4 Toxic Habits That Sabotage Even the Most Promising New Investors

by | BiggerPockets.com

As we approach the new year, I’ve come to realize that in my own life, there have been several things throughout my past that have been extremely toxic to my health and well-being—and to the health of my business.

It’s in my heart to share some of these because I know a lot of the readers here on BiggerPockets are new, and I want you to be able to spot these things a mile away!

It’s my desire to help you avoid the many mistakes that I’ve made because I want you to be far more successful than I have been. What good is life experience if I can’t share it with those who need it most?

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4 Toxic Habits That Sabotage Even the Most Promising New Investors

The following are 4 toxic things that you want to avoid at all costs. These things will choke the life right out of you and your business, so please pay close attention!

1. Comparing Yourself to Others

Have any of you seen the new Rocky movie called Creed? Last week as a Christmas present, I took my whole team out to see it. It was awesome!

Now, I’m not going to be a spoiler, but there is a part of the movie that really stood out to me that will help me make my point here.

When Rocky was coaching the main character inside the ring for the last fight, he said something pretty profound.

He said, “Listen! When you’re in the ring, you’re not fighting the guy in front of you. You just need to get him out of the way. Who you’re fighting is the guy right here.” (And he points to his forehead.)

Think about that for a moment.

When you’re fighting, you’re not fighting the person in front of you, you’re fighting the person inside your mind—you are fighting you!

This is a great analogy for people in real estate!

In your business, and in your life in general, success is won not by beating your competition or by comparing yourself to others, but by finding what it takes to overcome the limitations within yourself.

If you get caught up in the comparison game, thinking that this investor or that investor is far more superior to you because of their level of success, you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels and getting nowhere.

The truth is most people put up a front in this business, making it seem as though they are bigger than they truly are. And with the rise and use of social media, it’s very easy to create the perspective that you are a bigger deal than you really are. Most people like to use or at least think that famous phrase in the movie Anchorman, when Ron Burgundy says, “I’m kind of a big deal.”

But even if you know of other investors that are truly more successful than you, who cares?

It’s not about them. This is your life, and your business—what do they have to do with anything?

The only thing that matters is beating yourself.

Related: 10 Seemingly Harmless Habits That Sabotage Ambitious Millennials

What did you accomplish last year, and how can you accomplish more this year? What are the things you’re going to do to beat your all-time best score?

If you think this way, and you gamify your business and your life as a race against your past scores, this is how you’ll find true success.

It’s not about your opponent in the ring; it’s about what’s happening right between your ears.


2. Being Around Too Many Naysayers

Okay, so it’s the holidays, and everyone has that negative relative who seems to find the downside to everything!

Even if you were to tell them, “Oh wow, you look great!” They would reply in some somber fashion, “Oh no, you’re just saying that because it’s socially unacceptable to tell me I’ve gained weight and look like I’ve been run over by a truck.”

It’s hard for me to stand people like that, and more importantly, it’s unhealthy!

As an investor, a lot of what you do every day is take risks in the face of conventional wisdom.

There are going to be people who don’t believe in you, but it doesn’t mean you have to be around them!

The truth is a lot of this business is built on pure faith, and the worst thing you can do is hang around a bunch of naysayers who will fill you with doubt and have you question everything.

You need to be secure in your decisions and continue moving forward despite the circumstances or the outcome.

Don’t surround yourself with people who don’t believe in what you’re doing because they will kill your passion and vision faster than anything else!

3. Not Creating Goals the Right Way

Now, when I say “creating goals, the right way,” I mean doing something completely different than what 99% of aspiring real estate investors do.

The right way is to set a goal and then develop a systematic plan on how to achieve that goal. You have to have a plan!

There is a great saying that goes, “If you’re going to eat an elephant, you need to do it one bite at a time.”

Let’s use the example about losing weight. The first step is to have a very approachable and clear goal in mind.

If you just say, “Yeah, I’d like to lose weight,” that won’t get you very far because you can’t measure your success towards it. You might be talking about one pound or a hundred, and if you start on that kind of goal, you’ll soon give up because you lack direction.

However, if you were to say, “I’d like to lose 15 pounds in three months,” now you’re dealing with a real, attainable goal. You have a timeline and a measurable amount.

The next step is where you actually make it happen.

  • How are you going to lose those 15 pounds in 3 months?
  • What do you need to change in order to make it happen?
  • What research do you need to do in order to prepare and make that goal a reality?

Everyone knows, “Eat less and do more,” but that honestly won’t be enough.

How much less? How many times a week do you practically need to workout in order for you to drop the weight?

Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a plan of action to help you achieve your goal.

So in real estate, if you have a certain amount of properties you want to wholesale, flip or own, you can’t just approach it halfway.

Get a plan and take action!


4. Not Deciphering Between What’s Urgent and What’s Important

For our last toxic item, I want to talk about the importance of having the ability to determine when something is important versus when something is urgent.

Important things are the things that align and serve your core values.

Urgent things are things that take away your attention and your time.

Both need to be dealt with accordingly, but I believe they have an order of significance.

Taking the example from above, if I have a goal to lose weight and to get in shape and I’ve made up my mind that it’s important to me over my business, then I need to put that as a priority over, let’s say, a lead that came in for a new property.

The lead is very urgent and time-sensitive, but it’s not important when compared to my weight loss goal.

So even if I’m late getting back to the lead, or in the worst case I lose the deal, I need to be ok with putting my workouts first.

Now, obviously, the ideal situation would be to accomplish both, but sometimes things happen and you’ll be pressed to have to choose one or the other, and you’ll need to put what’s important to you over anything and everything else!

Related: 5 Habits of the Wealthy That Helped Them Get Rich

Urgent things will always be there, but it’s doing the things that are important to you that make up the fabric of your life.

I really hope this post helps you avoid a lot of the pitfalls that I’ve had in my life!

We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers.

What toxic habits do you want to kick this year?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Brett Snodgrass

Brett Snodgrass is a licensed real estate broker and wholesaler who hails from the Indianapolis metro. His mission in life is to glorify God by serving as many people as he can through his real estate business. He has a pretty active community growing on Facebook and is also the founder of SimpleWholesaling.com Come check it out now and connect!


  1. Mike McKinzie

    Something to add to number 2. As I have heard many times, it is not the big storm that causes the tree to fall, it is the little, tiny wood eating insects that slowly eat away at the root system and all the wind did was to expose the weakness. Most negative people do not just come right out and act like Eyore, they usually take small shots at you throughout the day. They make compliments with strings, ie. You look nice, for a change! And they sap your energy with mindless small talk. 30 seconds of “How was your weekend?” is fine, but 10 minutes of “can you believe how rude a cashier is at Christmas time” is a success killer.

    And here is a saying for EVERYONE in 2016, “Successful People want others to Succeed, while unsuccessful people want others to fail!”

  2. Lew K.

    Brett, thanks for writing this article. As a new investor, #2 has already popped up several times. It’s crazy but when you mention real estate investing, people always seem to want to tell you about their family member or friend who had a bad experience with it! I guess “Misery loves company” is still around. Also your #1 about comparison is so true, and I needed to hear that this morning. I’m also seeking to glorify God as I serve others through this business. Wishing you a great year in REI this coming year.

  3. Cary P.

    Thank you very much for this article. The last toxic item is EXACTLY why I think I joined this group. I am struggling with important versus urgent. My investments seem to be taking over my life 24/7. I have to learn to let things go or make sure I have the right team in place to handle the problems in my absence. – because I need to take care of me. My business won’t continue to grow if I am letting all of the little things consume my time.

  4. Tom Shepard

    Love it. Great points…every one of them. I have personally found my worst habit is getting emotionally attached to properties. Treating it like “my house” instead of “my business” or “my investment”. Hopefully I will eventually have enough properties that I can’t get too attached to them all!
    Thanks for sharing these thoughts and perspective with us!

    • Brett Snodgrass

      Thank Tom, I have too gotten attached to certain properties. I struggle with that at time, especially the ones that have a lot of CHARACTER! But just remember this is a business and treat it like that and when you get to attached, I seem to go overboard on the REHAB, if that we are Rehabbing it and I spend too much. Thanks TOM. Brett

  5. Justin Shaffer

    Truly an inspiring article. My wife and I were actually discussing comparing our lives to family and friends to determine if we were successful or not. We talked about how this was stopping our progress. Due to either thinking we are already ahead in life or are not able to get to the point of other people. We are now making a choice to push forward and no longer worry about where everyone else is at. We have set goals to be able to obtain a rental property this year and are currently getting educated in the subject and hashing out a detailed plan on how we accomplish this.

    Just wanted to say thank you for reassuring me that we are not the only ones to ever think like we did.

    • Brett Snodgrass

      Thanks Justin, I am glad the article helped you and your wife. I think we all struggle with this at times, it is human nature… We all fall into the pit of comparing every once in a while… whether it’s business, how good you look, how young you are, how intelligent you are, how much money you have, or how cute your kids are . . . It is a deadly trap that only brings misery. Thanks for your comments… Brett

  6. Eric Turrentine

    Love it
    I’m just getting started and I think I have had all four hit me already,
    I found a way around the first one, Comparing myself to others is now a positive for me.
    If I see someone killing it in the biz I immediately invite them to lunch and see if they will share there experience.

    I always walk away with some great information and a few new partners on future deals

  7. Elia S.

    Brett Awesome Read Very well Written Article. I have been around too Many Naysayers an thats what kept me from Reaching my Goal’s Earlier in My Business but now I have Surrounded myself with Like Minded People an Change my Mindset I have been threw all 4 Of these Toxic Habits and this New Year 2016 I will take Massive Action.

  8. Kayla Lyon

    Great article! I think deep down we all already know most of this (not at all trying to detract from what you’re saying, I hope it doesn’t come out that way…) but we all need to hear it and see it to bring it to the front of our brains and remind us to make actionable steps, set priorities, etc. I’m trying to figure out how to take my first step and these reminders are really helpful! Thanks!!

  9. I’ve found that the biggest obstacle to overcome can be the trap people fall into where you allow yourself to get in your own way. You think that things are going to be too difficult, or will take too long to accomplish and become frustrated over time. It’s good to keep reminding yourself what your goals are and what you want to get out of life.


    Wow, thank you so much Brett for that awesome information! Above all, I’m extremely elated and proud of you for giving Glory to God by helping others through Real Estate my brother! Just showing and sharing love to others regardless of where they are in life is such a wonderful experience. I get that from you. Many Blessings to you and your loved ones and positive endeavors within your life as a whole! Keep up the great work brother! Jesus Bless!

  11. Kristin King

    Although I am just coming across this article, it was a great read and spot on! Thanks Brett for sharing. For me, the first section about making comparisons to yourself and yourself only was incredibly powerful.

    Thanks again.


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