What training for a triathlon taught me about financial planning

Over the years I’ve found that the best way for me to stay fit and keep up a regular exercise routine is to set myself a goal. Back in 2010 I set myself a goal of completing my first triathlon. So I’d done a bit of running over the years, nothing serious but I felt I could manage that aspect. I had next to zero experience of riding a bike – I mean I could ride a bike (of course!) but had no experience of riding any further than the distance of my teenage paper round on my knackered BMX! As for swimming, I’d actually been trying to improve on this a few years before, having had a few coaching sessions to improve my stroke and stamina, but again this was of no distance and all in the comfort and tranquillity of a leisure centre pool – this involves current, waves, creatures, sea weed and no black line to follow. But the challenge of this really appealed and so I joined a local triathlon club who coached open water swimming every week in a local lake. A nervy start but soon I was hooked! There’s something very exhilarating swimming in open water – probably the freezing temperature!

So I was thinking about this all recently and it occurred to me there’s similarities between triathlon and financial planning…

Start early (or now!)

It’s a lot harder taking on a run, cycle and swim at 58 than it is at 25! The same goes for financial planning, start as early as you can and the easier the journey will be (more on this in a future blog!)

Will you have enough?

Have you got enough stamina to finish the race. We are all living much longer now so make sure you have planned so that your money will outlive you, not the other way around!

Be disciplined

Consistency is key in training week in week out, month in month out. The same can be said for a long term financial plan, saving and investing on a regular basis in line with your financial plan, without fail every single month, every single year and reviewing your progress along the way to fine tune to ensure you will reach your goal.

Work with your goal in mind – there was no better feeling than completing/ “surviving” my first ever sea swim (it was treacherous!) and my first race and knowing that I had given everything to it. When it becomes difficult or you feel like straying focus on the feeling you will get or visualise living the lifestyle you have been working so hard towards.

Don’t go it alone

Learning to swim and navigate open water in the quickest possible time was something I was never going to be able to do without the support of my coach and club members. My coach could see things in my technique that were working against me that I was never going to discover on my own. And funnily enough I’m a believer that the same can be said for financial planning, having the support of a coach or trusted adviser to give you that objective view, avoid pitfalls and hold you to account in my view can give you a much greater chance of achieving what you want!

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount invested.

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