Life is an endurance event. What if the right clarity, plan and support made impossible goals possible? State what you want and play to your strengths. If you are committed and coachable, the limits are few. I’ve experienced this firsthand on my journey of training and qualifying for the 2020 Kona Ironman Triathlon Championships at age 50. Along the way, I learned some very valuable lessons that apply not only to endurance sports but also to your Wealth & Life success.
How I started my Ironman journey
A number of years ago, running at full speed in our business and raising kids, my goals were a bit vague, and I felt a little rudderless. But I knew I wanted to provide for my family and help our clients. Then, I had a wake-up call when a business owner friend (around my age) died from a heart attack doing light exercise. He hadn’t taken care of himself or his personal finances, and his family really suffered emotionally and financially.
While I knew I had the right financial protections in place, I realized I wasn’t really taking care of myself, which also meant I wasn’t fully taking care of my family because they were counting on me. So, I started getting back in shape. I had done some short triathlons just for fun over the years, but with minimal training, but hadn’t done much in a while. My new drive not only led me to train to complete a full Ironman Triathlon, but ultimately to compete for a spot in the Kona World Championships.
The 7 lessons
1. Make crazy ideas possible. Create a goal, number, and a plan and stick with it.
Some “get it done,” but with more effort than necessary. Do you know what you don’t know?
I decided to shoot for a full Ironman, knowing I would have to do the work if I wanted to go long and do a 140-mile full Ironman. I started reading about how to train, and realized I needed some kind of goal and a plan, rather than just guessing and hoping. I didn’t know how to come up with a real plan, so I cobbled one together and trained as best I could. I realized later that this do-it-yourself approach can only take you so far.
When it comes to your wealth and life, having goal clarity helps you come up with the right “number” and the right timing. With that, you can develop a plan, which gives you the steps to follow and increases your chance of getting to the goal…if the plan is good, and if you stick with it. However, doing it all yourself can be more stressful, with more pitfalls, some of which may be hard to recover from. It may take more time and effort, and might not lead you to the right number, or at the right time.
2. Make it easy: Use design thinking to make it hard to fail.
Often the biggest battles are yourself and the beast of Peak Busyness.
One of the bags of gear I have ready to go.
Deep in the heart of midlife’s “peak busyness,” I needed to use design-thinking to fit the intense training into my life while balancing family time and work. Making sure I had backpacks with running shoes, bands, clothes and other training gear stashed in our cars, our home, my office and other ‘key spots’ where I could grab n’ go for a workout was one way to remove roadblocks. I also integrated my workouts into my commute and got up extra early for longer weekday training sessions that allowed for weekend time with my family.
If you know what the levers are of Wealth & Life outcome success, you can make it harder for yourself and your employees to fail. Some people over-focus on small levers that have little impact, instead of the big levers. You’re already doing a lot of hard work, so you want to make sure your work is going to good use as part of your plan. When you reduce friction, it often means you can live better right now, too. Unlike triathlons, you don’t get do-overs with Wealth & Life strategy, so you want to get it right.
3. Challenge limiting beliefs. Pace yourself to avoid gas-pedal risk.
Endurance requires knowing when to push vs. recover. It’s 90% mental, don’t let limiting beliefs kill the dream.
In endurance sports, “gas-pedal risk” is called “over-training” …working hard but not getting enough recovery and rest. This usually leads even top athletes to poor results and physically and mental burnout. My coach taught me that I need to learn to pace myself and work harder at doing less. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because your survival instincts kick-in and make it hard to back off. You need to practice taming the Fight/Flight/Freeze response, under stress, to rewire your brain.
In Wealth & Life planning, we’ve seen many people overcome their limiting beliefs about living the life they want to live by sharing their wildest ideas and getting our help with the analysis to find out how to make it possible. Through strategies such as a Midlife Gap Year (not just for college kids anymore!), we can help clients plan sabbaticals to ease up on their gas pedal and live with more joy and less stress. Structuring these breaks into your life with the guidance of a knowledgeable advisor helps keep you on track and energized!
4. Learn and be flexible. Breakthroughs and setbacks are normal.
Periodically revisit and recalibrate your goals and plan… everything is always a work in progress.
Bad weather in a race? Focus on place, not time. Injuries, family needs, work needs, race cancellations or pandemics or wildfires or smoke? Make adjustments. Feel horrible? That can make you doubt your plan. However, if you’ve been consistent in training, and have a strong foundation, having some bad days will not ruin your plan. With technology, I also track key data about my conditioning so I can learn, measure progress, and prevent or adjust to setbacks.
Tracking your financial progress toward your goals, with analytical help from an advisor, can help you make small adjustments along the way, rather than drastic changes when it might be too late. A good plan is flexible as goals and circumstances evolve to get you into your desired range of outcomes.
How about your employees? Are they distracted by financial concerns, not knowing if they’re on track to ever retire? Studies show that people who feel safe about their futures or feel like they know how to get on track tend to be more productive and have higher morale and lower turnover… and you’ll feel better knowing they are on the right path.
5. Admit & commit: Use a coach to refine goals and get an A-level plan.
You were here: _____. Now you’re here: _____. You want to be here: _____. Can you get there with the same toolkit as a B-level plan?
When I finally admitted out loud that I wanted to qualify for the Kona World Championships, and I committed by signing up for a qualifying race in Argentina, I knew I needed an experienced coach and an A-level plan. The coach could see what I couldn’t and had helped many people elevate their game. It took trust and letting go of some control, but that’s what I needed to have a chance at a leap in results.
You’ve probably had a coach, teacher or mentor that made a big difference for you in some part of your life, and changed your direction for the better. A good Wealth & Life advisor becomes your coach, personal CFO, analyst, and mentor around helping you identify and “admit” how you really want to live your life, so you can reverse engineer a financial structure and the “number” required to support that life goal. A good advisor also helps you stay on track and avoid distractions and emotion-based decisions. That’s how an A-level game works in personal wealth management.
6. Dig deep, execute, appreciate when thing get tough.
Get to your goal with resilience and tenacity.
When it finally came time to race in the Kona qualifier, I knew it was going to get difficult. My coach had prepared me for the hardest “last hour” of the race. After 9 hours, even the most experienced athletes start to wonder: “Why do I do this?”
I had trained all year for this, so I kept repeating to myself: “The hardest hour, keep the right pace, keep good form, trust the coach and plan. Do something extraordinary, do it to inspire your kids, just keep going, you’ve worked hard to get here.” I crossed the finish line beating my best time by 50 minutes, and earned the qualification for Kona. What an amazing feeling to achieve a stretch goal!
You might feel like your Wealth & Life goals are impossible right now, or that it’s impossible to create a plan for them. It’s true that you are going to have challenging times along the way (business ups and downs, market or economic hiccups, or other surprises), but when you have a real plan in place, and a professional to help guide you, you are more likely to find an efficient path, to know what to do, and to stay the right course. That peace of mind allows you to be more present doing what you do best with the people you care most about, appreciating what is important.
7. Life = moments. Make it fun, celebrate big and small wins.
Be the person that celebrates fun & wins of family, colleagues, and a bit of self.
Crossing the finish line in Argentina qualifying race.
After taking a personal moment to savor my accomplishment, I called my family — my biggest supporters — to share the news and thank them. While they weren’t there with me to celebrate, amidst tears, cheers, and laughter, I felt the love from thousands of miles away. I’m still enjoying the after-glow of breaking through those limiting beliefs that fall from you like a weight belt. The feeling that comes from that is that nothing is impossible.
All of your effort and your life’s work, and the planning and discipline to stay the course for your Wealth & Life goals, will build up to things you’re really glad you did. Maybe that’s making work optional, or maybe it’s something else, but the journey and the destination will definitely be better with life-changing advice, and with the right help at your side.
If you’re looking for the kind of help that will support your wildest dreams, contact us. Your impossible idea may be more possible than you think.