Snowboarding & Financial Planning

Hello everyone!

I know, it has been radio silent on the blog front and I appreciate your patience. I just recently got back from a snowboarding trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and did my best to disconnect and be in the moment with my husband in the beautiful Colorado Rockies.

I originally started my winter sport’s career skiing; learning in the backyard of my best friend’s house on her hill slide. That’s right folks, think of those big yellow plastic slides connected to swing sets. That is where my love for this winter sport began. In high school, I switched from skis to a snowboard for a first time and loved the rush of surfing down a run while feeling slightly rebellious and distinct from my friends on their skis.

I wouldn’t call myself a great snowboarder, I can hold my own on most runs and can get from top to bottom in one piece. The biggest hurdle for me is the mental aspect of snowboarding. I let negative talk fill my head and become fearful of falling and getting seriously injured. Last year was the first year I went out West to snowboard and, let me tell you, the mountains out there are drastically different from the mountains (read hills) in the Midwest.

This was our second time out to Steamboat Springs and third time boarding out in Colorado. We went this past spring and instantly fell in love with this little cowboy town nestled into the side of the mountain and couldn’t wait to go back. This time out I did my best to be brave and challenged myself to try new runs that last year frightened me. I am happy to report, no broken bones or torn ligaments.

Going into this trip I recognized that I needed to change my mindset when approaching new runs and unknown sections of the mountain and focus on the positive. Instead of thinking mid-run “don’t fall” or “you will break something if you fell right now” I chose to focus on the positive and the beauty all around me. Clearing my mind of the negative self talk allowed me to focus on my breaths and the peacefulness of being 10,000 feet above sea level. Having this mindset not only allowed for an injury free day of snowboarding but it also allowed me to clear my head and do some thinking.

As you may remember from this post, I love drawing comparisons between activities I enjoy and the financial planning process.During these moments of peace and deep thought while surfing the side of a mountain I thought about the many parallels between snowboarding the financial planning process. Let’s explore the similarities.

A Clearly Defined Path

I’m going to start with the obvious here, there is no financial plan without a clearly defined financial goals and a path to reach those goals. As an example, it’s would be super difficult to get from paying off student loans to one day being a home owner without a clearly defined path. A path filled with budgeting, determination and diligent saving.

The need for a pre-determined plan is equally important for a safe and successful snowboarding run. Taking time to reference a trail map and identify appropriately challenging runs to get from point A to point B makes for an enjoyable ride without the need for ski patrol!

Identify Strengths & Weaknesses

Continuing with this theme of having a pre-determined path mapped out, its important to have a strong understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Understanding both makes it much simpler to identify the optimal path for success.

When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, knowing your limits on the slopes will help you design a successful path down the mountain. If you feel most comfortable on blue runs, help yourself out by not picking a path that includes a black or double black run. If a known weakness is tackling moguls, best to avoid un-groomed runs and risk getting injured.

Believe it or not, you have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to handling finances. If you aren’t already listing a few off the top of your head, a great way to begin identifying these qualities is to answer the set of questions from this post.

Much like creating a snowboarding path that compliments strengths and avoids areas of weakness, you can create a financial plan that does the same. As an example, if your weakness is going to into a physical clothing store to shop (guilty), help yourself out by avoiding stores that are known to blow your budget or limit your shopping to online. If an area of strength is staying on budget when using cash, you might consider cutting up your credit cards.

Step by Step

This was a light bulb moment for me this past trip to Steamboat. When sitting at the top of a run, you can’t help but feel your stomach drop and start doubting your abilities to make it down the slope in one piece. One piece of advice I got from my husband is to just focus on the 10-20 yards in front of me. Wow, what a game change! Before I knew it, I found myself at the bottom of a run with all my limbs attached!

The same mentality should be applied when it comes to your financial goals. It can be overwhelming and anxiety inducing to think that you will need a couple million dollars if you want to stop working one day. Taking it step by step keeps the anxiety at bay and allows you to keep moving forward towards that goal. Focus on maxing out your 401(k) each year or Backdoor Roth contribution. When invested properly coupled with the power of compounding, one day you will reach that goal.

Also, don’t forget to look back and celebrate the amazing accomplishment whether its an accomplishment on the slopes or financially!

Know Your Pace

Another ingredient for a successful snowboarding run, it going at your own pace. It doesn’t matter if you are the fastest person down the mountain or dead last as long as it’s done at your own pace. Don’t be distracted by others or try to keep up. Speaking from personal experience, this is the number one way I wind up wiping out.

Don’t also wipe out when it comes to reaching your financial goals. Understand your personal pace and don’t get distracted trying to keep up with the Jones. It becomes really hard to reach your financial goals when they become diluted by other people or focus is constantly changing. Remember, ‘slow and steady, steady as slow, that’s the way it always goes.’

Growth comes from Discomfort

Yes, we just talked about acknowledging your pace and that from staying within your limits you will find success. This is true, but there is something to be said about getting out of your comfort zone every once in awhile. When it comes to skiing and snowboarding its trying a slightly more challenging run. This is something that I pushed myself to do this past trip. While pushing myself, I still found success because I had a plan, played to my strengths, avoided areas of weakness, took the runs bit by bit and went at my own pace.

From a financial perspective, growth also comes from being uncomfortable. The growth piece is easy to quantify, it can be the growth in your net worth, the increase in your investment accounts or the accomplishment of a goal. The uncomfortable piece is more subjective to individual and can mean investing for the first time or significantly reducing certain aspects of a budget to increase savings. The takeaway here is that it’s okay to be uncomfortable.

Whether its improving your snowboarding skills or fine tuning your financial plan, I hope this post gives you some areas to focus on next time you’re on the mountain or on a money date!

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