One of my favorite topics to write and talk about is goals. Not because I consider myself to be an expert in setting and achieving them. It is quite frankly the exact opposite. I actually come up short on them more often than I would like to admit.
How I learned the value of never quitting but learning how to pivot as necessary.
When I was 33 years old. I became a student again. This was seven years after I completed my MBA. I consider all of my formal education, K-12, associates degree, bachelors degree, masters degree. That formal education something I just had to do. It was required. Not because it was forced on to me by my parents. I knew to compete in the world I had to be prepared with those credentials.
At 33 is when I started to take my personal education more serious and became a student once again. I became a strategic goal setter.
At 26, I was a landlord. I had purchased a duplex. I had always had a desire in the back of my mind that I wanted to own real estate one day that I would rent. I am not sure why this thought entered my mind. No one in my immediate family that I knew of had owned real estate. The only thing that I can remember as a young kid that would have prompted me to think this way, could have been a good friend of mines grandparents who I spent a decent amount of time around when I was younger.
My friend was a really good student. One of his motivations to be a good student was very simple. For every A he would get on his report card he would get $50 dollars from his grandparents. B’s were worth $25. I can remember him showing me the money after every report card. I was jealous. Keep in mind this started around middle school up until tenth or eleventh grade.
To me my friend was rich, because his grandparents were rich. I couldn’t imagine having that much money handed to me. Being around his grandparents I knew that they owned a lot of rental property. That was the extent of my knowledge. Outside of that I didn’t know exactly how much or how long, etc.
This is the only thing that I can thing of that would have planted the seed of me wanting to own real estate.
Fast forward back to age 33, I had owned the duplex for seven years. I had not purchased anymore property up until that point. At 33, after purchasing a goal setting seminar. I decided to set a goal of owning ten rental properties by age 40, and I wanted them all to be paid off by that time. I didn’t know how I was going to achieve this goal. But I said if I can buy one house every quarter. I could get there.
I set this goal and reminded myself of it daily. For the next three years. I purchased another five houses. Now at age 36, I had seven total tenants and 6 properties. Seven if you included my own personal home.
I was well on my way.
Like most of life though, things happened and things changed.
In 2015, I met my future wife. My dad died unexpectedly and about a year later in 2016, my wife and I decided to pack up and move to Florida. When deciding to move to Florida, we also decided to sell the duplex I had owned since I was 26. This is something I regret now, but at the time it made a lot of sense. I had also sold my personal residences a few years before. We now had just the five rental properties. Two of them I paid cash for and the other three had mortgages.
Once we made it to Florida. I took a position where I was 100% commission. Meaning if I don’t sell, I don’t make any money. For about the first year, my income was really unpredictable. I had good months and months were I didn’t make any money.
Now during this time, I continued to put all of my money that came from the rental properties back in to paying off the mortgages I had. Once I paid each mortgage, any remaining money I would put towards the principal of my lowest dollar amount mortgage. I knew if I could get one of them paid off quicker, it would make the next one even easier. Because I would have more money to put towards it.
Once I started making some more predictable income with my new position in Florida, it was around the year and a half mark. Also, at this time. My wife and I decided that we were going to pack up and move again. We didn’t love Florida, and we were now moving to Dallas.
During this time in Florida, I continued to look at real estate every single day. My income wasn’t predictable enough at the time where we felt comfortable enough to buy anything. But I continued to look and knew if I could find something I would figure out a way to buy it.
Now that we are in Dallas, I once again found myself with zero income. This time, I was going to go out on my own. I had been freelancing for years. I knew where some opportunities existed and where I could make a difference and build a business. So I poured all of my resources in to doing that.
Keep in mind I still had that goal of 10 rental homes by 40 and all of them paid off.
At this time I am now 38/39. I am putting a lot of money into my business. Pretty much most of everything I would make would go right back in the business. I did this for about a year or so. It was hard. Really hard. And it wasn’t bringing me any joy.
Once again, I pivot and take a position with a great company last fall. By this time I am now 40. I was excited to take this new position because once again, it was 100% commission, but the product was a great and it had great market presence. I knew I could crush it.
This past February I turned 41. I didn’t make the goal of ten houses by age 40 and all of them paid off.
I was only able to get four of the five paid off. Yep. I am sitting here today, and my goal wasn’t accomplished and if you gave it a measurement. I guess you could say it took me a year longer, and I only accomplished 40% of what I wanted to accomplish. This is true, if you look at it this way.
However you want to look at it. Here is what I know.
Life is really hard. Things change. People change. Our priorities and our goals change. The world around us changes. I know that with out the constant reminder to myself of what my goal was, I wouldn’t have even accomplished the 40%. It may have been zero.
One of my favorite shows of all time is Boardwalk Empire on HBO. if you haven’t watched it. You should. The main character says something that has stuck with me ever since. He said “You always need to have something planned, because you need something to look forward to.”
I believe goals are a lot like this. You need to have them set because they give you something to look forward to, but even more importantly they give you a direction and more importantly motivation to do what it takes so you can achieve them.