IC Elesson: How to Stop Learning and Start Doing

Does this sound like you?

  • You love going to association meetings and webinars, and hanging out in online fora reading about, asking questions about, and discussing real estate.
  • You own several home study courses.
  • You’ve been to multiple long-form workshops, seminars, and boot camps.
  • You haven’t done a deal.

If it does, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is, you’re not alone: 80% of all real estate newbies are in exactly this position. The bad news is, 80% of real estate newbies will never get out of this position.

Now, I’ve never seen an actual study that says that only 20% of people who learn about real estate will ever do anything with that knowledge, but I CAN tell you that it’s a number that’s agreed upon by people who are in a position to observe (and fret about) the phenomenon.

Group leaders and gurus who’ve been around for a while will tell you the same thing—about 1 out of 5 people who start their real estate education will never take it out into the real world and use it to make money.

So what do we do with this sobering statistic?

The first thing we should do is ask, “Why”? What is it that the 20% has or is or does that the other 80% doesn’t?

Again, there aren’t studies that I know of that explain this, but I have a theory, and it goes like this:

There are several psychological stages that a new investor experiences between being introduced to real estate investing and either doing it or giving up. They are:

  1. Discovery
  2. Learning
  3. Doing
  4. Persisting

“Discovery” consists of those moments when you first find out about a particular strategy or idea. Discovery is what hooks you. It’s that amazing, “Is this for real? It can’t be for real. I think it’s for real!!” feeling that you got the first time you heard about wholesaling, or creative finance, or the returns on rentals, or whatever it is that lights you up. It’s the start of the thought that quickly turns into full-on daydreams of what YOUR life would be like as a financially free real estate mogul, because, in our industry, discovery often happens in such a way that it’s closely followed by examples of other, completely regular people are making zillions of dollars [wholesaling/buying apartments no money down/fixing and flipping/fill in the blank]

Discovery is motivating and exhilarating, and it’s so exciting that you really, really want to take the next step of Learning.

In fact, you want it so much that you’ll pay crazy amounts of money to people who promise you that when you’re done with THEIR program, you’ll not only know every single thing there is to know; you’ll also have (software, a website, a VA) that practically does the business for you.

The Learning process, however, isn’t as quick or easy as the “done for you” gurus would like you to believe. And you’ll quickly figure that out for yourself when that software you bought doesn’t actually buy and sell deals for you while you sleep. The lucky ones among you ran into an educator on day one who was honest about the work it actually takes to build a fortune in real estate, and your expectations were reasonable. The unlucky ones may have become completely cynical about the entire real estate business just because you ran across a single over-promising, under-delivering education salesman.

Learning is a crucial stage of the process. It lets you understand the basic strategies, avoid critical errors, and stop trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s even satisfying—that “aha” moment when you grasp a critical concept, or see how it translates to YOUR market, or realize that you’ve already seen a deal that would fit the strategy, it feels good. But reading and listening to audios, or sitting in conference room chairs until your butt’s sore, sure isn’t as fun as discovery!  And the worst part is, learning doesn’t actually make you any money. That comes from:

Doing.  Doing is psychologically difficult. It requires all sorts of unpleasant things like giving up time and expending energy and making mistakes and being scared sometimes and bored sometimes and frustrated sometimes, and even (gasp!!) failing sometimes. It’s so difficult, in fact, that most people try it a little—and then stop.  Which of course, puts an end to the very important last stage of Persisting, before you even get started on that one.

And here’s where the cycle sets in. Discovery was awesome. Even learning was satisfying. But doing, as far as your hindbrain is concerned, absolutely sucks. Instead of all those feel-good chemicals getting dumped into your system, you get a rush of “fight or flight” chemicals every time you even THINK about doing.

So, how does subconscious react to this? By doing its job, which is to keep you comfortable and out of danger. It insists that STOP THINKING ABOUT IT! And for God’s sake, STOP DOING IT! In fact, you know what would be fun? Go back to the reward of Discovering and Learning!

And so, that’s what 80% of new real estate investors do. Discover, learn, discover, learn, discover, learn. And the more often this happens, the less likely it is that you’ll ever “do”, because with each cycle it becomes harder and harder to force yourself into the discomfort, and you become less and less confident that you CAN do. It’s like yo-yo dieting, only it’s yo-yo seminar attending. And it goes on until 1) you run out of money for learning 2) you decide that you just aren’t built right to make money in real estate or 3) you die.

So how do YOU avoid being in this unfortunate majority?

The answer is, stop.

Stop letting your fear tell you that there’s another, easier strategy out there—you just have to keep buying courses and attending bootcamps until you find it. ‘Cause there’s not.

Stop letting your pleasure center tell you that discovery and learning are “better” than doing. They just FEEL better, and only right now. In reality, they’re eroding your confidence (and your savings), and the REAL pleasure is after the Persisting stage, when the world is your financial oyster.

And if you can’t stop these 2 things, stop pretending like you’re going to be a real estate investor, because you’re not.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Pick a strategy. ONE. Or at most, TWO—one to deliver cash and one to deliver long term income and wealth. Pick them based on what makes sense for your goals, your market, and your skills and resources. Learn them well. Study everything you can on them. Hang out with other people who are doing them. Blind yourself to all others. Not forever; you can always pick another one later, after you’ve made enough actual money to indulge your entrepreneurial ADD.
  2. Focus on doing that strategy until you’ve actually DONE it. Set goals, write down the specific tasks you need to accomplish to reach them, and then do those things. Every day. Ignore all the other great stuff you could be doing for a while. And, even though it can be scary, try to enjoy the process.
  3. Get the help you need to persist. Join your REIA group, and participate, and make friends, and ask questions, and bounce deals and idea after them, and go to industry conferences, and get a coach you can talk to when there’s no meeting. Oh wait, you already have one of those. The point is, in order to persist, you’ll need cheerleaders, and people who will hold you accountable, and experts that you can lean on when you’re unsure what to do next.
  4. Celebrate. When you get that first check, or that first rental property, or whatever, it’ll actually seem a whole lot less spectacular than you thought it would be when you were discovering. You’ll see all the work that went into it, and all the incremental learning steps, and all the people that helped make it happen, and you’ll be tempted to downplay it—“Well sure, I did a deal, but it was nothing special. It should have been [easier/more profitable/sooner/fill in the blank]”.

Stop yourself right there. By doing even 1 deal, you’ve crossed a barrier that 80% of your fellow students find insurmountable. It IS a big deal. It’s a life-changing deal. So mark it with champagne, or a massage, or a nice dinner, or whatever makes you feel like the special person you’ve just become.

The difference between the 20% and the 80% isn’t who they are or what they know. It’s what they DO. EVERYONE in the 80% has in common that they don’t do, or don’t do enough times.  EVERYONE in the 20% has in common that they do, and keep doing until they’re successful. And THAT should tell you everything you need to know about how to break your education addiction and start making money.

2 Comments on “IC Elesson: How to Stop Learning and Start Doing

  1. This is a great article and a true representation of the cycle to real estate investing success. One way that I got myself out of the Discover-Learn-Discover-Learn vicious cycle was to make a deal with myself that I was NOT allowed to purchase another course until I at least did one deal on the prior course no matter how long it took. It forced me to try the various strategies and to make money in the process. Accountability partners also helped me take action consistently. Now that I’ve participated in about 50 deals, I’ve learned what I’m good at (rentals mostly and some wholesaling) and what I’m not good at (buy-fix-flip and joint ventures). It takes discipline to push yourself to the next level but it’s well worth it! I have achieved a lot of my real estate investing goals.

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