One morning I was driving down Hillsborough Street in Raleigh NC. Hillsborough cuts through the main campus of NC State University and is rife with activity every year in September. It was a warm and sunny morning that was filled with energy. Students were everywhere walking briskly with backpacks and sloppy shorts, some alone, and some in large groups. A lot of them were new students. You can always pick out the freshman if you look closely enough. Somewhat intimidated by their environment, regardless of how confidently they laugh. Who could blame them? Everything is new, exciting, stimulating, even intoxicating. Some were congregating in social circles others were striding off to class at a determined pace. I remember passing by several pizza places, bars, and tattoo parlors. There was something for everyone. I thought to myself: “Ah, to be 18 again!” Imagine all the opportunity before them.
Then I began remembering what it was like back then. I wasn’t quite sure where I fit in when I first started school. I was more of a casual observer. I then began to think of what I would do if I could go back in time and step into the shoes of my 18 year old self. I would avoid the bars and plug myself into my studies. All my current experience with time management would serve me well. Then I began thinking I would buy stock! Of course, I know who the winners are. I could retire right away and travel the world! Even better, I would buy real estate! I could pick up a property, live in one room and rent out the others, of course! My cost of housing would be low and I could capture principle pay down and animal appreciation! Man I could taste the opportunity.
I think all of us have these thoughts, don’t we? We say: “If I could only go back and do it again, knowing what I know now of course”. I’m not the first one to have these thoughts and feelings. This is in no way an original idea. Then I thought tom myself where is all this nostalgic thinking going to get me? I thought of all the old timers that do this. They look back upon youth with envy, it gradually slipped through their fingers while they were preoccupied with other things, and it escaped them regardless of how tightly they held on.
A thought then struck me: Why be like everyone else and go back? Why not go forward? Let me step into the shoes of myself 20 years from now. Let me get in touch with the wise man, the one with locks of grey hair, and a vast wealth of experience. What would he tell me? Wouldn’t he tell me not to bother with trivialities? Where would he tell me to look? He would have the same hindsight as I do today. Then I had a realization. The opportunities that will manifest themselves 10 or 20 years from now are present today! The googles, apples, real estate opportunities of tomorrow they are but seeds today. All of them present under my nose. They abound! I could see them if I could but quiet the chatter in my mind and look. They are here today. So isn’t this a better question: What opportunities are just beneath the surface today? What will I be able to see if I just train myself to look?
About the Author
Mike Otranto has been an active real estate investor in the Raleigh N.C. area since 2005. He specializes in buying single family residential properties with creative financing. He also holds a NC Brokers License. Catch Mike on YouTube.