Have you ever committed to something and halfway there think, “Oh, that was a baaad decision?” Well, you have my absolute sympathies! I had signed up for the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – my first half marathon ever – and before this year I had never breached the 4 mile mark. After an attempt at 7 miles, about 8 weeks out from the race, my only thought was, “I will be lucky to finish this thing alive.”
I’m happy to say I pushed through my mental hitches and stuck it out. Eight weeks and one long race later, I not only finished the whole 13.1 miles, but I broke the 2 hour mark! As I basked in my achievement and the challenge, I realized it was reminiscent of our financial investment journey. You often hear that investing for the long-term is not a sprint, but a marathon. I found that the keys to reaching my marathon goals could also apply to reaching investment goals.
Keys to Running for the Finish Line:
- Preparation: Consistent training schedule and finding someone to encourage you and cheer you on.
- Mental Preparation: Remind yourself of the goal, not the immediate struggle.
- Pacing: Run mile 1 like mile 13.
- Nutrition: Know what your body needs for optimal performance.
Keys to Investing for the Finish Line:
- Preparation: Educate yourself and seek out a trusted advisor that will add value, hold your emotions in check, and meet regularly.
- Mental Preparation: With each correction remind yourself of your goal and avoid emotional responses.
- Pacing: Don’t try to time the market; stay the course by automating savings and investing consistently by using “Dollar-Cost Averaging,” for example.
- Nutrition: Know what you’re putting into your portfolio by understanding “How to Read a Performance Advertisement.”
Too often investors get in the way of themselves and their goals by simply mismanaging their wealth. Don’t be your biggest hindrance – just as you would train for any physical challenge, you can train yourself for financial discipline. And don’t forget to do a celebratory dance when you cross that finish line!
Philip Tull recently received his Master of Financial Planning from Kansas State University, and will soon sit for the CFP® exam. He is a skilled soccer player and coach, an avid snowboarder, and a fearless fisherman. One of his goals is to make sure his Millennial peers don’t spend the rest of their lives living in basements – whether real or proverbial.
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