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The importance of big goals

The importance of big goals

Dreaming big

The more time that passes, the more clear my self-limiting becomes. I'll often approach my goals and dreams from a perspective of what I know is possible, rather than what COULD be possible, or might be possible if I could change my circumstances. Like everything else, big dreams can be broken down into tiny little digestible slices, so why not try something audacious? What could I actually do if I devoted myself? What would happen if I kept pressing, even after reaching that milestone?

A real life lesson in timing and aggressiveness

All of this was spurred on by a conversation I had the other day with a guy my age who has done some pretty incredible things financially. From the depths of the recession, he built a real estate empire in Portland with almost nothing beyond a loan, some savings, and some foresight. I'm going to share his story- it inspired me and it should definitely inspire you. 

His story starts just after graduation in 2007. Throughout college, he had been working and saving as much as possible with the eventual goal of purchasing a home. Naturally, the real estate market imploded in 2007-2008, and continued to fall along with the rest of the economy until 2011. But, he kept on working, saving, and looking for the right first home. In 2011, he found a fixer-upper foreclosure and dug deep into his savings for the down payment. He slowly fixed the most nagging issues in the home, and rented out all of the rooms that he wasn't using. By the end of 2012, he was bringing in $2000 with a $1000 mortgage. Not too bad.

In 2012, he lost his job the same week that he put an offer on his second home, which he intended to purchase with a (very large) loan from his family. The loan is, admittedly, a big leg up. What impressed me in the story is that he still went through with the purchase, even though he had no way to make the payments. Instead, he sold his car to float himself for a year, and focused all of his energy on fixing up the house. In early 2013, he sold the second house for a $100k profit, and moved onto finding a new (high paying) job, and a new project. 

I won't tell the entire story (because it gets repetitive), but today he has 6 homes that are all cash flow positive, all in desirable areas. If I had to guess I would say he has built $2-3m in equity through real estate. By saving as much as he could, jumping into the market when no one else wanted to, and applying himself as aggressively as possible, he has been able to achieve a dream that many people would work on for their entire life. 

What's the lesson for me?

I am incredibly inspired by this story, and it has me thinking really hard about what I can do to replicate his success. I'll admit, it made me a little jealous as well, and I definitely feel a sense of competitive motivation (even though I really like this guy and wish him the best). 

Here's what I learned:

  1. Goals are important, but they can hold you back OR bring you forward. By this I mean that if I start off on a run with the goal of going 2 miles, but I could do 4 or 5, I've really shot myself in the foot. Instead of having specific goals like "own 3 rental homes", he simply worked as hard and aggressively as possible and let the pieces fall where they may. From now on, I am going to set baseline, measurable goals, as well as crazy, insane, audacious goals that can stretch me to do more. 
  2. Be creative. When he lost his job he could've walked away from the home purchase, but instead he sold his car and took it as an opportunity. Now he had the time to remodel the house. 
  3. Timing flatters intelligence. Obviously, my friend is a smart guy, but his timing was impeccable. Repeat the same story starting in 2007, and it would've looked different. This is why I'm not running to buy more condos now, but I'm definitely thinking about how I can save to buy more if there is a dip in the market. 


As cliched as it is, the truth is that we only have one life to live. It's easy to get by, hit attainable goals, and wonder why things don't happen faster. As I look at my own life, I know I am going to have to refocus my efforts, work harder, and pay attention for good timing when it appears. 

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