Personal Finance Lessons from the Olympics

‘Citius Altius Fortius’ meaning Faster, Higher, Stronger  is the motto of Olympics. The ultimate sporting event for athletes to do their best, win medals for their country and gain sporting glory. There is a lot of hard work, tears, sweat and blood behind qualifying for the Olympics & only few like PV Sindhu & Sakshi Malik got a chance to stand on Podium.

We can learn a few lessons from the Olympian athletes to use in personal finance management.

1) Set goals:

The basis for any venture is goal setting. You need to define in concrete terms your goals for different time frames. For example, a sprinter in the 100 m race will set different goals for different time frames. Short-term goals could be related to strength training and endurance. Medium term goals could be setting a personal best and winning medals in national events.

Long term goals would be getting selected for the Olympics team or running the 100 m under 9.90 in the next Olympics. Similarly, you should set short term goals, medium term goals and long term goals that can be measured. Short term goals can be related to budgeting. Medium Term goals can be related to building a home and long term goals could be comfortable retirement, children’s education etc.

2) The earlier you start the better it is:

To compete in a sporting event on an international level requires years of practice and training. For example the legendary swimmer Michael Phelps took to swimming at the age of 8 and held a world record in swimming at the age of 15 years and 9 months.

Usain Bolt was already winning all the races in his school by the time he was 12. The earlier you start, the more practice you have and the more time you have to rectify mistakes. You have time to experience more and compete more. This is applicable in every sense to personal finance. 

But do not lose heart, if you have not a comprehensive financial plan yet. Vietnam’s Hoang Xuan Vinh gave his country the first gold medal at the age of 41 years and then followed it up with another silver. So if you have not started managing your personal finances, you still have the chance to reach your financial goals if you start working on them now.

3) Understand & Work around Circumstances:

While playing a sport, it is not enough to just do your best. You need to understand changes in rules, opponents, new training strategies, playing conditions etc. Similarly, you need to understand that Financial Life is dynamic so Financial Plan can’t be static. So what you have planned today may help you to take next step but if required you may have to change path later.

4) Get professional help:

Athletes have different people around them to manage their sport. They get professional help from their coach. They take help from sports doctors and therapists to keep their physical & mental condition at the peak. They take help from nutritionists and diet experts to ensure they get the required nutrients from their diet.

If personal finance overwhelms you, you can take the help of professional advice. Professional advisors will be able to give you expert, relevant and unemotional financial advise.

Question is how to chose financial advisor?

5) It is not over till it is over:

You will face hardships, downturns in personal finance. But you cannot lose heart. You have to rise above the struggles and try till you succeed. Sprinter Gail Devers suffered from a disease called Graves disease that threatened to end her career. She fought back, recovered and won gold medals in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.

Justin Gatlin (age 34) who came second in 100 mt race – has similar story of ups & downs. Many people feel it is the end of the world when they face financial crises. You should remember that financial hardships may not be as bad as life threatening circumstances and work towards reaching your goals.

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