I have to brag. But, just for a minute.
My oldest daughter just participated in her first middle school track meet this past week and I couldn’t be prouder. She’s a sixth-grader.
Now, just to provide you a bit context, she has always been a strong athlete. She’s kind of a natural.
She always competes well in whatever sport she’s playing. She’s a strong soccer player with great footwork and control. Her strokes are graceful and powerful when she swims. Her stride is long and fluid when she runs.
But, that’s not why I’m bragging about her.
The night before the race, she asked me how she could prepare for the meet. Having run track in high school, she knew I had experience with racing and preparing for races.
I told her about my pre-race rituals. I added the songs that used to pump me up before every race to her “track” playlist on her phone. I told her how getting enough sleep the night before is critical, how stretching will help limber her muscles up, and how getting her body warmed up before the race will help her start strong.
She was listening intently.
Then she asked about how she should actually run the 1600 meter (1 mile) race. Meaning, how she should start, how fast she should pace, and, ultimately, how to finish.
I encouraged her to not start too fast, as she could burn out too quickly. To stay near the front middle of the pack for the first 1 ½ laps (the mile race is four laps of 400 meters) and gauge the strength of the runners she’s competing against. As she finishes her 2nd lap and heads into her 3rd, I encouraged her to begin focusing on the runner directly ahead of her and begin making moves to catch up and pass them. And, continue to do this until the final straightaway, where she would then finish as strong as she could.
At the end of my impromptu coaching session, I just encouraged her to have fun, be a great teammate, and make great memories.
When I got to the track meet, her race was just starting. For the next 6 minutes and 31 seconds, I watched as she started fast – but not too fast, how she kept near the middle pack, proceeded to make her moves up in the third lap, and I cheered her on as she sprinted toward the finish line to place 2nd overall.
I was so proud! She actually listened to me AND followed the plan!
How this relates to your retirement
Now, being a financial planner, one of my biggest roles is to draw up financial gameplans. Every day, we get the opportunity to create strategies that help people get through their retirement race.
Nothing gives me more satisfaction than when well-drawn out plans achieve desired results. Even if that means we don’t come in 1st place every time.
Good gameplans aren’t just created out of thin air. Good gameplans take time to create. They rely on past experiences and need to be open to continued improvements, adjustments, and enhancements.
But, most importantly gameplans need to be executed.
Just as my daughter followed through and stuck to the plan, we need to have the same mindset when it comes to our retirement gameplans.
It’s easy to get distracted, default to an easier solution (the status quo), doubt, question, compare, be fearful, over-analyze, and not fully “trust” the process.
Our job is to help you stay in the race, adjust to the curveballs that life throws at you, keep your eyes toward the finish line, and help you finish strong.
While we may not always finish in first place, we will be able to look back on the memories we created, the precious time spent with loved ones, and the fun we had along the way.
Because after all, that’s what it should be about. That’s what should make you proud.