The Problem With Thinking Big No One Talks About (& How to Solve It)

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You absolutely need to think big to be successful. But just thinking big won’t make you successful. In fact, you’ll probably never get started. In this article, I describe the missing link between thinking big and actually getting there.

We all want to be successful real estate investors so that we can retire and do the things we REALLY want to do. And in order to be successful, we’re taught to think big. Only if we think big can we really achieve greatness. That’s because if we don’t think big, we’re limited by our own experience, skills, and comfort zone. Thinking big forces us to think outside the box and outside of our comfort zone. It makes us think not of what’s probable but what is possible.

But thinking big doesn’t always come naturally, and there’s also a problem with it.

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Issues With Thinking Big

I have issues with thinking big, I admit it. I’m what I would call an “optimistic pragmatist.” Yes, I’m constantly pushing my comfort zone, but I have trouble dreaming a decade into the future, imagining how things could be. That’s because I’m logical, and I like to have a plan. But planning limits your big thinking. Thinking big is dreaming of things that you don’t have a plan for. I have a tough time with this, and I have to constantly work on thinking big.

At the same time, there’s an issue with thinking big, and I see it occasionally with my students. They have no problem thinking big, and they imagine themselves owning 1,000 multifamily units in 3 years, but they lack any experience, have no money, and don’t know anyone else with money.

Related: The 3 Main Reasons Entrepreneurs Fall Short of Their Goals

Even though they’re thinking big, the problem is that their vision has no basis in reality. They don’t connect their vision with specific goals, and as a result, they either never get started or quickly get discouraged and quit.

I think the missing link between thinking big and achieving success is connecting your big vision with what you should be doing right now, this week, this month, and this year.

In other words, you need to think BIG but have a PLAN, at least enough of one to know what you should be doing next.

I have my students go through a process I call the “Vision Map Exercise.” I call it by that name because it combines “Vision” (i.e. thinking big) with a map (or plan) of how to get there. The map consists of milestones over these three timeframes: 12 months, 90 days, and this week.


How the Vision Map Exercise Works

You can create a Vision Map for every area of your life: business/financial, health, relationships, recreation (fun!), spirituality, giving, and any other area that’s important to you.

For each area of your life, write down an “I am” statement for what you want to be, do, or have.

For example, let’s assume you have a financial dream of quitting your job in 3-5 years by accumulating multifamily units. You might have this “I am” statement:

“I am financially free. I no longer have to work for money.”

This is your BIG idea, your vision.

Next, you associate a goal with the big idea so that you know if you’ve achieved it. This goal is specific, measurable, and written in the present tense, like this:

“I am earning $10,000 per month in passive income by May 2020.”

If you’re starting from zero, then you might have no idea of how you’re going to accomplish this goal. That’s a GREAT sign of thinking BIG. So far, so good.

Next, you want to break this down into a 12-month goal, perhaps something like this:

“I have closed on my first deal (10-20 units), and it cash flows at $2.5k/month. At this rate, I need 4 such deals to achieve my goal or 2-3 deals of bigger size.”

This starts to become a bit more real! Instead of a daunting goal of $10k per month, you just have to focus on that ONE thing: the first deal, a 10-20 unit apartment building.

Related: 7 Life-Changing Lessons I Wish I Knew as a Real Estate Newbie

Next, translate that 12-month goal into a 90-day goal. I like the 90-day timeframe because it’s long enough to achieve something meaningful but short enough where you can clearly visualize what you can achieve if you hustle. Something like this:

“In 90 days, I have built my team of property managers and lenders, met with 10 investors, and analyzed 50 deals and made 20 offers.”

Definitely an achievable goal if you work at it. And finally, translate that into your goals for THIS week, perhaps like this:

“This week, I have spoken with one property manager, met with one potential investors, and analyzed 5 deals.”

And now what you need to do TODAY becomes much clearer:

“Today, I will call one property manager.”



It’s critical that you think BIG, no question. But many people fail to connect their big thinking with what they need to do TODAY, right now. And if you can’t do that, you’ll feel overwhelmed, and you’ll give up before you even get started. So don’t fall into the “think big” trap. Complete the Vision Map exercise and watch your dreams become a reality.

What steps are you taking to achieve your big goals?

Let’s talk in the comments section below!

About Author

Michael Blank

Michael Blank’s passion is being an entrepreneur and helping others become (better) entrepreneurs. His focus is buying apartment buildings by raising money from private individuals. He’s been investing in residential and multifamily real estate since 2005. He is the creator of the Syndicated Deal Analyzer and the eBook "The Secret to Raising Money to Buy Your First Apartment Building".


  1. Hello, I am a real estate investor in his early stages. I appreciate this article and the excerise you shared. I can’t wait to go home and actually do my vision map. As of now, my next steps to architect my dream is to create a list of motivated sellers using listsource to begin my mailing campaign

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