment to moving from motion to action can generate results that scare us, such as the possibility of making a mistake, failing, or even succeeding! It doesn’t feel good to screw up and be judged by friends, family, or the wider public. Going to the next level of complexity and uncertainty after we successfully take action and now own the property can be scary too.

Being in motion tends to generate the illusion of being in action and it avoids creating situations that leave us exposed to failure. I have come to believe that this is one of the biggest reasons why even well-intentioned investors slip into motion rather than take action: they want to avoid risks (perceived or real) and the possibility of failure. Following are some examples of the fears that can hold investors back.

Yes, I want to write an offer and buy a 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 gets their offer 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 keep learning by talking to other potential investors first-hand.

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

It’s very easy to be “doing things,” hiding behind the illusion of motion, and convincing yourself that you’re still moving in the right direction. So I urge you to ask yourself, is being in motion your blind spot to actually taking action? If your response resembles any of the examples listed below, you need to rethink how to go about getting 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 on looking!”

You may feel like you’re getting things done, but is the “action” you are taking actually just the ongoing motion of preparing to get something done at a future time yet to be determined? Is your motion of learning and preparing actually your blind spot that is obscuring your procrastination of taking action?

Ideas for Taking Action

There are many strategies for taking action, but I offer you here a few that have worked for me and others.

Set a Schedule for Your Actions

I commit to physical training at least three days a week: typically Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I often train more than three days, but I make this my minimum. 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, and that by doing so I’ll get a result. That’s a good feeling. I’m not planning the workout, I’m physically doing the exercises. I’m not researching training programs or talking with my trainer, I’m simply working out—I’m in action, not in motion. For achieving continued desirable outcomes and lifestyle results, I find this to be an effective approach. Set a schedule for your actions, and stick to it!

Pick a Date to Shift Your Motion into Action

Decide and then set a (realistic) deadline for when you intend to pull the trigger on taking an action such as buying your next investment property. Make it a hard date. You can even add the pressure of assigning yourself a penalty for missing it, and have a friend hold you accountable to paying the penalty should you miss the deadline. 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 outcome.  

Here are some useful tips:

  • Whatever is causing your financing block, decide to take the actions needed to resolve it by a defined date.
  • Don’t just talk to potential joint venture partners, make the decision to ask for the deal to get done. In doing this, you will have defined and taken action to deliver on your role in the deal.
  • Submit as many offers as necessary to lock in the right deal and ask for whatever help you may need along the way, but choose to take actions that produce the result of getting the deal done!

For larger occasional goals, setting a daily or weekly schedule of the small action steps you will take leading up to your deadline for the result works incredibly well. Remember, decisions drive actions!

Choose Action

“Never mistake activity for achievement.”
– John Wooden

Motion will never produce a final result—action will. When you’re in motion, you’re planning, strategizing, and learning. Those are all good and necessary things, but they don’t produce a result. Be careful and watch for the blind spot of thinking motion is action. Ask yourself, are you doing something or are you just preparing to do it?            

Are you in the busyness of motion, or are you taking action?

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