Your Investments: Long-term investing is like a marathon

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

Runners participate in the Jerusalem marathon, March 2018 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Runners participate in the Jerusalem marathon, March 2018
“When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time.”
– Haile Gebrselassie
I just completed my second full marathon this past Friday in Jerusalem. It wasn’t the best of performances, and I paid a price for trying to cram a 14-week training program into eight weeks due to a bout with bronchitis.
But I finished and am here to write about it! When running hour after hour you certainly have what to think about. After going through every topic I could think of, I decided to think about what to write for my next column. Just kidding. By the time I ran out of topics to think about, all I could think about was the pain in my heel, how on earth I was going to run up the Kovshei Katamon hill, and that if one more person yelled “Kol hakavod, you’re almost done” – as I still had 13 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 marathon running and apply them to managing our finances.
You can always change
I was asked by a friend why I decided to run a marathon.I said everyone has their own personal answer, myself included. I actually had a few reasons,k one of which I will share. 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 mind-set and apply it throughout your life. You can accomplish much more than you ever dreamed possible. If you know the right thing to do and you are stuck in rut, now is the time to take back control of your life and start living the way you really want to live. It’s never too late to change. You really do have the power to make significant change in your life. Just do it.
Forget about everyone else
As the world-champion runner Gebrselassie said regarding running in the quote above, it’s import in personal finance to focus just on yourself and on your goals. Forget about what everyone else is doing. Sure your friends’ skiing pictures on Facebook look like fun, but don’t squander your financial future to go on that vacation 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.
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 your money is serving the purpose 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. Don’t think it’s beyond you. If I could become physically fit and run a marathon, there is no reason you can’t become fiscally fit.
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 a licensed financial professional in Israel and the United States who helps people with US investment accounts. He is the author of the book Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing.