It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint. Namaste.

It’s All A Marathon, Not a Sprint

If you’ve ever prepared for and run a marathon and achieved a financial goal, you know that remembering it’s a marathon and not a sprint is the secret sauce to success.

It’s All a Marathon and You’re Not Losing

The similarities between running marathons and achieving most goals, especially financial goals, always strike us as ironic. Neither goal is easy and both require the adoption of similar mindsets. Our first marathon ever was the Denver Colfax Run in 2011. We’ve always run for exercise, but never for anything official nor longer than our annual Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning bookended by Bloody Marys.

We start training in March. The first few weeks are brutal after our three-month hiatus from the road. We run on the tread-mill in the off-season, but it’s not the same and we don’t do long runs on the treadmill. Running on a treadmill is a literal exercise in monotony only a gerbil could love.

Be Focused and Consistent

The first several runs are always a surprise. It’s an eye-opener to get an assessment of how well or, usually, poorly conditioned we are and how far we must go to reach our goal. The goal sometimes feels unattainable and distant. We stay focused, and we regularly and consistently train remembering that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Each week we run just a little further than the prior week.

An amateur runner, much like a yoga practitioner, shouldn’t compare themselves to others. For most amateur runners, the goal is to finish. The goal isn’t to finish first. To look around at the field of runners and see who’s better and worse is futile. Marathons are personal and internal. Looking outward creates envy and frustration.

Know It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint to Achieve Financial Goals

Training for marathons is comparable to achieving financial goals, such as getting out of credit card debt and saving for college. The shock of the initial assessment sometimes feels insurmountable. It may cause us to assume the fabled position of the scared ostrich. Hope becomes the singular means to achieve financial goals and hope is not a strategy.

For those who overcome the initial shock of a financial assessment, the commitment to regularly and consistently do what’s necessary feels daunting. Just as amateur runner build endurance and slowly add miles to their runs regularly, savers and investors must practice similar progressions for years to reach financial goals.

Successful savers and investors must make consistent, regular payments to credit card companies or make contributions to retirement or savings accounts. Runners preparing for marathons benefit from interval training. Savers and investors also benefit from picking up their pace by putting things like bonuses, tax returns, gifts and inheritance towards long-term financial goals.

The start for achieving financial goals can be as lumbering and clumsy as the initial weeks of training for a marathon. Mistakes happen. Payments and contributions are missed. Regardless of their one or two mistakes, committed savers and investors know that there are more opportunities ahead. With a focus on their long-term goals, they get back up and continue their marathon.

Use the Marathoner’s Mindset with Your Money

Though training for marathons doesn’t take as long as successfully achieving big financial goals, the mindset needed to achieve both is similar. A singular, long-term focus, a commitment to regularity and consistency are required because they’re both marathons and not sprints. Neither is achieved with a sprint mentality. A sprint mentality may be good for short-term goals, but the long-term, far-reaching ones require a marathon mentality because it’s a marathon.

Those reaching for long-term financial goals can’t waste their energy comparing themselves to others, either. To do so creates jealousy, envy and frustration. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Envy is ignorance and imitation is suicide.” All are impediments to our goals and will throw savers and investors off course.

Those who are reaching for long-term financial goals serve themselves well by understanding that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Namaste.

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