December 28, 2018

Sometimes I struggle with defining success in my life.

How do you define and organize your goals? Grow your net worth? Your income? Something else?

Some arbitrary number is usually the goal – pay X debt, earn Y income, have Z net worth.

Economists define money as something used as a medium of exchange, a unit of accounting, and a store of value.

You create value and store it in a rectangular piece of paper we call the Dollar (or Euro, Pound, etc). You then go to a store and goods and services are accounted for in that currency. Then, you exchange that dollar for those goods or services.

The key is you create value first then at the end you use the money to get something.

So, if you think about it – money cannot really be a goal. It is nothing but a store of the value you created and allows you to get something you want. It’s literally something in the middle of two other things of value.

That’s why I always tell people that it’s important to define goals that make you happy and then figure out how money and investments get you there.

You know, I keep track of my net worth in a spreadsheet and update it every few months. I was updating my spreadsheet and decided to go back and chart the growth. I realized I had grown by an absurd amount over the last 12 months. In fact, I gained more net worth in the last 12 months than in the previous 5 years combined. Here’s some of what I did:

  • I bought two smaller properties (10 units total, 5 units each). Each property grew my net worth by 6-figures and increased our income by around $4,000/month.
  • We have 10 more units under contract and we will add $100-$200k in value in 2019 and they will cash flow more than what the average American earns in a year (crazy to think about it in those terms!).
  • I partnered with my friends Andrew and Reed over at Wildhorn Capital and closed a 250+ apartment complex in San Antonio.
  • We launched our rental property coaching program (focused on creating wealth with small multifamily properties 2-10 units).
  • has grown like crazy and gets around 50,000 visits a month now (that’s over 1,600 per day on average!)….

Even with all of that, I struggled to set my goals for next year. I try to be ambitious, but nothing felt right.

Earn $1 million? Gain 1 million followers? Buy 50 more units? Syndicate more deals?

None of it felt right.

Then, I went and checked my mail at the post office and was flipping through through bills, checks, junk… and then… a Christmas card.

It’s funny, because everyone just sends those “happy holiday” emails and texts now that a real Christmas card actually stands out. I opened it up before I even got to my car.

“Merry Christmas Eric!

We’re so glad we got to meet you and get to know you this year! You’ve had a huge impact on our lives and we’re so grateful for everything you’ve taught us.

Enjoy the holiday season and we hope to see you for some more investing fun in the New Year!”


I thought about it for a day or two and realized that this simple card represented what was bugging me all month.

Those other goals are great and move me in the direction I want because I’m always striving to improve my life and provide for my family. But, I realized I was measuring success with the wrong unit – dollars, followers, page views, # units, etc.

What truly makes me happy is adding value to other’s lives. Showing them how to invest. Helping them earn a bigger return so they can retire happier and younger. Seeing those light bulbs go off when they have an epiphany and discover something for the first time.

I wish I could set my goal in the number of lives changed, outlooks improved, or people inspired. Unfortunately, that’s kind of hard to measure!

Instead, for me, 2019 will be the year I add massive value. I’m going to do that by:

  • Creating the most valuable investing content on the web.
  • Teaching more people how to get started in real estate so they can escape the corporate world.
  • Buying more rentals and making them the absolute best properties in the area with the best tenants.
  • And helping provide great and stable returns to investors to help them retire earlier and with more wealth.

It’s so similar but it’s so different.

So, to get 2019 started, I hope you will take this email and think of your true goals and not just think about the money that helps you achieve those real goals.

Tell me, what are your goals in 2019?

About the author 

Eric Bowlin

Eric is an investor that achieved financial independence at the age of 30. He started in 2009 with the purchase of his first triplex and now owns over 470 rental units. He spends his time with his family, growing his businesses, diversifying his income, and teaching others how to achieve financial independence through real estate. Eric has been seen on Forbes, Trulia, WiseBread, TheStreet, Yahoo Finance and other financial publications. You can contact Eric by emailing him at [email protected] or with this contact form

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