Run Your Own Race
I am not athletic by any stretch of the imagination; however, my hubby is, and for years he coached high school cross country and track teams. I always love hearing stories about how he trained his athletes and various tools he employed to motivate them, but my absolute favorite piece of advice he would give his cross-country runners is “Run Your Own Race.”
He told them this as a reminder to not worry about the person ahead of you or the person behind you. While you are in the middle of a long distance run, you need to keep your head focused on running the best race that you are capable of running, and when you focus on someone else, you are bound to either burn out too soon or finish below your best time.
We Need to Run Our Own Financial Race
I think this advice is perfect for us on our financial journeys. Two weeks ago, I was on the Stacking Benjamins Podcast and I spoke about my road trip analogy with clients. Essentially I believe that our adult lives are like a road trip from New York to California where New York is the start of our careers and California is retirement. My job as a planner is to get my clients to California in the most efficient path, while seeing everything they want to see along the way, and not taking any unnecessary detours.
A cross-country road trip, just like a cross-country race is a long one. They both require time and planning, yet if we distract ourselves and think about other people, we are bound to get lost and lose precious time.
Comparisons Don’t Help
I am guilty of comparing myself to people all the time. I spent most of my career in a sales oriented job, which meant that every month, every person’s performance numbers were emailed to the entire group. No matter how good I did that month, I always looked for who did better and kicked myself for not making it to the top. Even when I made it to the top, I never seemed satisfied with how well I did.
I have spent way too much time concerning myself with where my retirement savings is compared to others. I kick myself for not having blog stats like my peers. I see people’s income and expense numbers and compare every line item sometimes wondering where I am going wrong.
If I took the time I spent comparing my life and accomplishments to other people and focused it on my own journey, I would not only alleviate stress from my life, but I would be further down the path than I already am.
We All Are Guilty of Trying to Run Someone Else’s Race
I know I am not alone in the comparison game because my clients do it all the time. After we review their numbers, they will ask “Am I where I should be?” “How do I compare to people my age?” Or they will assume that others are doing better than them and state, “If I had my friend’s job, I would have more saved.” I now respond to my client’s questions with my hubby’s advice, “You have to run your own race.”
It doesn’t matter what your numbers look like and how they compare to other people, it only matters what you do with your numbers. None of us has control over other people; however, we do have control over ourselves. We have to take responsibility for where we are in our journey and work to get where we want to go. When we stop and look around and worry ourselves with other people, we are only wasting time and energy.
I Am Enjoying My Race
Lately I have found myself comparing my progress to goals with other people, and I have realized that it has done nothing but stress me out and distract me from my tasks at hand. Just like I counsel my clients, I have been doing some self-coaching and reminding me that I have to run my own race.
I have to stay focused on my own personal goals and accomplishments. The more I do this, the better I feel. If you have been struggling too, you are not alone. Let’s focus on running our own race and being happy with our journey!
PS: The team at Cash Cow Couple is celebrating Women Crush Wednesday #WCW and I was honored to be interviewed as one of the women crushes. Lots of great company over there, so you should check it out!
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