HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH UNCERTAINTY?
Four Simple Steps
Joe got scared.
It was the winter of 2018. The stock market dropped almost 20% by Christmas.
All of Joe’s retirement savings were invested in stocks and mutual funds. Joe didn’t know if the value of his holdings would recover or keep going down. But, he certainly was anxious.
Joe was facing uncertainty. It touches many areas of our life. For Joe, it was his investments. We can be unsure about the future with many things: our health, our plans, our relationships, our work, … We may feel out of control many times in our lives.
It is perfectly normal to be anxious and worried when uncertainty grabs us. The key is what we do about the uncertainty. Will our fear control us or will we be able to control it?
Will we make hasty, emotion-driven, unwise decisions or will we confront the uncertainty in life with a more productive response? Explore with me four simple steps for dealing with uncertainty and fear. But, first, let’s hear what Joe did.
Joe worried for days. He panicked. Afraid that he would lose even more of his savings, he sold the bulk of his holdings, at a great loss.
And the selling of those investments led to Joe having to go back to work again.
How we respond to the uncertainty in our life is important. Joe panicked.
WHAT IS YOUR TOLERANCE FOR UNCERTAINTY?
Each of us has a different tolerance for the uncertainty in our lives, don’t we? And we may have different tolerances for different kinds of worries.
Some of us, like Joe, panic. The anxiety overwhelms us. We lose sleep and sometimes make rash decisions. When we panic, we often make poor decisions and act in unproductive ways.
Those who handle uncertainty well often make better decisions and have better outcomes.
In the real estate investing space Mike and I have learned to live with a great deal of uncertainty. We have learned how to deal with the risk of our investments. This has come from repeated confrontations with uncertainty throughout our life and learning how to respond effectively.
When we purchased a large multifamily complex a number of years ago, our investment partners went in with a clear understanding of the risks. They knew about the uncertainty of this investment. Together we faced the unknowns and took action and made the investment.
Others thought about this investment, but couldn’t handle the uncertainty. They were too afraid of the risks and didn’t invest.
There are a lot of examples of uncertainty in our lives.
As I write, Hurricane Ian is heading toward Florida. Where will it make landfall? How strong will it be? Will my home be damaged? Will the power be out? For how long? Should we evacuate? Where will we go? So much uncertainty.
Remember the Covid-19 pandemic, how it threw everything up in the air and created a lot of worry for every one of us? We didn’t know if it would hit us or those we love. We didn’t know how long it would last. We didn’t know so much, did we? How did you handle Covid-19?
Wall Street turned “bearish” again last week. Joe faced this several years ago. Many are facing a big reduction in the value of their stocks and mutual funds today. Perhaps you are.
Will there be a depression? If so, how long will it last? Will we be able to get through it?
Uncertainty is all around us, big and little, temporary and long-lasting.
Here are four steps to take when facing life’s uncertainty. (They all begin with the letter “A” to help us remember the steps.)
The first step is to be aware of the uncertainty.
This may be easy. Or it may be hard. Some of us deny our feelings or simply are not in touch with them.
The first thing to do is to pay attention to the thoughts in your head and to the emotions you are experiencing.
It doesn’t help to push them down. Pushing them down actually seems to give them more energy, and not a good kind of energy.
Identify what you are thinking. Notice what you are feeling. Those thoughts are not you. They are your thoughts. Those feelings are not you. They are your feelings. Simply by being aware of them you are creating a gap between you and them. You are beginning to gain control over them.
Take a step back from them. Create a little space between you and them.
I sometimes even hold my hand out and imagine I am holding them at arms-length. This has a way of helping me to separate myself from my thoughts and my feelings.
“Oh, there you are!” I say to them as I am aware of them.
That is step one.
ACCEPT (even APPRECIATE)
The second step sounds wrong to many people. It is to accept these thoughts and emotions.
Accepting them does not mean you have to agree with them.
But it really does not help to fight them. Fighting or arguing with them will only give them more energy. After you bring the uncertainty into your awareness, accept it, even appreciate it.
I might even say, listen to it.
That voice in your head and that tightness in your shoulders or ache in your gut is trying to say something to you. Again, you don’t have to agree with it, but you can accept it and seek to understand it.
ANALYSE YOUR SITUATION (Explore ALTERNATIVES)
You have begun to listen to your anxiety, to the emotions the uncertainty has caused. This is the beginning of analyzing your situation.
What is the uncertainty telling you?
Joe was thinking that the stock market might continue to go down. He was thinking his savings were at risk. We thought about getting out of the market. All these were part of Joe’s analysis.
I suggest you and I also listen to other possible alternatives.
Do you have a trusted friend or professional? Do you have a thinking partner that might help you explore the alternatives available to you in light of the uncertainty you are facing?
I have found that talking with someone I can trust is very helpful with this third step. It is probably the key to taking productive action, the next step.
Mike and I are regularly talking with other people. We talk with other investors and multifamily operators. We read blogs and listen to podcasts. We host a meetup group that meets monthly. In this meetup group, we help each other explore the alternatives available to us as we analyze uncertainties in the market.
Joe wishes he had asked a friend to help him with the uncertainty and worry it caused for him in the stock market back in 2018. He says he wished he had considered other options, other actions rather than the one he took.
If you are facing some kind of uncertainty in your life, Mike and I would be glad to be thinking partners with you. Give us a call.
After exploring the possible alternatives available to you, it is time to decide on one and take whatever action is needed.
Waiting to act may be one of the appropriate alternatives.
Taking a small step and seeing what happens might be another.
I can think back over my life in so many areas, exploring alternatives, choosing one, and stepping out into it. My choices aren’t always successful. Often they are. Having consulting with others and thinking it through and seeing what choices I had, I found I more often than not made good choices and took effective action.
INVESTING IN MULTIFAMILY DURING TIMES OF UNCERTAINTY
Did you know that multifamily investments do well during inflationary periods? They also do well during recessions. Of course, it all depends on the skill of the operators and their ability to be wise with the uncertainties that are a regular part of this asset class.
Mike and I regularly have people who talk to us about preparing for their retirement. Talk about something that is uncertain! They have gotten in touch with us because they have learned that investments in real estate can be of great benefit for building net worth and getting out of the “rat race”. We help them look at the pros and cons of investing in apartments.
Multifamily investments have a proven track record of holding their value and growing over time. These are good investments for the long haul, for creating passive income, for building up equity.
Some decide to take a small step and learn how this investment space works. Others are looking for diversity. Others are ready to act with confidence.
Give us a call. Let’s talk.
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Harland leads our Investor Relations. He is a “repurposed” Pastor and Army Chaplain. He is an author, speaker, mastermind facilitator, and coach. Harland lives with his wife, Barbara, in DeLand, Florida.