In 2016 there is a habit I URGE you to adopt.
It is not one of those usual ‘New Years Resolutions’ it is a habit that I have been using for decades to help me see the world a little differently and through it seize opportunities when they arise. This habit has become increasingly more important with the advent of social media and its undertones of manipulation as well as the polarization of our media and politics. When I see people being OVERLY offended by simple discussions, when I witness the vitriol of the uninformed on social media, when I watch debates turn into name calling what I see is a WHOLE lot of people who have lost the real life perspective.
So what is this habit? Simply it is “Find Ways To Keep Perspective” on all things: whether in business, real estate or personal life. Sounds simple, and maybe even a bit naive, however give it a go and you will discover that not only is it difficult in today’s world, it is also incredibly powerful when you do ‘crack the code.’ You know when you do because suddenly the world just seems to slow down, almost like you are watching it at 1/2 speed and at this speed you see the important details that others are missing. You also hear the clues that others are leaving, you see the dangers easier and you see the opportunities much more quickly. Almost like you get to hit the freeze frame button on your remote control aimed at the world. It takes practice, for sure, but practice that provides tremendous results across your life.
Laughs, Tears and Questions
Part of this habit I have developed is, at the start of each new year, to look back at the good and bad that has occurred over the previous decades – in lives, loves and business. So I remember where we came from, remember how many bad things lead to major breakthroughs, remember how economics change (but don’t really). This ‘reminder’ habit has proven to be the foundation from which the rest of the year’s perspective is built. Now when I do this review I do find that some of the memories bring laughs, some bring tears, some bring the calmness of knowledge… and some just bring “WTH was I thinking?”
But ALL of it provides me perspective so that as I head into the new year, I do so with eyes, ears and heart open.
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Perspective
Before I discuss perspective on today’s real estate market, I must share this story with you. While working on this habit today I came across this video. Trailblazer: Don Campbell. It was done by CTV a number of years ago… it made me laugh, it made me well up and it also made me say “Really? That’s your haircut choice? “ Click on the image for the video:
Keeping Perspective on Real Estate Markets and Other Investments
So how has perspective helped over the last 20+ years of keeping a close eye on the Canadian real estate market? It has been invaluable and in fact has been one of the most important research habits I have adopted. And the best way to gain this perspective is to GET OUT OF CANADA. And I mean that literally.
That’s right, while in the country most people tend to head to their same sources of news and information, and increasingly more often – their own Social Media feeds. It is easy, it is quick and in most cases we end up choosing sources that agree with our own views. This bad habit has been formed because most Canadians are very busy getting on with their lives – and they don’t know just how dangerous this bad habit can be to their financial health.
Once you get out of the country and begin speaking to those who look at our country with a non-political, unbiased, and financial eye, you begin to see the reality of our situation (good and bad). This perspective is something I really enjoy bringing to investors across the country on a regular basis because many don’t have the luxury of traveling to the financial capitals of the world and sitting down with financial and real estate experts and analysts. Many want to head out of the country and grab beach time (which I also enjoy) and I don’t blame them.
Breaking The Bonds of Bias
Bias is a momentum destroyer, and perspective allows you to have the tools to break from biases. For instance, there is a group of people who have been forecasting a large and dramatic drop in Canadian housing market prices and they have been doing so since 2006. So, based on their views and a tendency to head to sources that support that view, many have missed out on one of the longest and strongest market increases in history. (funny thing is, behind the scenes some of the leaders of this group have quietly bought real estate but, because it doesn’t fit their on-line or media personality, they don’t let that info come public – but that is a story for another day). This is not to say that some markets aren’t over-valued but to miss out on a 10 year positive run has cost many their ability to retire early (or retire at all)… all because of bias.
The same goes on the opposite side of the equation. Those who think that real estate is the one and only investment on the planet and always increases in price and demand. These people, as well, search out information and data that only support this view and that can be just as dangerous. It is good to have a positive outlook on life, for sure, but not at the cost of unnecessary risk. Reality is key.
No matter where you sit in this discussion you are wired to have biases. There are many well know biases that come into play in most situation in life. Most of which you may not even know are directing your thought patterns. For instance: “Recency Bias”, “Hindsight Bias”, “Framing Effect”, “Availability Bias”, “Confirmation Bias”….. The list goes on and on. For an excellent read on Bias Research, check out this research article: Beyond Bias )
When Both Sides of Argument Are Wrong
In either and all cases, biases help us make quick decisions and feel good about them – even if they are not accurate and based in fact. They often lead to hypocrisy, poor decisions and anxiety. (for instance the bias that: “Automobile industry is important and critical – yet the oil and gas industry that keeps them running are evil.” or “Tax the rich – then discover that in Canadian definition many professionals, teachers, gov’t employees are considered in the “rich bracket” or… well you get the point)
My research shows that the most successful investors (and frankly the most successful in all aspects of life) analyze situations/investments/philosophies/beliefs from many points of view. They always challenge their assumptions, always looking for holes in their position. They never verbally, or in writing, attack someone with a different opinion (which would immediately prove they have zero facts to stand on). they discuss the idea or point of view, they debate, they seek out actual facts (not internet memes) and sometimes they celebrate when they do find facts, or gain perspective, that helps them change their mind/opinion to one based in a new reality.
And THAT is how one can stay above the fray, get to see the world quite differently to those all ‘caught up in it,’ and find those key opportunities while others prefer to argue or stand firm. We all know that the world is in constant flux, and change is the main constant in its formula – and only by finding ways to see the changes and adjust actions accordingly can we begin to have a modicum of control.
One of my mantras for 2016, which you are free to adopt is: “Stay Out Of The Fray and Own The Day”
Every day you “Own” provides you the energy to deal with the days that feel like they “Own” you.