Bring In the Calvalry — Knowing When to Ask for Help

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  1. Sign #1 it’s time to get help: You tried. And failed.
  2. Sign #2 it’s time to get help: You’ve realized how little you know.
  3. Sign #3 it’s time to get help: You can’t get started / keep going
  4. Sign #4 it’s time to get help: You’re completely preoccupied
  5. Sign #5 it’s time to get help: You can swing the financial implications / outlay
  6. Sign #6 it’s time to get help: You have options
  7. Sign #7 it’s time to get help: Your priorities change
Photo by Dakota Roos on Unsplash

I’ve been trying to rehab a house on my own.

I tried to do it all ‘myself’ (and with friends/family who were more than willing to lend a hand…thank you to all you amazing people, first). Really ‘myself’ just means DIY, homeowner-guess-and-check, ‘meh, that looks ok’ style.

And I’ve learned that some things just aren’t worth going alone. I’ve learned many lessons along the way of homebuilding and renovating…many along the lines of understanding when it’s time to seek support.

I’m sharing these concepts with context to my current house project. In reality, they extend to many aspects of life. I hope that my renovation journey acts as an analog to you and your path (our paths).

Here are some signs you should seek some help (in whatever you’re striving for).

  1. You tried. And failed.
  2. You’ve realized how little you know.
  3. You just can’t get started / keep going.
  4. You’re completely preoccupied.
  5. You can swing the financial implication / outlay.
  6. You have options.
  7. Your priorities have shifted.

Let’s dig deeper.

Sign #1 it’s time to get help: You tried. And failed.

Ahhh I’m so proud of you!

You stepped into the arena and gave it your best shot. You didn’t sit on the sidelines. You got in the game and tried to make something happen! You tried to install new plumbing. You tried to improve the structural integrity with a header. You demolished much of the house yourself. You lived in it!

You are building your future. Lessons are bound to be learned. Mistakes bound to be made.

But you tried.

And you realized you’re just not a pro (in this area). There are some things that you might find that you like doing on your own. And there are others that you might decide are better off left to the ones who do it day in and day out.

Failure is always an option. Unless it’s a matter of life and death or severe harm, of course. But failure provides opportunities for growth. Opportunities for lessons. Failures bring flavor. Failures bring struggle and challenge and chances for improvement. There is a litany of successful people who would echo this concept.

How boring of a book would this be:

Chapter 1: Meet Josh. Everything was perfect.

Chapter 2: Everything was still perfect.

Chapter 3: Guess what!? Everything was still perfect!

Chapter 4: Amazingly, everything remained perfect!

Chapter 5: The end.

You wouldn’t be interested in a book like that. I’m not.

The struggle, the tension, the not-knowing how things will work out is a core essence of our human existence. There is struggle and hardship everywhere.

But good for you for trying to make something of yourself. For TRYING. You’re alive. You’re breathing. You gave it a shot.

I’m proud of you.

Sign #2 it’s time to get help: You’ve realized how little you know.

This one hurts. I like knowing that I know. I know you like knowing that you know too ;)

I like having the answers. And being right. And being good.

I like to have things ordered and under control and within my grasp.

But it takes time to learn new things. It takes time to become an expert. Time to learn a totally new trade. Time to take something, deconstruct it, and rebuild anew.

I would never claim to know everything, would you?

Of all the things that all the people in the world know, I believe I understand less than 0.0001%.

Even that is probably generous.

But when it came down to making decisions between paying for someone else’s time and my own time, I often chose to ‘pay’ for my own time. In doing that, my opportunity cost was the things that I didn’t do instead. And I’m feeling done with that.

Not to mention, my time takes a lot longer not knowing what I’m doing. It’s much more efficient overall to hire someone to do the same work that would take me many months, in weeks.

I’ve learned about my limits. I know I don’t want to do real estate this way again. I now know what it’s worth to me to get support on my projects.

I didn’t understand the value of a $20k project the way I do now. That $20k represents a) piece of mind b) expertise c) opportunity cost of my own time d) expediency e) effectiveness.

Sign #3 it’s time to get help: You can’t get started / keep going

Not that I was completely procrastinating, but I was procrastinating.

Sometimes it’s hard to pick up projects over lunch breaks. Or after a long day of work then workout then dinner. All I want to do at that point is hop on FaceTme with the gf ;)

When it becomes hard to get motivated, you know it’s going to be hard to finish a project.

I realized that at my current pace, I really won’t be done with the house until 2023…and that didn’t sit well with me.

My pace isn’t the same as the pace of the pros.

Duh, Josh, no sh*t, sherlock.

But I needed to learn that on my own, thank you very much.

Sign #4 it’s time to get help: You’re completely preoccupied

With some things in life, it’s totally worth being completely preoccupied. But stress / anxiety / worry / fear around house projects isn’t how I want to live my life.

Yes, there are growing pains to starting something new and stepping outside your comfort zone. But I moved beyond those.

Oftentimes all I could think about was the projects at hand, accompanied by the looming angst that I didn’t know what I was doing…that I’d screw up. That I’d waste my time, energy, and money. That I’d come up short. And not be enough.

Those dark moody thoughts are preoccupying!

I don’t want to feel heavy, dark, and moody all the time. That’s not how I want to live.

I got help. The contractor has had great communication with me so far and came to meet with the inspector to ensure we were all on the same page. I’m relieved. Excited, actually. That my house will see more progress in the next 4 weeks than it has in the prior 15.

But it’s all a process. All learning.

Sign #5 it’s time to get help: You can swing the financial implications / outlay

If you can swing it financially, get help. Bootstrapping is certainly a thing. But it’s time to move on from that strategy. My time is valuable too. And I have a plan to recoup my upfront costs.

I know that moving forward, I will be hiring help from the beginning. I don’t want to be a contractor. I don’t want to have a contracting business. I want to invest in real estate, and so I need to structure my business accordingly to move fast on deals by turning more efficiently.

I can swing this, financially. It’s going to cost a pretty penny ($24k) to go from current state to ‘ready-to-paint’.

I don’t have it all sorted out yet, but I have my business plan intact. I have runway. I have time to figure that out.

I’m moving forward, though. I’m going to find alternative financing options once I run out of funds (and I will run out of funds). But I’m asking people to bet on me. Not just my house and the math, but on me.

It’s my vision. My plan. My execution that a lender is going to need to ensure the collateral is sufficiently secured.

If you have the dolla dolla bills to hire out help, do it.

Sign #6 it’s time to get help: You have options

Really, you’ve always had options. You just didn’t know them at the time. You couldn’t see the tree through the forest (or whatever it is).

Some options might not be worth the sacrifice or struggle required to make them happen. But if you have options (and you do), you can at least get help to pick through the various items on the table.

I have a great network of social and emotional support in people who believe in me and my vision. I bounce ideas off them all the time. Sometimes, they might not actually want to talk about my house again. But they do anyway. They believe in me. And they provide their opinion, insight, and experiences for me to learn from.

Options end up coming down to priorities. What am I willing to do, and for how long? What are the costs and benefits to a given action? What do I give up by not pursuing a certain path? What happens when unexpected things happen and my priorities change?

I reevaluate my options.

Sign #7 it’s time to get help: Your priorities change

The last sign that I’ll talk about for now is priorities. If / when your priorities change along the timeline of your project, it could be a good time to get help.

My priorities have shifted since I started the reno back in October 2021. I realized the value of my time. I have other activities I want to do besides work on the house until 11 pm every night (but when a deadline is upon you, you do it anyway). I now have a girlfriend that I want to spend time with too. Not that every weekend is now with her, but a good chunk of them!

At one point, I looked at all the weekends left from now till 2023 and realized I wasn’t going to cut it on my own. That led to changing priorities too.

Do I want to keep doing it slowly but surely, or do I want to accelerate the project with some support? That’s simply a choice among priorities.

I’m prioritizing time with people I love. Therefore, I’m foregoing about half of my ‘work weekends’. Boom, get some help. Easy decision.

The hard decision was choosing between the available options, but even that depended on my priorities. Which contractor to choose depends on their timeline, cost, expertise & knowledge, and ability. I’ve decided that at this point, I’m prioritizing speed and efficiency. I’m ready to be done, so I hired the company that balanced availability and efficiency.

Consolidation & Conclusion

You have to be flexible. You must be able to bob and weave with what gets thrown at you.

Become adaptable.

Become antifragile: improving through challenges and hardship, not breaking under them.

Become your best self.

But know when to ask for help.

You don’t need to have all the answers. You don’t need to do it all alone.

You have so many people who believe in you, willing, able, and happy to lend their support in whatever capacity is true to them.

You’ll make mistakes, and that’s OK.

You’ll learn. And continue for better.

Stay Frosty, friends.