Keeping up the Pace

People running in city marathon
People running in city marathon

I ran a 5K last Saturday. Looking around I noticed that everyone had a different body structure, everyone had a different stride, and everyone was at a different point in their life. There were young kids, older women, avid runners, and all in between. But we all had one thing in common—we all wanted to get to the finish line.

I finished the race under my goal of 30 minutes. It had been some time since I had run a 5K race and I believed 30 minutes was a decent goal for myself, and I succeeded. Finishing the 5K reminded me that all of the runners had their own goals and aspirations for the race. We all had different visions. I was able to come in at 28 minute and 50 seconds, and reach my vision for that one race. Accomplishing my goal didn’t just come naturally. It came through setting a goal pace and knowing where I wanted to be at each mile marker. At mile 1 I was on track, then at mile 2 I was still on track to reach my goal, and once mile 3 hit I could see the finish line and began to run faster. I finished and felt the great satisfaction of accomplishing the goal I had set for myself.

The whole experience reminded me of the importance of having a game plan. We don’t just reach the finish line naturally. We need to have clearly defined objectives and mile markers. We stay on course even though it can be easy to be distracted by everything else happening around us. It would have been easy for me to stop and look at the other runners, talk to people, or spend my time at the water station. But I kept running because I had a goal to reach.

Investing

Retirement can seem like a race at times. When we do our research and know exactly where the finish line is (retirement), the next step is to have a clear objective—to know when we want to retire. Like a race, if we start out too fast—beyond our resources—we can burn out quickly. The key is to set a pace and have clear mile markers established to measure our progress and to know if we are on track to reach our goal.

Depending on our environment we may have to adjust our pace. During tough times it can feel like we are running uphill. Runners learn to slow there pace going uphill to conserve energy for the rest of the course. When a downhill section comes they pick up the pace and make up any lost time. When times are tough you may need to adjust your pace, and when everything is going great you may want to pick it up.

Remember, investing for retirement is not a sprint—we need to set an appropriate pace for ourselves with our ultimate goal always in mind.

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