How to Get Off The “Learning Treadmill” and Really Start Investing in Real Estate


“What’s the one thing I can do today, such that by doing it everything else is easier or unnecessary?” – Gary Keller, The One Thing

Do you ever look back on a week or month and realize that you’ve spent countless hours researching and re-researching investing and haven’t gotten anywhere? I do.

After work, I’m tired but still feel the need to do something productive. I typically go straight to BiggerPockets to see what’s new and interesting. I’ll also get all of the newest books and listen to the newest podcasts.

But, at the end of the month I’m still in the same place, and, unfortunately, I’ve forgotten most of what I’ve learned. It’s the endless treadmill of recycled knowledge. A lot of investors jump on because they’re afraid of making mistakes or missing out.

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The Secret to Getting Off The Treadmill

Picture two friends on a backpacking trip for the first time. One of them throws on the pack tightens his shoes and starts following the signs for the trail. If a log gets in the way he jumps over it; if it’s a lake or a landslide he simply finds another way around. In the meantime the other friend is sitting at the car nursing a pile of books, first aid supplies, SOS survival manual, emergency shelter, GPS, satellite phone, personal locator beacon and snake bite kit. He refuses to start until he understands and prepares for every potential danger. Besides, you can get hurt backpacking. Who is going to make it to their goal? Who is actually going to learn more and be better at backpacking?

Most people think investing is about learning everything, finding perfect deals and not making mistakes. Not true. You might be surprised, but most of the successful real estate investors I work with actually don’t know a lot about investing. If you’ve read a book on real estate investing you’re ahead of half of them. What sets them apart is that 100% of them are action takers. They know where they want to get to and start taking the steps to get there. That’s it. They know that you can’t learn yourself into being a millionaire. Actions are all you have.

What sets them apart is that 100% of them are action takers.

They know where they want to get to and start taking the steps to get there. That’s it. They know that you can’t learn yourself into being a millionaire. Actions are all you have.

The only way to break the cycle is to know what your next step is and spend all of your time and resources working on that.

Creating Actionable Steps.

There are only three actionable steps in real estate investing:

  • Find an investment that meets your needs,
  • buy it and
  • manage it for profit.

Below is a guide that will help you know where you are and what the next action should be.

What type of investment works best for you?

  • Single family, multifamily or commercial?
  • Flipping or buy and hold?

How will I get financing for the investment?

  • Investment loan
  • Owner occupied loan
  • Owner financed
  • Private money
  • Combination of the above loans

How will I manage the investment to generate income?

  • Get great tenants?
  • Get high rents?
  • Sell and make a profit?
  • What are the costs?
  • What are the laws I need to know?

Once you know what you need to work on next, write it down! Put it on a sticky note on your computer. The next time you open your browser or go to look for a book or to read about investing you’ll be reminded of what you need to focus on to get you to where you want to be. Don’t get sidetracked.

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” -Confucius

Your dreams are waiting. What is your next step?

About Author

Brett Lee

Brett Lee is a licensed Real Estate Broker in Portland Oregon where he helps people achieve a better future so they can do the things that truly make them happy. Brett is also a buy-and-hold investor, property manager and investment advisor.


  1. Adrienne G.

    Brett thank you so much for this post!! I used to think I was that person who threw on the backpack and just set out to explore and learn as I go. But the person in the car is who I have become. It wasn’t clear until I read that. Eye opening. All this stuff that I have been doing to prepare is most likely what’s keeping me from doing. I worry about the what if scenarios and the money. But if I don’t DO SOMETHING I’ll stay where I am. In the background on the fence.

    I love coming here to Bigger Pockets to listen to the podcasts, webinars and read the blogs and forums. I learn tons. I’ve been on a reading and learning binge and the only thing I’ve actually “done” was start my real estate license class and took some Home Depot DIY classes. I felt like these would prepare me, coupled with the meetings and networking. But I’ve got to get out of discovery mode and into trial and error mode.

    I have even been looking at alternative ways to make money and be “safe” while I start out in real estate investing. But I’m seeing it become an excuse to not take action. Don’t get me wrong. I DO want to learn the industry and I’d love to be able to earn some money on the side with ancillary services for investors and my real estate license. But what I ultimately WANT is to start a real estate investing business. I want to close deals. I want to own and manage properties and projects. I am tired of watching from the sidelines.

    Tonight after my class (yet another one lol) I’m going to start driving for dollars. I don’t know what it’ll produce but it’s me taking an action.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for telling me what was already inside me, but I needed to hear it from someone else.

  2. Maryanne Torres

    Me too… sitting on the sidelines, reading and researching and more reading, I need to put my feet down and get on it.. no money but I will do the work myself until I get to my ultimate goal.. working3- 4 days a week gives me time to work on my future.



  3. Brandon Stevens

    The number 1 thing i tell every new investor at least ones that already own a sfh. CALL YOUR LENDER, find a lender who owns property, tell them what you want to do. It doesnt have to be an exact plan could just be ” i think i want to get into investing”. Then ask what you need to qualify….% down, credit score, how much could i be approved for etc…. once that dialogue has begun you actually feel like your headed in the right direction and know what you need to make it happen…..maybe you ve been looking at properties, running #s, studying, you finally say im gonna do it. You get to the back only t find out you dont have enough down, your scores to low, etc…Whack back to square 1. Nothing gets the juices going like talking to lenders who do what you want to do and know what you need to get there…i learned more about RE and got in touch with more people in the game through my local bank lenders than any book ive ever read.

  4. Bliss Mitton on

    Things I tell my son:

    If you cannot make your self start do something like direct mail or flyers to bring the customer (seller) to you. The customer’s expectations will make you take action.

    Consider the following.

    Taking action is a habit – a good one.
    Not taking action is a habit – a very bad one.

    Desire is motivation, wanting is entertainment.

    Knowledge from books & meetings + knowledge from the experience of action taken = the power to change your life.

    Inactivity kills mind, body and soul.

    Are you so future minded that you are no current good?

    Books & meetings inform, action teaches.

  5. Cody Steck

    Getting off that treadmill is incredibly important. The word action is such a vague word in how it relates to biggerpockets. Everybody is saying, “start taking action”, “do something”, “just take action” but what is it really that needs to be done?

    If you know that you are on this treadmill and not really getting anywhere, yet, you feel like you know how to analyze a basic deal and come out with a profit. You are ready to start.

    Start by buying a list and sending letters out to your target audience, whether that be high equity owners, short sales/foreclosures, or absentee owners. Just buy the list and start sending mail. People will call and you will learn how to talk to them.

    Go buy 5 bandit signs and write on them and post them up around your target neighborhood.

    Start networking… talk to everybody you can and let them know what you are looking for.

    If a deal lands in your face, jump on it, don’t be afraid to mess up because you don’t know what to say (you will). If there isn’t enough margin for a wholesale or flip, birddog it to an investment real estate company (or another agent/investor) who can list it on the MLS. In return, ask to be on their VIP mailing list or to get a phone call on a good deal before the mass email gets sent out to the buyers list.

    Jump in NOW and do something.

  6. Tyler Cruz

    Fantastic post.

    I’m actually on the readmill right now, in fact, I’ve been running for 8-months. Part of that is due to my local market, but part of it is also simply due to dragging my feet.

    Your advice holds true in MANY things in life, however I do believe that one should do a good deal of research before they just jump right in. After all, I can attest that I would have made many errors if I had just went ahead and purchased a place 2-3 weeks in.

    But there comes a point where you need to stop reading and start doing, as you say. I have still yet to purchase my first income property, but the only thing stopping me now is completing my taxes and setting up a holding company. After that, I have no more excuses!

    On a side note, in my industry (affiliate marketing), I use the exact same advice you gave in this article – countless people read, read, and read some more, but never actually start running their (affiliate marketing) campaigns because they’re scared to lose money. Fast forward a few years later and they’ve still not actually done a single thing but read!

  7. Brendan Morin

    Well said, and concise! I’m a huge believer in identifying and pursuing that next actionable step, whatever it may be. Research is definitely important, but using it as a tool to justify procrastination will only slow you down in the end. Sometimes research IS the next actionable step, but most of the time it probably isn’t. Thanks for the great article!

  8. Daniel Zamora

    We can keep treading along on this proverbial treadmill, and we may gain much internal muscle from this daily program.
    I use to at a young age be in a strict exercise body building regimen.
    I gained much external muscle and the only way I accomplished this….
    It’s all relevant in life whether we as investors or any feat/endeavors we may want to achieve, “Action” will always be the catalyst we need to move on to greener pastures in this arena of Real Estate Investing.
    We all have fears…
    Think about it though, if you or I do not move towards the phone
    pick up the phone, talk to other investors.
    We will always have that fear that will prevent us from moving forward.

    Good Luck

  9. Jonathan Choyce

    All I can say is Why did it take so long to get off the treadmill for me is me That Business Plan is the 1st thing I feel everything is in place primed and ready I just have to do something (action) so now everyday I ask myself what am I looking to invest in? How will I finance it? How will I manage the investments to Generate income? Than what’s the next step. These are Questions that require action from me every step of the way….

    I know I will have Question and it seems here on bigger pockets theirs enough knowledge to get some real good Answers Thank you.

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