Long-term investing and long-distance - opinion

There are many things we can learn from long-distance running and apply them to managing our finances.

Calculating taxes (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Calculating taxes
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

“I believe that every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises.” – Neil Armstrong

You wouldn’t know it with the continued cold weather, but it’s running season in Israel. Each weekend there are a myriad of race opportunities perfect for both beginners and experienced runners and everyone in between. A week ago I ran and completed the Emek Hama’ayanot half marathon, along with my oldest daughter, and this coming week is the Jerusalem Marathon.

When running long distances you certainly have what to think about. Usually I will spend time thinking about work issues, ideas on the Torah portion of the week, singing some songs and trying to figure out which route to take to get to my desired distance goal. 

In last week’s race, we had the pleasure of running through a continuous downpour and strong winds. All I was thinking about was that I drove almost two hours and paid money for this experience (can you say frier?), the intense pain in my heel, and that if one more volunteer dressed warmly in rain gear holding an umbrella, yelled “Kol hakavod, you’re almost done,” as a wind gust straight in my face sent chills down my spine, as I still had seven kilometers to go, I would punch them!

But seriously, and I am sure many of you know what’s coming; there are many things we can learn from long-distance running and apply them to managing our finances.

 RUNNERS TAKE PART in the Jerusalem 10th Annual Marathon, October 29, 2021 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) RUNNERS TAKE PART in the Jerusalem 10th Annual Marathon, October 29, 2021 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
You can always change

Years ago, I was asked by a friend why I decided to run a full marathon. I said that everyone has their own personal answer, myself included. We often get stuck on autopilot in many or all aspects of our lives. I really was looking to break the inertia and try and “take back my life.” Not just let “life happen” but push myself and take more control of my life. 

By pushing and achieving something that you never dreamed possible, you can keep that mindset and apply it throughout your life. You can accomplish much more than you ever dreamed possible. You really do have the power to make significant change in your life. Just do it.

This past week’s half marathon was even more meaningful for me. About 355 days earlier I tested positive for corona. It was in a 10k race six weeks after testing positive that long-COVID issues started to appear. After passing the 7k sign, I wasn’t able to control my breathing. This symptom continued, along with shortness of breath for another month and then I sought medical help. 

After doing a series of heart and lung tests where, thank God, nothing was wrong, it was chalked up to COVID. Fast forward to last week, and while I still have some long-COVID issues, I was able to complete the half marathon breathing normally. Crossing the finish line I yelled, “Take that corona!”

Forget about everyone else

World champion runner Haile Gebrselassie said, “When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time.” 

In personal finance it’s imperative to focus on yourself and on your goals. Forget about what everyone else is doing. Sure your friend’s Dubai pictures on Facebook look like fun, but don’t squander your financial future to go on that vacation that you can’t afford.

Invest for the long-term

I may sound like a broken record but those who really keep their eye focused on the long-term, end up doing well financially. Sit down and define your goals and needs, and then invest with an allocation that will help you achieve those goals. 

Don’t get caught up in trying to time the stock market. Instead, buy good quality assets and hold them. Don’t worry about the Russian/Ukrainian war. Sure there have been short-term market drops, but study after study show that market timers tend to woefully underperform the broader market over the long-term. 

What you should do is forget about short-term market gyrations and focus more on reassessing your goals and needs from time to time. Make sure that your money is serving the purpose that you want it to serve. Your financial life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon and as such you need to be laser focused on the finish line, not the 100 meters immediately ahead.

Whether planning for retirement, living within a budget, or starting a savings plan it’s never too late to get on the path of financial security. It may be hard, and you may have other things to do instead, but take the time needed to make those adjustments and you will be well on your way to financial independence.

The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates. Aaron Katsman is the author of Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing. www.gpsinvestor.com; [email protected]