What Kind of “House” Do YOU Want to Be?

by | BiggerPockets.com

Yes, you did read the title correctly:

what type of house do you want to be?

The reason I ask, is because we need to plan our lives like we would plan a house.

I recently heard a great analogy; when you build a house, everything is meticulously planned out. You have blue prints, cost estimates and a plan of action- but many people spend no time planning their lives.  When we plan our lives, how many people take the time to plan out exactly what they want and how they are going to get it?

Our lives are much more important than a house, a job or our favorite hobby, but how many people treat themselves as the most important thing?

If people took the time to plan their lives like they were building their dream house, people would be amazed at the results.  The biggest question you have to ask yourself is: “what kind of house do you want your life to be like?”

Do you want:

  • a 1,000 square foot cookie cutter with a car port and a view of the neighbor’s backyard? Or,
  • a 10,000 square foot mansion that overlooks the ocean, with two pools, 20 acres, 15 car garage, beautiful gardens and a staff to take care of it all?

Letting Others Run Our Lives?

The cookie cutter house is easy to build: you walk up to the builder’s little trailer next to the model home and pick your choice of four models.  The builder how many bedrooms, baths and what materials will be used.  The cookie cutter house can be built in 4 months and you are ready to move in!  Is the cookie cutter house what you really want or is what you settled for?

When you have the cookie cutter home built you realize it is too small as soon as you move in.  You immediately start looking for a way to get out as soon as possible.  But you are probably stuck, you let someone else design your house just like you let other people decide other aspects of your life.  There are too many similar homes just like yours for sale and it will take years for the market to appreciate to a point to where you can sell.

Decide for Yourself

The mansion, on the other hand, is all custom, but t takes a lot more work to build the mansion and a lot more time.   You have to decide before building a mansion if you can handle the dedication, time and challenges of building a mansion.  While the cookie cutter can be built in four months, it may take four months to pick an architect for the mansion.  You have to help design the floor plan so it is perfect, you have to find a contractor, you have to find the perfect location and determine a budget.

It takes a lot more work to plan the mansion and it takes a lot more time to build – because it is higher quality and has every feature you would ever desire.  Each material used is chosen by you and reflects your personality. With the mansion you are making the decisions, not a spec home builder who builds 50 of the exact same houses.

The mansion may take two years, thee years or even five years to build depending on what you need in your mansion.  When your mansion is ready to move into, you know have a home for the rest of your life.  You have set up the home to meet all your current and future needs.  You have enough land to build more houses, more garages or what ever you will need.  You can constantly improve on the mansion and feel good about the home because you know you are improving it for yourself, not to increase resale value when you are finally able to sell.


So far I have talked about one giant metaphor, but what can be done to make sure you are building a mansion and not settling for a cookie cutter spec home or worse?

Plan your life – every part of your life – and know what you want.

I am just as guilty of letting my life slide by as anyone else.  In my early to mid 20’s I was more interested in hanging out with friends and having a good time than I was in planning my future.  Once I started planning my future, things changed in a big way!  Building a house is a massive project, just like planning every aspect of you life is a massive project.  It may seem to big of a task to tackle or get started on, but it is not.

You just have to start with one piece at time.

Goals are one of the easiest ways to get started planning your life.  I think it is very intimidating for many people to start planning or creating goals.  The number one reason people don’t create goals is they are afraid they won’t accomplish the goals.  How are you going to go anywhere in life if you don’t know where you want to go?  You can’t be afraid of not accomplishing goals, I don’t reach my goals all the time because I set very aggressive goals.

I am not disappointed when I don’t reach a goal, because I know I am much farther head by trying to reach that goal than if I had no goal or I had an easy to reach goal.  I worked my butt off to reach that goal and many times circumstances I can’t control keep me from reaching a goal.  Many times I have a goal in mind and then I realize there is a much better goal to go after and I completely switch my course.  Even though we set goals, we can’t know all the opportunities and possibilities our future holds.

Don’t be scared to make goals, the goal will help you accomplish more and set you off in the right direction.  Make goals for anything and everything you want to have or do in your life.  They can be massive goals ten years down the road or small goals for today.  I wrote a list of 100 goals and I am continually updating and reviewing it.  It feels really good to make a goal list and then start checking off goals as you accomplish them.

Use Those Goals

Here is what has helped me the most out of anything I have done in the last year: I created a dream story for myself (a description of everything I would have if I were a mansion). You should try it out.

Write the story for ten years out, five years out or don’t even specify a date.  The important part is you write down everything you want to have in your life.  Use the goals you wrote down to help you write the dream story for your perfect life.

I have written three dream stories in the last 6 months.  I was introduced to the concept by Jack Canfield coaching, which I talk about with much more detail in this article.  I described my perfect house in my first dream story that I wrote for ten years in the future.  I was not thinking of buying a house when I wrote the story, but I bought almost the exact same house I described three months later.  The only real difference between reality and the story was I described a shop with room for 15 cars in my story, I ended up with a five car attached garage (but there is room for the shop).

I described my family, my job, my charity, my free time, my possessions and anything else that is important to me in my dream story.  I was not shy about wanting big things and expensive things.  I think if that is what you really want in life, you should go for it.  I wrote down that story and then I recorded it on my iPhone and listened to it everyday.

My latest dream stories are getting bigger and better, because the things I described in my first story keep coming true much faster than I thought possible.  My last story was no limit description of how my life would be if I had more money that I could ever spend and all the free time in the world.


You may notice that people who have palatial estates don’t build them in one year or stop improving the property once they have finished the house.  The owner of a palatial estate improves it constantly, by adding furniture, landscaping, buildings, additions or renovating rooms when they become dated.  The most successful people in the world don’t reach a plateau and then stop.  They are always improving, always expanding and always looking for new challenges.  I keep changing my goals, and looking for improvements I can make every day.

What about you?

Photo: Simon Q

About Author

Mark Ferguson

Mark Ferguson is a has been a real estate investor and real estate agent/broker since 2002. He has flipped over 165 homes in that time, including more than 70 in the last three years. Mark owns more than 20 rental properties that include single family homes, as well as commercial properties, including a 68,000 square foot strip mall. Mark has sold more than 1,000 homes as a real estate agent and is the owner/managing broker of Blue Steel Real Estate in Greeley, Colorado. Mark started the InvestFourMore blog and website in 2013, which has hundreds of article on real estate. Mark is constantly sharing his insights, case studies, and interesting things that happen to real estate investors on both his blog and well-known sites like Forbes.


  1. I’m not a huge fan of the small house vs mansion analogy above. I know your point isn’t the SIZE of the house, but rather the planning. I am an owner in a construction company that tries to steer our clients (not always successfully) to smaller homes, rather than larger ones.

    That being said, I do think that too many people do not plan their lives at all and simply kill time until they are too old to do anything about it and then stop killing time and start complaining. I have not tried the dream stories you describe above, but I have adopted two new rules for my life: 1) Set a few goals, but not too many; and 2) Do ONE thing every day towards those goals.

    I’ve found that by adopting these two rules, my goals all of a sudden become much more manageable and I find it’s very easy to do more than one thing after I’ve completed the first thing for the day.

    • Thank you for the comment Liam! Yes, I think people are taking my analogy a little too literally. Everyone has to find their own mansion and what they want. It’s not the same for everyone or anyone. It doesn’t have to be big, but I think we all want to be unique and special.

  2. I found this to be very helpful, the idea of putting my goals into a story that i can read or listen everyday multiple times a day, is awesome, also i would like to be doing what you are doing fix and flip 8-18 a year and buying and holding SFR for passive income. Thank you for your insight I will give the goal idea a try

  3. I am not a fan of mansions, never thought I want to live in one. Too much maintenance even if it’s not done by me, I still would need to be in control of it. It just seems that too much of my time is going to be wasted to make those silly decisions, what is going to be on that acre and this one, not something that is worth my time and money. ”Wow, what a huge house,” said by bystanders, just doesn’t do it to me. I would probably have to buy 5 cell phones (iphones or whatever), just so I don’t waste time searching the whole mansion if I loose one. I recently lost my car keys, took me 3 hours to realize that they are not in the house, and only after a week I figured that they should be in the car. I know what you’re thinking, the car wasn’t running all that time. And just FYI, my car is pretty new, and still close to how it left the dealership and the house is pretty much ready for guests every day – that’s the way I like it. But you talk on the phone, kids talking to you at the same time, you have several things in your hands and whoops, where did I put my car keys… I just had them in my hand, or may be I didn’t….

    Anyway, just about when I figured out that I can afford new and expensive things, I lost interest in getting them. It’s much more exciting for me to get things REALLY cheap or free, but at the same time I want them to look nice and expensive. Back to the topic, I want to be a really cheap house that looks expensive, all renovations close to being free. Get an ARV of 10-100 times the purchase price. Sorry, Mark, but 15 car garage is pretty boring, it doesn’t stimulate my brain. Making millions out of nothing is interesting. Something like turning those mansion acres into a hospital plus medical center, getting tax return till the rest of the live of my kids for that and plus free medical care. And I can live in my current house, it’s too big for us anyway. Never understood why people want to move to another house when you can renovate the old one so it looks like a different one.

    • Gayla, It sounds like you have your “mansion” already. It doesn’t have to be big or have a garage at all. Like I mentioned above, everyone has a different idea of what is important to them and what they want. The point is to go after what you want and make it happen, don’t wait for it to happen.

  4. Hey Mark – I get your point. It works. I wrote a 20 year plan starting at 20 then 15-10-5-3-2-1 then 6 months right down to the week. I am approaching the 5 years and the amazing thing is i wasn’t even close on my 2nd and 3rd year but let me tell you the magic is happening now. it is like the snowball effect. Keep it up. Your attitude and mindset is contagious and refreshing to hear.

  5. Christopher Lesko on


    Great article! I, too, am a big fan of Jack Canfield, especially “The Success Principles”. Working towards your goals can seem like a long and difficult journey, but as long as you stay positive the universe will provide :). It’s especially helpful to surround yourself with like-minded people and eliminate distractions. After that it’s just a matter of time before your mansion is built.

  6. Its also important to build a house that is flexible to new developments/changes in the future. I always like to create plans and goals that can be modified and still work in the overall scheme. This is the type of house I like to think of myself.

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