This is the last section of a four-part series within which I’ve drawn parallels between the life lessons of sports, and successful objective driven investment plans.
There are only a few inarguable axioms in life. One that is particularly applicable to basketball and objective driven investing is that pearls of great price aren’t to be had for the asking. Bear Bryant once put it this way by saying “the price of victory is high, but so are the rewards”.
When I’m coaching a basketball team, I will not allow my players to be satisfied with anything less than their absolute best effort. Within previous articles, we’ve talked about what it means to give 100%, and out working yesterday. This is the sacrifice that comes with chasing pearls of great price. On the basketball court, everyone can’t be a league champion. There can only be one. That champion is generally the team that dedicated itself to practice, effort, being mentally tough, and doing many other things to be the best team that it could be throughout the season. Well, that means that less time is available for video games and other leisure activities.
If the goal of being a champion is worth pursuing, then you’ll give it 100% of your best effort, and often, at the expense of other things you’d rather be doing. In November, as we’re beginning the season, it’s impossible to imagine the feeling of cutting down a net in February. But in February, when you’re full of adrenalin as you’re standing on the ladder cutting the net down, all of the work, all of the effort, all of the sacrifice becomes worth it as you realize the goal that took three months to achieve. Such can be said of every goal worth pursuing in life as well.
If the realization of investment objectives is your “championship”, then it will require effort, sacrifice, and dedication throughout the season. The basketball team wins a league championship one quarter at a time, one game at a time, and over the course of a season. Retirement objectives will be realized with each weekly deferral into a 401(k), over months and years between now and your retirement. That’s your season.
As with basketball, great players never take a minute off while on the court. They’re focused and dialed into every minute of play, as they execute the offensive and defensive game plan. Investors should also be guided by a financial game plan, that is developed by working with a financial coach. While on the court of life, championship investors stay focused on the long term outcome while rising above the minute by minute noise of the game.
This will require sacrifice. Players on my team sacrifice leisure for additional practice time as we pursue a net in February. Objective driven investors also sacrifice by living within their means, and not spending frivolously, and remain disciplined within constraints of a budget, as they allocate long term funds into investment strategies. Recently, the media cited a survey that suggested 23% of wage earning Americans may never fully retire. Maybe some of those persons would just prefer to work because they love what they do for a living. However, many of those persons will likely never retire because they can’t, and partly because they chose not to sacrifice in the short term for the benefit of winning the championship of retirement in the long term.
Retirement on your terms, with a comfortable income, and the ability to travel and with a desired standard of living is a pearl of great price. It is not to be had for the asking. It will not just materialize. It must be earned, and earned through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice over the season leading up to the day when you cut the net down. As an advisor, I’m here to help my clients envision that goal at the beginning of the season, and develop a game plan to navigate them to the top of that ladder.
Pearls of great price aren’t to be had for the asking. Remain focused on the net you’re trying to cut down years from now, and spare no effort today to achieve that dream.