7 Lessons I Learned in 2020

The author and his wife earlier this year in Idyllwild, CA

It’s important to reflect on your life regularly. I try to do this daily to maintain perspective and focus on the bigger picture rather than get bogged down in life’s daily minutiae. It’s also valuable to reflect on self-improvement. As the curtain falls on 2020, I thought I would share some things I learned throughout the year. 

Your Network is Critical

I like reading autobiographical books by successful people. Within these books, I have never once read something resembling “I did it all by myself. No one helped me get here”. Rather, the opposite is true. No successful person got to that position by themselves: it takes mentors, coaches, employees, family members, friends, and even enemies to encourage and inspire that individual to achieve their big goals. I’ve noticed this is especially true in real estate. If you are finding the deals, financing the projects, doing the rehab yourself, and managing tenants, you’re doing it wrong, and you will likely fail or burn out unless you build a team of experts around you. 

Always Provide Value to Others

I read an insightful book this year titled “The Go-Giver,” which extolls the idea that you must focus on empowering others to achieve their goals to be successful yourself. No one likes being in a partnership or relationship of any kind that is one-sided. We must consider what the people in our network are trying to accomplish and do everything we can to assist them, whether we get anything in return or not. Give without the expectation of receiving anything in return. 

Photo credit @elcarito via unsplash.com

Don’t Set a Reading Goal Based on Total Number of Books Read

There are very few activities I enjoy more than reading. Just give me a good book, a comfortable chair next to a window, and a cup of coffee, and I’m a happy guy. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to read 50 books. This number was double my goal for 2019, which I exceeded by 1 or 2 books. That sounds like a substantial goal, right? The problem was, I noticed that when deciding on what book to read next, I tended to pick shorter books so I could hit my monthly quota of 4 – 5 books—erring towards shorter books resulted in some more enormous tomes feeling lonely on my bookshelf. In 2021, I will adjust my goal to focus on the number of pages read per day. When I sit down to do my weekly goals every Sunday, I will look at my schedule for the week and decide a daily page number that is attainable. This way, I won’t be discouraged from reading the larger books. 

Plan Long Term, but Take Action every day

Consistent, daily action is a cornerstone of success. But so is making significant long-term goals, right? “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan taught me that you have to take that big goal you want to hit ten years from now and break it down into progressively smaller chunks to the point that you ask yourself, “What can I do today to make progress toward that goal?” Incremental progress every day eventually results in the achievement of massive goals. This concept applies to business development, fitness, nutrition, relationships – anything you can want to improve in your life. 

Daily Planners Work

When I signed up for a Bigger Pockets Pro account earlier this year, they sent me a free Intention Journal as well. I had heard Brandon Turner (the ‘author’ of the journal) talk about daily planners and their value but never started doing it until they sent me the free 90-day Intention Journal. Wow! I love using it. You write down your goals for the 90 days, then create a plan for the upcoming week for the steps you will take to get you closer to those goals. I use the journal to track my real estate progress, personal fitness, daily reading, and more. As I came closer to filling up the pages of my Intention Journal, I researched different kinds of planners. I decided on the Panda Planner: Venture edition, which is designed for entrepreneurs. There are many kinds of daily planners and journals out there, but I highly recommend you pick one up and start writing down your goals and planning out your days. If you do this, I’m 100% confident you will see more progress towards your goals! Do you have a planner you like a lot? Send me a message on Instagram or an email to doug@honorandequity.com. I’d love to hear about it.

Work on Your Business, Not in Your Business 

Entrepreneurs feel like they have to do everything. “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” This mindset is common at the beginning of any business venture, but if you ever want the business to scale or succeed on its own, you have to delegate and outsource tasks. When I started the Honor and Equity Instagram page, I made the content for the first few months. It was very time consuming: I had to come up with ideas, find images that worked, design the post using social media software (I use Canva), pick what I hoped would be the best hashtags, and come up with a witty caption. I realized I was spending too much time on social media and not having enough time to connect with military members, write helpful articles, and learn more about real estate and investing. This realization led me to hire a virtual assistant to create content for me, so I have more time to work on my business. 

I can’t outsource everything, but I try to regularly assess what I’m doing that feels light and what feels heavy, and I outsource those things that feel heavy. I will likely hire a virtual assistant bookkeeper in 2021 to manage the month-to-month income and expenses for our real estate portfolio. When you hire people, you are creating jobs and enabling them to do more of what they are good at. The owner of a company should be working on the business, not in the business. 

Photo credit @clemono via unsplash.com

Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly

Back in May, I had to fire the property management company that manages our Milwaukee properties. They had become progressively worse with no sign of improvement, so I switched to a fantastic company that performs better and charges less. I knew it would take time and would be inconvenient to change, but I also knew the old company wasn’t performing at the level I expect, so I pulled the trigger and never looked back. It was the right decision. I also had to fire the first social media virtual assistant I hired only a few months ago. He did not communicate well, couldn’t follow basic instructions, and was even dishonest a couple of times. I hired a different company that does much better work and is more professional overall. They are double the price of the previous guy, but it’s worth it. 

In both of these situations, there came the point that I knew it wasn’t the right fit. Once you feel that, you have to end the partnership quickly. Prolonging the relationship will only make things worse for yourself and your business. However, hiring the replacement should be a slow, deliberate decision based on past performance, references, and the degree to which you think they will be compatible with you and your business. I can only work with people who are exceptional communicators. If they take days to respond to a question, they’re out. If they can’t get to the point quickly and tend to dance around the topic at hand, they’re out. You probably have different priorities, so you should communicate those priorities and expectations upfront with a potential hire and ensure they can meet those expectations. 

I hope you gained insight from this article. Please send me a message on Instagram @honorandequity or send me an email at doug@honorandequity.com and share your thoughts!

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