Strange things began to happen once I started investing in real estate.
You see, I’ve never been a design or decorating enthusiast. I yawn when my friends start chatting about curtains and rugs. I’ve identified as a “globetrotter” — the precise opposite of “homey” or “nest-builder.”
Fast-forward one year: I now use words like “wainscotting” and “crown molding” in conversation. I can identify varieties of wood by sight. I have a strong opinion about the optimal height for a bathroom vanity.
The lesson? Passion is often the result — not the cause — of taking action.
In other words, I didn’t go into real estate because I was passionate about houses. Far from it. I went into real estate because I wanted to make money. But in the process of learning about houses, I developed a new passion.
Many people wait for inspiration to strike before they take action. They’re searching for a muse who never appears.
But passion rarely precedes action. The muse appears after you begin the work, not before.
Approach a group of personal finance writers and ask a question like: “What’s a safe withdrawal rate from your retirement portfolio — 4 percent or 3 percent?” The opinions will start freakin’ flying.
One camp will argue that historic data shows that 4 percent is a safe rate. The other camp will argue that people should withdraw only 3 percent to be safe. The two camps will vehemently debate for hours. It’ll get heated. They may even throw punches. (Just kidding).
Onlookers might hear that debate and say, “Wow, what an animated bunch. I wish there was something that I felt so impassioned about.” Then they’ll go home and watch Dancing with the Stars.
They have the cause-and-effect confused. We don’t write about personal finance because we’re passionate about it. We’re passionate about it because we write, think and talk about it everyday.
Babies aren’t born with a natural passion for Roth IRA’s. Kids on the playground don’t care about compounding interest. Some people may naturally be “security seekers,” but there are thousands of ways to channel that trait. Why financial planning?
Because once we start doing the work — when we create personal balance sheets, discuss retirement with our family, read wealth-building books — we plant the seeds for passion. We begin forming friendships with others who share our interest. We start identifying with that topic. The more entrenched we become, the more that passion grows.
Practice fuels passion, not vice versa.