As in life, there is a predictable trajectory that your athletic journey will follow regardless of when you start. The point of this is to show that your interest is not infinite, and that you need to act while your motivation is high.
Furthermore, our athletic lives are not separate from our financial ones so understanding how they overlap is important.
Your athletic plans and dreams, and the costs of realising them, therefore need to be planned and managed to ensure you can achieve them without compromising your long term financial security.
Just as with all things, it's important to get a sense of where we're at and what the future looks like.
When we look at our sporting interests and things like that, it can be really difficult to work out... what does the future look like?
We always tend to think that if things are going well, they'll continue to go well. And if things are going badly, they'll continue going badly.
However that's not necessarily the case, and that's what this athletics lifeline is attempting to show you.
The Different Stages of the Athletics Lifeline
Stage 1: Rapid improvement
Whether you only started running recently, or even if you started 20 or 30 years ago, you recognise that when you first start doing something the improvement is really fast and really rapid.
This is because you're starting from scratch and there's a lot of low-lying fruit around. There’s a lot of things that you could do to get better straight away.
Stage 2: Every race is a PB
Now, even if you haven't done any other exercise, just starting the process of running regularly will ensure that your fitness improves quickly. Your endurance and your speed will accumulate and increase very quickly as well. You'll see rapid improvements.
Every time you go for a run you'll almost be able to run a personal best (PB).
Stage 3: Hard work produces smaller gains: PBs extra sweet
The longer you continue, your rate of progress will naturally taper off.
It's pretty obvious that no one can continue improving indefinitely, but when we're in the middle of it we don't like to see it, or we don't like to think about it.
So what happens is, is over time, as we continue to improve, the rate of progress will slope, and we have to work harder for further improvements.
So you see things taper off, and that's where you've got to put in a lot more training, to try and eke out those smaller gains.
But I tell you what, don't they feel really satisfying when you've trained and trained, and slogged your guts out, and you pull off a big PB?
It really makes that hard work all the more worthwhile and even more satisfying.
Stage 4: Train hard to maintain performance levels
Eventually mother nature catches up with us all, or father time, or whoever you want to refer to.
Then there comes a point in every athlete’s career where age wins out and we stop improving. We’re really just training hard to stay where we’re at. We’re in maintenance mode.
Stage 5: Performance decline
Eventually what happens is, our performance starts to decline.
Through dint of consistent training, we can slow that down and we can try and hang on, but eventually, it's going to get to a point where our progress will reverse, and our performances will decline (it’s sad, I know!).
Now, when that happens, it has a big impact on our motivation as well.
The Decision Point
When you go from improving at something all the time and your performances are really motivating, to one where it doesn't matter what you do, you're only ever going to get worse, or you're never going to be able to get back to those levels, then it causes us to have a rethink of our priorities.
We start to question…
“Well, what do I really like about this?”
“Do I want to continue doing it… knowing that this is the likely path I’m going to go down?”
That's when we go and reassess things, and we may go and plot new goals, or we may just decide to go in a different direction.
Stage 6: Find a new source of motivation
You may decide “Hey, I'm happy with what I've been able to achieve in this and I want to go off and try something new.”
Now, what this means is, and why it's really important to understand where you are, is because a lot of us have really big ideas and dreams that we'd like to fulfil.
For some people, it's to go and do an Ironman, or it's to go and do an ultra, or to go and run a marathon on every continent, or compete in the six majors.
Whatever it is, it doesn't really matter, but what's important is to realise that there's an opportunity to get to do that, and a time that you can do that.
Sometimes it's only one of those goals and if we miss that opportunity, it may not come around again.
If we don't take our chance, if we don't go and do it when our motivation is high and at the right phase, then we may never get the chance to do it again.
We may lose interest, we may get injured, and it may just no longer be possible.
Why your finance matters
So why is all this important from a financial point of view?
Well, because we need to be able to do these things when it's possible and when we're motivated to.
So it's important to understand what you're trying to achieve and what the cost of that is, and the to try and work out…
Can you do this now, or in the not too distant future?
Some things are going to take years to bring about.
Particularly if it's things like running a marathon on every continent and completing the six majors.
There's a lot of expense, and it means that sometimes it going to have to be done over an extended period.
Knowing these things ahead of time you kind of accept the realities that you may get part-way through and something may happen, and it may stop you getting all the way through.
Now It’s far better to have had a good crack and to do part of it, than to sit back and think that it's all too hard and none of it can be achieved, right?
Get clear on where you are, and where you want to go
So what you need to do is:
1. Work out where you are on the Athletics Lifeline. Look at the visual above and circle where you are right now.
2. Work out what your athletics goals are. Write them down.
3. Then take the opportunities as they present themselves.
A final word
Sometimes that may mean you’ve got to step out on a limb a little bit and take a bit of a chance, and it may mean looking at the longer term financial implications and saying,
"Well, okay, I'm prepared to give up something else in order to be able to do this. But what I want to ensure is that, when I'm old and grizzled and grey, and sitting around in my rocking chair, that I'm not sitting there wondering what might have been.”
The pain of regret can be real nasty.
Don’t you want to be able to look back and say, “I'm pretty happy with what I've been able to achieve. I didn't leave things on the table, and I'm not going to die wondering"?
Can you see now why understanding where you are on the Athletics Lifeline is important?
I sure hope so.
Your Athletics Lifeline needs to be looked at in conjunction with your Financial Lifeline as well.
That way you can try and work out how these two things work together, and what can you achieve financially to ensure that you’re able to fulfil your dreams and bring your goals to fruition.
We’ve put together a “Live Your Dream” toolkit (that includes a printable version of the Athletics Lifeline that you can scribble on, , as well as a couple of other useful tools) to help you get clear on your big dream and what it’d take to make it a reality. Grab it for free here.
Stay tuned as I’ll share that with you the Financial Lifeline model in depth in the next blog post.
David Hazlewood, Knightswood House