Recovery. It begins the moment you cross the finish line. First step, take the shiny, thermal blanket to stay warm. Then, keep walking…drink…eat…stretch. Once you are home, it’s hot tub soak…eat and drink some more…and Tylenol PM so you can sleep. The next few days means no running, maybe a massage, and lots of stretching to relieve muscles soreness. All in all, the physical recovery from completing a marathon takes about a week for most people.
The mental recovery will most likely take longer.
It is mentally draining to train for a marathon. Constantly having to push yourself to train…alone…in the dark…in the cold…in the rain…through the pain. It’s also mentally taxing to run a marathon.
The last six miles are punishing. Your mind has to intently focus on putting one foot in front of the other, as your muscles search for whatever energy they have left in reserve. Interestingly, I also faced a few mental hurdles after the marathon. Although I was extremely pleased my goal was accomplished, days later I was left wondering, “What is my next goal?” and then “Do I even want another goal?” Both of those questions pushed me to reexamine why I had started running in the first place and decide if those initial pursuits were still applicable.
When it comes to finances, we face mental obstacles every day. If we can overcome these, our prospects for victory will be much greater.
The Urgency: It’s a race against the clock. Each day I neglected my health, diet and fitness levels, was a day I became older and less able to athletically perform at a peak level. It was one more day that I allowed potential physical problems to present themselves within my body. Likewise, each day we neglect to change our financial habits, is a day wasted. This isn’t something we should delay dealing with.
Time is actually our enemy when it comes to money. But, somehow we have developed the mistaken belief that time alone will heal our financial problems. “When I get that eventual promotion…or our kids leave home…or my spouse gets that second job…or we move into that house, then things will be OK.”
By waiting for that one event to improve our fiscal outlook, we allow time to pass (perhaps a great amount of time) where we could have already been taking steps to deal with our issues. There are always avenues you can pursue in the moment to improve your financial status.
We only have one life to live and none of us know how long that life will be. Start planning today!
The Trap: It’s an individual race. How easy it is to compare ourselves with others. That person has better running form…their shoes are more expensive…they run faster than I do…they are not drinking every two miles, maybe I shouldn’t either…and on it goes. And it is such a trap.
Now, I can certainly learn to develop my running form, find out what equipment works better and develop strategies for running a race based on the knowledge of others. But I can’t worry about what others are doing in the race itself. I have to deal with my own issues.
Comparison is different than learning. Comparison leads us to do things we would normally not do. When I see someone else buying a bigger house, or a newer car or nicer clothes, I can easily be tempted into thinking I should pursue those things also. I can easily get sucked into believing that my neighbor’s standard of living should be mine as well. When I think this way, I am in essence trying to duplicate someone else’s race instead of focusing on my own.
Don’t fall for this trap with your finances. Run your own race with your own set or priorities.
The Perspective: It’s a race that never ends. Just because this one race is completed doesn’t mean The Race ends. I realize at this stage of my life, I will not become a world-class athlete who is able to complete a marathon in under two and a half hours. But that’s OK. That is not my goal. I’m in this for long-term health and wellness. Hopefully, by giving attention to the proper care of my body through regular physical activity and afocus on basic nutrition, I will be able to lengthen my days to serve God in whatever capacity He allows.
I struggle with setting long-term personal financial goals. I’m good in the short-term financial races…get a monthly budget done…check. Save for item “X”…check. Get out of debt on that credit card…check. Once all these races are “won” the tendency I have is to relax, take the foot off the gas, and not keep pushing. I think because I have these little races finished, that that’s all that matters. In actuality, I should be using these first steps as springboards to propel me to larger goals…ones that will maybe take a lifetime.
Our personal finance race against the clock is an individual one that never ends. See you at the finish line.
Next Post: Forget Me Not
Prior Post: Of Marathons and Money: Post Race Edition