Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: Analysis Paralysis and My Plan to Crush It!

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“Vision without action is just a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Joel A. Barker

I am downright obsessed with everything real estate. In fact, it should get a restraining order against me. I have stalked the field since the age of thirteen years old when I obtained an architectural drafting template and started designing houses.

I purchased the famous/infamous Carlton Sheets program from late night tv in high school and was forever hooked after that.  Add the fact my best friend’s dad had some rental houses and we did handyman-type jobs to earn some side cash. The two combined to solidify a truth: real estate investing is a GREAT way to accumulate wealth.

As certain as I was, I made exactly one call to a listed property when I was 18 on an 10 unit apartment. The conversation was brief and it was an overwhelming feeling of fear that took hold. Despite my love, I was paralyzed. Analysis Paralysis had me in it’s death grip.

I went on to obtain a great education with a major in economics and minor in finance. Real Estate – of some sort – was always in my mind. So, upon graduation I went straight for a real estate job right?


A pattern began that, up until last year, would plaque my adult career. Despite my very clear objective I did nothing that would DIRECTLY meet my goal. Heck, I even thought I needed a law degree to do what I wanted. Talk about largely counterproductive. The student loan debt incurred was like heading east in search of an epic sunset. One positive thing, however: I did gain clarity on exactly what I want to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a Real Estate Developer

So let Doctor D tell you about his various attempts to provide the antidote to analysis paralysis.

How I Bought, Rehabbed, Rented, Refinanced, and Repeated for 14 Rental Properties

This is the dream right? Going from zero to 10+ rental properties, providing stable cash flow and long-term wealth for you and your family, and building a scalable business model to boot! Learn how this investor did just that, in this exclusive story featured on BiggerPockets!

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Ten “Antidotes” to Getting Moving in Your Investing

Antidote #1 I have read, literally hundreds of books. But, like a phone call with a great friend, you don’t get the human element from reading. If I believe anything else, I believe real estate is heavily people related.

Related: BiggerPockets Presents : The Best Real Estate Books Ever

Antidote #2. I have been to several “guru” boot-camps. I been even more of their gateway free-bee attempt to get me hooked. The up-sell at the camps is very irritating to me. The counter-point is I have met some great like minded people. I could have easily done the same at…I don’t know….BiggerPockets?

Antidote #3. The things that I think will be helpful have not been sufficient. I have worked in the corporate real estate arena in jobs ranging from a commercial brokerage assistant, to a development coordinator for a housing authority, and even a commercial and residential mortgage broker.  My close call came when I managed a 60 unit apartment turnaround project for a few months until the partnership dissolved. (Breaking up with the contractors girlfriend for him….priceless experience.  Yea that happened.)

Antidote #4. I worked as an attorney doing some eviction work in addition to some VERY insightful real estate litigation. Although it was interesting – something was still very clear….the real estate investor mindset is VERY different. Lawyers are deal killers not dream makers.

Antidote #5. BiggerPockets and the mastermind effect. I am forever grateful I read Think and Grow Rich. For anyone with entrepreneurial goals – it is a must read. For me, the more time I spend with BiggerPockets and interacting online and offline with like minded people, the feeling of analysis paralysis has dropped immensely.

Antidote #6. Subject Matter: Coaching? I have been offered coaching in apartments that ranged from $10 to $20…THOUSAND. Is it just me or is this the ultimate counterproductive step? Why not just invest with that money???  I think coaching from a subject matter expert is okay but in my mind it has be very reasonable.

Antidote #7. Firing negative people from my life. This one can be hardcore, but my results have proven the saying about “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Don’t get mad at me for stating human nature.

Antidote #8 Hiring an NLP based coach. This one has shown early promise in two weeks. While not tangible results just yet….the feeling of FEAR has further trended waaaaay down. Re framing how I look at failure has made an immediate shift.

Antidote #9. The wanton experimentation plan with the Four Disciplines of EXECUTION. A game changing read early this summer was the Four Disciplines of Execution. I provides an simple yet profound way to focus on your objectives. I have been attracted via bright shinny object syndrome. There are lots of ways to make money in real estate. However, I have finally narrowed down my strategies to accomplish a few in lieu of pondering twenty.

Antidote #10. Action.

Do you have any tips to add to this? Share your comments below!

Photo: Toni Blay

About Author

Douglas Dowell

Douglas Dowell J.D. is a commercial and multifamily investor. His blog will focus on legally raising private money, risk mitigation with due diligence and management science. He is also an avid student of success principles with a focus on modeling success factors.


  1. Tip one: Forget all of your other tips, except BP.

    Two: Find a nice Joe lunch box house that needs some work, buy it cheap, fix, and manage the property yourself (or at least manage your contractors acting as the GC). Use the money you saved on books and guru courses as your down payment.

    Result; your fears will dissipate with experience, and your chances of losing money are very limited.
    If you decide REI is not for you, there will be a line Joe Lunch box guys or investors to buy you out.

    Almost forgot, Tip Three: When everyone is buying especially at idiotic prices, do not buy, instead be the one selling. You will be able to buy these places back a half price in a few years. Kind of like the stock market, buy low sell high unlike most of America.

    • Douglas Dowell

      Thank you for the feedback Dennis,

      I think you idea is solid. Back to just take action!
      Its interesting to me how simple it really is on paper.

      I like your third tip as well. I am a big believer in the Warren Buffett rule. Greedy when others are scared. Scared when others are greedy.

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing Doug and good luck with fighting through the analysis paralysis!

    I almost felt like I was reading about my own life of paralysis by analysis. I’ve had almost the exact same issue of analyzing things to death and being involved in every detail of real estate and doing things that skate around doing what actually needs to be done to reach all of my ultimate goals. Robert Kiyosaki in Rich Dad, Poor Dad said to learn about accounting and sales so I went to the extreme and became a CPA, audited real estate for a big 4 accounting company and now do accounting at a real estate investment company rather than just learning the fundamentals of accounting and then taking action. I finally started taking action this summer on real estate and can’t explain how amazing it feels and at the same time feels so ridiculous that I waited so long to do anything. You really have to “just do it” and learn as you go and then balance everything out with education as you go.

    You may have already read them given that you have read hundreds of books, but two books that I highly recommend that helped me get over the analysis paralysis were “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson and Darren Hardy’s “The Compound Effect”. Part of chapter 11 in the Slight Edge really resonated with me where he went into detail of how he built a German Sales Force that evolved to be a massive success. Through the story he showed how you really can’t plan for every little thing that is going to happen and that life is going to always throw you curve balls and new opportunities as you go. You just have to get committed to a goal, don’t worry about planning every little step along the way and just take action. Along the way you just have to take each experience as it comes and just make the most of it, learn from it and keep pushing forward.

    • Douglas Dowell

      Thank you for that Dan,

      That’s the thing I am appreciative of today. The moon shot is a prime example. Early 60’s it was just a theory. So much was learned in the process. In principle its just not as complicated as I make it. Certainly its not landing a man on the moon….hahaha

      Thank you for the book recommendations. I will always love to read even after I score my first and subsequent wins.

      • Yea honestly real estate is so basic and not really all that complicated but we study for it like it’s rocket science. It’s really just basic math and you just need to take actions as you go and just make adjustments as you go. From all the time that we’ve spent reading about real estate and personal development we should be at minimum millionaires by now. Just have to balance learning and action rather than using 100% of your time for learning. Learn through taking action!

        • I have to agree….balance knowledge with effective action. The other alternative is same place in 1, 3, 5 or 10 years from now. That doesn’t work for me.

  3. Are u looking to find and flip apts, generate cash flow or whats your strategy? What has been your best source of information? If its BP, whats your second best source of info?



    • Hey Russ,

      I am very interested in apartment re positioning, If you heard the podcast with Sam Craven, its the kind of project I am really geek-ed up about.
      However, I think I will be better served starting with spec home and a small multifamily development project.

      BP has been a great place to meet people that are getting the result I want. It has been amazing to talk to them offline and get a feel for how they approach the business. No doubt in my mind that it will serve as cornerstone of my success.

      Another simply stellar source of information is the Urban Land Institute. I believe the education they offer will be a great accelerator to getting what I want as well. They offer some inexpensive online basic courses and their publications are first rate.

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