What Runners Can Teach Us About Achieving Our Financial Goals

I stopped doing New Year’s resolutions when I noticed how little time it took me to break them.

Instead I set goals and work on rearranging my life to meet those goals. Goal setting and how to achieve my goals is something I learned from running.

1) Map your course

Whenever I go running, I always map my route so I know how far I’m gonna run.

Knowing the distance prepares me mentally and keeps me going when I want to call it quits after the first 5 minutes.

Having a clearly defined financial goal and writing it on the front page of my financial journal so I can see it every time I do my monthly budget and my weekly budget reviews reminds me what I’m working towards and keeps me motivated.

2) It’s all in the mind

I only started running long distance in my early 20s. Until then, I believed I was physically incapable of running long distance.

That was until I found myself totally lost and instead of going to gym, I went running and didn’t stop for 15 minutes. I’d never felt so good about myself.

I learned that all the things I’d told myself about running were BS.

If someone had told me I’d one day run half marathons I’d have laughed.

It’s the same with money – a few years I couldn’t talk about money, let alone write about money because I believed money was evil and I was terrible with money.

Changing the way we think and feel about a financial goal, changes our approach and our ability to achieve it.

3) Work on your endurance

Running is all about endurance –the ability to keep going even when things are bad.

It’s the same with your finances, especially if you have debt – you have to constantly train yourself to develop good financial habits, change your thinking patterns about money and become emotional intelligent even if it’s tough.

4) Set your own pace

Take your time; don’t try to get rich quick, keep up with the Jones’ or try to outdo your friends.

If your friend buys a Mercedes and you can only afford a VW Beatle, that’s what you can afford. For now…

In the future as you become financially savvy, you’ll be able to afford whatever you want.

Besides how do you know that your friend isn’t being stressed by her car instalments?

5) Remain present

Running has nothing to do with speed and distance.

It has everything to do with your breath and putting one step in front of the other. If you keep doing that and breathing then you can keep moving forward.

You reach your financial goals by constantly taking action in the here and now.

You can change your financial future by controlling the decisions you make in this minute.

6) Just Do it

Runners often talk about the second wind – when they’re able to somehow overcome their exhaustion during their run and just keep going.

It’s mind over matter.

Sometimes when you’re trying to get your finances in order and reach your goals, stuff will just come up. Out of the blue!

It’ll feel like the universe is against you, which’ll leave you drained and exhausted.

The normal thing to do would be to just give up, but I’ve learned that to achieve my financial goals, I have to find my second wind.

7) It takes resilience and persistence

On your way to reaching your financial goals you may fail and fail often.

I can’t tell you the amount of times I totally miss my savings goal or end up using all my savings on a vacation I think I really need. I do this even now, but I’ve learned to forgive myself and keep going.

Before I used to just give up, see the goal as unreachable and see my life as hopeless.

8) Having support/ coaching can change your game

When I wanted to run half marathons I found that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t run more than 5 miles/ 8 kms on my own.

Running with a group helped me break through this plateau.

Getting money coaching or other financial support can help us breakthrough our financial plateaus so we can reach our goals faster.

9) It all boils down to you and your self-discipline

Only you can run a race, in the same way only you can achieve your goals.

A coach can give you all the tools but only you can put those tools into action and apply them to your life.

The only way to make your goals a reality is to take action and to hold yourself accountable.

10) Inspire yourself

Nothing builds confidence in a runner than seeing their own physical improvement – in fitness, time or distance run.

Set financial goals that inspire you because those goals will stretch you to do things you never thought possible of you, but beyond that they will inspire others to go on their own inspirational journey.

Remember that it takes as much energy and time to play big as it does to play small.

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2 Comments

  1. I was a gymnast growing up, so endurance was never my strong suit. I used to collapse after running a mile. Never did I dream that I’d be able to run a marathon. I learned it’s all about changing your mindset and pacing yourself- both in running and in finance (and in life really).

  2. Vangile Makwakwa

    Stefanie, I couldn’t agree more. It’s all about pacing yourself. It took me a while to understand that to successfully pay my debts I needed to take it slow and develop best practices. Before I used to try to do it all at once and off course I’d end up with no money to live and get frustrated and ditch my plans after that but taking my time and learning what works for me has really changed my relationship with money.

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