What Are Your “Messes”? by Vena Jones-Cox
2019 Will be upon us in just a few weeks, and I’ll bet you’ve already thought of some personal and business related goals for the next 12 months. This time of year lends itself well to some deep thinking and goal setting, and even the annual optimism about how THIS YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT.
The things it, there’s a major question that most people never deal with, because it’s not as fun or inspiring as thinking about goals. Yet, unless it’s resolved, it will continue to be nearly impossible for you to reach any of those great goals you’ve set for yourself. And the question is:
Are there any “messes” that need to be cleaned up before you can really be effective in your real estate endeavors?
Most of us have one or more of these: they’re like walls that we have to scale every time we try to do anything else.
Often, they’re so emotionally overwhelming that we have a hard time even looking closely at them, but they’re always at the edges of our consciousness, distracting us, making us feel hopeless and helpless, sucking up the mental energy we could be using to move our lives forward, and making it very difficult for us to do anything but try to keep them from overwhelming us.
Examples might include:
- Bad books, that keep us from understanding what we’re really making on deals, from balancing our accounts, from filing taxes on time, and so on
- Loans that are about to balloon or have already ballooned, and we have no exit strategy from that loan
- Defaulted debts like credit card bills we can’t pay, mortgages that are in default, etc.
- Staffing issues that we don’t want to deal with, like employees or VAs who just can’t seem to be made to do the job they were hired to do adequately, no matter how much training, yelling, or encouraging we do
- Personal issues like poor physical health, bad relationships that need to be fixed or cut loose, untreated anxiety or depression
- And myriad others, personal to us individually
The problem, of course, is that these “messes” are so difficult and, often, have been going on for so long, that they’re hard to see clearly, much less figure out how to deal with. For instance, if your particular “mess” involves a bad relationship with your business partner, your discussion with yourself about it probably goes something like this:
“There he goes again, heaping stuff on me that’s not really my job. He does that all the time, and it’s not fair. I should just tell him that I’m not doing it. But in this case, it has to be done right now, and since he won’t do it, I have to. I should fire him. But that will mean splitting up the business, and I have no idea how to go about doing that, plus I know he’ll get hostile about it, and I don’t need that right now because I’m already stressed out about these deals. So I guess I’ll just suck it up and do this one more thing, but I have to figure out how to make this stop. But he’ll never cooperate, because he’s getting the better end of the deal. There’s no fixing it, I know that I’ll either end up victimized over and over or else I’ll have to pull the plug. But I can’t pull the plug because he has all the books, and I know he won’t hand those over to me if I tell him I’m out, and then what will I do? There’s no good solution. I better go do the dishes, maybe I can figure this out the millionth time I think about it.”
And we have similar conversations with ourselves about other tough, ongoing situations (“What am I going to do about that property where I owe my private lender too much money and the loan is ballooning? She’s going to be so angry. Well, maybe I’ll win the lottery before January 1st and then I can just pay out of the proceeds”) The problem, of course, is that not dealing with these situations—even when there’s no good or quick or easy solution—just assures that they will go on and on and on, and be a constant distraction, drain on your energy, and barrier to the things you need to do to move forward.
Usually, though, if you can force yourself to really look at the mess, and to think through some creative solutions, and make a plan for implementing those solutions, you can resolve the problems and get them out of the way of your future success.
So in your end of year planning, make a list of all the messes that are constantly bothering you or holding you back. Define the real problem, and brainstorm a list of all the possible solutions, not just the ones that keep looping you back over and over. For example, in the case of the “bad partner” situation, you might do this:
The Real Problem: My partner does not do what he agreed to do when we started this. He holds back our success, and won’t communicate about the issues I see. I am not as successful as I’d like to be, and I am so angry at him that I may blame more of this on him than is really his fault, but I do not want to continue to shoulder more than 50% of the burden for only 50% of the money.
- Hire a business coach, counselor, or other 3rd party to talk to BOTH of us and help sort out a solution
- Get the details of our partnership agreement in writing with a buyout agreement that we both agree to
- Give him an ultimatum about what I want, and stick to it
- Leave the partnership
- Sell my part of the partnership to someone who can handle him
- Keep doing what I’m doing
Or in the case of the private lender scenario, you might be able to decide what you can offer on your own, and simply present it, as follows:
The Real Problem: 123 Easy Street is upside down by $20,000 and $150 a month. I can’t keep paying this out of my pocket, the loan is ballooning in 6 weeks, I can’t sell it, and I don’t want my lender to lose any money.
- Evaluate and outline a series of choices for the lender:
- Short sale the property for whatever we can get, give all the money to her, sign a promissory note for the balance to be paid over time or give her a 2nd mortgage on properties B, C, and D to cover the difference
- Extend the note at no interest for 5 years, which will create $0 cash flow instead of -$150 cash flow. Hope the value goes up, but reevaluate in 5 years
- Lender becomes a partner instead; mortgage and payments go away, lender gets all future appreciation up to $10,000 over current loan balance, lender gets 70% of cash flow after expenses and reserves
- Write out plan within 1 week; call lender and explain the situation, set meeting to go over options
Once you’ve outlined such a list, and created a detailed, time-bound plan to deal with it, you’ll be able to move on knowing that, even if the outcome takes time or isn’t the “perfect world” solution, the “mess” won’t continue to lurk around making you miserable and unable to reach your real goals.
And yes, the reality is that you might have to plan your actions over the course of days or even weeks rather than all at once. Even writing down “the real problems” may drain you so much that you can’t continue immediately, so, if necessary, give yourself a break and let it marinate in your brain for awhile. You’ll probably find that once you define the REAL problem on paper, ideas will pop out at random times that can be acted upon, or at least explored further.
And by the way, as much as you don’t want to drag out your messes for other people to see, it REALLY WILL help you to talk to a trusted mentor, counselor, or expert about it.
Someone with no dog in the race can often see solutions you can’t, because you’re too close to the issue. Get some perspective from someone who’s outside the situation but knowledgeable about the topic, even when you don’t want to admit that there’s a mess in your life. You’ll be amazed at how valuable this is—in fact, you might want to put it first on your “to do” list for resolving each mess.