The golf state of mind
‘Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.’ - Arnold Palmer
Golf may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some find it a game of complexity with its intricate rules and techniques while others find it too lengthy a play. But one aspect that is commonly felt and strongly stands out is the discipline and determination that golfers develop to find success in the game, and consequently in life. When it comes to professional golfers, they are expected to bring their A-game each time they swing their club. Every shot they play has to carry with it, purpose. They must sustain their focus amidst the buzz and chatter of anxious spectators followed by nerve-racking silence as they anticipate each shot. All this while their competitors are watching their every move.
Without a doubt, golf helps develop a power of concentration that enables one to stay fixed on their target. When applied to other aspects of life, there is not much that cannot be accomplished with this kind of focus and determination. It can help you stay resolute about key financial goals, such paying off debt, buying a house or building an adequate retirement pot. While financial planning and golf sound like two very divergent ideas, it is surprising how many parallels we can draw between the two.
Plan and prepare
Golf is more of a mental game than physical. ‘Studying the greens’ is golf parlance that in financial planning translates to analyzing the market, identifying opportunities, anticipating potential risks and mitigating them – all with the aim to meet your financial goals. The power of planning and preparation cannot be underestimated for an investor to be able to meet seemingly challenging targets with ease and relaxation.
Both golf and financial planning favour risk management. In golf, a clear assessment of the greens, the fairways, the bunkers and the hazards, followed by a visualization of your shot and choosing the right golf club, helps you execute your premeditated shot with precision. Similarly, with financial planning, once your goals are clearly defined, a study of potential investment vehicles such as funds that match with your risk appetite, will help you achieve the desired goals. It’s important to avoid distractions such as buying unnecessary indulgences or slowing down your saving pace, derail you from your target. Protection such as life insurance or mortgage protection are key levers that help you stay on-course with your financial aspirations, be it for yourself or your family. Being agile, focused and constantly evolving your investment strategy can potentially avert disaster to bring fulfillment in your financial future.
Review and optimize
However well a golfer scores on one hole, he needs to repeat, with the same skill and focus, on the next one. One cannot rest on past laurels. Instead one has to maintain the keenness and drive to continue building on success. Golf provides a sustained learning experience with ebbs and flows. Success in financial planning is not possible unless there is an openness to keep learning from mistakes, growing lower-performing investments and adjusting to ensure they build over time to meet your investment targets.
Develop winning traits
When a golfer is about to tee-off, he or she gathers all their energy, unites the senses and executes the shot while keeping their eyes on the hole. This focus is the determining factor that can tip the balance towards or against you.
Making the wrong call can be disastrous whether in golf or in life. In golf one has the opportunity for ‘course correction.’ After each round you can reassess the results, improve your execution, take a renewed shot with tenacity aimed at greater success.
One of the most important lessons from golf is the virtue of patience. It’s a common experience in both golf and in life that no matter how much effort goes into something, the result is not in your control. Therefore, in order to persevere, one needs to constantly re-build, strategise and execute with an unwavering focus on the ultimate goal.
It would seem that golf has more in common with financial planning than was previously imagined. Perhaps if we, like golfers, enhance our power of focus and adopt the ‘golf state of mind’ we could prepare ourselves for greater success and be ready for life.
Having the FIRE to retire - Theo Alexandrescu
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