2017 was a pivotal year and time to work on my lifestyle goals

31 Replies

The New Year offers a fresh start and a chance to make resolutions to make this year the best yet. Every year, I like to reflect on the previous year and update my network on what is to come. Every year that I sit down to write these reflections I think, “last year was SO crazy, this year is going to be chill.” And every year, I am more surprised than the last.

As you may know, I quit my corporate job in 2014 to be a full time real estate investor and what a wild ride it has been. Real estate was the vehicle for financial freedom and I surpassed my investing goal and really had to sit down and think about when enough was enough. So unlike previous years where my goals were to add to my portfolio (Already have 90+ units!) last year was about creating the lifestyle I want to live.

So in 2017 my “lifestyle” goals were:

  • To never set an alarm clock in the morning
  • To work no more than 30 hours a week (which can be hard when you own 3 companies)
  • To take 10 weeks of vacation per year
  • To be present with loved ones and create long lasting memories

I am happy to report that only twice I had to set an alarm clock, and both were to make early flights.  I have made strides to reduce my workload, either by delegating out tasks that don't make me money or by using my time more efficiently.  The latter is a work in progress... I follow the "getting things done" method which is basically a weekly to-do list.  Each Monday I allocate a time to a task and then organize all the tasks in my calendar.  When it is time to complete my task I set a stopwatch which helps me keep focused and I tune off my phone and emails, so that time is only used to accomplish that task.  I also moved away from in-person meetings and only schedule them when absolutely necessary allowing me to fit more meetings in and reduced the time spent doing laundry as my "work clothes" are yoga pants.

My travel last year was not as much as I had hoped… I took 8 weeks off and went to Boston twice, Denver twice, San Francisco, Phoenix, Detroit, and took a four-day motorcycle trip around lake Michigan. Anyone who knows me knows that my Type-A personality does not bode well for “winging it” but I let go of my inhibitions and decided we would just stop for the night when we were tired. Well that backfired when we stopped after 8 hours on a motorcycle with no hotels or AirBnb within 60+ miles!!! Luckily, I had an old client, @Jacques Cyr  who moved to Michigan who put us up for the night with last minute notice. It defiantly pays to establish relationships with people!

My main focus last year was growing my Real Estate Brokerage, Second City Real Estate, and establishing ourselves as the premier agents for investors in Chicago. After only two years of operations, we are already in the top 10% of agents in the entire Chicagoland market. However, I’m more proud that we have helped clients add over $100k a month in rental income to their portfolio. In addition, @Charlie Shields  came on board in 2017, after being one of my clients. I am also very excited to announce a new addition, @John Warren  who is an experienced investor and agent with a commitment to putting the clients needs first.

I still co-host the Chicago Real Estate Investors Meetup every month, after over 3 years I have met hundreds of investors and watched so many grow their business and make strides to financial freedom. I am launching a new group, House Hacking U, which with feature panels and discussion groups with speakers who house hacked and wanted to share their experiences with new potential investors.

I spoke at The Best Ever Conference in Denver and the San Francisco Bay Summit, where I got to share my experiences and knowledge with real estate investors. I am speaking at the Chicago REIA on Tuesday February 12th and Mid-Atlantic Networking Summit in Philadelphia this April. Most exciting to me is I am part of the planning for the Midwest Real Estate Networking Summit that will be held here in Chicago May 11th – 13th 2018. We have worked very hard to create an educational platform for this event that will benefit hundreds of investors in all areas and experience levels.

So what’s on the horizon for 2018?

  • Trips to The UK, Serbia, and Japan (I will definitely need a nice vacation after back-to-back conferences in April and May).
  • Co-creating the Midwest Real Estate Networking Summit in Chicago from May 11th – 13th
  • Helping more clients reach their investing goals through Second City Real Estate

The year has started off great! I was featured on The Keeping It Real Podcast, The Lifetime CashFlow through Real Estate Podcast, The Chicago Cash Flow Radio Show, and I have a few more coming out this spring.

A New Year is a new chapter and a chance to change our destiny. We each have the chance to write our own story, so cheers to making 2018 the best year yet.

@Brie Schmidt   - That is an awesome reflection!  Thanks for sharing!

Wondering why you chose to never set an alarm?  I'm assuming the goal was to get so much good sleep that it wasn't needed, but I still set one just in case!

Cheers to an awesome 2018!!

@Elizabeth Wilson - I believe I am my best self when I am fully rested and focused.  So by not setting an alarm my body wakes up when it needs to.  Sometimes that is 6:30 am or sometimes that is 8:00 am (like today)

I find when I am not focused it takes me twice as long to do things.  So not only do I not set an alarm I don't work on days I don't feel like it.   I will rearrange my schedule and take a personal day to distress so that the next day I am alert and focused, or sometimes a nap will do the trick.  

I know a lot of people here like to get up early and get their day started, but I found I can do in 25 hours what most people can do in 40 if I focus those 25 hours and do things when my brain is at it's best.  So by choosing to only work when it is that way I don't get distracted and am able to be efficient.  

  • @Brie Schmidt Sounds like an excellent year to me! I am happy to join the team!

@John Warren - we are VERY excited to ave you and to expand in Chicago and the suburbs

Oh and the other best part... after breaking my foot before @J. Martin 's event in 2016 and then tearing my ACL after @Joe Fairless ' event in 2017 I am almost 1 full year without being on crutches!  The torch has been passed to @John Casmon who recently had to borrow my scooter 

@Brie Schmidt That is a super great reflection. It seems like 2017 was an amazing year for you and your companies. I was inspired by your energy, knowledge and positive attitude when I listened to your podcast. We have also decided to take more trips during the year and learn more about other markets and just meet people to build relationships.

Best regards,


Brie,u started off as an agent or investor first ?

@Oscar Jacome - I got into this for financial freedom but then got so addicted to it all I found myself working 60+ hours a week and it seemed no time was a good time to take off.  So I started making travel a priority in 2016 and realized you need to make the time.  So I have been working on my systems so that I can leave for a month and still be able to run this from afar.  Each year gets better and better but you just gotta let the chips fall sometimes 

@Stephen Moore - Well I got licensed as an agent in 2004 and did the retail side, absolutely hating it and quitting after 9 months.  Then I went about my life in corporate and bought my first property in 2011 and didn't take on clients till 2014, after I had 10 properties.  I was a part time agent just working with a few people that had asked me until 2016 when I decided to launch my own company and focus on that.  

@Brie Schmidt I am with you regarding the financial freedom. 2017 was good for us too, my wife and I were able to pay off bad debt (car/student loans) and at the same time invest in real estate. Now in 2018, our goal is to grow and expand with real estate. We have traveled to different states and the Caribbean and it is funny that you said "addicted" because everywhere we go we are looking at houses.



@Oscar Jacome - At least you are both into it!  I am the solo annoying one always looking at houses online 

@Nephtalie Pierre - Thanks!  You should start with #78 though 

Wow impressive and glad you shared this.  It sounds like we might have a lot in common and should discuss the midwest conference too :-)


Thank you for sharing all this awesomeness. It’s so inspiring!

Awesome! I think plenty of people could learn from this. Especially Americans are so focused on work that it's easy to forget to enjoy life along the way. You've gotta put the work in, but you can travel the world and have plenty of time to do other things if you make it a priority! 

@Ryan Evans - exactly.  for the first few years after I quit my corporate job I was still working a ton of hours.  I had to learn to set up my business to run without me and put processes in place so I cold take time off.  So that is what I have been working towards 

Brie, your post is full of excellent advice and many inspirational ideas. I like the task scheduling and timer. It’s the opposite of multi-tasking, which is doing several things at once but none of them well. Thank you for sharing and wishing you success with your 2018 goals.

@Jeff Ronningen - The "getting things done" method was really a game changer.  @Brandon Turner recommended it a few years back and I have been doing it for over 2 years now.  I carry a notebook with my weekly to-do list.  I write every little thing down it in, because the theory is we spend so much brain power trying to remember things to do and by writing it down we have freed up that brain power.  Every morning you knock out tasks that take less than a few minutes and cross them off the list; this gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes you feel less overwhelmed by all the things you need to do.  The method also tells you to break up tasks into smaller tasks.  The example I liked was sending out holiday cards.  So instead of seeing a big task on your list like that you break it out into pieces: buying cards, getting addresses, writing the cards, addressing the cards, going to the post office.  When the tasks are smaller the seem easier to manage.  

So I review my to do list every day, highlight the things I need to get done that day and block off my calendar.  By avoiding distractions and timing myself I am able to focus 100% on that task and knock it out.  I found I was able to do 40 hours of work in 25 hours by doing it this way.  

Then each week I do a new to-do list, adding in things from last week I did not complete and starting off with a fresh list.  

@Brie Schmidt  

A very inspirational post! I'm curious as to what you use for a calendar to set your goals and stay organized? Thanks!

Originally posted by @Lisa V. :

@Brie Schmidt 

A very inspirational post! I'm curious as to what you use for a calendar to set your goals and stay organized? Thanks!

I just use google calendar. For example I have January property reports to do this week, I have 2 PM's and 4 LLC's so I break it out into 8 tasks. Portfolio 1 with PM 1 and then portfolio 1 with PM 2 and assign a time limit for each. Then I put it on my calendar for the week.

Let's say Monday is blocked off back to back with these tasks, and then Monday morning something comes up that is more important.  I rearrange the time blocks on my calendar to accommodate.   Or if I wake up Monday and don't feel focused I will move them to Tuesday (this task required full concentration and brain power) and then move some of my menial tasks to Monday.

But by setting 25 hours of work in the beginning of the week and committing to the time allocated for each it allows me to accomplish more because I feel like I am always on a deadline, and if I don't complete it I have to work longer hours the next day

Awesome, @Brie Schmidt . I use Google calendar also but am not using it optimally. Thanks so much for the tips!

Originally posted by @Lisa V. :

Awesome, @Brie Schmidt. I use Google calendar also but am not using it optimally. Thanks so much for the tips!

 I like it cause I can easily move things around

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