When asked to list their biggest regrets about life, most people in retirement homes state lack of time spent with friends and family, as well as not going after their dreams and aspirations. With the help of 10 questions, Theo and Travis hope to give you ideas on how to go after the life you want in 2021. No more waiting for retirement!
We also have a Syndication School series about the “How To’s” of apartment syndications and be sure to download your FREE document by visiting SyndicationSchool.com. Thank you for listening, and I will talk to you tomorrow.
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Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners, and welcome to another edition of the Actively Passive Investing Show. I am Theo Hicks. As always, Travis Watts. Travis, how are you doing today?
Travis Watts: Theo, doing great! Happy new year! Happy holidays!
Theo Hicks: Yeah, happy new year to you as well. I think this will air a couple of days before new year’s or after new year’s, but regardless, the theme of today’s episode is going to be the new year’s. It’s a tradition for most people to set new year’s resolutions… So since this is the Actively Passive Investing Show, and something we focus on here a lot for our passive investors is the idea of time freedom, Travis and I thought it would be a good idea to do something similar to what we did a few months ago, in the episode where we went through a list of questions from Tim Ferriss’ book Tribe of Mentors. Travis and I are gonna alternatively answer those questions ourselves.
Today we create a list of time freedom themed questions for 2021. In a sense, it’s a list of New Year’s resolutions, with the purpose of having more time freedom. Travis, I know you wanna talk a little bit more about time freedom and our show before we jump into answering these questions.
Travis Watts: Sure. I just thought this would be a really good way to close out the year to the theme of our Actively Passive Show. This show is obviously for active and passive investors, and I thought we all want to get to this point in our lives sooner or later, where we’re hands off and we have this time freedom; we have the ability to retire, spend time with family, travel, whatever it is we’re passionate about… So I thought maybe these ten questions can give our listeners a few things to think about if you’re gonna set some new year’s resolution goals, instead of just saying “I’m gonna work out for 20 minutes a day all year long”, and all the traditional stuff. “I’m gonna lose 30 pounds.” Maybe it’s something to think about now, how are you gonna start creating this time freedom in your life.
I’ll be brief with this story. I know I’ve shared this before on your show, but it’s just such an impactful story, the story of the nurse Bronnie Ware, 2009, working in a terminally ill patient care unit; kind of like a hospice, folks living out their final days in life… And Bronnie surveying basically her patients; just being friendly, and talking… She came across a lot of folks who would tell her, essentially, their life regrets. “I wish I would have done this, and I wish I hadn’t done that…” She decided that that was impactful, so she made a huge blog out of this, ‘The Top Regrets of the Dying’, that later became a book. Now she’s a speaker on and on… But the thing I wanna point out about that story is that the top two regrets are “I never pursued my dreams and aspirations” and “I didn’t spend enough time with my friends and family.”
So knowing those are top of mind to folks at the end of life as we know it, I just felt time freedom makes a lot of sense to talk about. And maybe instead of thinking about how you’re gonna get there, what you’re gonna do with your time when you’re 60, 70, 80, 90, maybe we start thinking about it now, and we start planning for that, and hopefully, we can get there a whole lot sooner, and not have those same regrets.
So that’s the back-story behind the ten questions, and that’s really why I pieced it together that way.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. Well, let’s jump into these questions. I think the last time I went first and you went second, so let’s reverse the order this time. I’m gonna ask you the question first, and then you can ask me the question second. Best Ever listeners who are listening, maybe keep out a pen and pencil, or on your computer or on your phone, and you can type up these ten questions as well, and answer them to see — I enjoyed this exercise, and it helped me reflect on this year, and then also helped me come up with some things I can start doing in the next year. So I think it’d be helpful to you listening to do the same thing.
First question is “What time waster are you willing to let go of in 2021?”
Travis Watts: This is a great question, because to the point of time freedom, we want to free up our time, we don’t want to squander our time… And life is so short, as we all know. So for me – gosh, I could probably think of 20 different things here that are potential time wasters. The one I thought of though – I’m such a big advocate for self-education, and reading, and books, and things like this, and just self-learning… However, there’s a caveat to that that I’ve spoke about before, and that’s I went way too hard, too fast, hardcore in 2015, when I just read a ton of books, and it was almost analysis paralysis. Your brain can’t do all of that. So you need to really be choosy with what you’re gonna read and what you’re gonna study, and what mentors you’re gonna put in your life, and what information you’re gonna tune into.
To that point, I am grateful that I am invited to so many different Facebook real estate groups, and LinkedIn groups, and real estate meetup groups… I’m in more groups than I even know about, and that becomes a problem, because you start spreading yourself too thin; we’ve got our podcast, I speak with investors, I do a lot of things actively, and trying to keep up with all these different groups online. It’s just something I really need to cut back on. I need to find the one or two groups that I have the biggest impact on to help people, and just focus my time there, and not try to be in 30 or 40 different real estate meetup groups.
So for me, it’s really going through that in early 2021 and just cutting back on unfortunately being part of too many things.
Theo Hicks: Yeah, you said you’re grateful for that being a problem. Mine is I’m reading too much and I’m doing too much real estate stuff. Mine’s a little bit different. For me, I was reflecting on 2020, and I would say that the positive side for me – I have cut out a lot of time-wasters. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’d play video games all the time, I’d watch TV shows until 2-3 in the morning… And then kind of similar to maybe what you were talking about with reading the books, I used to consume educational content on YouTube. But then you go down the YouTube rabbit hole where you’re video after video after video, and you’re spending hours and hours doing it, and at that point you’re hearing the same information over and over again… And are you really applying it to your life? So I have been able to minimize most of those in 2020.
The other big one that saves a lot of time is social media, because you go through that same kind of rabbit hole idea; everyone knows that – you scroll, and you scroll, and you scroll, and you can’t stop… In 2021, the one thing I want to eliminate for good would be going on Amazon Prime and watching TV shows and movies. I’ve gotta minimize it, because again, I stay pretty late to watch them. I’ve minimized it to the point now where it’s manageable, but I would like to eliminate that entirely in 2021.
Travis Watts: Yup, I’m with you man. I’ve subscribed to YouTube Premium, and Amazon Prime, and sometimes that’s a bad thing. There’s all this free content, and it’s like “Should I even be paying attention to this content?”
Theo Hicks: Exactly.
Travis Watts: That’s a great one.
Theo Hicks: Question number two, Travis – if you had one more hour during the day, what would you do with it?”
Travis Watts: Wow… That’s another tough one, because again, I could have ten answers to that. But ultimately, I think what I would do is I would read more. And I know that that maybe sounds hypocritical to my last answer, but if you’re being very choosy with what you’re reading and it really has a direct purpose, I would love to squeeze in one additional hour per day. Unfortunately, that usually gets put to the back-burner, and then of course things come up, and dinner, and a call, and then you’re in bed. So for me it’s reading.
Theo Hicks: For me, I would wanna work out for that hour. So if my hour is 25 hours a day and I had an extra hour at like noon, let’s say, instead of going from noon to 13, or something, I’d work out during that hour… Because that’s something that’s really difficult to squeeze in every day.
There’s some other question we have later on that also hits on this, but I like this question because it’s — okay, the first question was “What’s one time-waster I wanna get rid of?” So if that one thing you’re doing is taking up an hour of your time per day, then question number two can be what you use to fill that slot. Maybe at first it could be 15 minutes of the new thing, and then 45 minutes of the old thing, and then ultimately getting it shorter and shorter till it’s maybe 45 minutes the new things, 15 minutes the old thing, and then the full hour is used on the new thing, and not the old thing.
Okay, question number three. This is a fun one… What have you been procrastinating on that you would like to complete in 2021?
Travis Watts: You know, really, I’m not that big of a procrastinator, thank goodness. That’s never been part of my life. But, that being said, of course, everybody procrastinates on something, and I guess playing off of your last answer, for me I guess that is the gym. I’m way more into working out my mind than working out my body… Which isn’t always a great thing. So I let something suffer to enhance something else… And we’ve talked about this before, I think, on the celery juice episode… You were talking so much more about the physical workouts, and I was talking about just doing like one diet change… [laughs] But still leaving out the physical part.
So for me, that’s the gym, I guess. If I procrastinate anything, it’s that.
Theo Hicks: One thing that I’m trying to do on this note – and I came up with this a few weeks ago, because my wife always asks me to do these menial tasks around the house… And I always say “Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow. Oh, I’ll do it this weekend”, and it never gets done, and the stack of empty Amazon boxes gets higher and higher in the front room, and the garage is still dirty… So one thing that I’ve tried to do – within reason, obviously – is whenever she tells me to do something, I just do it; I drop everything I’m doing and I just do it in that moment. Because if I don’t, I’ll procrastinate and I won’t do it.
One example of this would be our garage. We’ve got a bunch of big boxes in our garage, we’ve got furniture in our garage, and cobwebs, mud and dirt in our garage, and it seems like it might be something super-simple, but whenever I go in there to drive anywhere, I see it and I think about it, and it stresses me out and I feel guilty about it. And I know one person that some people listening to this show might have heard of before… I know Joe went and saw him speak, which is Jordan Peterson… And one of his rules is “Clean your room.” It’s a very simple thing, and the whole concept is that your external environment is a reflection of your internal environment… So if your office and your room is a mess, then your mind is probably also a complete mess. So if you start by cleaning your room, you can reduce that anxiety and stress that comes from just stuff being scattered everywhere. So I get that from the garage big time.
But then on a larger scale, boxes or other things that need to be picked up from the store, things that I know I procrastinate on all the time – just doing them immediately, or saying “I’ll do them by the end of the day.” I’ve been doing this for a few weeks, and it definitely helps. I don’t think about all that stuff I haven’t done as much.
Travis Watts: That’s a great one, I love it.
Theo Hicks: Okay. Number four – what is your favorite thing to do, and how can you make more time to do it?
Travis Watts: So I’ve talked about this a ton, but my wife and I – we love to travel. And unfortunately, 2020, Covid – it is what it is; we like international travel, but haven’t been able to do a whole lot of that. We snuck in Belize earlier this year, so we’re grateful for that… But the whole reason — well, I shouldn’t say the whole reason. A big reason why I chose a passive approach to real estate eventually is because of this; because I didn’t like having so much active real estate that held me down to a particular area, geographic location… I always had to attend a closing, or turn a unit, or deal with something… So that’s kind of how we have made more time to travel, is by investing in real estate private placements, and things like that.
Additionally, even though it’s an older book, I love Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek, because it gives you a lot of great ideas on how to automate your life in a very digital way. So I utilize things like the Calendly link, and Zoom calls, and things like this to speak with investors or anyone wanting to reach out… And you can do that from anywhere. I love that.
In some ways, 2020 has been a blessing in that sense, in that we’ve all been forced to work from home, and haven’t had these old-school face-to-face events to attend… And it’s helped me get more creative on my outreach with people. So again, we could be traveling, and everything’s done digitally in my world. So yeah, that’s what I love, and that’s how we do it.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. Mine is very simple – my favorite thing to do right now is read. And how to make more time to do it – some of my ideas was 1) waking up a little bit earlier in the morning, which is something I talk about in the next question, when we’ll be talking about morning routines… But the other one – and I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but reading is something that I enjoy doing while I’m doing it… But when I think about doing it sometimes, I’m just like, “Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow”, and I’ll put it off again; going back to procrastination. Or I didn’t finish my reading for the day, and it’s ten o’clock at night, and I’m tired… I’ll just go to bed, and I’ll stack it to tomorrow. And then the next thing you know it’s a week and I’ve got all this reading to do.
So one thing that’s helped me was to recognize some of those time-wasters I used to do late in to the night… And then I tell myself “Well, okay, if I could do that”, which was really no positive benefit whatsoever past the immediate gratification, as opposed to doing this thing that I enjoy doing, and that does have a positive impact further than the immediate moment, then I could do that. I could stay as late as I need to to get that done, because I used to waste all this time staying up till three in the morning, doing something that was completely meaningless.
So the what is reading, the how is waking up earlier, and then reminding myself all that time, all those late nights I spent doing things that were completely useless.
Travis Watts: Perfect.
Theo Hicks: Okay, number five – I’m looking forward to hearing your answer on this one… So how can you redesign your mornings? Or best morning routine ideas for 2021.
Travis Watts: Playing off of your last response there, waking up earlier is so underestimated how much you can accomplish. It really doesn’t matter, in my opinion, what you do with the time, as long as that’s productive. You might meditate, you might do your emails, you might work out, it might give you just extra time to make a healthier meal, instead of running out the door and grabbing something on the go, or whatever it is you do… I think that’s key.
Now, when I say “Wake up earlier”, there’s extreme cases of this. Dwayne Johnson, The Rock – he wakes up at like 3 in the morning to get all this stuff done; I don’t know about that. If your body can handle that consistently, maybe. But for me, I look at “When do I have to wake up?” If I have a call at 9 AM, I have to be up at the very latest at [8:30]. But I don’t like to push it, because then I’m running around, I’m trying to get stuff done and I’m frantic when I’m on the call. So I’ll set my alarm for 7. That gives me plenty of time to wake up, to stretch, to check emails, to make sure I’m up with the news and what’s happening… And that’s the approach I like – not to feel rushed. So generally speaking, wake up early.
Theo Hicks: Yeah, I have the same answer, actually. Attempting to slowly, not make it dramatic, waking up at 7 instead of waking up at 3 o’clock… But slowly pushing it back.
One of the things that helps me is whenever you’re forced to get up early for, say, your traveling; you have a 7 AM flight. You get up at 4: 30 in the morning to get to the airport at 5, to get there on time… And then think about how you’re doing all this stuff that you usually don’t do; going through the time change, I’m constantly talking to people all day long when I’m usually in my office, just writing or whatever… And then obviously I get tired; but then night comes, and I go to bed at 10 o’clock, or whatever, I usually go to bed. And I survived, I didn’t die, I didn’t hurt anyone, nothing bad happened; I was totally fine.
So as you mentioned, maybe that early is not sustainable, but if you can see that as possible to do, then when you wake up and your alarm goes off at 6 AM and you wanna hit that snooze button for another 15 minutes or half an hour, try to bring up something at a time in your past where everything ended up fine; you might be a little tired… Have a coffee, it’ll be okay. So that’s one thing to help – maybe wake up early.
And then two things I do in the morning to make sure I get my morning routine done is 1) I try not to open my email at all until I’ve got my routine done… Because you get sucked into that. I guess anything that can potentially suck you in and take away time from completing that routine, I try not to do.
Another thing too is once I’m done with my entire routine, the first thing I do is I open my email and then I set my agenda for the day. So I say “Okay, here are all the tasks I need to complete by the end of the day.” So those are some of my best morning routine ideas.
Number six, how can you add 15 minutes of gratitude to each day?
Travis Watts: This is kind of derived from Tony Robbins. We’ve talked a lot about Tony Robbins, and my wife and I have attended a lot of his seminars, programs, audiobooks, all that kind of stuff. But this simple thing, if you take nothing else from any work he’s ever done – it’s probably the most impactful. And for anyone that knows what I’m talking about, when you go to a Tony Robbins event, he walks you through a 15-minute gratitude exercise. And what’s interesting is he starts by saying “Think of something that bothers you, or upsets you, or a problem in your life, or something that you feel is bringing you down, or angers you…” So you start that way. And to your point, of flipping out of bed, opening up the news and reading a bunch of negativity… Same concept – all of a sudden, your mind starts going “What the hell is going on?!”
So this gratitude exercise puts you in a different mindset first thing in the morning, is what I’ve found is best… And you start to get perspective; you start to realize what’s really important… Like we talked about, Bronnie Ware, and life in general, and it’s almost like you’re looking down from a bird’s eye perspective.
So what’s most important is love and connection and family, and that you’re healthy, and happy; we live in a modern world today, we have all these conveniences… So you start getting in this mindset, being grateful for what you have… Then you can transition, throughout the day, into the news and the negativity, and surprisingly, it just diminishes the magnitude of that negativity. And that to me is the biggest thing right there, and why I still do this every day.
So really, that’s kind of why, and that’s how; it’s simple. You can write it down, you can just think about it, you can meditate on it, you can get Tony Robbins to walk you through it, whatever works for you. But it’s just putting yourself in a mindset of the greater perspective, basically.
Theo Hicks: Yeah. And then for me just to add to that – as you said, you find it best to do it in the morning. Again, this is something that — I’m really bad at this. [unintelligible [00:21:17].17] really bad at, and this is one of them… And one of the things that I struggled with, in a sense, is that I’ll do it in the morning, and the goal would be to set the foundation, so that you filter everything that you see throughout the day through that perspective, to kind of remind yourself every morning… And then I forget, right away; I’m in the world and I completely forget. So one thing that I try to do, that’s helpful for me, is express gratitude, however you wanna do that. Obviously, at night, but then also transitioning from one activity to another.
So in the morning, you sit in your office, you open a book, and you’re grateful for the fact that you have the book, and that there’s paper that can be printed on… Back in the day they had to handwrite everything, and people couldn’t even read… And then once I’m done with that, you get up and you make your coffee, you’re grateful for the coffee and the people who picked the beans and ground the coffee for me, and transported it over to America, and then put it in the bag… I get to go to the coffee shop, I drive my car there to pick it up…
So just doing that — and of course, I forget all the time. I probably do it maybe 2-3 times a day, but over time, just like everything, you kind of gradually pick up momentum, you begin to remember it more and more and more, until the goal would be your entire day you’re doing this. At least that’s my goal. And then making sure that, in the beginning, if you do want to attempt to do this and you only do it once per day, at the end of the day don’t beat yourself up and feel bad and be mad at yourself because you weren’t grateful for every transition that you did throughout the day, because that’s not gonna happen. It might be zero times.
But I think the foundations you mentioned in the beginning of the day is great, and then I’d add at the end, and then as many times in the middle as possible.
Travis Watts: Yup, love it.
Theo Hicks: Okay, number seven – how can you redesign your evenings to bring more rest to your night? So on the flip side of the morning routines, evening routines, so that you get rest.
Travis Watts: I’ll give a real short one to this; I know we’re running out of time here, but… Simply put – to me anyway – it’s about unwinding your mind. The worst thing I could do to reverse-engineer this is to read a financial book, or to start working on my personal finance stuff, because then my mind gets going. “I could do this… And what about that? etc.” And then I can’t sleep.
So it’s like, no phone, no internet, no computer, at least 30 minutes before bed; ideally, longer. Setting an alarm early, so I don’t have to think about it last-minute, and just unwinding, relaxing, possibly meditating (I do that sometimes) and not engaging in anything that’s gonna make my mind start running… And really, that’s it.
Theo Hicks: Yeah, I cannot agree more with that last part. I’ll unwind with something that’s not very demanding, that’s gonna get me laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking. It doesn’t have to be fiction; it could still be non-fiction, maybe more biographical, but not very engaging.
And then something else, too – smaller meals at dinner, so not completely stuffing my face until my stomach hurts, and I’m laying in bed, sick… Everyone knows that feeling. So smaller meals at dinner, so that I’m not feeling bad in bed.
We’ve got a few more minutes, and we’ve three questions left. If it’s okay with you, I’d love to skip to the last one and talk about how can you give back more in 2021. Then if we have more time, maybe we can go back to question number nine about what we would do with more passive income. So how can you give back more in 2021?
Travis Watts: That’s a great question, and I’ve always thought of this kind of thing anytime I’ve ever heard the words “give back” as a child and growing up – I always thought about money; how are you gonna give, where do you donate money, all these things. And really, it doesn’t have to be about that. Actually, it was Joe Fairless that kind of opened my mind even more to this concept, that you have to have enough of something, kind of an overflow of something, to be able to adequately give back that same thing. So if you have a lot of money, you have money to give back. If you don’t have any money, you can’t give money. For me, it’s time.
I was able to free up a bunch of time to the types of investing I do, and a change of lifestyle and work that I choose to work on… And now that I have that abundance of time, I give back my time. I do that weekly, I do that daily, to people – mostly through my calendar link, where I set up 15-minute calls, with both investors and just anybody in the real estate space that wants to connect… And I give that back. So to me, I will continue that. I’ve done it all year this year, and for the last several years, and in 2021 – same focus.
Theo Hicks: That’s a great point… Because you’ve gotta think about this. This is one reason why we stress – at least on the active side; I know Travis does this as well, the concept of having a thought leadership platform. Obviously, there’s benefits if a person has a thought leadership platform, but at the same time, Travis is writing these blog posts of all this knowledge that he’s gained over at least the past five years, since he’s started investing. All the different mistakes that he made, all the lessons that he learned… He writes that up in a blog post and then he gives the information away for free.
On our blog, we’ve got — I don’t even know how many blog posts we have now. We have hundreds of blog posts about actively investing, about passively investing, about lifestyle, you name it; anything related to business or real estate. So by trying to focus on the podcast, interviewing people, you’re helping them and their business, getting their name out there…
Obviously, there’s financial things that I do as well, but to keep on the concept of time freedom, doing this podcast and helping people have more time… And one thing that Joe talks about — I’m not sure he still has this on the website or not; I think he does, but… If you read his bio, it talks about what his mission is, what his vision is, and why he does what he does… And he does active syndications, so that people can passively invest, they can achieve financial freedom, they can achieve time freedom, so that they have more time to spend on things… And when they have more time to spend on things, they’ll ultimately do more good, and so there’ll be more good done in the world as a result of him helping people achieve those goals. I always thought that was very interesting, and applying that to what you’re doing.
If you’re not giving away tens of thousands of dollars every single year, or every single day, or whatever – that’s okay, as long as you’re focused on the time. So it’s kind of balancing both of those.
Travis Watts: Yup, couldn’t agree more.
Theo Hicks: I’m gonna quickly, at the end here, go through these questions in a list, so that people listening can write them down, and then we’ll wrap up.
So number one was “What time waster are you willing to let go of?” Number two is “If you had one more hour during the day, what would you do with it?” Three, “What have you been procrastinating on that you would like to complete?” Four, “What is your favorite thing to do, and how can you make more time to do it?” Five, “How can you redesign your mornings?” Six, “How can you add 15 minutes of gratitude to each day?” Seven, “How can you redesign your evenings to bring more rest to your nights?” Eight – this is one we skipped – “Do you set goals, and how?” Nine – which we skipped – if you had $20,000 in passive income a month, what is one thing you would do?” And then the last one, number ten, is “How can you give back more in 2021?”
Travis, anything else you want to leave us with before we wrap up?
Travis Watts: No, but I really do encourage everybody listening to write those down, and to make note of them, and really start planning and thinking through — I’m big into envisioning your future; so the ones that we skipped, like the $20,000 a month, that exercise is just to get your mind thinking in that direction, so that you can set your goals, so that you can reverse engineer and get there.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. Alright, Travis, thanks again for joining us today. Best Ever listeners, as always, thank you for listening. Have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.
Travis Watts: Happy holidays, happy new year! Thanks for tuning in.
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