Recently, one of my children, who have suddenly taken an interest in property, asked me: “Dad, you’ve been investing for a long time. If you could go back 40 years what would you have liked to know then that would have made you do things differently?”
Now that’s a great question isn’t it?
It made me realise that I have lived long enough to stop thinking about the past with regret, yet there are lots of things I wish I had known earlier in life.
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These would have made me a better and wiser person and a more successful property investor. So here are the 12 things I wish I had known about “then”.
1. Become the pilot of your life
Everything changed for me when I learned that my thoughts lead to my feelings, my feelings lead to my actions and my actions lead to my results. This meant my inner world (my thoughts and feelings) controlled my outer world (my actions and results).
The turning point was when I realised that I was responsible for all the things (both good and bad) that happened to me. I then became the pilot of my life and not a passenger.
And even if it’s not true, I know I act differently and my results are better because I believe I’m responsible for everything that happens to me.
2. Keep your eye on the prize!
When I was young no one taught me about the reticular activating system, that part of your brain that only lets you see in your surroundings what you focus your thoughts on. It pretty much always helps you to find what you are looking for.
Setting goals and regularly reviewing them is one way to keep your focus on what’s important and to help you take action that will move you closer to where you want to go.
3. Your attitude changes your reality
It’s the old “is the glass half full or half empty” story.
When things happen in life that we don’t like, we can either choose to see them as a problem or as a solution waiting to be discovered.
It took me quite a while to discover that if you change your attitude, you actually change your reality. When you have a positive attitude instead of a negative one, you start to see things and viewpoints that were invisible to you before.
4. You must give to receive
As children, we are told that the joy is in giving rather than receiving. But as we become adults, for many, life becomes about what we can get out of someone or something.
However, if you want to increase the value you receive (be it money, love, kindness, opportunities) you have to increase the value you give. Because over time what you get is in proportion to what you give. While it would be nice to get something for nothing, it seldom happens.
5. Be pro-active rather than reactive
There seem to be three types of people:
- Those who make things happen
- Those who watch what happens, and…
- Those that sit and wonder “what just happened?”
Be in the first group and always be on the lookout for opportunities.
6. Make your time count!
How often have you heard someone say, “time flies”? Indeed it does, so use it wisely!
Just as you are careful about how and where you invest your money, you should also be careful as to how you invest your time.
The Pareto Principle says that 80% of the value we receive comes from just 20% of what we do with our time. So what things do you spend your time doing that take a lot of energy yet deliver few results?
7. Mistakes mean growth!
Sometimes negative experiences, mistakes and failures can be even better than a success because they teach you something new which another win could never teach you.
However, we are often so driven to get things right that we fail to see the value in the things we get wrong. Instead we spend our time wishing we had done it differently. Or not doing anything at all because the fear of making mistakes paralyzes us.
If you get it wrong, learn from your mistake and make it count by doing it differently next time. One “failure” can – with time – help you create many successes.
8. Don’t waste your time worrying
Most things you fear will happen, never do. They are just monsters in your mind. And if they do happen then they will most likely not be as bad as you expected.
So now when confronted with a challenge I put things into perspective by asking myself:
- What’s the worst that can happen?
- What’s the best possible outcome? And…
- What’s the most likely thing that’s going to happen
This means you shouldn’t take things too seriously because what seems like a big problem today, you may not even remember in five years.
So lighten up a bit. Time spent worrying is time that could be spent identifying opportunities and taking action.
9. Don’t compare yourself to others
When you compare yourself to others you let the outside world control how you feel about yourself. Instead, strive to become the best you can be and look at how far you have come, what you have accomplished and how you have grown.
And here’s three property-related concepts I wish I had realised earlier in my investment career:
10. The economy and investment markets move in cycles. That’s mainly because most of us get swept up in the optimism or pessimism of others. Of course, no two cycles are ever the same, but investors need to know that each downturn paved the way for the next boom just as each boom sets the scene for the next slump.
11. It’s important that investors enjoy the magic of compounding. Wealth is created by building a substantial asset base. You do this by holding good investments for a reasonably long time, reinvesting the income you’re receiving and allowing your capital gains to build up. And finally…
12. Every year there is an X factor – an unforseen event or situation that blows all our carefully laid forecasts away. That’s why it’s critical to have a contingency financial buffer.
In conclusion,we live in the best country in the world and at the best time in history. Appreciate what you have and enjoy the journey of life, because an attitude of gratitude is a simple way to make yourself and those around you feel happy.