Imagine the scene: you’re wading through a thigh-deep muddy field, mentally assessing whether you’ve got enough energy to swim through the lake that’s sprawling out ahead of you. Then you’re scaling a scaffolding tower, leaping over a fire into a swamp, throwing yourself down a water slide before edging forward on your elbows under a cargo net. Then you’re charging through electric fences, heaving heavy sand bags over your shoulder and preparing to plunge yourself into an ice tank just for good measure. In that context, the shock of the first week back to work after Christmas doesn’t seem quite so bad!
For those of you who haven’t experienced the joys of obstacle course races check out Tough Mudder. There are plenty of obstacle races out there (the names of some of the events alone give you a hint as to what you can expect: Primal Stampede, Total Warrior, Yorkshire Warrior – a sedate sponsored walk they are not!) but it’s fair to say that Tough Mudder is, well, the mother of them all – a 10-mile race that encompasses 20 obstacles along the way.
This year a number of my colleagues and I will enter the Tough Mudder race for charity. It’s taking place at Belvoir Castle in Grantham in May. As I’ve completed a number of these types of races in the past I have the advantage (I think) of knowing what I’m letting myself in for. My team mates are already busy – or should be, as part of their New Year’s resolutions – working on their training plans.
The Team Works
The defining feature of the Tough Mudder event is that it is based on and rewards teamwork. We’ve assembled a crack team of competitors from across Progeny to take on the challenge. Although I would like to go out there and go after a personal best, the team comes before the individual. Getting everyone across the finish line in one piece is the main goal. What’s more, some of the obstacles can’t be tackled alone so we will all need to work together to get everyone through it from the starting gun to the finishing line. Competing as a team is also a different type of challenge. It’s more enjoyable than going it alone. Sticking together as a team and achieving the goal together is a much more rewarding experience.
Competing on behalf of a charity will give us an added motivation. It’s good to know that our efforts at getting round the course and supporting each other will in turn be helping individuals who aren’t as lucky as us to surmount the obstacles that lie ahead of them in their own lives.
Physical and Financial Fitness
As we’ve been preparing for our challenge I’ve been reflecting on all the parallels between physical fitness and financial fitness. After the excesses of the festive season, both are foremost in our minds as we gaze on the clean slate of a new year, but both are equally important all year round. The ways to achieve them are similar.
Setting goals: Many people set out with the goal of ‘joining a gym’ or ‘running three times a week’ but they then get bored because they haven’t actually established a way of measuring their success. Setting a goal, like competing in a race or achieving a particular personal best, gives them an aim. In our financial lives, an abstract or unfocused goal of simply, for example, paying more into an ISA or a pension doesn’t provide anything specific to strive for. Creating a targeted goal like “early retirement” or travelling more with the family by using your assets and investments gives us a way of measuring our progress and sharpens our motivation.
Putting a plan in place: Achieving a goal requires a plan. You wouldn’t think of running a marathon without training. There was a day when even the current world-record-holders weren’t even runners. Ask yourself what you want to achieve (be it a marathon or that holiday home you’ve always promised yourself or early retirement) and work backwards from there. Start with the end in mind. Like all sports or training find a coach who can help plan and work with you to achieve your financial goals. We use cashflow modelling to create a financial plan for our clients. It is the perfect way to take stock at the outset and then monitor progress each year, assessing goals against what’s happening in our clients’ lives. Which leads us nicely on to our next point.
Adapting to changes in circumstances: The plan is vital but it’s also important to be flexible. There’s nothing worse than a set-back in a training plan so you have to be prepared to adapt to any unforeseen circumstances. A twisted ankle will stop you running and could put your training back to square one, so you have to think of alternatives like swimming or cycling to maintain your fitness. Financial planning is no different as market movement and life events (children, grandchildren, marriage, divorce, illness, a market crash, higher inflation, living longer than expected, lower returns) can change your financial circumstances and need you to be ready to adapt to keep your goals on track.
The right combination of support and advice: Achieving your goals is always helped by the right support and guidance from others. For your fitness, this might mean a personal trainer with a targeted plan, or a boot camp instructor barking orders at you, or it might be the encouragement of your fellow teammates and fellow athletes. Training for Tough Mudder involves different types of training as it’s a multi-disciplinary challenge demanding strength, speed and stamina. Our financial and legal goals are nearly always similar. They are tied up with many other areas of our lives and don’t just exist in isolation. For example, your wealth ambitions might be connected to the family’s financial plans for the future, or your business might have legal demands that overlap with your private legal requirements. It’s important that you have support that you can trust and specific, well-rounded advice on hand to meet your needs. At Progeny, this is the sort of multidisciplinary, multi-service approach that we can provide, all in one place.
Enjoying your achievement: As important as all the hard work is allowing yourself to enjoy the fruits of your labours. This might mean basking in the glory of beating your personal best, or a new race you’ve run or distance you’ve conquered. In your financial life, it might be that round-the-world-trip, that vintage car or the financial lifestyle you’ve worked hard to create. Celebrate it and enjoy it – you’ve earned it!
We’ve set our goals for Tough Mudder and we’re putting in place our plans and assembling the right team to achieve them. As a multiservice practice, we can put together the right team to ensure you get tailored individual support on all your wealth and legal matters and that you stay on track to keep financially fit in 2018 and beyond. If you would like some support in setting, planning and achieving your financial goals, please get in touch.
This article does not constitute financial advice. Individuals must not rely on this information to make a financial or investment decision. Before making any decision, we recommend you consult your financial planner to take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situation and individual needs.