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.
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!
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 , 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.
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.
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.
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.  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.
- Ask Yourself, “What’s the Worst That Can Happen?”
- Practice Gratitude
- Study Stories of Successful People’s Failures
- Embrace Imperfection
- 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!