Sticking to a Plan: Perspectives From a Triathlon

As financial planners, we often hear things like, “My friend read about this new investing approach…” or “My dad thinks I should invest in real estate with the money I inherited this year…”

Not just a good idea: the right idea for you

It’s tempting to use tactics that have been successful for people you know or read about. But the question Marshall advisors always ask is: is it appropriate for you and will it help you achieve your personal goals?

I have some insight into this on a personal level as a triathlete.

This summer, I participated in a Triathlon that required us to set up our bicycles in the Transition area the night before the race. It was the first time for me, and as I set my bike up on this windy evening I noticed the guy next to me used a bungee cord to secure his bicycle to the rack. I said it seemed like a good idea—one I hadn’t thought of because I never before had to set up the night ahead. He asked me how many races I had been in, because he always had to set up the night before.

Obviously he was an expert! So I asked him if it was safe to leave my flat-tire kit on my bicycle overnight; it is also where I keep some emergency cash. It turns out he never bothered with a flat tire kit, because he would not be able to win a race if he had to take time out to fix a flat. Seemed smart; I took my kit off my bike.

But what about my goals?

But the next day, as I passed a pile of glass shards on the road about 10 miles out, I was wishing I had my flat-fix kit with me. Why? My goals for the event were to finish and do my best based on the training plan I was following. Even if I got a flat tire, I could still finish the event if I had a repair kit. His goal was winning: mine was finishing.

I had let myself be influenced in a spur-of-the moment conversation and made a change to my plan, where it would have been smarter to call my coach. I am certain she would have helped me make the best decision for my personal situation.

I advise my clients to call me when they have questions about big life events– even when it’s not obviously a financial question. Discussing your ideas with an objective person who is knowledgeable about your life can help you stick with your plan and achieve YOUR goals.


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