The Worst Goal You Can Make: A Lesson From a Professional Investor

Stephanie and I were having the time of our lives. We were young, recently dating and had similar interests. She and I went into business together and quickly became what others saw as “successful real estate investors.” Other investors in our community looked up to us because we were buying a lot of houses. This was fun and was a nice little ego boost. We were all over the investor community. We went to every local real estate investor club meeting we could, we gave up our weekends to attend seminars, and we participated in the local investor forums.

We joined a mentorship program and quickly became star students. We were referenced often and pulled on stage to motivate other students. The truth was that although we were doing a lot of deals, we were working extremely hard for very little income. In this program they drilled the importance of goals. Just like most successful coaches or mentors will do. We learned a ton from that program and certainly would not be where we are today without it, but there was one thing they or any other speaker or “expert” we listened to was missing. Having a goal and a plan to attain it is not enough. The quality of the goal is just as important as having the goal itself.

Our goals were always about the number of deals we could do. We were focused and dedicated to our goals, so we did anything we could to reach them. We had a mastermind group that kept us accountable for our goals; Steph and I talked about them regularly, and rewarded ourselves for reaching them. The problem was, because our goal was based on number of deals, we would do marginal deals to reach our goal. When the crash starting hitting in 2007, it was easier for us to liquidate our good deals and keep marginal ones, so we ended up with a portfolio of marginal deals. In 2008, everything started to come down around us and we no longer had the cash flow to support our home buying habit.

Now that it is over, I realize that this was a great time in our lives. It is when we started our family and we became extremely strong for what we weathered. Steph learned that she was really chasing deals because I loved it, and it turned out that it wasn’t her passion. She is much happier chasing other dreams now. This is also the time that I started Pine Financial, which quickly became a success and helped catapult our recovery. It was not long before we picked ourselves up, cleaned ourselves off, and moved forward.

I learned an awful lot that year, but nothing was more impactful than realizing that the problems we had were because of the goals we made. We created the problem. Now I put a lot more thought into what I want before I write my goals down, and it is no longer about how others view me. It is about what I want for me and my family and I have created an amazing life because of it.

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