With the Olympics now upon us and plenty of athletic drama ready to unfold over the next two weeks, you may completely forget about personal finance. But you can actually learn a lot about personal finance from top athletes.
Even better, it takes a lot less effort to successfully build your finances using the same principles as these athletes use to be successful.
Here are a few lessons to keep in mind:
You see the prize, not the training.
When top athletes qualify for big events, we get to see the result of a lot of hard work, but we are often unaware of all the dedication and hard work that went into the training that made getting there possible. We didn't see the discipline that it took to get up every morning to practice even on the days that the athlete didn't feel like practicing. We missed the injuries along the way (financial setbacks) and how they chose to fight through them and not give up, while working that much harder to make their goal a reality.
In the same way, others will look at your good financial situation and not realize all the time and effort that you put into creating it including the discipline and setbacks that you had to overcome to be financially secure.
Coaches help, but the individual has to perform.
Athletes have coaches who help them, give them advice and watch over their training, but it is the athletes who have to do the work to get there and perform along the way.
Your finances are similar. There are plenty of financial experts out there who can be your "coach," and you should seek out advice from these experts. By taking the advice that applies to your financial situation, the coach can help you define the financial exercises you need to practice, but in the end, you have to put this information to use to achieve the goals.
It takes sacrifice.
In order for a person to become a top athlete, they have to be willing to give up other things that they might want do. It's impossible for an athlete to do everything due to the amount of time that must be invested into training. They choose to give up time doing what other people their age are doing so that they can achieve their longer-term goals.
The same can be said with building financial stability. You can't buy everything you want and still save money, so you will have to make decisions that will require you to sacrifice some short-term wants in order to achieve long-term financial stability.
It takes a plan.
Top athletes don't get up each day and just decide to do whatever they feel like doing that day. They have a training schedule that they follow to peak for the major events athletic events such as the Olympics.
Your finances are the same. It takes a plan and executed schedule to achieve your financial goals that also should be based on life events such as sending kids to college and retiring.
If you have taken the time to create a short-, medium- and long-term plan on how you are going to reach each of your financial goals, you have a great opportunity to achieve them, just as does an athlete with a good training program.
It takes discipline
No matter what the sport, people rarely wake up one day to find that they are a top athlete. The same can be said that few people wake up one day to find that all their financial worries have been taken care of, and that finances are in perfect order.
In both cases, it takes discipline to achieve the goal. Athletes must have the discipline to work out, avoid getting lazy and improve their athletic ability to achieve their goal. You must have the discipline to save, avoid making financial mistakes and improve your earning power to achieve your financial goals.
It takes consistency.
Athletes make it to the top of their sport by consistently working toward their goal over a long period of time. If they made excuses or found reasons not to train before their races or events, they would not be heading to the Olympics.
People who made excuses or found reasons not to save on a consistent basis for their long-term savings would find they were not able to retire when they had planned. It's consistent training, week after week and month after month, that helps athletes succeed.
In order to retire with financial freedom, you have to take the same approach.
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Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs SavingAdvice.com.