It feels like it happened all at once.
The temperatures dropped to near freezing. We pulled our North Face vests and beanies out of the closet to walk around town, beers in hand, admiring the Christmas decorations and a distinct lightness in the air.
These are the times things start to slow down for a change, as if the cold air steals the bustle from our lives. It gets harder to do business between Thanksgiving and Christmas and we think more about what we’re going to do for others for a few weeks than what we can do for ourselves.
As Marcus Auerlius says, “…change is Nature’s delight” and I think this season everyone was looking forward to a change. Sometimes that season of change is externally modulated by new responsibilities, new relationships or jobs, but the change I’m looking forward to is the change that I can control.
To understand what changes I need to make in the coming season, I am going to follow a three step process, that may already come to you naturally, that I’ll detail here in hopes that you can also create the change you hope to see in your life in the coming months and year.
The steps are: Reflection, Deflection and Correction.
Maybe this makes sense to you already and you don’t need an explanation, but like playing many games it may be beneficial to just jump into the practice rather than explaining it away.
2022 was a year that started with high hopes for a lot of us.
We were just looking forward to not hearing the word COVID anymore, going back to some semblance of normalcy and hoping against hope that the good things we took away from the pandemic era would stick around. To be honest, many people in my line of work made more money than they ever had pre-pandemic. With record setting real estate sales and record high prices, we experienced extraordinary growth, often through no additional effort of our own.
Many of us became complacent, even arrogant that this incredible success was somehow destiny, owed to us by the years of hard labor and savvy business practice. For the most part this was not the case.
Personally, I was distracted at the end of 2021 and into 2022. I had loftier goals of achieving something I had never done before. The two business goals I set were to open a service based business to supplement my already hearty efforts in real estate and to syndicate a real estate development project by bringing on multiple capital partners for a new construction, short-term rental project.
I set out right away to set things in motion to make sure these goals were hit by the end of the year, and by March of 2022, I launched Abode Home Services and signed a contract to purchase a lot in Fredericksburg for the construction of 8 condo units. This upstart action was easy for me to undertake because it aligns with my values of creating and taking risks to achieve great things. But as things often happen, the actual day to day proved to be far more challenging than I imagined as problems I failed to anticipate popped up almost hourly.
The cleaning business had logistical and personnel problems, hiring was an issue, getting people to show up on time was an issue, not having any standard operating procedures and even just ordering supplies were all problems I did not think through.
But being a very “Fire, Ready, Aim” type person, I push through challenges, write down the solutions that work and move away from the things that are overtly challenging towards the things that come naturally. In business, this can be a great skill because you tend to find what you’re good at while you’re working on the other things, but it can also leave holes in your business you didn’t plan for.
At the exact same time, putting together a syndication, both legally and financially, was incredibly taxing, not to mention a major distraction from my already successful real estate business that still required my daily attention. Additionally, having an incredible team around me to rely on for support proved to be one of my largest assets as we made strides to improve internal and customer communication, taking some of the burden off of me to focus on more creative, new tasks.
See for me, I know that novelty is what inspires me, gives me energy to push through anything. Give me a new problem to solve and I will spend hours, days or weeks on figuring out a solution. Put a guitar and sythnesizer in front of me and I’ll work until 3 in the morning creating something before I even know an hour has passed by. I love the new. So in these two new ventures, I was invigorated to push through hurdle after hurdle to do better next time. I appreciate that each mistake is an opportunity to learn, although in business a mistake can be costly… I made a $15,000 one.
By mid-year, the cleaning service was taking off and running on its own and the syndication project nearing funding, it all blew up. After raising $900k, having a rock solid business presentation that I delivered over 40 times to different investors, having hours of conversations with attorneys, partners, hedge funds and getting approval from the bank for $2.5M (my largest loan yet), the day of closing came and our primary investor for $400k, who had just committed two days before, ghosted us. My business partner and I were left holding the bag for $15,000 in earnest money and attorney fees and the seller of the property would not extend again.
As disappointing as it may sound, I relied on my philosophy yet again to “mind-set” my way out. To be honest, I knew I had learned everything I needed to know to go do this successfully the next time. I felt I could find a better mentor to partner with on the next project and had built my list of investors who would be ready to bring money on the next project. College costs $50,000 these days and I don’t think they could teach what I learned in 3 months.
So, what’s the lesson here? The important part of what happens in your life isn’t the act or even the experience itself. Its what you take away from it. Its how you reflect on it to see if your action aligned with your values and whether or not its something you plan to do moving forward.
In order to understand what it is we want in the future, it is often easier to start by eliminating the things we DON’T want to experience again. So this section of the practice is to define the items that had the worst outcomes for us, but again focusing only on what we can control.
It rained and your house flooded? Well you can’t control the weather, but you can control where you build or buy a house. You can decide if being close to the river is worth the risk of having your next home wash away.
In looking back on 2022 there were several things I don’t want to do again.
1)I don’t want to say yes to working with people who won’t bring equal value to an opportunity. I know that my time and experience are valuable. If its the day before closing a big deal and you’re partner is at the beach getting drunk while you’re in the office collecting checks, something is wrong. Having a partnership where both parties values, work ethic and skills are aligned is by far the most important aspect. Essentially, being the nice lab partner just means you wind up doing all the work. This may look like blaming others for the failure of a project, its not. I 100% take accountability for the choice I made to go against my own judgement, but learning my expensive mistake has shown me the value of following my instincts.
2)I don’t want to feel sorry for myself for even a second. I want to celebrate my losses as much as my wins. There was a point this year that it felt like everything was falling apart and I let the weaker side creep in, distracting me from pivoting and continuing the chase. I wont let that happen again.
3)I wont let the big picture take away from the day to day. I have always been a big picture, get to the finish line kind of person. This next year I’m choosing to focus on the daily activity with intention of reaching the big milestones. When it was announced that Elon Musk was now the richest man in America, he said “Cool… back to work”. Becoming wealthy isn’t everything, becoming steadfast, stable, unflappable in your contentment is.
4)Finally, in 2022 I let my goals be too singularly focused and failed to grow my network of mentors and partners to the degree that I had hoped to. I can’t, nor do I want to endeavor alone. My greatest accomplishments thus far has all been part of growing a team and supporting others on their path to success. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. So I’m building a bigger ship.
If you’ve made it this far, you are probably feeling pretty good about the future. I know that when I think long and hard about the large and small scale items of the past year that affected me in any way, a picture of my ideals emerge. Incredibly, this picture becomes more clear the more you think about what you do and don’t want in your life.
So in the final stage of this activity I think about the actions I will take on a daily basis in the coming year that will get me closer to ANY goal I set for myself. I certainly don’t believe you should only set goals and resolutions on a yearly basis, you must evaluate these daily, weekly, monthly and make sure what you are working towards is right for you. What you can take out of your life and what needs to be amplified.
For the coming year I know that I want to amplify things in my life that match my most sacred values: accountability, creativity, discipline, leadership, fun and adventure.
Firstly, you wont catch me complaining about anything or anyone. As a person who takes full accountability I will not allow any action outside of my control to dictate how I feel or live.
I will go all in on the things that inspire or challenge me creatively, new business ideas, music and art, writing (for this magazine, you know turning my articles in early :), and coaching the people around me to find new solutions to their problems.
I will not let non-negotiables go untouched each day. Making my calls to check in, working out each day, eating and drinking in a conscious way, not letting my phone be a distraction and following my calendar!
I will take time each day to be a leader, to train those around me while sharing the knowledge and skills I have, to have important and difficult conversations without shying away from the truth, to pull people in the right direction instead of pushing them towards something and to lead by example.
I will make time weekly, on my calendar (this is a weakness for me), to have fun with my family, my son, my friends and colleagues and create an environment where everything, even the mundane can become fun.
Finally, I will make time for adventure each month, to explore new places and restaurants with the people I love, to inspire a sense of adventure in my son and set no limitations on the things we can do together. To be intentional every day about treating every conversation or encounter as if it were the frontier of something new. To wake up excited to take on the day, its challenges and follow through on my big pursuits.
This last part of the activity is what you print out and hang on your bathroom mirror. Refer to it daily as you set your schedule and make sure that your activities are aligned with the values that inspire you!
I truly hope that this activity of reflection, deflection and correction has an impact on your life in the coming year. That this is something you write down and come back to at the end of next year to see how you did.
Cheers to the start of something new and exciting, to being the best version of exactly who you are.