Regret and Opportunity

Psychology of Motivation I apologize for the lack of updates. A lot has happened since my last post, the lawsuit that I was involved with was finally settled. It wasn’t settled favorably, and I ended up losing most of my security deposit anyway – a large chunk of it to attorney fees. The seller (who I assume spent just as much on her attorney) probably ended up close to break-even as well. It’s unfortunate that she didn’t come to her senses until 2 years into this ordeal, after the fees started to outweigh the amount disputed over.

Perhaps I was wrong to fight her. Perhaps I should’ve just walked away. After 2 years of dread and stress, I ended up losing almost as much as if I simply gave up on day one and let her have the entire amount. I was ready to compromise, I was ready to split my hard-earned savings in half with a stranger just to preserve something, she was not. As a kid I was told once “Don’t get into an argument with an idiot, they’ll take you down to their level and beat you with experience”. Now I knew what that meant.

This was the most unpleasant experience of my life, 2 years of dread where you know that you’ll lose money, you just don’t know how much. I’ve never felt such disgust for a person before. Not hate, not anger, but disgust. With several million in assets (according to her own agent) from her husband’s estate, she decided that the best use of her time and resources was to go after me (because it’s my fault that flood laws changed as I was buying the house) for what was effectively pocket change to her. To me on the other hand, this was a 3rd of my savings, hence the panic I went through. The rest I already mentioned before. “You could get your deposit back if we end up in court”, my attorney told me, “but you’ll lose more in legal fees, don’t throw good money after bad”. That was my justification for wanting to settle.

However, after I was done sulking, I realized that something amazing happened. In these 2 years that the lawsuit lasted I learned more about real estate than most people do in a decade (partially from the lawsuit, partially from absorbing all the books I could get my hands on – determined not to get into same situation again), I learned more about investing than most do in a lifetime (including derivatives, various quirks of US financial structure, strategies and their pitfalls), I bought my first property to rent out, made connections with local and remote investors to do deals with in the future, learned Objective-C and Swift (which I wanted to learn for a while but didn’t have the motivation), wrote an iOS app, advanced to a lead developer at work, read 43 books, and met an amazing goal-oriented girl, whom I still date today.

What happened? I got the gift of motivation. I realized that life was short, that a single event could wipe me out unless I build a financial fortress out of my remaining assets, and that I was already a decade behind great men who realized this in early twenties. I had to catch up. All of a sudden fear turned from a blockade into rocket fuel, all because my perception changed. I still hesitate, I’m still indecisive, but I now realize that doing nothing is rarely the safest choice. The best analogy would be the Slime Climb level of Donkey Kong Country. I still have to climb up, but now I realize that there is rising water below me, and things in it that could hurt me. This is true for all of us, but most choose to ignore this fact until well into our fifties.