Personal Development

5 Tactics to Overcome Fear and Start Investing NOW!

6 Articles Written
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I recently met a man at a real estate meetup who said he'd been attending the event for years. I asked what he did in real estate, and his response shocked me. He said NOTHING.

This man had been actively studying the ins and outs of real estate investing for years, yet he was still too scared to take action.

This conversation got me thinking about the four-letter word that holds back so many would-be investors: fear. Everyone feels it at some point, but some work through it, while others sit on the sidelines.

“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whether you’re a would-be investor who hasn’t started yet or an active investor who’s nervous to take things to the next level, fear may be the only thing holding you back! Here are five tactics to help you overcome fear and take action now!

1. Ask Yourself, “What’s the Worst That Can Happen?”

One of my favorite ways to stay calm in the face of a big decision—in investing or in life—is to ask myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Will I lose every penny? Will my family end up on the streets? It’s helpful to remind yourself that the actual worst case scenario is rarely this dire.

It seems extreme, but this mental exercise can help clear your mind of the irrational fears that come with brand new territory—like your first real estate investment. Everyone’s situation is different, but I think very few people would lose everything over a single rental property.

That being said, the status quo still feels safer than taking action. So the follow-up question to ask yourself is, “What’s the worst thing that could come of NOT taking action?”

Redirect your fear to what you’ll miss out on in life. Will your failure to act keep you chained to a job you hate? Will you miss out on watching your children grow or traveling the world? Consider whether you’re willing to accept a mediocre, ho-hum life because of fear.

These questions may seem over the top, but they’re just as important as any of the technical questions you need to ask before making a big investment. You can reduce fear by clarifying what the true risks and rewards are in any given situation.

man with blue geans and sneaker shoes in stair

2. Practice Gratitude

Once you’ve acknowledged that taking action won’t leave you penniless and alone, take the mental exercise a step further. Think through all the reasons that you’re fortunate. Think about the advantages you have in life. Be grateful.

The best part about practicing gratitude is that it’s easy to do! My favorite method is to simply write down three things I’m grateful for when I wake up each morning. I do it as I drink my coffee. It takes a whopping five minutes.

Don’t take it from me. Countless people who have achieved extraordinary levels of success practice gratitude on a daily basis. Tony Robbins put it well in a 2016 interview with Thrive Global:

“[G]ratitude is the antidote to the things that mess us up. You can’t be angry and grateful simultaneously. You can’t be fearful and grateful simultaneously. So, gratitude is the solution to both anger and fear, and instead of just acting grateful, I think of specific situations that I’m grateful for, little ones and big ones. I do it every single day, and I step into those moments and I feel the gratitude and the aliveness.”

Write down all the ways in which you’re well-positioned to begin your investing journey. Google “gratitude affirmations” and pick a list to recite aloud each day.

Search for “gratitude meditation” on YouTube. There’s no shortage of ways to achieve a more positive, grateful mindset to help ease your fears!

Related: Hesitant to Invest? Hack Your Way Out of Analysis Paralysis

3. Study Stories of Successful People’s Failures

The prospect of failure is scary. We’ve all heard horror stories from investors who tried and gave up. These only add to the fear. Conversely, success stories are great inspiration but often feel unattainable to new investors. They’re like fairy tales. They’re fun, but it can be difficult to imagine that level of success in your own life.

Instead, take some time to study the failures that successful people have endured along the way. Business Insider published an article offering 29 excellent examples [1], including:

  • Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
  • In one of Fred Astaire’s first screen tests, an executive wrote: “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little.”
  • J.K. Rowling was a single mom living on welfare when she began writing the first Harry Potter novel.
  • While developing his vacuum, Sir James Dyson went through 5,126 failed prototypes and his savings over 15 years.

If these individuals have failed, is failure really something to fear? I think not. That realization brings us to the next tactic.

Back view of strong motivated woman celebrating workout goals towards the sun. Morning healthy training success.

4. Embrace Imperfection

Once you’ve studied some of these failure-to-success stories, you can start to embrace the idea that imperfection is totally fine. In fact, it’s the only place to start!

“There is not a single person on earth who knows how to reach a goal until he achieves it.” —Unknown

Read that again. Everything in life is a journey that requires course corrections along the way. No matter how much education you have, you’ll never know everything until you do! That means accepting a certain level of imperfection, uncertainty, and failure.

When you accept the fact that you will fail along the way, taking action becomes a little less scary. Embrace imperfection. Celebrate mistakes as new lessons learned. Stop waiting for “perfect,” and get started with good enough.

Related: 5 Achievable Steps to Get Started in Real Estate Investing [Video!]

5. Begin to ACT the Part

When I was in the Marine Corps, they drilled into us their 14 leadership traits. One of these traits was courage, which the Marine Corps defines like this.

Courage: The mental quality that recognizes fear of danger or criticism but enables a man to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness.

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Ever wonder how Navy SEALs, top-performing athletes, and successful entrepreneurs find the courage to achieve great physical and mental feats? The psychological principle of habituation is key!

In fact, a Psychology Today article explained how repeated exposure to the same stimulus eventually becomes, well, boring. [2] It boils the concept of overcoming fear down to this: the only way out is through.

If you want to be a real estate investor, stop acting like a student and start acting like an investor—not because you’ve completely abolished the fear but because you’ve decided to proceed in the face of fear.

Take action, learn, and gain experience. Then use that experience to build the life of your dreams!

Wrapping It Up

Knowledge can erase a lot of fears but not all. If you’ve done your homework, but still find yourself scared to take action, it’s time to check your mental readiness.

  1. Ask Yourself, “What’s the Worst That Can Happen?”
  2. Practice Gratitude
  3. Study Stories of Successful People’s Failures
  4. Embrace Imperfection
  5. Begin to Act the Part

Fear is an emotion that may never leave completely, but the point is not to eliminate fear. Take a deep breath, act in spite of the fear, and reap the rewards!




What’s holding you back from starting your investing journey? What steps are you taking to overcome this?

Share in a comment below!


Megan Greathouse is a real estate investor, mom, and wife located in St. Louis. Since jumping into real estate in 2017, her primary focus has been small multifamily rentals. She currently owns 10 u...
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    Scott Rogers Rental Property Investor from Neenah, WI
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Great article. I do plan on attending some meetups before investing but no way I am waiting years before jumping in "What's the worst that could happen?"
    Megan Greathouse Rental Property Investor from Saint Louis, MO
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Glad you enjoyed it, Scott! And I'm with you... I love attending meetups to get and stay motivated!
    David Pere Rental Property Investor from Oceanside, CA
    Replied about 1 year ago
    ohhhhhhh shoot! Look who it is! Congrats on your first BiggerPockets article Megan! Well written, and some great bullet points in here. Fear gets in the way of success too often.
    Megan Greathouse Rental Property Investor from Saint Louis, MO
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Woot woot! I'm joining the club! :) Thanks much, David. Some of the topics we discussed on your podcast inspired this first post!
    Janel York from Minneapolis, MN
    Replied about 1 year ago
    This is a great article! Thank you, Megan, for laying out tangible steps to overcoming fear! I like steps 1 and 5 the best.
    Megan Greathouse Rental Property Investor from Saint Louis, MO
    Replied about 1 year ago
    So glad you enjoyed it, Janel! I love #1 as well... and I'm personally a fan of #5, but it's also probably the hardest for most people. Good on you for embracing that tactic!
    Barry W Bahr Investor from Tampa, FL
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I've jumped in. Spent three days with a realtor looking at properties. I was prepared to make an offer. Then my realtor balked for fear that I couldn't get financing. Didn't reply to my emails or phone calls. I've moved on to another realtor that is more familiar with investment properties. Hopefully I'll get something under contract in next couple of weeks.
    Megan Greathouse Rental Property Investor from Saint Louis, MO
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Glad to hear you're jumping in! Definitely work with an agent who knows real estate. Was the first agent worried because you didn't have a preapproval? Or worried that the property itself wouldn't qualify for traditional financing?
    Eric Anderson Rental Property Investor from Alexandria, MN
    Replied about 1 year ago
    To: Barry, I've had to go through a few of realtor, and had many discussions with ones before I even started to educate them on my methods and why. Many said no that they were not interested in participating, so I moved on. It takes some time to build and evaluate to see if it's a fit. Best of luck and keep plugging away. To Megan: I felt like throwing up when I took my first action (submitting an offer), wondering what in the world I'm doing. everyone in my group encouraged me, saying it would get easier. Nicer article.
    Megan Greathouse Rental Property Investor from Saint Louis, MO
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I feel you, Eric. I still feel like throwing up sometimes! Haha... but it gets easier with each experience.
    Joe Wenger from Saint Louis, Missouri
    Replied about 1 year ago
    What an awesome surprise to see your name and pic under the headline. It was a great read. "What's the worst that could happen," is one of those mantra's that I had to keep using with my wife. She finally figured it out or I wore her down...
    Vincent Miller Investor from Williston, VT
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Great article Megan. It was only 3 months ago that I was anxious submitting my first offer on a rental property. Within a month, submitting an offer was as easy as ordering a book on Amazon. As long as the numbers work and you have the financial resources, "what is the worst that can happen?" I closed on my first property a couple of weeks ago and now excited to purchase the next one. I am now "embracing imperfection" due to the process of getting my first property rented. However, I am confident all will work out. Thanks for the concise and meaningful article.
    Don Taylor New to Real Estate from Raleigh, NC
    Replied about 1 year ago
    This article has built up my confidence, thank you all
    Brad Swearingen Wholesaler from Wake Forest, NC
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Hey Megan, Thanks for the article. It really hit home with me. I have many fears of "the worst that can happen." I tend to screw things up really bad when I jump in. However, I really liked point 4 of embracing imperfection. It helped me realize that I am not the only one doing things incorrectly. I am always having to course correct. At times I feel like I am the only one going through this so it helps to read your article and know that I am not alone in this. Brad