Why investing and achieving financial independence is like running a marathon?

Watching marathon running is always inspiring. The professional runners complete their final mile in a time quicker than most people can run one mile. It raises the question: how do they do it?

Watching the London Marathon, it’s possible to notice many similarities between endurance running and investing. Both investing and running a marathon are about the long term. As indeed is working towards financial independence. It takes time, patience and perseverance.

The athletes train their whole lives to run the distances they do, at the speed they do it. Investors also need to be prepared to spend a long time learning about investing and building a pot of money that will help them achieve their goals; whether that’s financial independence, buying a dream home, retiring early or wealthier, or whatever it may be. Investors also need to always dedicate plenty of time to the process, much like runners.

It’s about grit and determination

Both marathon running and investing require certain characteristics. Investing-wise, this becomes more clear once you’ve been through several bull and bear markets and a few business cycles.

To succeed at either, you need to be resilient. Stocks don’t always go up and so you need to be nimble and keep going when conditions get tougher. Tough times are truly what separates lucky investors and speculators from investors who are made of the right stuff to keep going.

To invest for the long term you need to have determination. Success is never overnight with investing. Those who do achieve quick wins, can – in my view – rarely sustain the success and achieve their bigger goals. To consistently outperform, by a lot, requires a great combination of skill and luck.

Nobody runs a marathon after no training and some runs will not go to plan. The endurance runner will bounce back and start training again after a setback, this is what makes it like investing. There will always be investing setbacks and bumps in the road (no pun intended).

Another aspect is, focus. To achieve results in investing and to seriously make inroads towards achieving financial independence requires attention to the task.

Setting smaller goals might be a helpful way of making it easier to get there. For example, if you want to have a £500,000 ISA you may want to first look at getting to £50,000 within three years. That way it’s not as daunting and you have something closer to aim for. Remember goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-limited – otherwise known as SMART goal setting.

Need to keep improving

There’s a need in both endurance running and investing to keep on improving. The investing gods punish the lazy and the arrogant. Even if you achieve an investing goal, without replicating that repeatedly you won’t build significant wealth from the stock market. A winning mindset has to accept that there’s always something that could have been done better. The top marathon runners and the top investors both have this mindset.

Thankfully investors don’t have to bust their lungs running day in and day out. Instead, investors must look to learn from their mistakes and improve their knowledge and execution over time, continuously. This is what drives results.

So the similarities between investing in the stock market, reaching financial independence and marathon running are:

  • You need to be prepared to do it for the long term
  • You need to be resilient and move past setbacks
  • You need to focus on it and dedicate plenty of time to the process
  • You need to set a big goal and then smaller goals along the way
  • You need to be able and willing to keep on improving and avoid hubris

If there are any more similarities you can think of please let me know in the comments or contact me on Twitter @sharewatch100

You can also join my Facebook for private investors here.

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