Redefining what Investment means

I work in Real Estate. More specifically, new home construction, and have for my entire career so far. I also sold my childhood home at 19, learned what amortization was at 21, and purchased 3 homes by the time I turned 29. I’ve forged a “successful” career in this industry, and yet, I’ve never made a successful personal investment in real estate. Did you see that shame cloud I just cast over my head? What I mean by successful, is that I never made any money on any personal real estate transaction. I sold homes to plenty of people who did, but I never did for myself. That is, until I realized what the definition of successful investment really is. You see, all those home purchases came between 2005 and 2011, right through The Great Recession. My self-talk is so bad, I didn’t even take the market circumstances into account. So, if you put those 3 transactions on a piece of paper, yeah, fail. For my first 2 homes, I lost money. For the one I’m in now, we’ve over improved it for the market. But let me stop myself right here. I’ve finally discovered that  investment does not just mean money. There is so much out there telling us to invest and predict returns using only financial qualifiers, and that is generally good advice, but that is in no way the entirety of investment. You must consider investments in time, self, learning, experiences, friendships, memories, and life.

My first home was the most financially disappointing but with this new lens, it has the most successful return on investment in learning, experiences, self-worth, and friendships. I bought and built the house on my own. I was newly trained in the industry to sell new construction so I took what I had been taught and applied it immediately to my life. I gained tremendous knowledge about how to be a real adult with risk and reward and responsibilities. I showed myself how independent I truly could be and gave myself a life experience that enabled me to be more empathetic at work. When you first see that piece of paper at closing that shows the actual amount you’re signing up for over thirty years, you immediately turn into a grown up! I proved to myself that I was going to be OK on my own. I had a job, a house, a mortgage, and a life. And while, when I look back, I knew it wasn’t going to make me any money, the house I built was literally located between two of my best friends. It gave me a sense of security, and let me keep fostering my much-needed relationships at that lonely and scared time of my life. I made big life decisions, like getting married and getting a dog, big life mistakes like deciding to quit my job without another job and move across the state, while in that house. Looking back from today, my hindsight and perspective is finally ready to redefine what successful investment means and know that was a damn good one. #proud

People buy things and do things because they want to. Want is that deep down gut feeling that points you in the directions you need to go. It can be dangerous to substitute emotional decisions for logical ones and vice versa. They should come as a pair of decision making filters you can use as guides to help you self-evaluate why your gut is taking you one place, but the advice of the experts points somewhere else. Only you have the right answer, but don’t discount doing the work. Trust your gut AND your research.

I challenge you to go back into any “unsuccessful” investments you made and reevaluate them through a 360-degree filter of investment that includes time, self, learning, experiences, friendships, memories, and life. Did it change your ROI?

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