Business Management

Newbies: Getting Discouraged Early On? Here’s How to Rekindle Your Passion!

Expertise: Mortgages & Creative Financing, Business Management, Landlording & Rental Properties, Commercial Real Estate, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Development
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Many a new real estate investor jumps into the endeavor with much passion and excitement, only to come to the stark realization that real estate investment is not the get-rich-quick scheme many gurus claim. Yes, we all know that going in, but the many barriers between starting and success become disheartening and begin to make real estate investment feel more like a job than anything else.

The first thing to realize is that this is not abnormal. Nor is it fatal. Having just finished reading So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport, it really hit home to me that it’s not passion that leads to career success (or any other sort of success for that matter), but instead competence. People who enjoy their careers are almost always really, really good at them. Namely, you may want to do something, but real passion comes from becoming good at something.

It reminded me of learning to play the guitar, which I discussed in a previous article:

“When I first began learning to play the guitar, the whole exercise was little more than a chore. Switching from one chord to the next was a tedious task that took so much time, I couldn’t play anything that could possibly be confused with an actual song. It took a good long while for the guitar become something that I actually enjoyed to play.

“Eventually, though, that all changed. I had finally mastered enough chords that I could play a variety of simple songs. Then I could play those songs easily. Then I could play them slightly more easily.”

I may have really wanted to play the guitar going in, but actually learning it, well, sucked. It was boring and disheartening and cumbersome and then… and then it wasn’t. Then it was actually enjoyable.

Related: Two Actionable Business Skills You Should Start Developing Today

Becoming Great, Finding Passion

Cal Newport makes the point that we have all become deluded by the “passion hypothesis.” Or as he defines it,

“The key to occupational happiness is to first figure out what you’re passionate about and then find a job that matches that passion” (pg. 4).

This, however, puts the cart before the horse.

Over and over again, Newport describes stories of people who tried to "follow their passion" and ended up leaving good positions for fantasies or meandering aimlessly through the job market. Yet just about everyone says that this is the way to go. Even Steve Jobs made that case at a commencement address for Stanford graduates. Yet as Newport describes, Jobs showed virtually no interest in the career he would become passionate about early in his life. He bounced around rather aimlessly before jumping at a happenstance opportunity that jump started Apple.

But then he became “so good they can’t ignore you,” and the rest is history.

In other words, while Steve Jobs may have recommended following your passion to find a great career, the path he took was to become great at his career in order to become passionate about it.

Deliberate Practice

And to become great requires more than just a lot of experience. It requires “deliberate practice.” Newport explains this by discussing a study involving chess players and whether more hours spent in serious study or more hours spent in tournament play was the biggest determinant of success:

“…They studied players who had all spent roughly the same amount of time—around 10,000 hours—playing chess. Some of these players had become grand masters while others remained at an intermediate level… [It turned out that] Hours spent in serious study of the game was not just the most important factor in predicting chess skill, it dominated the other factors. The researchers discovered that the players who became grand masters spent five times more hours dedicated to serious study then those who plateaued at an intermediate level” (pg. 81-82).

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The researchers concluded that, “In serious study… materials can be deliberately chosen or adapted such that the problems to be solved are at a level that is appropriately challenging.” Which is in contrast to tournament play, when a player may be much better or worse than you, and therefore “skill improvement is likely to be minimized” (pg. 82).

In addition, feedback is immediate in serious study, and all sorts of particular cases can be looked at in depth instead of repeating a lot of standard things over and over again like in tournament play. After all, how much better do you get by repeatedly moving your pawn to E4 to start a game?

Related: 6 Ridiculous Excuses That Are Holding You Back From Real Estate Success

How Does This Relate to Real Estate Investing?

First of all, don’t worry if you’ve become discouraged early on. I think a lot of new investors mistake a temporary sense of motivation for a sustainable passion. Real estate investment is very lucrative, but it’s also hard work. The key is to work to become great at it, and then a sustainable passion (and money) will follow.

The second point is to not fall into the trap of just doing what needs to be done or jumping from one fire to the next. Try to block out time for "deliberate practice" whenever possible. That could mean reading books, attending seminars, and learning from other successful investors. But it can also be things like reviewing your rehab budgets versus actual expenses to hone your budgeting skills. Or doing the same with your sales price versus projected sales price. It could be role-playing negotiations and filming them so you can review them afterward to work on your technique. It could mean asking for feedback on a business plan or loan request to hone your writing skills. In a business as varied as real estate, there's a thousand ways to do it. They don't come naturally. So you have to force yourself to do them.

But in the end you will get better. And then you will become more passionate (and more wealthy to boot).

How has your passion for real estate grown (or shrunk) as you’ve honed your investing skills?

Weigh in with a comment!

Andrew Syrios has been investing in real estate for over a decade and is a partner with Stewardship Investments, LLC along with his brother Phillip ...
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    Karen Rittenhouse Flipper/Rehabber from Greensboro, NC
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Wow, Andrew, this is fabulous! A topic I haven’t read much about and your nailed it! Like anything you become good at, real estate investing takes time and dedication. We always talk about needing laser like focus – not getting distracted, not giving up. The more you do it, the more you learn. The more you know the better you become. The better you become, the more successful you are. The more successful you are the more fun it is! Thanks for your awesome post!
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Thank you Karen! Reading Newport’s book really brought things home that this whole idea of find something you love and become great at that, instead of the other way around, is just wrong and has done a lot of damage.
    Karen Rittenhouse Flipper/Rehabber from Greensboro, NC
    Replied about 5 years ago
    I love love love gardening and study with a Master Gardener. Not making a dime doing it. In fact, kinda expensive!
    Yvonne Thompson from Baltimore, Maryland
    Replied about 5 years ago
    This was a such a reassuring read for newbies like me! Great post!
    Bill Neves Flipper/Rehabber from Vancouver, WA
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Thanks for the article. Good stuff! The book Outliers talks about 10k hours to get good with something. People today want it now. “Give me heat and then I’ll put the wood in the stove.” “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” ? Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success I coach people in RE investing and it’s one of the frustrations. New folks sometimes think all your experience is instantly transferable without some legwork and time investment. Again thanks! Have fun!
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied about 5 years ago
    I’ve heard some criticism of the 10,000 hour rule, I do think you can master something quicker, but generally speaking, it’s absolutely true. To become great at something, you have to absolutely dedicate yourself to it.
    Bill Neves Flipper/Rehabber from Vancouver, WA
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Agreed. Those who criticize usually are the short cutters yes? No one shot the hoops for Michael Jordan, except Mr. Jordan. You can cut some learning by copying those who have gone before. But still takes work and some amount of time.
    Pat Kelly from Melbourne, Florida
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Yes, I like the article. I am a newbie, have not made any deal. but just the the thought of getting into real estate scarce me. I really have to slow myself down and learn a lot. I especially like the part about jumping from fire to fire setting time aside to read a book. I like this ideal, I will commit to a time for learning how to make the first step. Thanks
    Mario Mormile Investor/ Real Estate Agent from Burton, Ohio
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Thank you for sharing , @Andrew Syrios. I went to a REIA meeting tonight, in Independence, ohio earlier today. I was reminded of how much I need to be around like-minded individuals. Your article is also a great reminder of how I need to put what I am learning into practice. Nothing falls into our lap. We have to position ourselves to be ready for those home run opportunities when they do come our way!
    Dave Brewer Engineering Manager from Harrison, Ohio
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Andrew, Thank you for sharing this post. I am a newbie to REI and your illustration about learning to play the guitar resonated with me because I am a musician. I find that my guitar playing is only as good as the study and practice that I put into it. This mental picture helps frame my thinking as I approach real estate investing. If I approach it with a passive attitude and am inconsistent with my study and work habits, I will likely be mediocre at best. This will likely lead to discouragement and abandonment of the idea. However, if I set goals and actively and consistently seek after these goals, I have the potential to be very skilled at it. This is much more likely to lead to my success and ultimately my goal of financial independence. Though only a member of BP for a few days, I am finding a wealth of useful information here! Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and keeping the learning process exciting.
    Account Closed from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Excellent article. I have found that as I learn more and more about real estate investing, I have become more passionate and excited about it. I love the quote from Cal Newport, “and to become great requires more than just a lot of experience. It requires deliberate practice.” I agree with Karen. You nailed this one.
    Daria B. Rental Property Investor from Gainesville, FL
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Thanks Andrew. I was feeling discouraged today and overwhelmed. I’ve begun putting down so much of what I am trying to do all at once to rest. I read a lot and having a full time job and trying to run my business, well let’s just say it’s getting a little crowded. That “practice” you talked about is essential and for me needs to be organized or it just gets out of control. By no means did I ever think this was ‘get rich quick’ or ‘easy’. What I found is that my energy level is different than when I was much younger. It’s about funneling that energy proactively and making sure I stay on point. And practice…. 🙂
    Gary Swift from Suitland, Maryland
    Replied about 5 years ago
    This truly hits home. I’m as newbie as they come. I’ve took the plunge and bought two properties that closed about just over one month ago. One bought for 11.5k cash on the recomendation of a real estate agent friend turned out to be much worse than I could have imagine. (House was occupied with no gas, light, leaking roof, roaches, bed bugs and not sure if people were living with the dogs or the dogs were the tenants and thpeople were guest– Stink with garbage everywhere). Needs about 20k to make rentable. 2nd property closed about two weeks after is occupied. 35k cash waaaayyyyy better condition but previous owner crying sad sorry about leaving but does not want to rent. They have till end off the month or legal proceedings may be necessary. My wife is already fed-up and frustrated and im trying for it not to get to me. I’ve been reading blogs, online forums and into a lot of RE books and I know that it takes time, patience and knowledge. Timely post
    Lenzy Ruffin from Washington, District of Columbia
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Keep your head up, Gary. You are not alone in your struggles as a new investor. It’s great that you’re not scared to pull the trigger, but as one new person to another, I encourage you to define your buying criteria so you don’t end up with surprises like first house. It’s a lesson that I learned that has served me well. Now, I only market for and go visit properties that I would actually want to buy, as opposed to what I started out doing which was try to figure out how to make a deal out of any property somebody was willing to sell. The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller has a section that will teach you how to define what criteria work for you. Learning that successful investors use criteria that eliminate the overwhelming majority of properties was a big “a ha” moment for me. If you haven’t had a chance to review J. Scott’s materials, they’ll get you real knowledgeable, real fast about determining deal or no deal. He has an article on here called “An Introduction to Real Estate Investment Deal Analysis” that explains everything you need to know in order to evaluate a property as a rental candidate. He also has two books available through BP that provide all the details on how to estimate the cost and develop/execute the plan for rehabbing a property, either for sale or for rental. Those two books and that article have been immeasurably helpful to me in demystifying the process of how money is made in real estate. Last thing, check out “Notes From A Friend” by Tony Robbins. It’s a quick 100 pages, but it has tons of tools in it to help you keep yourself in a positive, productive mindset that will carry you through adversity. Good luck with your properties.
    Gary Swift from Suitland, Maryland
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Thanks for the pointers and words of encouragement. Will check them out.
    David Trounce Virtual Assistant from Sydney, NSW
    Replied about 5 years ago
    To young, too soon is painful to watch. That said, it is often the early anxiety, rush and blunder that (hopefully) makes us better investors… if only the younger generation would listen, now that I have accumulated all my wisdom through years of being too gun-ho in my youth. The irony.