If you’re into sports – or even if you’re not – you’ve seen somebody at some point hit a buzzer-beating shot or get a last inning game-winning hit or sink a match-winning putt. Can you even imagine how that must feel?
If you’re at all like me, you occasionally scratch your head and wonder, “Where are those moments in my life?” “When do we get to feel the insane rush of excitement that comes from such a magical achievement as these athletes?” I played sports and I’ve given talks to large groups of people and have felt those moments, although not on as big a stage as the Super Bowl. But even in my experiences, as the lights fade and the applause disappears, I’m left to wonder when I’ll get to experience public triumph again.
When we consider the skills and habits needed for successful investing and retirement planning, it’s safe to say that there will be very little applause when it’s done well. Have you opened up your account statements to the roar of a crowd or have people bought tickets to come see you win at building a safe and reliable retirement income? Likely not. In fact, winning at retirement is one of the most boring games one can play.
Consider for a moment that successful investing requires decades of deferred gratification, mindful adherence to a set of principles, and copious amounts of patience. Yawn… Yet, the stakes are so high.
While I’m not clever enough to make every aspect of planning fun and exciting, I will suggest to you that you take a moment to occasionally celebrate your wins along the way. After all, very few people actually get the chance to stop working for money, while they’re still alive! Most of the world’s population will never retire; they’ll struggle for survival their entire life. Meanwhile, you’ve been leveraging the opportunities you have to set aside something for later, and when that later comes, you’re able to reap the harvest of those sowed seeds. How amazing is that?
While there may not be crowds of adoring fans gathering to witness your retirement planning triumphs, the victory should feel no less meaningful. A successful retirement is your version of a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ and that should be commended, even if the lights aren’t as bright.
Don’t let the bright lights fool you; the game to be won is a long game, a slow game, a very rewarding game. Congratulations on getting this far, your journey has been great, the cost very high. Professional athletes should soak up all of it, the lights, the applause, and the adulation. Ultimately, what they will eventually really want is what you’ve achieved, or are achieving: financial security and meaningful relationships. Well played, friends. The game is far from over, but kudos on a strong performance so far.