It was 8am on Boxing Day. Even after all the Christmas consumption, I’d managed to get myself up from my bed and out the door, and was now staring at Barbara. I was getting scared. She looked like she was really going to hurt me. “Maybe I should walk away from this one,” I thought as I looked around the room at the folks who were also going to take on Barbara. But, nobody was heading for the door – they were just getting ready for the battle.
If you’re into Crossfit, you’ve probably already figured out I am talking about a WOD (workout of the day) named Barbara. She’s 5 rounds of 20 pullups, 30 push ups, 40 weighted sit ups and 50 air squats. She is nasty.
How do you get through a workout like that?
You could look at it and think: “100 pullups, 150 push ups, 200 weighted sit ups and 250 air squats – I’ll never finish that!” You could defeat yourself before you even flex a muscle.
Or, you could look at the first 20 pull ups and think “Ok – let’s do 4 sets of 5”. Then, when that is done, you move on to push ups and do 3 sets of 10, and so on. With each section accomplished, you adjust your plans for the next round. Perhaps you do a few less or a few more reps before you rest. Maybe, you realize it’s just way more than you can do right now, so you find a way to scale your plans down (in my case as dropping to my knees for the pushups and adding some body weight support in the form of a band for the pullups was an immediate adjustment I made in the hopes of finishing).
No matter what, the best way to approach an enormous challenge is to break that big bad beast up into a series of smaller sets that are manageable so you have a shot at finishing – which is what I did.
It seems logical when you’re facing a workout, but why is it not what most people do when they are chasing their big goals in life? The majority of people we work with as real estate investment coaches arrive on our virtual doorstep with a daunting list of things they want to do. For example, they will say they want to own 20 properties. That alone is a big task – much like a Barbara WOD. But, that is rarely the ONLY thing people want to do. This same person may also want to start a rent to own business or a real estate club, raise a few million dollars and work on a development project. This is, of course, while they have a full time job and a family as well.
It’s not that these things aren’t possible over a period of time. It’s that all at once, it’s too much to take on. It’s overwhelming. It also creates a lot of stress.
Let’s say you do want to buy 20 properties – what do you do? Some will tell you that you need a plan to buy all 20 before you start. You might try to plan it out by thinking “ok that’s roughly $6,000,000 in real estate so I will need about $1,500,000 for down payments and renovations”. That is like looking at Barbara and telling yourself that you have 700 reps of exercise ahead of you and then trying to get motivated. GULP!
The Best Approach to Buy 20 Investment Properties
The best approach is to break it up and tackle one thing at a time, just like I had to do with Barbara. I didn’t look at it as 100 pullups. I looked at it one round at a time. In my case it was 4 sets of 5 pull ups. For the properties, take 20 properties and break it down. Maybe it’s 2 per year over 10 years. Maybe it’s 4 per year for 5 years.
Break it down.
That’s your overall plan, and it’s good to have in the back of your mind, but now I suggest you forget about it and just focus on getting one deal done. One deal is a lot to handle in itself. Do you know where you want to buy? Do you know what kind of property (commercial, duplex, four plex, single family home)? Do you know who you want to rent to & how you’ll attract them to the property? What resources do you have (financial, time, etc)? Who is on your team?
Get that first deal done. Assess what you liked and what you didn’t like. What needs to change to move forward with more ease? Can you handle the pace of 4 per year, or is it too much given the things that are important to you right now (family, health, career etc).
With that information, details that you can ONLY gather after you’ve made a huge step forward, you can make adjustments and then move forward.
Keep looking at that next most important thing you need to do to move forward. Know that you’re working towards 20 properties, but also realizing that you may not get there. You might not want to once you get to 10. That might be enough. You also might exceed it. You don’t know right now. What you do know is the next thing you need to do, so go and do it (and if you don’t know that next thing then get some support and help!).
I didn’t finish Barbara. The buzzer went off indicating the max time had been reached. I was on my fifth round but was at least another 4 or 5 minutes away from finishing. I’m ok with that. I have learned that it’s good to have an idea of where you’re going, but always look at the bigger picture of WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. For us, as real estate investors, we weren’t looking to create an empire. We wanted to create freedom and options. Once we reached that, we slowed our pace of acquisition down dramatically.
We hadn’t reached a magical number – we had reached our why.
In my workouts, I am doing it for health and to get stronger. I didn’t finish Barbara, but I can do a lot more pushups and pullups today than I ever have been able to in my life. Next time I meet Barbara I hope to conquer the challenge, but no matter what I will break it down and just keep focused on the next thing to do.