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Count Your Mile Markers

Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

During challenging times, we are implored to count our blessings as a method of encouragement. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, and routinely give thanks for the health of my family, our welcoming home, our good fortune to live in a country that offers freedom and opportunity, and even the simple joy of waterproof mascara. However, I’ve found another complementary and active method of “counting” that propels me through challenges—counting mile markers.

Researchers have studied marathon runners and discovered that in the absence of mile markers indicating each progressive mile in the 26.2-mile course, a higher percentage of runners don’t finish the race compared to runners who could track their progress each mile. Further, the runners who quit consistently reported they would have kept going if they had realized how close they were to the finish line—often only three or four miles away! Both recognizing your progress and knowing what more is needed to accomplish a goal have a profound positive psychological effect.

Just as in running, acknowledging your progress toward lifetime financial goals also propels continued success. And frankly, the bigger the goal, the more important it is to appreciate these milestones. When you’re facing the prospect of saving a million dollars+ to fund your retirement while still saddled with a mortgage and other debt, it can feel impossible. This is where the process of financial planning with an advisor can be empowering. At 994 Group, we leverage a financial plan to first identify clients’ long-term financial needs, and then break down the saving requirements in annual and even monthly increments. Then, clients can focus on managing their budget for the next month or two while slowly building up to heftier annual goals. Plus, if you get frustrated or tired, we’re there to run side-by-side with you.

As a frequent runner, I always use this strategy! I generally track progress about every half mile, except when I’m running up hills (and there are a TON in my neighborhood). The steeper the hill, the shorter and more frequent I track progress even as closely as driveway-to-driveway. So, go ahead, eat the elephant one bite at a time—there’s no need to boil the ocean!

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