Back To Basics
I was supposed to go for a 9-mile trail run just the other day in preparation for my upcoming half-marathon. It didn’t happen because my hip, hamstring and knee on my right side are killing me. Instead, I scheduled an appointment with my massage therapist and turned on a great yoga video to get some serious deep stretching in before going to see her. As I settled into a deep runner’s lunge and practiced my breathing, I suddenly realized where I’d gone wrong. In pursuit of a goal I’m laser-focused on (running a trail half-marathon after taking a few years off from running), I forgot to practice the basic habits all seasoned runners adhere to: I quit stretching; I ignored the standard rule of thumb to increase my weekly mileage slowly; I stopped listening to my body when it would groan at night as I got into bed and in the morning when I woke up. What I did instead was avoid dealing with the root of the pain by taking more Aleve, grumbling about getting old, and continuing to run (or, limp truthfully) telling myself the pain was just making me stronger. On some level I had decided that the fundamental principles of running didn’t apply to me. And now I’m paying for it.
This incident reminded me of how important getting back to basics is in so many areas of our life – financial wellness included. The basics of personal finance include creating and sticking to a monthly budget … every month … no exceptions. It means not using credit to finance our latest want. It means remaining mindful and intentional even when it’s not fun. For me, stretching has never been fun. I always “forget” to stretch, and I have since my days on the high-school cross country team. My 17-year old self didn’t have the perspective then that I do now – it pays to stay disciplined in the small habits, day in and day out, to care for your future self. Budgeting isn’t much fun either, at least not in the beginning when you’re trying to shape a new habit. And it’s why I believe people don’t do it. Instead they choose the fun part of money – spending it! Or, they choose to avoid it because it causes too much pain. Either way the fundamental key to winning with money is being pushed aside and you end up suffering as a consequence.
So, as we wrap up the month of September and get ready to start afresh in October, get back to basics folks! I know the fun stuff is way more attention grabbing! I also recognize facing money can be painful for some. Here’s my challenge to you: think of something in your life (like my running example above) that is meaningful to you, where you clearly see and understand the benefits of discipline of habit. Then, apply that to your thoughts and feelings around money. Can you see the parallels? Is there one thing you can do differently TODAY to get back to the basics of managing your money wisely? And if you need a little help, reach out! That’s what I’m here for.
As for me … I’m making a commitment to myself to get back to the basics of running. It’s going to take a while to heal up and recover, and to return to the level of fitness I desire. Who knows, I might not be able to run my race. But, ultimately, that’s ok. It has to be ok because I have to look long term. The hard work of sticking to the fundamentals and doing it right this time will be worth it.