I recognize for myself (and others) that everything you do starts in the mind and your success is determined by your thoughts and actions. So having the right mindset is just as important as taking action.

When we do anything worth doing in life, whether it’s starting a real estate investing business, getting married, or taking a new job across country, it requires a vision and courage. I’ve observed based on my own experience and other successful entrepreneurs, that we go through 10 stages from “start-up” to success. Understanding these stages gives you the proper perspective when you’re experiencing challenges and hopefully keeps you going until you experience the break-through and success you’re striving for.

1. Drifting

The first stage is “drifting”. If we’re drifting through life, that means we’re happy enough but really don’t have any aspirations. We’re meeting expectations and getting the job done. We see other people doing stuff and being successful, and we want that too, but we’re not really willing to try to get there. We’re comfortable, afraid, or too busy. Most beginning real estate investors are stuck in this phase.

2. Discontent

There comes a point when some of us, but by no means all of us, develop “discontent” with our situation. We realize that our life is not really fulfilled, and we yearn for something more. We start feeling fed up with our J.O.B. and the sheer hopelessness we feel in our lives. One day we wake up and want to do something about it.

3. Dream

That’s when we develop a dream of what could be. We start dreaming of doing our first real estate deal, and maybe we can even see ourselves owning 10 rental properties that would replace the income from our job – we can see early retirement! That would allow us to do the things we really want: pursue a hobby, spend more time with our families, travel more, give back … whatever our passions are. We can see us taking chances and living life to the fullest.

4. Decision

This dream really appeals to us, and more importantly, we can visualize it happening, and it starts to become real for us. Coupled with our strong discontent, we decide to take action. This is an important step, because this is where we commit ourselves to the dream. We tell others about it, and start putting ourselves out there. In our mind, we are prepared to put in the time, effort, and money to get us there.

5. Take Action

We decided to take action, but we probably also feel overwhelmed. If our dream is to own 10 rental properties so that we can retire early, we may be completely overwhelmed at the prospect. Where are we going to find that many deals? How are we going to manage that many properties? Where am I going to get all of this money?

What I do to get past this step is to simply focus on the next three things I need to do. I may have that long list of to-do’s, but I quickly put it away, and just work on the next three things I know I need to do. This may take me a week or two to complete. When I’m done, I look up, and write down the next three. After a couple of months, you look up again, and you are amazed at what you have accomplished!

This step is by far the most difficult to get past because we’re afraid of failing. We can see us doing a bunch of stuff and losing our shirt. What will our friends and family say? How will that make us feel?

This is where we need an element of FAITH. Faith in ourself, faith in others, and maybe even faith in something bigger than us. Regardless of what you call it or what your spiritual disposition is, ALL successful entrepreneurs act on faith – over and over again. Faith in this context means that you are willing to take the first step on a worthwhile journey without any guarantee of success.

7. Open Doors

I have repeatedly found that if we take that first step in faith, doors will start opening, almost magically and without explanation. We may marvel at these open doors, but our job is to simply continue walking through them. More doors start to open and we experience some early success which affirms our decision to take action. We are a bit giddy with your early success.

8. Challenges

Then we start getting challenges: things take longer than we thought, there are setbacks and discouragements.

When I first got started with flipping houses, my decision to take action was validated quickly because I got my first deal off my first postcard campaign. Wow! It was amazing! While I was busy rehabbing this first house I continued with my marketing, and …. nothing. For months. All I got was calls from tire kicker sellers who wanted to see how much I would pay them.

9. Dead End

When the challenges, setbacks, and delays mount, we can become discouraged and maybe even give up hope. This is a great sign! Because that means we are about to experience our break-through.

But when we’re in this phase, it is really really hard to keep going because nothing is going according to plan. This is where we must persist. Think about how we got to this point: we acted on our discontent and dream, and we were affirmed by some early successes. So we know that we’re on the right path.

Many people who get this far (which is already impressive!) simply give up in this stage.

But as I talk to other entrepreneurs, time and time again they say that they were about to give up but through some miracle they kept going just for a little while longer.

10. Break-Through

And suddenly, they experienced a break-through. They get that elusive second deal. Or they raised the money at the very last minute, which launched them to the level of success they’re at now.

The stages of the successful entrepreneur is an interesting phenomenon that I’ve observed again and again. While not all stages MUST be experienced, they often are in some way or another.

Understanding, accepting, and embracing these 10 stages is essential for achieving anything worthwhile.

I’d be interested to hear about your experiences with this “theory” !  -;)

Photo Credit Scott Robison

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