As I approach my own early retirement, focusing on those things I have neglected for decades has come front and centre. Health and fitness is right at the top of my list of priorities. It was something I was dedicated to for the longest time, but work and commitments pushed it out of sight and out of mind for over a decade.
I joked on Twitter that I’ve become a walking FIRE cliche.
- Started my own personal finance blog
- Taken up a pretty intense training and nutrition plan (18 weeks so far and still going strong)
Now, apparently to meet the requirements of the early retiree cliche, I need to get hair implants. But as someone who is not follicly challenged, I’m a while away from this. I’m taking my health and fitness pretty seriously now and it occurred to me, how similar the process of being physically fit and healthy runs parallel with becoming financially independent.
Health and Wealth
As we each grow older, the realisation that your health is your wealth becomes more apparent. It’s the aches, the pains and creaks that start to creep in initially. Then the naps after a strenuous day out. God dammit I’m only 39, what will I be like in my 60s.
Recent studies also indicate that greater wealth may have favourable health outcomes (Wealth Matters for Health Equity – RWJF). Where you live, what you eat, access to healthcare and who influences your decisions all contribute to your overall health and each of these are impacted directly by your wealth.
Health and wealth are intrinsically linked throughout life and it’s no surprise that many who are focused on becoming financially independent, also choose to focus on fitter.
Below I’ve noted some similarities between the two:
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint
- It’s your race, no one else’s
- Compounding works for and against you
- Coaching is key, but not the only path to success
- Keep it simple
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Whether you want a six pack or financial freedom, without some sort of miracle, it won’t happen overnight. Either goal takes years of planning, certain sacrifices and an array of considered decisions to achieve the desired result. You can’t just wish for financial success and expect it to happen. You need to make it happen and let’s be honest, it’s not easy.
When making challenging decisions over the long term, it can be hard to visualise the benefits of your positive choices today, especially when you won’t see the benefit for a long time. This makes it somewhat harder to maintain motivation and as you become more fatigued by decisions, the easy choice would be to give up.
Understanding delayed gratification and trusting that your choices now will make a difference later is one of the most important realisations you can make on your financial independence journey.
It’s your race, no one else's
There will always be someone fitter, stronger and wealthier than you. Stop comparing yourself to others and focus on yourself. You will achieve financial independence on your timeline, not someone else’s. A healthy body/mind and bank balance is a direct result of the decisions you make alone.
Choose to move at your own pace and within your own ability, but focus on growing with each day. Whether that means working on your budget, increasing your income or building your muscles through strength training, moving forward is key.
Top tip: Don’t be afraid to celebrate success as you hit each of your milestones on your journey.
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Compounding works for and against you
In Supersize Me the American documentary/film, Morgan Spurlock chooses to only eat a diet based on McDonald’s fast food. He eats breakfast, lunch and dinner there for 30 days straight. During this experiment he also forgoes exercise to prove his point on the obesity crisis in America.
The result of the experiment is hardly surprising. But the spoiler is that it had a sizeable and negative impact on his health in only one month. If he continued the experiment it would spiral and compound, eventually making him very unwell and could cascade into any number of health issues.
Much like you can’t outrun a bad diet, you can’t outpace debt when you’re still adding more to the pile. Conversely, each positive food choice and the growth of your savings and investments works for your benefit through the magic of compounding.
Coaching is key, but not the only path to success
Within sport you can go it alone, but a professional coach will guide you to success fast and more efficiently. Their experience working with a wide range of athletes will allow them to spot your weaknesses and correct them, long before you.
A great coach will get the most out of their athletes! There are always anomalies and some who choose to go it alone will also reach their ambitions. But it is less common and often a harder journey.
Much like a fitness coach, financial coaching can help those on the path to financial freedom get there faster. I have consumed a decade of information on personal finance, early retirement, starting a business and growing a business.
I took the long path on my journey, but I would not be where I am today without it. If I could do it over again, I would have used the experience of others and learned from them earlier on.
Keep it simple
You can complicate any task and add any number of “requirements” to achieve your goals. But when it comes to health and wealth, in fact most things, keeping the process simple is key!
Become healthier – Move more, eat better and drink lots of water
Become wealthier – Reduce spending, increase income and invest the difference
Everything else is a distraction.
Obviously these similarities between health and wealth are only my observations, but they are commonly occurring themes for those on the path to financial freedom and on a fitness journey. Let me know if you have any other thoughts on this in the comments below, or if you want to reach out, please do so via Twitter.