I've always had a difficult relationship with running. On paper it would seem as if we'd get along well because I'm an introvert who shies away from team sports. I even participated in track and field competitions during highschool intramurals, and was a member of the track and field team for a few months. A friend who trains for triathlons even pushed me to take up running more seriously because she said I have a runner's body. But despite all that, there was simply no spark between me and running.
However, something clicked in the past few months and instead of my usual once- a- month- if- I'm- feeling- up- to- it- run, I found myself going for weekly, then twice weekly runs, and before I knew it, I was actually running 3x a week and was even looking forward to it. Believe me, no one was more surprised at this than I was.
Which now brings me to the similarities between running and getting your financial house in order. At first blush, it might appear that the two have nothing in common between them, but dig a little deeper and it becomes clear that running and orderly personal finances might just be running buddies after all since both involve:
- Setting a goal and working towards it- About 4 years ago, I started on the Couch to 5k program, an 8 week program that takes you from zero running to 30 minutes of running non-stop. In the four years since I began the program, I quit and went back to it about 5 or 6 times, promising myself with each instance that this time would be different and that I would finally finish it once and for all. Well 2016 turned out to be The One because I signed up for a race even if I was just halfway through the program. My goal wasn't to have a podium finish in my first 5k run (do they even have that for a 5k race?), but to simply finish it by any means necessary. Since I already paid for my participation, my kuripot self was forced to push through with the training and to show up on the big day. When it comes to money goals, the same thing pretty much holds true. If you set a goal that you want bad enough or set the right incentive, you will complete it by any means necessary. My immediate money goal is to have 6 months worth of expenses in cash. Some people call this their emergency fund, but I like to think of it as my FU money. My safety net that will give me the confidence to say sayonara with attitude to a toxic work environment without worrying about mundane stuff like bills and keeping my family fed.
- Automating it- If I have a morning run scheduled, I keep my running clothes within easy reach the night before so that I can grab them in the dark when my alarm goes off. After I tiptoe out of the room so as not to wake up my husband and son, I eat a slice of toast with peanut butter and drink a glass of water. I then put on my running gear, wait 15-20 minutes and then I'm out the door, running circles around our condominium compound. It's the same with money since the ideal is to automatically transfer money from your payroll account to your emergency funds/ investments/ retirement account etc., but I know that not a lot of banks offer this so the next best thing is to develop the habit of saving. Keep on doing it with regularity to the point that saving money becomes second nature.
- Keeping at it- There will be good and bad days, and just because your pace is still at a pathetic 8:44 per kilometer (this may or may not be me...) does not mean that you should dump your running shoes for good. Every step you run makes you stronger and develops your endurance, bringing you closer to your running goal. I'm also nowhere near completing my financial goals and I miss my savings target more often than I meet it, but that doesn't discourage me from setting aside money every chance I can get. The thought of having an FU stash is simply too compelling and enough encouragement for me to save.
- Working with your strengths and working around your weaknesses- I have no problem walking and running my way through a run because I know that I will have a better chance at achieving a decent time through this, than running the whole 5k or 10k (and then dropping dead from sheer exhaustion). Of course the ideal is running the whole course, but the reality is my endurance is still a work in progress so I do the best I can and do it with regularity. In the same vein, I also have to develop my mindful spending muscle since I'm very prone to letting my emotions take over my rational self when it comes to spending. Knowing this about myself, I limit my mall visits and don't indulge in malling, or spending idle time in the mall with no clear agenda. Same rule applies with online shopping, no browsing out of boredom or curiosity.
My next run is in two months and I signed up for the 10 km race. I am nowhere near ready to tackle 10k but I'm ever so slowly getting there and I have no doubt that, barring any accident or sickness (knock on wood!), I'll finish it because I will crawl my way to the finish line if that's what it takes.
And on that cheerful note, happy weekend everyone!
*Image from Huffpost