Do you have the skills it takes to be an Olympian? Before you say no, consider this: the Olympic mind set. If you understand the way an Olympic athlete’s mind works, you can apply those skills to any aspect of your life. Here’s how you can tap into ten traits of Olympic athletes to create an ironclad financial future for yourself.
Olympians seek knowledge. They want to know more about their sport, their competition and themselves, and how they can achieve their personal best. And so should you. Take the time to educate yourself about your money. Read articles and books on managing your money, investments and career success. Attend community college seminars or courses on personal finance. No matter what your level, you can learn to be a better manager of your financial life.
Olympians practice discipline. Olympic training can be repetitive and boring, but champion athletes know it is crucial. The same is true of finances, which are a necessary part of life, boring or not. Do you always feel like working out at the gym? How about doing your taxes each year? The trick is to create an automatic plan to keep you on track. Pay your bills online on a certain day each week, regularly invest a certain amount in your savings and retirement accounts, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Olympians aren’t afraid of hard work. How do you get to the Olympics? Train, train, train, then train some more. To apply Olympic skills to your finances, spend some time each day working on your finances. If you dedicate just 15 minutes a day to some aspect of your finances, in the course of a year you will have spent more than two full workweeks improving your financial picture. You will see real progress, and let’s face it, you can do anything for fifteen minutes!
Olympians take necessary risks. As diver Greg Louganis said, “You don’t win gold medals by playing it safe.” There is no such thing as an absolutely sure thing. If you don’t take any risks, you may never be able to achieve the gains you need to fund your short-term goals, your children’s education, or your retirement. If you have had bad investment experiences, try to overcome your fears by figuring out what went wrong and why. Research how other people have succeeded, and take your best shot. If you fail, decide what went wrong and try again.
Olympians pursue perfection. After Gymnast Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect 10 at the 1976 Summer Olympics, she told the press, “I can do better.” Olympians know they will never achieve perfection, but they enjoy the quest and aren’t discouraged by setbacks. That’s important in personal finance. Every successful investor suffers occasional setbacks and losses. The secret to investment success is to win big and lose small. Remember, there are a wide range of right decisions and only a narrow band of decisions that are decidedly wrong. You don’t need to pick the exact right investment, you just need to avoid those that don’t suit your financial needs.
Olympians stay focused. Olympic athletes stay focused on results, motivating themselves to “keep on keepin’ on” by setting clear objectives for each workout. Consistent effort pays off in finances as well. If you tend to procrastinate, grit your teeth and force yourself to face a small financial task you have been putting off, such as organizing your records, reading your employee benefits package, or preparing a budget. Just do it. Next week, do a little more. As you practice, it will become easier to do the hard stuff so you can truly enjoy the your future without financial worries.
Olympians believe in themselves. They embrace their attributes and abilities rather than dwelling on shortcomings. As swimmer Dara Torres aged, she didn’t become discouraged. In her career she won twelve Olympic medals, many of them as the oldest member of the team, and at 45 she narrowly missed becoming a member of the 2012 US Olympic team. When it comes to money, it’s easy to fall into the trap of self-pity for what you don’t have, but it’s far more rewarding to believe in yourself and your goals. Show your self-confidence by paying yourself first and investing in your future.
Olympians embrace healthy living. They know that the healthier they are, the healthier their life will be, physically, spiritually and financially. Living a healthy financial life means not running up bills and creating lots of debt. To feel good about yourself, you don’t need to give money away that you can’t afford, or invest in risky schemes that you don’t understand. You can prudently save for your future and invest in yourself. Live within your means and give yourself the gift of peace of mind.
Olympians seek success. Instead of worrying about whether they have what it takes, they get busy! If you spend your time worrying about failure, you avoid success and become stuck in fear. Jot down the successes you have already had, no matter how small, and begin to build on them.
Olympians believe in their future. Though athletes train in the present, their focus stays on the future. If you are unable to face the future and live from day to day, you aren’t building a financial foundation for yourself. To begin your journey toward financial independence, establish some short-term financial goals, such as contributing an additional $50 to your company retirement plan or paying for your next vacation with savings instead of credit. These small goals can inspire you to get started on your future in a big way.
Olympic athletes are amazing, that’s for sure. But they aren’t super men and women, they are people who have honed their natural abilities and strengths. We are all amazing in our own ways. Apply these Olympic traits to your finances and you will strengthen your financial future. You’ll be glad you did.
Enjoy the Summer Games!