“Failure I can live with. Not trying is what I can’t handle.” Sanya Richards-Ross, USA Gold-Medal Track and Field Athlete
With the closing of the winter Olympics, we’ve watched athletes’ triumph, fail, perform at their best and at their worst. My family enjoyed the Winter Olympics, but we weren’t avid watchers, mostly because it seems as if, every time we tuned in, curling was on, and we can watch only so much of that (sorry, curling fans).
Watching the event reminded me of a few years back when we watched a women’s skiing event. When we started watching, the competitors were on their final runs. One of the Americans made her run and there were a few mistakes but she was in contention for a medal. She had had medaled in the past so you could tell she really wanted to be on the podium at the end.
Then the British competitor stepped up. The announcer said she was currently in 8th place and would need a “perfect” run in order to medal. She looked nervous but focused. You could tell she was tuning out the world. She made the run and was perfect. She finished with the silver medal.
I began to wonder what she might have been thinking about coming from so far behind. Was she remembering a time when she was able to make a perfect run in practice or in another competition? Did she have some special way of getting her mind right so she could perform at her best? I have no idea. What I do know is she didn’t give up. She felt she could do it and she followed through.
What does this have to do with financial planning? Often, I hear people say it’s too late for them. That they haven’t really started yet, and they don’t have time to catch up. Once, at a networking meeting, I gave my little spiel about what I did for a living and then the business owner who was to speak after me took a moment before she stood up. She apologized and said she had been thinking that she would never be able to retire. The whole room laughed, presumably because many people in the audience had been thinking the same thing for their situation.
If you come at planning with an attitude of defeat, you will never be successful. As Sanya Richards-Ross says, trying is the most important part. We hear so much from athletes and others about bouncing back from adversity and pushing forward through pain that it all begins to sound trite and meaningless. Fine, but Newton’s law still holds true: a wheel in motion stays in motion. First, we need to push the wheel to get it going. We need to try.
Instead of feeling guilty for not having a good retirement plan in place, we need to have enough faith in ourselves to give it a go. We need to want to take care of ourselves in the future, to save for that trip we have always wanted to take to Bali, to try to make an impact in our own lives.
Often, we spend so much time worrying about everyone else that we forget about our own welfare. We need to prioritize ourselves and try for the big win, even if it seems far off.
I’ll leave you with this thought. Do you think this British skier stepped up to make her run and thought, “Well, the American girl had a good run and she’s set up for a medal and she’s been a gold medalist in the past, so I should just let her have it because I’m so far behind anyway, I just won’t try”? I don’t know what she was thinking but it definitely wasn’t that. Olympians are selfish at the moment they’re performing. They want to win. They have been training their whole lives to win. They are going to try — otherwise they could never live with themselves.
Never say it’s too late to begin planning for your retirement. Your future self and your family will thank you for starting the wheel rolling, no matter when you begin.