Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Comparing Wealth Building to Running a Marathon

In my life, I've noticed I do well with activities where I learn the key principles, practice the skills, and have diligence in making the effort. Having run a marathon, I noticed some similarities between preparing and running the race and building wealth for retirement.

  1. Good preparation is important. Training for a marathon involved months of training, lots of distance running and good discipline. I would not have been able to complete the run without doing the training. A side benefit was that it was good for my physical health.

    For wealth building, I have found having good personal finance habits and good discipline are important to being successful. Learning to pay oneself first and to buy only what one needs are excellent training for wealth building.

  2. Have a plan and refine it as needed. Running at a sustainable pace was important. The finish line is a very far away from the start. It's important to know one's skills and NOT waste energy. I planned and ran the marathon with a college roommate. We decided to run at a 8' 45" per mile pace even though both of us had run 3 to 5 mile races at 7' to 7' 30" per mile. While much slower than our capabilities, we felt this pace would enable us to finish.

    For wealth building, I found having a sustainable plan, which we modified as needed, was very helpful.

  3. Don't worry about other participants. Keeping focused on our own plan, pace and progress was very important. At the start, there were thousands of runners in the pack. Hundreds of runners passed us in the first five miles. However we passed hundreds of runners in the subsequent 21 miles as they burned out from starting too fast.

    In wealth building, others may appear to have more (e.g. luxury cars, expensive clothes, and more gadgets) at the start. However, it is good to avoid comparisons and stick to one's plan.

  4. Push to completion when the finish line is close. When I only had 1-2 miles left in marathon, I knew I would have enough energy to finish is good shape. Similarly, as our retirement savings got closer to our target, we seem to be able do a little more to get to the finish.

In my only marathon, I finished the race in 4 hours and 9 minutes, much after the winning time of 2 hours and 12 minutes. On the wealth building side, we have managed to completely retire while in our forties. In both cases, being able to finish made the preparation and effort well worth it.

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back every Wednesday for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2007 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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