Comparing yourself to others is a loser’s game. There’s ALWAYS someone with more.
Last week, my best friend and I competed in a Spartan Race at Boston’s Fenway Park. This hellscape consists of a 3.5-mile run along the stadium’s stairs and twenty “obstacles” interspersed along the way. These included rope climbs, wall vaults, monkey rings, farmers’ walks, and other medieval tortures.
Fenway’s event is nothing like authentic Spartan rites of passage. This included being torn from your mother at age seven and sent to warrior school. At twelve, boys were deployed into the wilderness with a spear and blanket. Spoiler Alert – There were no McDonald’s in the hinterlands.
In comparison, we all received medals for participating as a reminder that everybody’s Special.
That said, this event was no picnic for two fifty-eight-year-olds.
Despite an unwise decision to walk three miles to the event in the rain to warm up. (A sore point with a waterlogged Dina) We both finished and completed all but a couple of the obstacles. The good news is that we logged in at fifteenth and sixteenth place, respectively.
The bad news – There were only sixteen members on our team.
We could look at this in two ways leading to diametrically opposite results.
Wrong decision -Comparing ourselves to the 25-year-old shirtless eight-packed studs blazing through the course in 28 minutes.
Right decision – Expressing gratitude that we could complete this grueling monster at our age. The fact we got our asses to Boston in the first place is a huge win. Our average cohort was likely stuffing their face with an everything bagel oozing with cream cheese, butter, and bacon while we were throwing spear-tipped javelins.
Door number two works every time.
My friend Lou ( pictured here doing his best G.I. Jane impersonation) gave me an idea of how this race relates to personal finance. Overcoming obstacles and not getting distracted by all that glitters is vital to wealth creation.
Doing what makes you happy instead of following the crowd compounds fulfillment.
Focusing on the process and sticking to the plan despite the inevitable hiccups is more valuable than any fancy algorithm.
Just like the Spartan race, play to your strengths with your finances.
I skipped a couple of obstacles, choosing the fifteen Burpee penalty to conserve energy for the top energy-consuming challenges. We also walked part of the way for the same reason.
Implementing the same strategy to fight the urge to keep up with the Joneses is highly recommended.
We often pursue happiness in all the wrong places.
You don’t need a sparkling new $75,000 truck if it doesn’t bring you joy. If your neighbors care what type of car is parked in your garage, it’s time to find new neighbors.
The same goes for the media room and the chandelier in the closet. Yes, people do this.
Don’t listen to the crowd about not paying off your mortgage and investing the remainder. Self-awareness regarding debt phobia lets you sleep at night. Go for it.
Placing 50% of your funds in stocks in a 401(k) portfolio is fine. Higher long-term returns are no substitute for volatility-induced anxiety and abandoning the plan at the worst possible moment.
Remembering personal finance is more personal than finance is a terrific cheat code.
Competing with yourself brings more unbridled joy than buying the latest and greatest stuff for all the wrong reasons.
Finish the financial race at your own pace.
It’s O.K. if you don’t click every box. Just make sure you’re checking the right ones.