A couple of my colleagues and I have decided to train for a marathon. We’re planning to do the half-marathon here in Seattle over Thanksgiving weekend, then a full in Eugene, Oregon in the spring of 2010.
What does this have to do with money? Well, it seems to me that physical and fiscal fitness have a great many things in common, and perhaps there’s something to learn about each in the experience of the other. Here are some traits I’m hoping to master in both:
Realistic Goal-setting: What am I striving for, what are the steps that will get me there, and how much time is this really going to take?
Discipline: Sometimes not buying that thing you really want is as difficult as setting out on a 16-mile training run, but seeing the savings pile up can be just as satisfying as watching the miles add up in the running journal (and yes, I keep one of those, and it’s every bit as embarrassing and maudlin as the diary I kept in jr. high).
Commitment: I have to remind myself that I’m in it for the long haul and that sacrifices will be asked of me along the way. Yes, I can duck out at any point, but if I give myself permission to do that before I’ve even started, staying with the program becomes even harder.
Patience: The rewards are slow in coming, and no matter how long I think it’ll take to reach my goal, it’ll probably take longer. Having an overall goal is good; having manageable milestones along the way is better–I find it easier to stick with something if I can track my progress in increments and dole out the occasional well-earned reward.
Education: Before taking on my 1st (and currently only) marathon, I did a lot of reading. Embarking on marathon training without researching first is a really good way to get injured. But even if you don’t get hurt, chances are getting advice from the more seasoned will help you get to your goals faster and more efficiently. The same goes for your money. There are lots of resources out there to help you make maximum progress with minimum risk and stress. Check ghcu.org for great, free resources–the wheel has already been invented, so you can relax on that one…
Enthusiasm: At first, I had the word “passion” there, but I’m not really passionate about running. And I don’t have to be, to be successful. The same is true about money. If you aren’t ready to dive in and start day-trading, there are lots of things you can do to capitalize on your capital that don’t require enormous commitments of time, money or energy. But they all add up to great fiscal fitness.
Looking for resources to help you get started? Try talking to one of the money-management counselors on BALANCE or doing a quick check on your financial condition with Debt in Focus. You can access BALANCE from our homepage, ghcu.org, or Debt in Focus here.
And you can follow our runners’ journeys here as we get train for glory in Eugene on May 2, 2010!
Share your stories of fiscal or physical fitness successes–how did you prepare for the long road ahead?