One of the most impactful and lasting learnings I’ve ever had could be summarized as “Vision First.” I bet you find the same thing.



When I first got started, I went through the whole “I wanna do it all!” phase that a lot of new investors do. Every new strategy I learned about was exciting, and they all looked so profitable, and I had big goals about money and lifestyle that absolutely DROVE me to buy all the courses, do all the things, and become a tycoon as soon as possible, leave nothing on the table in the way of opportunities.


Where did that land me?


Working 18 hours a day 7 days a week.


Doing a lot of things that didn’t really “fit” me. Like rehabs. Which were profitable but didn’t really fit with my ‘details are hard’ brain.

Stressed out.


Ultimately divorced.


Yes, I made a lot of money, but I had no life.

And I’d love to say that once I homed in on the strategies I liked and was good at, figuring out how to spend my days and years and life suddenly clarified itself.

It didn’t.


Because even within a more limited real estate business, there are ALWAYS new opportunities to chase.


…Do I go after these deals in the adjoining state, where I don’t have a property manager, will need different contracts etc.?
…Do I acquire this whole portfolio of really run-down rentals from this guy, even though I know it will take a year to sort them out and get them upgraded, when they’re in areas I wouldn’t usually buy in? I mean, he’s offering 0% owner financing…
…Do I expand my marketing budget and try these new lists I found out about?
…Do I add vacant land to my flipping business?

…Do I hire and train another person so that I can offload some of my day to day tasks so that I can do this new project?

My life was a CONSTANT battle to triage all the important tasks, profitable opportunities, and daily to dos.

My main criteria for that triage?


I’d ask myself, “Given that I can’t do all of these great things, what’s the smartest business decision? What has the highest chance of making the most money the most easily? What’s easiest to ‘bolt on’ to my existing businesses and teams?”


So every day, I sorted and sifted and tried to come up with the “best things” among the plethora of “good things.” And mostly, I made the right decisions.


And yet I was still stressed out. Still unbalanced, still second-guessing everything I chose NOT to do, still working too much to have enough ‘fun time’, and feeling like I was NEVER getting nearly enough done.

And what’s funny (in a sad way, anyway) is that I had this vague ‘big goal’ that I was doing all of this so that I could eventually live a particular life: a healthy, fit one, with lots of vacations, free time, friends, hobbies and passions.

Did you hear that?

I was making day to day decisions based on the probable FINANCIAL results, and the purpose of the FINANCIAL results was that on some undetermined date in the future I’d start to live some unclear other way.

Then one day changed my whole life.

That day was a vision workshop I attended not because I thought I “needed” it—I’ve always been a good short and long term goal setter—but because someone had to be there to get the speaker water and set up the AV equipment.


It literally wasn’t about real estate. Or even business.


It was about getting crystal clear on your own personal LIFE vision.

The instructor talked about how really thinking about, writing down, and constantly referencing it helped make business decisions easier, and leads to opening up space NOW to get and be and do the things you’re putting off until some undefined future (which of course may never come).

Turns out that vision is NOT the same as goals—it’s more like a compass that guides you through all sorts of rough spots and confusing times and day to day decisions.

And…just wow.

I worked through the process along with all the other attendees, and for the first time, had a truly complete, truly defined vision for EVERYTHING I wanted to be, every way I wanted to show up in the world (stressed out and impatient and weak and chubby was NOT on that list, as it turned out), all the things I really wanted to experience (and guess what? I discovered that some of the things I wanted in my 20s no longer resonated with me, even though I’d kept them on my goals list all that time), and WHY I was doing any of this business stuff at all.

Yeah, it felt great. Inspiring. Clear. Awesome.

But that wasn’t the REAL effect on my life.

The REAL effect was that it gave me the best possible triage criteria for my daily and business decisions.


Do I acquire this whole portfolio of really run-down rentals from this guy at these great terms that will make me another $2,000 a month when they’re done, and add $500,000 to my net worth over the next 5 years, even though I know it will take a year to sort them out and get them upgraded?


No, because it’s in my vision to take 3-day vacation every 6 weeks this year, and 2 2-week vacations, and this will definitely make that a lot harder. It’s ALSO in my vision to have happy, productive, well-compensated team members who don’t work more than 40 hours a week, and this will DEFINITELY both make the property manager unhappy AND force her into some longer work weeks for a while. So just no.


Decision made, with no pangs of regret about walking away from the ‘opportunity’.

And that vision—which has been refined and revised MANY times over the last 15 years—has forced me into a lot of good-but-scary decisions (take on partners to do rehabs on great properties I want to own, but don’t have the skills or people to renovate) and a lot of important personal realizations (“I SAY I rarely vacation because I’m too busy, but the reality is, I’m MAKING myself too busy because I have some fear of flying, and of interacting with strangers in strange places, so am I gonna stop making excuses and commit to vacationing, or not??”) and into doing some things that were really tough, but also got me closer to my life vision and which I never would have done had I not been clear on what ALL of that vision was (starting a real estate association from scratch).

Anyway…if you struggle with unbalance, or saying no to opportunities, or knowing how to expend your time and energy, my advice is simple: start with a really clear PERSONAL vision.


You can’t create that in an hour. You can’t just write down all of your goals and say, “Done.” It takes more time and thought (and, often, guidance) than the ‘goal setting’ we’ve all been trained to do.


But it’s also one of the most important things you’ll ever do.


BTW, I talked one of the guys who TOOK that class with me all those years ago, and who it ALSO impacted to the point where he put together a plan to pay off the rentals he already had, became an ender within 5 years, quit his job, and now seems to basically hang out for a living, into doing a half-day online vision workshop on January 13th.

He doesn’t have anything to sell, he just wants to help others get these same effects in their lives. You can find out about that HERE.


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