Personal (Finance) Training

by Jude Boudreaux

I don’t work out as much as I know I should, and perhaps you don’t either. We both need to fix that this year, don’t we?

Anyway, I recently had a training session. As I worked out and followed the directions given by my personal trainer…I was struck by how many of the instructions I was hearing were similar to those that I give my own financial planning clients.

“I need to know why you’re here so I can help you reach your goals as quickly and safely as possible.”

Much as your training program would be different if you wanted to run a marathon versus compete in a bodybuilding competition, everybody’s financial goals are different. While there are some universal truths, even clients who seem similar on paper often need to take very different directions to reach their goals.

“Stop looking over there; what he’s lifting doesn’t matter.” 

I definitely found myself peeking over to the right where a similarly sized but obviously more fit gentleman was going through his workout routine. I started to feel what I could best describe as shame.  My internal critic was ready to jump on the bandwagon saying that I should be in better shape. I should be able to do what he is doing. I’ve really let myself go, etc.

It took my trainer to bring me back to the moment. He reminded me that unless I had a time machine, I’d better focus on what I can do today. He reassured me I would be in better shape in the future by performing my exercises well, with proper form and focus. He stressed that while I can’t perform a challenging workout with ease today, there’s no reason that I can’t do so in the future by following a solid plan that I execute over time.

“What you lift into your mouth is as important as the weights you lift.” 

His not-so-subtle reminder about the building blocks of muscle (or not muscle), and the impact of what we put into our bodies, was a stark one. It reminded me of how financial planners talk to clients about cash flow and investing. You can invest well and have a good plan (just like lifting weights), but if you can manage your cash flow well you’ll be able to invest more, recover more quickly if there’s a blip in your investing, and ultimately be more financially fit.

“A big part of my job is to keep you from getting hurt.”

While sometimes we need to push hard and give extra effort, it’s important not to injure ourselves in the process. That could prove costly, and cause a setback to our plans. In the same way that a training injury can derail your overall fitness goals, a financial mistake can set you back for years. We all want to make progress as quickly as we can, the key is finding ways to make steady progress safely.

“You can get there on your own, but you’ll get there faster with a coach.” 

My trainer’s reminder about the benefits of having a supportive partner, one who also brings some expertise, certainly made me smile.

Though it isn’t always fun, I have come to appreciate the people who have helped me make progress and reach my goals. It’s always worked better for me to have somebody in my corner, rather than trying to go it alone.  Hopefully, you’ll find the same is true for you.

Jude BoudreauxJude Boudreaux, CFP® is a Partner and Senior Financial Planner in the New Orleans office of The Planning Center, a fee-only financial planning and wealth management firm.

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