When I’m not thinking about my finances, you can often find me out on a good run (ok, probably still thinking about my finances). Running isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean having a runner’s mentality can’t help you in other aspects of your life. Obviously, being the financially minded person I am, I think there is a lot we can all learn, financially speaking, from runners.
Specific Goals Are Important
Sometimes it’s enough to simply want to do something, in this case, go on a run or improve our finances. However, to achieve our best results, setting specific goals will always yield better results.
When I’m training for a race, having the goal of “just finishing” vs. the goal of “I want to run at 8-minute miles”, will likely get me very different results. Holding myself to a higher goal will more than likely push me to run faster.
Having specific goals when it comes to personal finance is very similar. Saying, “I want to save money” is very different from saying “I will save $300 a month”. Having a specific goal will more than likely motivate us to do more to achieve that goal as we’ll know if we are falling short.
Cut The Excess Fat, Literally
Ok, not so much of a mentality thing, but this next point can still be of us to many of us. I’ve been a runner since high school. Like most of us, my weight has fluctuated up and down since then. At one point I was as high as 190lbs, which is quite large for me. A few years back, I started eating more of a Keto diet and I’ve dropped down to about 155lbs.
Well, you’ll never guess what happened when I dropped all that weight. My running ability skyrocketed and I’m running the best times I have since my time in high school. It really shouldn’t be a surprise that by being lighter and getting rid of the excess fat I was carrying around allowed me to be a better runner.
Where we can apply this to our finances is by cutting any excess spending, often referred to as “cutting the fat” in the blogosphere. By cutting out any unnecessary spending, your budget will be in better shape and you’ll have more money to put towards achieving your financial goals that much faster.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
One of the hardest things to do in running and with our finances is to not compare ourselves to others. I love running, and I’ve been doing it a long time, but there is only so much ability I have. There will always be runners out there that can absolutely demolish my times. Comparing myself to someone that runs much faster times won’t get me anywhere though.
As a runner, you often hear the phrase, PB or PR. These stand for a personal best and personal record, and these are what running is all about. Focusing on yourself and improving your own times is what most runners do. 99% of us will never win any of the races we enter, we just need to focus of beating our own best times and improving as a runner.
“Keeping up with the Jones” is the phrase you’ll likely see the most on personal finance blogs like mine. The mentality of comparing ourselves to everyone around us can be difficult to change but should be done. For starters, most people that look wealthy, really aren’t. But yeah, there are people that make more money than us and likely always will. It’s not a knock against you or what you do, it’s just the nature of life.
Don’t compare yourself to others, simply focus on your finances and what you can do to improve them. It doesn’t really matter who you are in front of or behind for that matter. As long as you improve your own situation, you’re doing alright.
Taking Baby Steps
Stepping up to any new challenge can be daunting, to say the least. When I signed up for my first marathon, I thought there was no way I’d be able to do it, not even close. When you think about a run so long, it’s just scary. However, that is what training is for. Starting with shorter runs and slowly, slowly being a keyword here, work your way up to the final length of 26.2 miles.
After a few months, incrementally building my way up, I started to realize, that running the full marathon would definitely be possible. When race day came, I had all the confidence I could finish the race, I wouldn’t win of course, but I could do it.
Same thing for your finances. Don’t look at everything at once and try to fix it overnight, it’s just not going to happen. Start with small changes, or focus on one aspect specifically. Once you’ve got those small changes down, ramp it up and make a few more small changes. Like with running, you’re simply training yourself to get up to full speed.
You Gotta Be Tough
Running isn’t easy. No matter how good you are, you’re going to have good runs and bad runs, it’s just the way it is. However, what the good runners can do is push themselves during those bad runs to still get the results they want. They know it might be a tough day, but they can buckle down and do what needs to get done.
You’ll also face a slew of obstacles when it comes to your finances as well. No matter how good of shape you’re in, something can come along to try and throw a wrench into things. Be ready to face challenges head-on and like a good runner, power through them to get to the good days again. There is always a solution, you just need to find it.
You’ll Feel Good After
Aright, not exactly a mindset, but still part of a good analogy. Many people have heard of the “runners high” where you’re pumped full of endorphins after a good run. For me, it seems the harder the run, the better I feel when I’m done. Maybe it’s all endorphins, maybe it’s partly a feeling of accomplishment, but whatever it is, it feels good to have done it.
I think you know where I’m going with this one too. Getting your finances in order will of course give you a sense of accomplishment and maybe there is no such thing as a “budgeting high”, but you’ll certainly feel good about yourself.
Runners Mentality for Your Finances – Final Thoughts
It might not be the best analogy in the world, but treating your finances with a runner’s mentality makes sense to me, although that may be because I am a runner. In any case, hopefully, even non-runners will glean even just a bit of motivation here. Not everything is going to be easy, and you won’t always be the best, but as long as you keep improving and be the best you can be, I think you’ll be just fine.
Jeff is a fan of all things finance. When he’s not out there changing the world with his blog, you can find him on a run, a Mets game, playing video games, or just playing around with his kids.