They are lighting the flame at opening ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games right now! And even if you aren’t a big sports fan, hopefully you’ll tune in sometime over the next two weeks to see some of the world’s finest athletes as they showcase their talent in Rio!
As some of you may know, I was a competitive swimmer and I have a small tie to the Olympic Games. I coached swimming with Ryan Lochte’s mom in the early 90’s when Ryan was just a little boy. With this being his last Olympic games, we’ll be cheering for him as he winds down an amazing career!
Keeping with the personal finance theme, I was planning on a post comparing traits of Olympic athletes with traits of people who are successful with their finances. There seems to be a clear alignment in many areas. Here are a few examples:
- Goal-Oriented – Certainly Olympic athletes have mastered setting goals and creating paths to achieving those goals. And if you read many personal finance blogs, you will likely read about the importance of financial goals too. Here are a couple of great reads about financial goals from a fellow blogger’s the Finance Superhero and James over at RetirementSavvy.
- Committed & Determined – Olympians have to be incredibly committed (for years) to maintain their status as elite athletes. And they must be determined to work hard at practice, to listen to coaches, to watch their diet, and control other factors that influence their overall well-being. To be successful with your finances, you should commit to a plan, learn from others and be determined to work toward your goals. Here are some great examples of that determination from Penny @ shepicksuppennies.com and from the Groovy’s on the commitment to help others.
- Sacrifice – Without question, Olympic athletes and their families must sacrifice in many ways. They spend time away from loved ones, they might pass up college or career options, and most spend a tremendous amount of money in pursuit of the title of Olympian. If you are working to clean up your credit or grow your net worth, you may feel like you are sacrificing too. But what you might really be doing is battling lifestyle inflation as bloggers Apathy Ends and DividendsDownUnder share in these posts.
All of these traits of Olympians were aligning nicely with the ideas shared in the personal finance community – until the I stepped out of the house to get the mail yesterday. My son’s new football cleats and gloves had arrived and when I looked at the bill – it hit me.
If it costs hundreds of dollars to suit up my son for 3 months of high school football, how do these athletes and their families do it?
I certainly understand that some athletes get endorsements, sponsors and funds from various places, but what about the rest of the athletes? These athletes train and compete for years and get very little financial assistance along the way. And most of these athletes will never even get near the podium…
The focus of prime-time Olympic coverage will be on the final heats, the big games, and the popular sports. We’ll hear many of the stories of those who achieve success at the games, but I was thinking about those who just made the cut. And is just making the cut still worth the dream of making it to the Olympic games?
What can we learn from athletes who have decided to devote their lives to a sport where they know there is little chance of making it past the preliminary rounds? Do these athletes dreams align with what we value in terms of focusing on personal finance? Or is precious time just passing as they pursue their dreams?
Let’s take a look at a few more traits of these athletes:
- Focus on the Journey – Even if they know Olympic gold is not in their future, the journey to the games is what really matters. And the experiences they have and the people they meet along the way fuel their drive. In the personal finance community, I’ve read some great pieces that align with this. Seeking financial independence may be a goal, but the journey to the goal is just as important. Check out these posts from Ms. Our Next Life and Matt over at the Distilled Dollar to better understand their journeys.
- Passion for What They Do – These athletes give it their all! They have a passion for their sport and they’ll do whatever it takes to compete. They don’t care that others would make different decisions and choose to give up their dreams. The love of their sport wins over all else. Steve at ThinkSaveRetire.com gives folks on the path to Financial Independence something to think about in terms of their passions (and even gives them permission to have passion for their jobs!) And Julie at Choosebetterlife.com is just passionate about life (and your financial health!)
- Maximize Their Potential – These athletes give it all they have, despite knowing they may never win or get to the top of their sport. They will never regret not trying. Think about whether you give your all at what you are doing – job, hobbies, relationships? You might not be able to give 100% all the time, but are you maximizing your efforts as much as possible? Do you even know your potential? Check out posts from ZJ Thorne and the PIE’s that help remind us of why we do the things we do and the importance of putting ourselves out there!
Is just making the cut really worth the cost of the dream? That is certainly a personal decision, but I think I have a better understanding of why these athletes have made the choice to live their Olympic dream. And many who choose a path to improving their finances probably understand too. Enjoy the journey, have a passion for what you do and give it your all – and go TEAM USA!
Photo Credit: Gellinger@pixabay.com