Watching the Winter Games every night, I was continually reminded of just how much we can learn from Olympic athletes - their ability to set and meet goals, their drive and determination, their focus. In December, I had the great honour of being an Olympic torchbearer, which made me think about how we can apply an athlete's experience to many areas of our lives, but especially to our finances.
Top athletes set tangible goals and create a plan to achieve them. Nothing, not broken bones or a lack of resources, seems to get in their way. It is this single minded focus on doing their best, on achieving, on never giving up, that gets them across the finish line first.
Apply this focus to your finances. Set meaningful goals and write down how you are going to achieve them. Instead of a vague "I need to save some money" try instead "I need to save the equivalent to three month's salary in the event my job is ever in jeopardy." And then, plan to put aside $100 each month until the goal is met. Stay focused -- some months it might be tougher to save than others. Keep your eye on the finish line and you will get there.
Elite athletes excel because they have put in the time and commitment to get to the top. If you decided at 40 that you wanted to be an Olympic speed skater but you hadn't skated a day in your life, you'd probably have a pretty tough time realizing your dream. It is similarly hard to decide that you want to retire rich if you haven't saved any money along the way.
Athletes achieve excellence through a commitment to daily training and practice. Apply those same principles to your finances by training yourself to save a little bit every day. After a month or so that daily routine will turn into a habit. What do you do once that habit is firmly engrained? Stretch. Imagine you put aside just $1 a day for your first month, $2 a day the month after that, $3 a day the month after and so on. In a year you would have more than $2,300 by starting with just $1 a day.
Very few athletes succeed alone. Elite athletes create performance plans with help from coaches, nutritionists, psychologists and other experts. You can create your performance plan with help from your own coaching team. Start by taking advantage of the resources available at your local bank branch. There are financial specialists who can help you set your savings goals, recommend tools like and Tax-Free Savings Accounts to help meet those goals, monitor how your money is performing and recommend ways to help you succeed.