2019 year in review
REFLECTION AND NEW GOALS
One thing I tried to get away from last year was setting specific monetary goals. For example, the popular "I want to make X amount of money", "increase my net worth by X amount", or "I want to buy X amount of real estate doors".
I find these often serve to infuriate me when I don't hit my goals and when I do hit them I just feel like my goals were too easy. I do have soft goals to work towards, but in 2019 this process worked for me and I am going to expand on this principle in 2020.
I want to use goal setting to dictate what action I should focus on, rather than working backwards from arbitrary and superficial goals.
For sure, backwards regression is a valuable tool and I've used it for years but I do find it has limitations. I like to set targets on how I should spend my time instead of setting an arbitrary number goal and then making my behavior the unknown variable for how to get there. Instead, I make my behavior the goal and the results are the unknown variable. I never want my behavior to be the variable that can be manipulated in an effort to achieve something arbitrary.
With all that said, these were my 2019 goals and a reflection of how I hit them:
1. I’m going to work on things that I know high returns on investment, albeit abstract. For instance reading more, working on creating value with this blog, networking nationally, going to seminars, more podcast appearances, etc.2. I still need to buy 2 more single family homes to reach my mortgage cap. I want to finish this goal because it gives me a really solid protected downside and risk mitigation for the long term. 3. Really work towards buying a mid-sized multifamily apartment4. Enjoy my life as much as possible!
1. I did well to work on abstract investments, although it's kind of hard to explain what I meant by that. As I noted above I wanted to stop chasing ego-driven goals such as "I want to make X amount of money" or "I want to buy X amount of doors" because I think they tend to create poor overall incentives. If you just say you want to buy 10 doors, that might cause you to buy some bad deals, it also might cause you so much stress that your life that the benefits aren't worth it. It's also short sighted, what if your resources bet suit you to only buy 5 doors this year? I wanted to avoid all those problems and say, let me spend time on things that I think have significant but difficult-to-measure return on investment. To that end I spent a lot of time building my local meetup group, I went to some networking conferences, and I made a TON of digital content. The core of these is that I invested a lot of time in PEOPLE which I'm confident is a very good use of time.
2 & 3. I did buy 2 single family homes, one as a rental, and one as a flip. I didn't get three total houses closed but got pretty close. I'm also very happy to report I did purchase a multifamily property!! This was a big deal for me so missing the the single family goal by one deal doesn't bother me.
4. Anyone who follows my Facebook knows I enjoy my life almost to a fault. This was important to me as I'm finding that we don't need much money in life to buy ourselves freedom, but what to do with that all that freedom is actually a much more difficult problem.
Let's talk specifics!
This year I bought 2 single family houses (one rental, one flip) and a small multifamily. I wish I had gotten more done, but I try not to beat myself up too badly about it. I figure if I can do one big deal a year from here on out I'll be in very good shape.
The multifamily was a 24 unit apartment complex. I raised ~$280,000 from 4 outside investors and it was an entire new challenge for me. I loved this project and I feel prepared to buy another one in 2020.
I bought only one other rental in 2019. It was a pretty good project though, here is a quick before and after. There are a lot of pictures in the link above.
At the time of this writing (late December 2019) I just closed on my first flip so nothing to share now but that will be good content for early 2020.
Overall my real estate progress was low in units, but high in education and valuable experience. There is a lot of ego in real estate right now, imagine if you could buy 1 property a year for 5 years, then 2 a year for 5 years. That would be an epic portfolio, and it's a a slow and steady way to create reliable wealth. No amount of bragging is worth the risk of ruin, I will continue to prioritize strategy over brash accumulation.
In 2018 I went gangbusters on books, and was happy to read even more this year.
Books have become my biggest obsession, one of the most important things in my life, and I consider them to be the highest return on investment of anything I do.
Here is my 2019 book reading list
I ended with just over 50 total books completed, mostly through Audible. My preferred style is long, dense, nuanced, and over 100 years old.
This year I read mostly history and philosophy. Why? We live in a world where our quality of life is exponentially better than any time in the last 12,000 years of human civilization and yet there are more people depressed than ever. How can this be possible? The more history and philosophy I read the more I realize that happiness was solved quite a long time ago, our problem is simple: people spend too much money on the false god of consumerism.
I started this blog as a way to help teach people but I've found it become much more of a personal endeavor. This probably hinders my overall professional progress because who really cares about what I do with my days, but I figure I don't have any interest in success through marketing, I want to be successful at real estate. This blogs is just good documentation of how to put that together. In that capacity, writing has been very healthy for me and hopefully useful for others.
In 2020 I'm going to do fewer posts as 'advice' and more posts just documenting my progress.
In January I started a podcast, I know the medium is in growth and I wanted to be part of it. So I did a first season of ~16 episodes and it was a struggle but received reasonably well. I improved greatly over that time but I kind of hate podcasting. I was convinced to do a second season which I have not yet released but will at some point. All that said, I won't be doing a third season I don't think but it was important to me to commit and get through it.
Another medium that I believe has massive value that I'm struggling to ramp up on. I did post about 9 videos on my page and a few for Biggerpockets that went well so I'm making some progress but not as much as I would have liked. It's a hurdle of insecurity more than anything, I'm hoping to beat it in 2020 ;)
Subscribe to my YouTube page here:
I've been doing photography for a few years now. Starting to get decent at it. It's just a hobby, but one I love to invest myself in.
Everyone knows my famous advice
"You need 3 hobbies in life, one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to keep you creative"
This is my creative hobby and I'm finally starting to integrate it to my other ventures. Which is super fun and valuable!
Here are some of my favorite shots of the year
I wanted to take my camera to the gym more this year, and I did! I had a great gym partner to help me out too. I'm getting older so my lifts aren't as impressive as they were in past years, but I'm still holding on to beast mode while being on the later half of my 30's
What's in store for 2020
I'm making a change in my real estate strategy. I've been buying rentals because I wanted passive income but now I'm finding that having an active income is a necessity even if just to cure boredom. I don't want to work for someone else anymore, I don't want to sit on my ass all day, and I don't want to buy any more single family rentals. So,
In 2020, I'm going to start flipping as an active business and I'm going to buy another multifamily to add to my passive income portfolio. This is my real estate goal.
For content production I'm trying to commit to doing more YouTube, a lot more. I'm hoping to be able to show a marked difference in quality between now and years end.
As for books, I'll probably clear off another ~40-50 books. My favorite genres continue to be history, philosophy, and economics. Reading books has given me a spiritual peace like nothing else
In 2020 I need to travel more. I've been dragging my feet and making excuses for a long time, that poor behavior needs to end. I'm hoping to be able to brag proudly about completing this goal.
I want to give less advice and be an example more. The more I learn about economics and philosophy the more I realize how little I know. I enjoy creating content and helping other people, but I want to do so more from a leadership position and less from an authority position. Part of this is because I'm watching way too many people give what I consider bad advice to the community and I don't want that to ever be me. I have too much shame, and too much social guilt to do wrong by my fellow man.
Lastly, I know this is a real estate blog and people are probably mostly here to read about real estate but I have to admit, this is not what is most important to me. Real estate is a medium for financial freedom and a wonderful challenge in life but as a measure for success it's limited. The online community lately is a rush of ego's that only care to determine credibility by "how many doors" one has whereas my success these days is measured less in metrics and more in morals. Things like "can you live a life without shame?" that's not easy but it is a good goal I think. "Can you build a life where the stress of which is self induced rather than inflicted?". Meaning, can you create a life where your motivations are driven by your ambitions, not by the outside pressures of other people?, and finally "Can you live in relative peace with this life of perpetual chaos?". I feel like many people want money to cure all their life struggles, but it doesn't. Money only cures a small set of problems, and in many ways that misunderstanding can make things worse. So far, for me, creating wealth does not seem to make dealing with the human condition much easier. In addition to this I see people doing all sorts of shameless acts in the name of economic gain, things I just couldn't do to my fellow man. Personally, just waking up every day and having to deal with my imperfections, my impulses, my ego, and the roller coaster of my mood is hard enough, adding the pressure to achieve 'financial success' doesn't often feel like a healthy goal at all, especially in the ways some people go about it, instead it often feels like torment. So in 2020 I do want to buy real estate, but I want to do it in a way that serves my moral happiness rather than create more internal strife.
WRITE IT DOWN
I think my biggest lesson of 2019 is to write your thoughts down. I know it sounds overly rudimentary, but man it really helps me get things done and flesh out complex ideas over time.
Writing lets me take the mental energy I'm using to remember things and instead it lets me organize them in the physical world. My brain is then freed up from remembering stuff and can be used to do more difficult tasks. This is not to be underestimated!! If to-do lists help you get things done, then imagine what it can do for your life's big ideas. Write it down, expand on it over time.
Writing then lets me build on ideas I have in my head and deal with the nuance and the shortcomings of those ideas. Everyone has good ideas in their head but when it's in your mind it's not subject to rigorous criticism, which can make you think an idea is better than it really is (which is almost always the case).
Writing also forces you to sharpen your ideas and opinions to sell to other people. Sure you might be able to sell a proposition or an idea face to face, but you can adapt your message on the fly. Since we communicate primarily through body language I've found it's a much more difficult skill to express my ideas on paper, where there is no body language. This is an incredible challenge but also a valuable talent, because I can sell to the masses but if I need body language to sell, I must be in close geographic proximity.
Writing also helps with introspection. When I began writing this year's annual review I didn't feel like I had accomplished much that would be useful to discuss. As I took my time to go through all the content I had accumulated through the year and put it together I found myself surprisingly pleased.
"People overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in ten" - Bill Gates
I find this a fascinating phenomenon to consider. I'd like to think everyone reflects on their time spent, at least they should, but writing this blog forces me to display my yearly progress and analyze that change.
My hope is to encourage people to also write their yearly accomplishments as well, if nothing else it's so lethargic. More than just a new years resolution, this keeps me focused, and it helps me to stay a bit more appreciative of what I did accomplish rather than always beating myself about what I didn't.
If you read all the way through, you're the rare one and I'm grateful for you.
I would love for you to share with me your 2020 goals. If you have any inclination to do so, don't be shy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me know how I can help improve these blogs and maybe make them useful to you. If nothing else I hope this entry serves as an interesting reference for what you might be able to accomplish.